gift reviews

It’s that time of year again: coming up! Gift reviews! Oh wait, I should explain. I was well into telling Husband about this year’s prospects for gift reviews with Shelf Awareness, when he stopped me to ask who they are gifts for. I see I was unclear. These books are sent to me for *special* gift reviews: meaning, they are reviewed for a Shelf Awareness special issue that reviews books that might be given as gifts in the holiday season. Often these are coffee table style books. I’ve been writing gift reviews for, oh, several years for the Shelf – you can see some here.

So I’m excited this year to have received three big, beautiful coffee table books for gift-reviewing. Husband mostly no longer gets excited for me when books come in the mail! so I especially wanted to share these with you.

Ships, Clocks, and Stars: The Quest for Longitude by Richard Dunn and Rebekah Higgittships


For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw by Nancy Marie Mithlo and the Smithsonian Institutionfor love


Great Bear Wild: Dispatches from a Northern Rainforest by Ian McAllister, with a foreword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.great bear


Beautiful, no? Reviews to come… oh, but if you want an early tip, let me say that I adored The Story of My Heart by Richard Jefferies, republished with commentary by Terry Tempest Williams and Brooke Williams. As just a tiny little book, both a pleasure to read and thought-provoking, and easily taken in small pieces, I think it would make an ideal stocking stuffer for… well, any number of different loved ones, really.

The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things by Anna Holmes

A colorful and clever reference guide to life as a woman that readers can enjoy straight through, cover to cover.

jezebel

The Book of Jezebel, edited by the creator of the popular feminist website with contributions from many of its writers, is an illustrated encyclopedia of “lady things.” The Jezebel definition of lady things includes body parts, clothing, historical and contemporary women in pop culture, literature and politics–and women’s issues related to feminism, reproductive rights and relationships. It also contains an “ode to female friendship,” (mostly) humorous attacks on certain public figures and plenty of photographs and illustrations that add to the book’s informational value and its hilarity.

Although often funny, The Book of Jezebel is serious in its underlying intent, aspiring to balance empowerment with femininity. It’s not just for women, but for men who love them as well.


This review originally ran in the November 29, 2013 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!


Rating: 8 steps.

Football Nation: Four Hundred Years of America’s Game

A multifaceted, pictorial perspective on America’s favorite sport.

football nationa

With the aid of awe-inspiring images from the Library of Congress, Susan Reyburn (Baseball Americana) masterfully recounts a detailed history of the gridiron in Football Nation. From colonial times to the commercialism of contemporary professional and college ball, Reyburn offers a look at football’s journey toward becoming the most popular sport in the country.

With previously unreleased images, including cartoons, illustrations and photographs, Reyburn traces the historical relationship between the United States and the game. Fans will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sport, but even casual followers of the game will be enthralled with an unprecedented depth of perspective on this glamorized spectacle in history and in popular culture. Football Nation is an appealing read for anyone remotely interested in what many call the United States’ most popular sport–and how it got that way.


This review originally ran in the November 29, 2013 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

On Arctic Ground: Tracking Time Through Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve by Debbie S. Miller

A call for the preservation of Alaska’s natural heritage, with exquisite photos.

At 23 million acres, Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve is the largest single unit of public lands in the United States, none of it permanently protected. Rich in oil, gas and coal, it is also home to an astounding diversity of plants and animals, many endangered and threatened; the migratory birds of six continents begin their lives in the Reserve. Debbie S. Miller’s On Arctic Ground is a striking plea for the conservation of this irreplaceable natural space.

Although it can be read cover to cover, the best way to enjoy this book is to take its short chapters one by one. Each provides mind-boggling details–like the bar-tailed godwit’s nonstop, 7,000-mile migration from western Alaska to New Zealand–and makes the starkly moving point that this incomparable area is highly vulnerable. Breathtaking full-page pictures throughout offer stunning portrayals of the Reserve’s strange and spectacular life forms.


This review originally ran in the Nov. 23, 2012 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!


Rating: 8 caribou.

Italian Racing Bicycles by Guido Rubino

A beautiful book of pictures and stories about everything related to the fine art of Italian race bikes.

Passionate fans of Italian bicycles, professional bicycle racing, the history of the sport and/or fine craftsmanship must add Italian Racing Bicycles to their collections. It’s not just about bicycles, as the title suggests, but about the companies that made (and still make) them and about the Italian cyclists who ride competitively. Top-of-the-line Italian bikes are works of art as well as masterpieces of function, and Guido Rubino considers 40 of the finest manufacturers: their histories, likely futures, personalities and history-making products. The indispensable Colnago, Campagnolo and Bianchi brands are covered, as are the men who originally bore those names. Racing greats such as Coppi, Pantani, Sarroni and Bartali, whose performances helped establish the legacies of these companies, receive well-deserved attention here as well (along with select non-Italians like Eddy Merckx). Plenty of beautiful pictures complete this lovely coffee-table book.


This review originally ran in the December 6, 2011 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty

A respectful and compelling salute to Medal of Honor winners through brief profiles and striking portraits.

Medal of Honor begins with a thoughtful, detailed yet succinct history of the Congressional Medal of Honor, providing an excellent introduction to the subject; later chapters include letters from every living U.S. president and short essays on wars from World War II through Afghanistan. But Peter Collier’s real achievement lies in the 144 profiles of Medal of Honor recipients, representing every branch of the military, accompanied by Nick Del Calzo’s stunningly beautiful photographic portraits. Collier’s profiles tell of the circumstances leading to each citation, along with details of the recipients’ lives that illuminate themes of humility, friendship and service. With one page devoted to each, Medal of Honor makes for easy coffee-table reading, and it’s tempting to read them all in one sitting. This incredibly touching commemoration transcends politics to celebrate the contributions of brave, and selfless individuals in simple, glowing stories.


This review originally ran in the December 6, 2011 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

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