Admittedly, we're a bit biased, but we are of the firm opinion that there's no better gift than a book. But the holidays demand something bigger, something better, something more. For times when a simple ink-and-paper tome won't cut it, we present this list of lavish gifts for all the readers in your life.
By Noel Daniel, editor, and Mike Caveney, Ricky Jay and Jim Steinmeyer
Taschen, 544 pages, $79.99
This new edition of one of the most lavish gift books ever produced scales the original down to slightly more manageable size. But it still weighs 12 pounds. Featuring hundreds and hundreds of posters, playbills, photographs, advertisements and other assorted documents of magic, it's an irresistible tour through centuries of wonder. With text in English, French and German, and including writing by the great Ricky Jay, actor and magician, and noted historian of the dark arts.
The Library: A World History
By James W.P. Campbell, photography by Will Pryce
University of Chicago Press, 320 pages, $75
For the book lovers on your list, look no further than this elegant volume documenting the history of libraries. Cambridge historian James W.P. Campbell peppers his prose with fascinating details, and the simple yet striking photography is sure to arouse the envy of bibliophiles everywhere.
The Great War
By Joe Sacco
Norton, 54 pages, $37
A book like no other, Joe Sacco's remembrance of the Battle of the Somme is an unfurlng accordion of pages that, when fully opened, stretches for 24 feet of meticulously detailed illustration. An accompanying booklet explains the elaborate panorama, and it's all wrapped up in an elegant slipcase. The perfect surprise for history lovers and cartoon fans alike.
The Wes Anderson Collection
By Matt Zoller Seitz, introduction by Michael Chabon
Abrams, 336 pages, $45
Jerry Garcia once noted that his band The Grateful Dead was like licorice: not everyone liked it, but those who did liked it a lot. He might as well have been talking about Wes Anderson, the divisive auteur who, for some, is the most talented filmmaker of his generation and for others is an smug, indulgent manchild. If you're in the former camp, this immaculately designed collection of ephemera and interviews is essential reading.
By Luigi Serafini
Rizzoli, 396 pages, $125
It's one of the strangest books you'll ever read. But "read" isn't quite right, for the entirety of the Codex Seraphinianus is written in a language you won't be able to read, no matter what – it's made up, as is everything else in this spectacularly peculiar volume, which functions as an illustrated encyclopedia of an imaginary world. Originally published in 1981, it is now reissued in this stunning edition. Long live its inspiring weirdness.