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The most giftable books for the well-travelled aesthete on your shopping list


Style atlases

For the well-travelled aesthete on your list, Maryam Siddiqi selects the holiday season's most giftable books, which transport readers to inspiring locales

Picture perfect

National Geographic Around the World in 125 Years: Asia & Oceania, National Geographic Around the World in 125 Years Europe (Taschen, available Nov. 30), $69.99 (U.S.) each.

In two new titles, National Geographic mines its archives for images that reveal the history, culture, wildlife and geography of countries in Asia and Oceania, and Europe. The transcontinental journeys also span the evolution of photography, from Kodachrome prints to digital images capturing diverse destinations, including the likes of the lost city of Petra in Jordan and the Lascaux cave paintings in Southern France.

Dark matter

Black: Architecture in Monochrome (Phaidon), $59.95.

This visual exploration of the design evolution and beauty of black structures – whether they be houses, libraries, churches or skyscrapers – covers 1,000 years of architecture. Readers can revel in the work of some of the world's top architects, including David Adjaye, Eero Saarinen and Mies van der Rohe.

Graphic novel

Made in North Korea by Nicholas Bonner (Phaidon), $54.95.

Author Nicholas Bonner, who owns a Beijing-based tour company that organizes travel to North Korea, has spent over 20 years collecting colourful and kitschy examples of the isolated country's graphic design. From food packaging to hotel brochures, the assemblage of work in these pages offers a unique glimpse into the lives of North Koreans.

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Colour feels

Spectrum by John Pawson (Phaidon), $79.95.

While minimalist architectural designer John Pawson is known for working mainly in white for clients such as Calvin Klein and London's Design Museum, this vibrant collection of 320 photographs celebrates our rainbow-hued world, from details in nature to manufactured textures. His images capture space and light and how they play off each other.

Map quest

Cities of the World by Stephan Füssel (Taschen), $90.95.

Before there was Google Maps there was the creative art of cartography. This collection of urban maps includes all the major cities in Europe as well as significant destinations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The work, from over 100 artists and cartographers, includes illustrations of local dress and topography to complement the plans.

Gone ornamental

Mosques: Splendours of Islam by Leyla Uluhanli (Rizzoli), $100.

The colours, patterns and architectural designs of more than 50 mosques from around the world are showcased through 325 stunning photographs, which are accompanied by essays from cultural academics and thinkers, including Prince Amyn Aga Khan. It's a visual journey through the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires.

Made in Japan

Homes in Japan by Francesca Chiorino (Mondadori, available Nov. 21), $67.50.

This deep dive into 20 homes from across the East Asian country – the first comprehensive look at contemporary Japanese home design – reveals how emerging and established Japanese architects find harmony between nature and man-made structures. Architectural renderings and photographs are given context through Francesca Chiorino's text.

Cuba libro

Havana Living Today: Cuban Home Style Now by Hermes Mallea (Rizzoli), $75.

While many of the Cuban capital's buildings look like they've been frozen in time, behind Havana's front doors, interior design has been evolving. Author Hermes Mallea visits grand homes turned holiday guesthouses, artists' home studios and even the abode of Norway's ambassador to the island nation to learn how design traditions are being adapted.

Buon appetito

Recipes from an Italian Butcher by The Silver Spoon Kitchen (Phaidon), $59.95.

Travel through Italy can't help but tickle your taste buds, and this collection of 150 illustrated recipes – many published for the first time in English – brings the best of Italian kitchens to readers. From chicken cacciatore to osso buco, Italian butchers share their knowledge about cuts, cooking methods and side dishes to complement each meaty main.

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