Image from Hurricane Katrina included in Decade.
There are books, and then there are deluxe books. They're like normal books, but more badass. Hulking assemblages of essays, photographs, art, and comics are always a solid gift choice for anyone on your holiday shopping docket. To make wading through the waters of compendiumage easier, we've compiled a handy little list of the most deluxest of deluxe books. There's something here for everyone; the sports fan, the McSweeney’s-reading hipster, the curious culinary adventurer, and the crate-digging vinylphile. This rundown will surely help you strike a few bookish friends off your gift-giving to-do list.
THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN
EDITED BY DAVID REMNICK | RANDOM HOUSE | 492 PAGES | $30
Sports writing is not exactly what the New Yorker is most admired for, but in this anthology, editor David Remnick showcases over thirty brilliant, incisive, hilarious, and deeply moving sports essays from the magazine's 85-year history. From Tiger Woods to dogsledding, Ted Williams to ping-pong, Rocky Marciano to Arctic swimming, the collection pieces together a stunning portrait of our national love for sports. New Yorker perennials Roger Angell and John Updike wax poetic on baseball courage, Don DeLillo gets all postmodern on football, and Malcolm Gladwell explains in excruciating detail the psychological terror of choking (spoiler alert: you can’t control it and it sucks). Icing on the cake: a generous sprinkling of sports-related cartoons from the magazine.
EDITED BY DAMIAN DUFFY & JOHN JENNINGS | MARK BATTY PUBLISHER | 176 PAGES | $45
Despite the comics boom of the past 10 years, the African-American independent-comics community has, for the most part, been left in the cold. Black Comix, a visually stunning and masterfully organized casebound collection, brings together many of the leading voices in this community, showcasing their work — which ranges from airbrushed subway superheroes to mythical beings and domestic urban drama — while framing it in a broader social and political context. A foreword by Keith Knight addresses the American public's continued discomfort with black cartoonists, and several essays discuss the Museum of Black Superheroes, the story of Brotherman, what happened to Tribe, and the influence of manga. Kenjji Marshall, Afua Richardson, and Boston's own Rob Stull are just three of over 50 contributors, all of whom are given full-page spreads that include their own artistic mission statement and a gorgeous collage of representative panels. A fantastic introduction to the uninitiated and great resource for someone interested in discovering new artists, Black Comix is, at its core, a veneration of contemporary, independent comics culture.
BY SCOTT JORDAN, WITH PHOTOGRAPHY BY J. K. PUTNAM | MARK BATTY PUBLISHER | 128 PAGES | $27.95
Pictures of animal skulls don't generally make good holiday gifts, but self-proclaimed "urban archeologist" Scott Jordan has spent the past 40 years diligently combing abandoned buildings, landfills, construction sites, and other generally charming areas of New York's five boroughs, uncovering the cultural ephemera of a city teeming with a diverse and robust history. Past Objects showcases the exquisite, often creepy beauty of these recovered objects, like the 18th century antique bottle collections differentiated by color — from "lockport green" to "tones of amber" — as well as the meticulous obsession of their curator. Putnam's gorgeous, reverent photographs do perfect justice to the items in Jordan's collection, from pre-Civil-War-era ceramic plates used to teach children their ABCs, to nightmare-inducing disembodied doll heads, all paired with a brief description and the location in which they were found.