During the period I’ve been covering the book beat for this newspaper, many readers have told me they appreciate my annual lists of books that would make great gifts. I always reveal my gift ideas on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Here are my dozen suggestions for 2017:
“Greater Gotham — a History of New York City from 1898 to 1919” by Mike Wallace (Oxford, 1,182 pages, $45).
The first volume of this compelling history of New York City won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. This second volume was originally intended to cover the years from 1898 through WWII. But that book would have been over 3,000 pages long. So it was cut down to cover just this 21-year period. These incredible history books read like novels. An ideal gift for history buffs.
“Pink Floyd — All the Songs — the Story Behind Every Track” by Jean-Michel Guesdon and Philippe Margolin (Black Dog and Leventhal, 592 pages, $50).
The progressive rock band Pink Floyd has a devoted fan base. This encyclopedic analysis of every song the group recorded will be a must have for Pink Floyd completists.
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“The Landmark Julius Caesar — the Complete Works” edited by Kurt A. Raaflaub (Pantheon, 804 pages, $50).
Ancient-history buffs will delight in this collection of Julius Caesar’s writings. They chronicle his many successful military campaigns as the Roman conquest of Europe, northern Africa, and central Asia provided this brilliant general with the momentum and fame he needed before he could assume complete imperial rule. Fascinating.
“The Vietnam War — an Intimate History” by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns (Knopf, 614 pages, $60).
If you avidly watched the recent PBS television series, then this companion volume could merit a spot on the coffee table. Astounding photography.
“Bridges — a History of the World’s Most Spectacular Spans” by Judith Dupre (Black Dog and Leventhal, 176 pages, $29.99)
This book is laid out to read sideways so that each impressive bridge it features can be viewed spanning the full 18 inches on a page. An unusual treat for lovers of impressive architecture.
“Oxford Atlas of the World — Twenty-Third Edition” (Oxford, 448 pages, $89.95)
The latest yearly update of the Oxford Atlas is massive. It weighs in at almost eight pounds. It offers readers a trove of maps, satellite photos, charts, graphs, and statistics.
“The Moderns — Midcentury American Graphic Design” by Steven Heller and Greg D’Onofrio (Abrams, 336 pages, $55).
This collection of visual eye candy showcases over 60 designers who were on the cutting edge of mid-20th century graphic design. Beautifully illustrated with their work on record album covers, posters, packaging, book and magazine covers and advertisements.
“Cover Me — the Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time” by Ray Padgett (Sterling, 232 pages, $22.95)
Many big musical hits have been cover songs that artists recorded in their own unique styles. This book examines famous records by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Who, Talking Heads, Johnny Cash and more.
“A Man and His Watch — Iconic Watches and the Stories from the Men Who Wore Them” by Matt Hranek (Artisan, 216 pages, $35).
A fine wristwatch can cost a lot of money. If you know somebody who has a thing for exquisite timepieces they might get a kick out of this collection of close up photos and stories about some very rare objects. It comes in a lovely slipcase.
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“Willie Nelson — American Icon” (Sterling, 208 pages, $29.95)
It seems like the singer Willie Nelson has been around forever. This large format biography is jammed with classic photos and information about this enduring country music star.
“Norse Myths — Tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki” by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Candlewick Studio, 226 pages, $27.99)
Young adult readers might enjoy this informative collection of Norse tales about the gods and goddesses of ancient legend and mythology. The artwork is magnificent.
“The Authorized Roy Orbison” by Roy Jr., Wesley and Alex Orbison (Center Street, 254 pages, $30).
Roy Orbison was a huge musical star who reinvented himself time and again before his death at a relatively young age. This loving tribute was written by his sons. They have included hundreds of classic photos, memorabilia and ephemera relating to their father’s career.