Holiday Book Shopping IV

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 | 10:03 PM
in Books

This is our fourth (and final) in a series of gift ideas for the holidays (parts one and two and three are here)

As previously mentioned, I am a terrible book junkie, with many more books than I could ever possibly read in a given lifetime, or strew casually about upon coffee tables and other horizontal surfaces.

These are interesting if wholly unrelated titles that most book lovers you know would be delighted to receive as a gift . . .


OvertreatedOvertreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer   

This book was NYT business reporter David Leonhardt's choice for the economics book of the year.

Americans spend between one-fifth and one-third of health-care dollars on unnecessary treatments, medications, devices, and tests. What's worse, there are an estimated 30,000 deaths per annum caused by this unnecessary care.

The reason for what amounts to a national delusion that more care is better care is rooted, she says, in a build-it-and-they-will-come paradigm that rewards doctors and hospitals for how much care they deliver rather than how effective it is.


Big_history_2Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present:

I find the conceit of this book intriguing: Beginning with the origin of the universe, the author attempts to show that history is more than the written records of the gadfly species Homo sapiens. Covering Earth's history from the big bang through the development of life and the growth of civilization.

I also love the odd little details: The gold in the ring on your finger has to be more than 4.5 billion years old.

The interweaving of historical knowledge and science -- a synthesis of physics, biology, anthropology, and narrative history -- looks to make a very intriguing read.


Muscle_car_2Muscle Car Confidential:      

A tell-all from the man who tested the best of the muscle cars -- Joe Oldham was "up to his eyeballs" in the muscle of the era. The cars he vetted for some of the top car magazines range from the 1964 GTO to the 1976 Trans Am 455 HO -- twenty-four in all. 

A behind-the-scenes look at how these cars earned their performance numbers, this book gives a firsthand sense of what it was like to live in the muscle car era, and to help create the myth that lives on today.

Ahhh, ahhh AArrgghh uhhh!  . . . More power!~


Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History    

Contours_of_the_world_economy_12030This is our wonk selection of the evening:  The book seeks to "identify the forces which explain how and why some parts of the world have grown rich and others have lagged behind."

Encompassing 2000 years of history, part 1 begins with the Roman Empire and explores the key factors that have influenced economic development in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. Part 2 covers the development of macroeconomic tools of analysis from the 17th century to the present. Part 3 looks to the future and considers what the shape of the world economy might be in 2030.

Combining both the close quantitative analysis with a more qualitative approach that takes into account the complexity of the forces at work, this book looks to be a fascinating overview of world economic history. 


Sinatra_2Sinatra: Frank and Friendly, A Unique Photographic Memoir of a Legend   

If you are a Sinatra fan (like me), this one looks to be a no brainer:  A massive collection of Frank in his hey day by famed photographer Terry O'Neill.

He was photographing 'The Beatles and the Rolling Stones' while they were still boys; O'Neill has a gift for earning the trust and the friendship of the famous and the infamous. His photography made him an intimate of many icons, and they invited him "inside", behind the limelight of their celebrity."

O'Neill's discerning eye and unlimited access captures a relationship that spanned three decades, and takes us behind the scenes of Sinatra's career -- on the road, at home and backstage,In the age of paparazzi, doorstep photography, and on big-budget publicity shoots.


Atlas_of_wineThe World Atlas of Wine:

(Completely Revised and Updated 2007)

Hailed by critics worldwide as “extraordinary” and “irreplaceable,” there are few volumes that have had as monumental an impact in their field as Hugh Johnson’s The World Atlas of Wine: sales have exceeded four million copies, and it is now published in thirteen languages.

The atlas is described as "gorgeous" - with lots of color illustrations, photos, and maps.

The perfect gift for that Oenophile whom you are always afraid to buy wine for -- now, you know what to get them.


Absolute_dark_knightAbsolute Dark Knight

On its publication in 1986, Frank Miller's THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS changed the landscape of the graphic novel irrevocably.

With its dark vision of Batman's future and its stunning artwork, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS set the comic world on fire. 15 years later, Miller's sequel, THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN, further redefined the boundaries of the superhero genre.

Now, both of these are collected in one single edition. At $99, its the sort of thing that you might not get for yourself, but any graphic novel who is the lucky recipient of this weil be thrilled and delighted . . .


Diaries_19691979_the_python_yearsMichael Palin Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years   

This looked interesting by author alone, until I saw the Washington Post's Book review:

Palin tells us up front that "I have kept a diary, more or less continuously, since April 1969," when he was 25 years old, married with a six-month-old son, and "had been writing comedy with Terry Jones since leaving university in 1965." He has continued the diary for "nothing more complicated" than "to keep a record of how I fill the days." A diary, he says, "is an antidote to hindsight," and continues:

"It seals the present moment and preserves it from the tidying process of context, perspective, analysis and balance. It becomes history, but quite unselfconsciously. What proves to be important over a long period is not always what a diarist will identify at the time...

Though the emergence of the Python show and the subsequent phenomenon is traced here in fits and starts, there is more than enough in these 600-plus pages about the show, its cast members, its ups and downs to satisfy all but the most ravenous Python addicts..."



Japan's answer to Andy Warhol: Takashi Murakami is one of contemporary art’s most innovative and important figures.

Drawing from a combination of street culture, high art, and traditional Japanese painting, Murakami takes the contemporary art trend of mixing high and low to an unprecedented level, producing original paintings and sculptures as well as mass-produced consumer objects such as toys, books, and most famously, a line of handbags for Louis Vuitton.

Whimsical, odd, fascinating, and fun.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007 | 10:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0) add to | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post



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want a better tidbit - that gold, and every other element heavier than iron, was created in a supernova, which exploded 4.5 Gy or more ago, whose remnants gave rise to our solar system.

as Sagan said "We are made of stardust"

Posted by: marcello | Dec 20, 2007 2:00:12 AM

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