The Complete WORD Holiday Gift Guide

December 9, 2008

The list of book titles floating around in your head or surrounding you upon entering WORD can be somewhat daunting, especially now as you are not only browsing for yourself, but everyone on your list as well. We compiled, categorized and created a comprehensive list of gift suggestions to help you through your holiday season. We also suggest taking a peak at The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2008, The 10 Best Books of the Year and Notable Children’s Books of 2008.


Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen ($16, paperback)
This year’s National Book Award winner, Matthiessen has distilled his previously published and critically acclaimed Watson trilogy into this epic American masterpiece.

2666 by Roberto Bolano ($30, paperback three set)
From the Chilean mastermind a book of five loosely co-mingled novellas revolving around the same mystery. One of NY Times’ 10 Best Books of the Year.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy/new translation by Richard Pevear and Lariss Volokhonsky ($22.95, paperback)
Not only is this book physically gorgeous (comes in 2 different colors), but the expert team of Pevear/Volokhonsky have refreshed a classic. A must for any fan of Russian literature.

State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America edited by Sean Wilsey and Matt Weiland ($29.95, hardcover)
Fifty writers tell us something lasting and revealing about each state through personal memory or contemporary reporting that captures the essential qualities that make each state its own. With an array of revealing facts and figures comparing the 50 states in a range of surprising measures (toothlessness, military enlistment, suicide), State by State is more than an anthology: It is a classic American road movie in book form.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link ($19.99, hardcover)
Kelly Link is a master of the weird and the unexpected. Her characters and situations obey to mysterious and inflexible rules. Reading her stories is like dreaming and then trying to wake up and realizing that you are not dreaming.

Machine by Peter Adolphsen ($15, hardcover)
A little gem. A story of cars, hitchhikers, prehistoric horses, gasoline.

Gates of Eden by Ethan Coen ($13.95, paperback)
If you like the movies of the Coen Brothers, you’ll love this. 14 stories about a parallel universe similar to our own–except it’s weirder, funnier, and better edited.

The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Fiction edited by Joyce Carol Oates and Cristopher R. Beha ($18.95, paperback)
The absolute best of American contemporary short fiction. From Aimee Bender to T C Boyle, from Lydia Davis to Mary Gaitskill, from David Means to David Foster Wallace: nobody is missing.

The Best American Series 2008 ($14, paperback) We’ve got ’em all:

The Best American Travel Writing 2008 edited by Anthony Bourdain The Best American Short Stories 2008 edited by Salman Rushdie
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008
edited by Dave Eggers
The Best American Mystery Stories 2008
edited by George Pelecanos The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008 edited by Jerome Groopman, M. D.
The Best American Sports Writing
2008 edited by William Nack
The Best American Comics 2008
edited by Lynda Barry ($22, hardcover)


Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ($17.99, hardcover, ages 13+)
It’s impossible to put this book down for a second after the first few pages. In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Predators, A Pop Up Book with Revolutionary Technology by Lucio and Meera Santoro ($27.99, hardcover, ages 9-12)
We love this book. A wonderful 3-D pop-up that will allow readers to get up close and personal to come of the world’s most terrifying predators: spiders, polar bears, crocodiles, snakes and more!

Spyology by Spencer Blake ($22.99, hardcover, ages 9+)
The year is 1958, and British spy Spencer Blake, aka “Agent K,” is on an undercover mission to expose a deadly criminal organization. As he traverses the globe with his American and Soviet cohorts — from Scotland to Berlin to Las Vegas to Cuba — he furtively records his secret techniques in a manual for new recruits. A great book to play with, over and over.

Extremely Wintery Winter Activity Kit by Lauren Child ($19.99, hardcover, ages 9-12)
What could be better after playing in the snow all day than coming inside to warm up with games, crafts, and a good book? Nothing that we can think of! And now all of these extremely special activities come together in one package. Kids will be able to make their own glittery snowflakes, and play a snowy-day dress-up game with puzzle cards and a spinner. And when playtime is done, they can settle in for a complete picture book story: Snow Is My Favorite and My Best. Once kids start playing and reading, they will never not ever want to stop!

Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling ($12.99, hardcover, ages 9+)
An essential addition to the world and the magic created by J. K. Rowling, a book every true Harry Potter fan will want to have for their shelves.

Guinness Book of World Records 2009 ($28.95, hardcover, ages 9+)
Over 1,000 new records and 100% new photos, this year’s edition once again sets out to be the best Guinness World Records book ever! With two gate-fold spreads and over 20 pages of special records all with 3-D photos, which can be viewed with enclosed 3-D glasses.

ABC 3D by Marion Bataille ($19.95, hardcover, ages 9-12)
It’s a three-dimensional, interactive, cinematic treat for the littlest fingers right up to the oldest eyes, easily the most innovative alphabet book of the year, if not the decade. It’s virtually impossible not to find something to manipulate, admire, chuckle over or just plain play with between the holographic covers of this visual feast… Beyond clever, it’s a whole new way for young learners to see both the connections and differences.

Brava Strega Nona! A Heartwarming Pop-Up Book by Tomie dePaola, Robert Sabuda, Matthew Reinhart ($29.99, hardcover, ages baby-preschool)
A classic loved by generations of childrens’ book readers: but they’ve never seen it like this! In six spreads of pop-up magnificence, paper engineered by the renowned #1 New York Times bestselling team of Sabuda and Reinhart, Strega Nona shares her words of wisdom for leading a magical life, all rendered in Tomie dePaola’s classic style. With doors to open, tabs to pull, and a host of other interactive features, readers will be drawn into Strega Nona’s world in a way they’ve never been before.

Comics to Go: 19 Stories for You to Finish by Mike Herrod ($12.95, spiral bound, ages 4-8)
Mike Herrod’s playful illustrations give the beginnings of many different stories and it’s up to the reader to complete them by adding just the right villain, musical instrument, ice cream cone. Once all the stories have endings, kids can make up their own comics from the start using the blank pages at the end of the book. It’s the perfect gift for an aspiring comics artist!

How to Build an A by Sara Midda ($17.95, hardcover, ages 4-8)
Don’t just learn your letters—build them! It’s a book, it’s a puzzle—and best of all, it’s a way to learn the ABCs. Sara Midda’s delightful How to Build an A comes with 11 fully safety-tested pieces that can be pushed together to build all the letters of the alphabet, uppercase and lowercase. In the accompanying book, Midda shows children the way. Each page introduces a new letter—A is for Apple, B is for Boy—and is illustrated with Midda’s tiny people, who are shown comically hauling and heaving the pieces into place.


A History of Food (New Expanded Edition) by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat ($34.95, hardcover)
The social history of food and it’s relationship to the human race. An encyclopedic fascinating read for those who love to cook or eat.

1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die by Neil Beckett ($36.95, hardcover)
This book is filled with beautiful photography and labels for any palette.

Spain: A Culinary Road Trip by Mario Batali with Gwyneth Paltrow ($34.95, hardcover)
Yep, that strangely addictive show you keep coming across on PBS at the most random times. It’s a cookbook now too.

Casserole Crazy: Hot Stuff for You Oven! by Emily Farris
(15.95, paperback)
From our own Emily Farris, 125 variations on the theme that will have eaters sheepishly sneaking back to the buffet for seconds—and thirds. From Beefy Mac to 5 Ps Italian Casserole, Classic Tuna Noodle to Zucchini and Corn Bake, Emily and celebrity cooking pros have thrown their best casserole recipes into the mix. And since it includes vegetarian, vegan, and lactose- and glucose-free alternatives, everyone can go casserole crazy. Plus: you can get your copy signed by Emily!

How to Cook Everything: Tenth Anniversary Edition by Mark Bitman ($35, hardcover)
The simple, straightforward cookbook that has become a modern classic and kitchen staple. It’s a great reference book for the more experienced cook as well as a perfect introduction for the beginner.

Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times edited by Amanda Hesser
($ 24.95, hardcover)
New York Times Magazine
food editor Amanda Hesser has showcased the food-inspired recollections of some of America’s leading writers—playwrights, screenwriters, novelists, poets, journalists—in the magazine. Eat, Memory collects the twenty-six best stories and recipes to accompany them.


Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem and Farel Darlymple
($29.99, hardcover)
The story of a mute, reluctant super hero from another planet, and the earthly teenager with whom he shares a strange destiny – and the legion of robots that have been sent from afar to hunt the two of them down! Created in 1975 by Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes, the original Omega the Unknown lasted only ten issues, but was a legend to those who recall it – an ahead-of-its-time tale of an anti-hero, inflected with brilliant ambiguity. Award-winning novelist Jonathan Lethem has used the original as a springboard for a superbly strange, funny, and moving graphic novel in ten chapters.

Bat Manga!: the Secret History of Batman in Japan by Chip Kidd ($60, hardcover)
Perfect gift! In 1966, during the height of the first Batman craze, a weekly Japanese manga anthology for boys, Shonen King, licensed the rights to commission its own Batman and Robin stories. A year later, the stories stopped. They were never collected in Japan, and never translated into English. Until now. From the graphic genius of Chip Kidd, a visual exploration of the Dynamic Duo as you’ve never seen them, battling aliens and mutated dinosaurs.

My Brain Is Hangig Upside Down by David Heatley
($24.95, hardcover)
A graphic novel by the creator of Deadpan, divided in five sections: Sex, Race, Mom, Dad and Kin. Autobiography has never been so sincere. My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down is filled with visceral art and emotionally resonant storytelling at once stunning, truthful, and uncomfortably hilarious.

Breakdowns by Art Spiegelman ($27.50, hardcover)
This reprint of Spiegelman’s 1978 collection of comics is a must-have. An absolute masterpiece of graphic storytelling, innovative and rule-breaking, and a gorgeous object designed for your tactile and visual pleasure.

The Lagoon by Lilli Carre ($14.99, hardcover)
We love Lilli Carre. Her first graphic novel (after the wonderful collection Tales of Woodsman Pete) is a gothic tale in the vein of Davis Grubb and Franz Kafka, both haunting and lyrical.

Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville by Ted Stearn ($24.99, hardcover)
Fuzz & Pluck is the wildest, most entertaining comic strip ever. Period.

The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker edited by Robert Mankoff  ($35, softcover)
Indispensable. The cartoons of The New Yorker are a classic, a study of American mores and manners that happens to incorporate boundless laughs.


Prince: 21 Nights by Prince and Randee St Nicholas ($50, hardcover)
Pure Prince fetish. “To know Prince is to know that you probably will never really know him and to question that is a waste of time,” says Randee St Nicholas in the introduction to this lavish volume. A gorgeous collection of photographs and lyrics. A must for all Prince fans and for photography and music lovers

The Rock Bible: Unholy Scripture for Fans and Bands by Henry Owings and Patton Oswalt ($15.95)
The Rock Bible is the word on rock music from an insider’s perspective – a sassy, unconventional guide to the rules of the rock and roll life, featuring chapters on: Genesis, The Gospel According to the Drummer, The Gospel According to he Guitar Players, The Gospel According to The Singer, and more. “So you want to be a rock ‘n roll star…”

Patty Smith: Dream of Life by Steven Sebring ($50, hardcover)
The volume is a collection of 429 photos from the film Patty Smith: Dream of Life. A unique visual experience: grainy, beautiful shots that capture the essence of a fundamental punk rock icon.

The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to The Greatest Songs from Punk to the Present edited by Scott Plagenhoef and Ryan Schreiber
($16, paperback)
The 500 best songs of the past three decades. Or maybe not. Great gift idea.

New York Dolls by Bob Gruen ($24.95, hardcover)
If rock and roll is dead, this book brings it back to life. David Johansen, Johnny Thunders, Sylvain Sylvain, Jerry Nolan and Arthur “Killer” Kane photographed by the sympathetic lens of Bob Gruen.

Cobain Unseen by Charles R. Cross ($35, hardcover)
The definitive book about Kurt Cobain. An unparalleled look inside the brilliant mind of one of America’s most revered rock legends, Cobain Unseen collects previously unseen artifacts and photographs from the estate’s archives to form a fascinating portrait of the creativity and madness. Comes with an audio CD showcasing previously unreleased spoken-word material by Cobain.

The 33 1/3 series (from $9.95 to $10.95 paperback)
A great series of  monographs dedicated to the seminal albums of popular music (the title refers to the speed, 33⅓ revolutions per minute, of an LP album). Launched in September 2003, the series now contains over 60 titles and is acclaimed and loved by fans, musicians and scholars alike.


World Unfurled by Matteo Pericoli ($30, hardcover)
A 10-foot long, accordion-fold drawing, a to-scale replica of Pericoli’s 397-foot-long mural in New York’s American Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. This incredible piece of art captures the beauty of 415 famous buildings from 70 countries melded into a seamless skyline where the Eiffel Tower rubs shoulders with the Brooklyn Bridge. Pericoli’s art speaks to the traveler in us all and serves as a visual reminder that the world is smaller than we think.

Wall and Piece by Banksy ($22.95, paperback)
Everybody need to own a copy of Wall and Piece: the collected works of Britain’s most wanted artist. Artistic genius, political activist, painter, graffiti artist. The work of Banksy is unmistakable (except maybe when it’s squatting in the New York’s Metropolitan Museum or Museum of Modern Art.) Banksy is responsible for decorating the streets, walls, bridges and zoos of towns and cites throughout the world. Witty and subversive, his stencils show monkeys with weapons of mass destruction, policeman with smiley faces, rats with drills and umbrellas. If you look hard enough you’ll find your own. His statements, incitements, ironies and epigrams are by turns intelligent and witty comments on everything from the monarchy and capitalism to the war in Iraq and farm animals.

X-Ray: See Through the World Around You by Nick Veasey
($39.95, hardcover)
Using security scanners and x-ray machines, Nick Veasey creates beautiful,  inside-out images that reveal the intricacy of everyday objects, animals, and plants. Whether the spectacle of an x-rayed Boeing 777, the elaborate geometry of an mp3 player’s circuit boards, or the ethereal grace of a translucent daffodil, each page of this book is an absorbing work of art.

Beat by Cristopher Felver ($29.95, hardcover)
Indispensable. There has never before been a book filled with this many photographs of equal Beat Era personalities — the most comprehensive photography collection of the people, players, and friends of the Beat era in American literature.

Uncovered photographs by Thomas Allen ($24.95, hardcover)
In this darkly delightful first monograph–also a board book–Thomas Allen selects the pulpiest of pulp paperbacks and then lovingly slices out a figure from the cover, gently folds it into position and constructs a witty and oftentimes suggestive scene around it. a unique book that will blow your mind.

All Riot on the Western Front by Winston Smith ($24.95, paperback)
Smith’s work has been featured in Playboy, Spin, and The New Yorker, as well as on album covers for Dead Kennedys, Green Day, DOA, George Carlin, etc. Dinosaurs ravage suburbia while dodos frolic with Gibson girls. Guaranteed to shock and awe!

Stencil 101: Make Your Mark with 25 Reusable Stencils and Step-by-Step Instructions by Ed Roth ($24.95, paperback)
Graphic designer Ed Roth founded the business Stencil1 in Brooklyn in 2005. His iconic reusable stencils have been used and praised by many, including ReadyMade and Bust magazines, and the New York Times. Great fun.


Time Flies When You’re in a Coma: the Wisdom of the Metal Gods by Mike Daly and Mark Weiss ($13, paperback)
Generations of teenagers have turned to the lyrics of eighties metal anthems for guidance and support. Songwriter-producer Mike Daly brings together the philosophical gems of the Metal Gods in a collection of Zen Questions, Daily Affirmations, Meditations, and Words of Wisdom. This hilarious gift book is a heavy-metal banquet for the eyes and soul.

The Disciples by James Mollison ($75, hardcover)
Over a three-year period, James Mollison attended pop concerts across Europe and the United States with a mobile photography studio, inviting fans of each music star or band to pose for a portrait on their way into the concert. The result is The Disciples, an original and highly entertaining series of fifty-seven panoramic images, each featuring eight to ten music fans mimicking the manners and dress of their particular heroes. Featuring fans of Dolly Parton, Iggy Pop, Madonna, Marilyn Manson, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Snoop Dogg, and Motorhead, among many others, The Disciples is a surprising, sharp, and hilarious take on popular culture. The Disciples is launched in an oversize collectors’ edition, exquisitely produced and designed, with each image presented on a large scale.

Holy Sh*t! The World’s Weirdest Comics by Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury ($12.95, hardcover)
Weird + fun. Some of the rare treasures you will encounter in this book are Presidents who become muscle-bound superheroes, cavemen who fight giant tabby cats. But . . .  are you ready for Russia’s busty bombshell Octobriana? What about getting your groove on with Mod Love? How about scaring your kid sister with the flesh-eating animals in The Barn of Fear? And if you can stomach these, you might want to try Fatman the Human Flying SaucerTales of the Leather Nun, and many, many more.

Sleeveface by John Rostron and Carl Morris ($13.95, paperback)
Here is how Sleevefacing works: You find an old-school vinyl record sleeve with a nice head-shot of your musical icon (Elvis or David Bowie or Debbie Harry will do nicely), put the sleeve in front of your face, and strike a pose. Now get someone to snap your photo.

Holy Headshot! A Celebration of America’s Undiscovered Talent by Patrick Borelli and Douglas Gorenstein ($18.95, paperback)
Holy Headshot!
is an amazing collection of the funniest, strangest, most captivating performers’ headshots and resumes you have ever seen. The book throws open the door to the casting director’s office and gives an entertaining peek into the amazing — and sometimes bizarre — world of show business


The B List: The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love edited by David Sterritt and John Anderson
($15.95, paperback)
The films in The B-List are offbeat, unpredictable, and decidedly idiosyncratic. That’s why we love them. That’s why we love this book. A great collection of essays.

Christopher Walken A to Z: The Man-The Movies-The Legend by Robert Schnakenberg
($16.95, paperback)
Is Christopher Walken from Mars? He must be. How else can you explain his incredible range of talents and experiences? He has worked as a lion tamer, he has danced in music videos for Madonna, Duran Duran, and Fatboy Slim, and he has appeared in 100+ films for some of Hollywood’s best directors, including Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, David Cronenberg, and Tim Burton.

Video Hound’s Golden Movie Retriever 2009 by Jim Craddock ($24.95, paperback)
The bible of movie buffs. An invaluable resource: each title is reviewed and rated; plus, it tells you if a film is available on DVD, videotape, or both, and its length, year of release, country of origin, language, subtitles, everything.

Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America by Michael Kantor and Laurence Maslon ($45, hardcover)
Great gift for comedy junkies. A comprehensive history of the genre, from Charlie Chaplin to Jim Carey though Lenny Bruce, with
hundreds of fascinating photographs.

The Animation Bible: A Practical Guide to the Art of Animating from Flipbooks to Flash by Maureen Furniss ($29.95, paperback)
A must-have for everybody who is interested in cartoons. A great volume with lots of still photos, interviews and examples.

Scarface Nation: The Ultimate Gangster Movie and How It Changed America by Ken Tucker ($16.95, paperback)
Brian de Palma’s version of Scarface was trashed by critics when it came out twenty-five years ago and didn’t do well at the box office, but has become a pop culture classic since. What makes millions of people obsess over this movie? Why has Al Pacino’s Tony Montana become the drug kingpin whose pugnacity and philosophy are revered in boardrooms and bedrooms across America?

Cine Mexicano: Poster Art from the Golden Age 1936-1956 by Rogelio Agrasanchez and Charles Ramírez Berg ($19.95, paperback)
Mas! Cine Mexicano: Sensational Mexican Movie Posters 1957-1990
by Rogelio Agrasanchez ($19.95, paperback)
Two gorgeous collections of Mexican movie posters. A colorful and exotic visual experience. Great art.


The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages 1851-2008 ($60.00, hardcover)
This is probably our favorite gift book this holiday season. More than 300 covers have been beautifully reproduced in this gorgeous edition worthy of any coffee-table. The rest are on three DVDs which are completely searchable and user-friendly. Check out the display copy at the store and see for yourself.

President Obama: Election 2008 by the Poynter Insitute
($14.99, paperback)
A collection of over 75 November 5th, 2008 newspaper front pages from around the world, including international, campus, and ethnic newspapers. There is no better statement of the emotion, excitement and significance of this historic event.

The Oxford Project by Stephen G. Bloom and Peter Feldstein
($50, hardcover)
In 1984, photographer Peter Feldstein set out to photograph every single resident of his town, Oxford, Iowa (pop. 676). He converted an abandoned storefront on Main Street into a makeshift studio and posted fliers inviting people to stop by. At first they trickled in slowly, but in the end, nearly all of Oxford stood before Feldstein’s lens. Twenty years later, Feldstein decided to do it again. Only this time he invited writer Stephen G. Bloom to join him, and together they went in search of the same Oxford residents Feldstein had originally shot two decades earlier. Some had moved. Most had stayed. Others had passed away. A great gift, a wonderful document about the passing of time.

Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds ($50, hardcover)
This chronological collection provides an unparalleled view of our evolving appreciation of the female form: from the fifties fantasy of voluptuous blondes to the tawny beach girls of the seventies to the groomed and toned women of today. The Complete Centerfolds is a breathtaking tour de force.


4 Responses to “The Complete WORD Holiday Gift Guide”

  1. Holy smokes this is some list. Christine, you are amazing. If I were still able to read (concentration and time, not ability!) I would get at least 50 percent of your list. I’m proud of you. Love, Laura-Ann

  2. […] to see Walken A-to-Z made Word’s Holiday Gift Guide. In your face, Philip […]

  3. jenandthepen Says:

    […] independent bookstore, Word, also has a great gift guide, divided into useful categories such as “For the Literati,” “For Kids,” and […]

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