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Some books to add to your gift-giving list

Each year, I compile a list of books that would make lovely gifts. This year the stunning array of worthy books is substantial. It will take me two weekly columns to describe them all. Here’s part one:

“The Birds of America: The Bien Chromolithographic Edition” by John James Audubon (W.W. Norton, 288 pages, $350).

In 1858 Julius Bien began printing elephant folio editions of John James Audubon’s legendary drawings of North American birds employing a revolutionary chromolithographic process. The onset of the Civil War halted production. Very few prints were actually made. This stunning edition of those prints will delight bird lovers. At 24 inches in height this volume will lend grace to coffee tables across America.

This book is a knockout!

“Rock and Roll Stories” by Lynn Goldsmith (Abrams, 400 pages, $60).

Lynn Goldsmith has taken striking photos of music legends for many years. This collection of shots of artists like Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and U2 is exceptional. Goldsmith’s candid reminiscences provide back stories for these images.

“Hollywood in Kodachrome” by David Wills (IT Books, 332 pages, $40).

Here’s another dazzling collection of images. These photos were made during the 1940’s using sheet Kodachrome, a film which helped the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age look absolutely fabulous. Bogart, Bacall, Crawford, Hepburn, Grant, Lancaster, Dietrich — They all appear here in spectacular color.

“The Kennedy Years” from the pages of the New York Times (Abrams, 376 pages, $40).

Many books were issued in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This compilation of pertinent articles from the New York Times brings readers the news headlines of that time. JFK’s charisma still shines brightly from numerous black and white Times photos.

“The Great War: A Photographic Narrative” by Mark Holborn and Hilary Roberts (Knopf, 504 pages, $100).

It has been almost a century since the beginning of World War One. They called it the war to end all wars. Over nine million people died. Many soldiers carried cameras. This book has 380 black and white photos culled from over half a million archived at the Imperial War Museums.

You have never seen anything like this.

“The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink” by John F. Mariani (Bloomsbury, 564 pages, $35).

We all love to eat. Some of us also like reading about food. This tasty encyclopedia was originally published 30 years ago. Newly revised and updated it has over 500 classic American recipes and defines foods from abalone to zwieback toast. A delectable read!

“Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning” by Elizabeth Partridge (Chronicle Books, 192 pages, $50).

You can take your pick from a range of superb coffee table photography books this year. Here’s another winner. Dorothea Lange is best known for the photos she took of Americans during the hard times of the Great Depression. This book covers the full arc of this artist’s career with over 100 impressive shots.

“The Vatican: All the Paintings” by Anja Grebe (Black Dog and Leventhal, 525 pages, $75).

Do you know someone who appreciates artwork by the Old Masters? The papal collection of art is extraordinary. This book catalogs 976 masterpieces from the Vatican. There’s also a companion DVD-ROM with additional information on these paintings, tapestries and sculptures.

“Tintin: The Art of Herge” by Michael Daubert and the Herge Museum (Abrams ComicArts, 480 pages, $45).

Tintin has had some wild comic book adventures over the years. This lavish tribute to Tintin and his creator, an artist best know by the pseudonym Herge is filled with original illustrations, photos, and the history of a comic strip that debuted in 1929. The packaging is gorgeous. A must for Tintin lovers of all ages.

Next week I’ll have another immense stack of recommended gift books for you.

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