What the Hell Are You Doing? The Essential David Shrigley , David Shrigley
For the uninitiated, the work of David Shrigley is sort of everything you could ever ask from scratchy line drawings, and a whole lot more. On the one hand, this is art — gallery-style, shown-at-MoMA art. And also it’s funny. And also it’s weird and spastic, and uncomfortable, and savage, and profound, and somehow tender, behind all that. What we’re saying is, this book is for everyone. But you should only give it to people you love, because whomever you give it to will love you back forever.
Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page , Matt Kish
We’ve been following along with Kish’s epic project to illustrate every page of Melville’s Moby Dick since 2009, when we first spotted his work, and were thrilled to see the final product published this October. As far as books for nonreaders go, this one’s pretty much a no-brainer: if you want your pal to experience the greatness that is Moby Dick, but they keep digging their heels in about all those pesky paragraphs, just present them with this stunning book, no reading required. Who knows, it just might inspire them to pick up the novel proper — but either way, it just might get both of you off the hook.
Chicks with Guns , Lindsay McCrum
Though the title may appeal to the lowest common denominator, this is no thinly-veiled pin-up book. McCrum’s project is a beautiful and seriously rendered study of female gun owners in America. Each exquisite portrait is accompanied by the subject’s own musings on her use of firearms, whether they be for self-defense or for pleasure or for work. Whatever your position on gun control, this is a thought-provoking (and visually stunning) study of cultural norms and gender roles, perfect for anyone who likes social commentary, fine photography, or, you know, guns.
Haiku for the Single Girl , Beth Griffenhagen
Not just for single girls (but definitely for any fans of Cathy), we promise that even your most poetry averse girlfriends will fall for these sweet, sardonic, funny haikus poking fun at the life of the singleton. One of our favorites: “I feel its approach./ Inevitable as death./ Internet dating.” But it’s not all bad: “Solitude causes/ loneliness, yes, but also/ Fits of ecstasy.” For a hilarious and adorable preview, watch the book trailer here.
Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found, Sophie Blackall
Earlier this year, we told you about Sophie Blackall’s wonderful work illustrating the postings on Craigslist’s popular Missed Connections page. This fall, her book arrived, full of the dreamlike, often surreal drawings based on real-life searches for the one who got away. This book will make the perfect gift for the friend that checks Missed Connections every time he has a good hair day, those who like quirky illustrations, or anyone with a soft spot for the meet-cute.
Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout , Lauren Redniss
This is the perfect gift for any literature nerd to give to any science geek. An ultra-gorgeous graphic novel about Marie Curie’s discovery of radium and polonium and also her discovery of love, Radioactive is a feat of design, as much a pleasure to leaf through as it is to read. Plus, nerds, the cover is printed in glow-in-the-dark ink, to light your science projects, reading, or whatever else it is you do at night.
Pantone: the 20th Century in Color , Leatrice Eiseman
Color is one of the most powerful visual signals we perceive, a seemingly purposeless quality that brings with it memories, emotions, and even distinct urges (orange makes you hungry, right?). This book explores 100 years of art, advertisements, fashion and other aesthetic trends in terms of color, breaking each era down into its respective palate, and musing on what color trends may reveal about our society at large. Also appropriate for fans of The Giver .
Visual Storytelling: Inspiring a New Visual Language , R. Klanten, S. Ehmann, F. Schulze
While not everyone cares to sit down and read a novel, you can’t deny that storytelling is all around us, and it’s not just coming from the girl on her cell phone at the next table over. In this book you will find some of the best visual storytelling in contemporary art and advertising, from infographics to flowcharts, from the popular “Paris vs. New York” series to Carl Kleiner’s IKEA cookbook, Homemade Is Best . After all, storytelling has been proven over and over again as one of the best learning tools, something that inherently taps into our human desire for narrative. Next step? Short stories. Just saying.
Post-it Note Diaries: 20 Stories of Youthful Abandon, Embarrassing Mishaps, and Everyday Adventure, Arthur Jones
Everyone has time to read a Post-It, right? Based on Arthur Jones’ popular Post-It note reading series, this book collects 20 weird, hilarious and true personal stories from people like John Hodgman, Chuck Klosterman, Kristen Schaal, Mary Roach, and Andrew Bird, and illustrates them all out on Post-It notes. It’s a fun and fresh take on the graphic novel — though, if any of your friends have severe office shell shock this holiday season, we might suggest something that doesn’t involve the little yellow stickies.
A History of the World in 100 Objects , Neil MacGregor
For the history buff in your family, this beautiful book is a unique look at the progress of civilization and the way we are changed by each innovation. As the title suggests, MacGregor has chosen 100 objects, each corresponding to a major turning point in the way humans lived their lives. From the first instances of jewelry to clocks and credit cards, it’s a fascinating journey that will have anyone looking around their homes in a whole new way.