Holiday Book Shopping III

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | 06:30 PM
in Books

This is our third in a series of gift ideas for the holidays (parts one and two 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, and/or leave lying casually strewn about upon coffee tables and other horizontal surfaces. Hence, the fascination with books that intrigue the mind and imagination.

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


Florilegium Imperiale: Botanical Illustrations for Francis I of Austria

This is one of those books you lust after, but its so absurdly expensive, you don't dare buy one for yourself.

But whoever you do get this for will be forever grateful: The prints are utterly gorgeous, the overall look and feel of the book is a beautifully crafted delight.

Perfect for that special art student or gardener  . . .


Spy_wars Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games

Author Tennant Bagley oversaw the CIA's operations against the KGB in the 1960s and is uniquely qualified to take readers deep inside the cold war spy game.

Bagley doesn't pull any punches here, and readers expecting the usual KGB-as-villain, CIA-as-hero story are in for a whole lot of surprises: Bagley reveals that the good guys were just as duplicitous, traitorous, and nasty as the villains. The spy game has never seemed quite so dirty nor the CIA so villainous.

Frederick Kempe: "Pete Bagley''s Spy Wars is a gripping narrative capturing one of the most controversial espionage sagas of the Cold War. His lively, first-hand account as CIA''s former chief of Soviet counter-intelligence provides sobering insights into our dangerous tendency of self-deception."—Frederick Kempe, former Wall Street Journal editor and correspondent


Number_sense Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics

According to mathematician and psychologist Stanislas Dehaene (research affiliate, Institut de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, Paris), mathematics is an inborn skill. The Number  Sense makes a case for the human mind's innate grasp of mathematics. Value systems (such as the Arabic numeral system we use) arose independently in four separate civilizations--evidence of a universal sense of number. The relationship between language and numbers is also well covered.

Also explored: How the brain understands and manipulates numbers and other forms of mathematical information.

Also worth exploring: The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature


Impefect_2 Imperfect Knowledge Economics: Exchange Rates and Risk

John Kay of the Financial Times wrote: "A new book coins the phrase "imperfect knowledge economics" to describe this world of fundamental uncertainty."

Edmund S. Phelps (2006 economics Nobel Prize winner): "This marvelous book by Frydman and Goldberg documents invaluable insights of the 'early modern' theory of capitalism that were lost when the profession endorsed rational expectations equilibrium. . . . Happily for me and, I believe, for the profession of economics, this deeply original and important book gives signs of bringing us back on track--on a road toward an economics possessing a genuine microfoundation and at the same time a capacity to illuminate some of the many aspects of the modern economy that the rational expectations approach cannot by its nature explain."

Sounds good to me . . .


Allen_woodyConversations with Woody Allen: His Films, the Movies, and Moviemaking

I am a huge Woodman fan, so this was an automatic. If you love film and/or Woody, you probably are similarly inclined.

"Compiled over thirty-six years of interviews, conversations, and experiences one could only glean from gaining Allen’s confidence and respect, Conversations is essential reading for aspiring filmmakers and those who wish to eventually put finger to keyboard in hopes of telling a story, but it is no less intriguing for simple cinephiles.” -Los Angeles Times

“Remarkable . . . fresh with an immediacy often missing in a retrospective.”  -The News & Observer


George THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT: With a Little Help From Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty.

The composers of one of America's most popular popular eras in music -- 1920 to 1950 -- is not so much as a formal treatise but rather a fan's exuberant high- spirited riff.

English- born novelist, essayist Sheed shows great love for , and tremendous knowledge of American popular song. He writes with worshipful insight of the two greatest of the founding fathers of this particular American genre, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. Sheed cares for the Music above all and gives preeminence to those who create it - the lyrics are significant but secondary. Sheed writes not only about the major figures, Kern, Berlin, Gershwin, Cole Porter but also about fifty others.

The reader reviews of this book are what makes me want to read it. They obviously had great pleasure in reading it . . .


30,000 Years of Art

30000_2Another spectacular coffee table book:    The book is enormous, with an extraordinary collection of over 1000 high-quality color illustrations, showcasing the evolution of creative arts over diverse cultures from prehistoric to modern times.

Arranged chronologically, each piece is given its own page and a condensed summary of its provenance, key features and cultural context. Book-ended by a ritual ''lion man'' figurine from 28,000 B.C. found in a cave in southern Germany, and an as-yet-unfinished environmental sculpture by American artist James Turrell. The book has two time-lines, one covering major movements in the 13 cultures represented and another comprised of a 28 page horizontal index that sets each piece against major world events.

Another book junkies' delight . . .

Elephant The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us   

I have to admit to never having heard of this book until a reader pointed it out to me.

The author covers India and China for Forbes, and describes the global power shift occurring in India and in China as computers continue to change the way business is conducted. The book tries to "upend conventional wisdom" arguing that the U.S. shouldn't fear either of these countries. (The book does not much address the massive counterfeiting and patent / copyright violations in both nations.

Is China doing better than India -- and why?  The author gives the nod to China, because they moved toward a market economy in 1978, while India began to liberalize in 1991. I find this perplexing, given that China remains a totalitarian communist nation, while  India is a democracy.

Regardless, this looks like an intriguing topic for further exploration. . .


Jim_flora The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora

This book goes beyond the first Flora book, The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora. It's wilder, and has a lot of bizarre fine art works by Flora that have not been shown in public. His album covers (featured in the first book) were fun but mild-mannered compared to the reckless abandon on display in The Curiously Sinister Art. It's hard to believe that Flora is the same guy who created so many cuddly children's books in the 1960s and 1970s. The Curiously Sinister book is definitely for ADULTS, or perhaps for overgrown children with a wicked sense of humor.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | 06:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0) add to | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post



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Thanks! a super selection, I went straight to Amazon and bought a few....really.

Posted by: khars | Dec 12, 2007 8:15:18 PM

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