Beautiful books for everyone on your list
Books that take readers pictorially to unique places and times are fun to peruse. They also make great gifts.
Many books that are received as gifts become treasured keepsakes, especially if a thoughtful and heartfelt inscription is added. Moreover, a book of photographs with accompanying text can be enjoyed repeatedly and at greater leisure than a visit to a museum exhibit.
Here are some coffee table books that you might consider giving — or making your very own.
France is a Feast is a collection of beautiful photographs of Paris and Marseilles in the late ‘40s to mid-‘50s. These French cities are depicted as they returned to the tranquility of the post-war years.
Images of cobblestone streets, narrow alleys, the River Seine, and the waterfront of Marseilles are just a few of the more than two hundred black-and-white photographs that capture the aura and mood of those places and times.
An added bonus is the talented amateur behind the camera lens — the late Paul Child, diplomat and husband of the late Julia Child. The future celebrity chef is shown in many of the photos posed alongside iconic buildings, at home, and in picturesque outdoor settings.
The accompanying text tells the story of the fascinating life of Paul and his loving marriage to Julia, whose career he nurtured. Mrs. Child blossomed during her years in Paris. She was inspired by the flavors of the local cuisine, studied the classic techniques of French gourmet cooking, and started writing, with her collaborators, her groundbreaking first cookbook.
Paul Child’s poetry and excerpts from his letters add a touch of grace to this stunning volume.
Photographs from France is a Feast are on exhibit in Napa, California, through February. But you needn’t travel there to enjoy scenes that transport you to this continental mid-century magical milieu. Return time and again to these romantic destinations by opening the book and turning its pages. What a magnificent gift to give yourself or a special loved one!
New York’s Lower East Side was once predominantly the home of Jewish immigrants. Free from the constraints of Old World persecution, their way of life flourished in freedom’s soil. To many, the Lower Manhattan street names — Essex, Orchard, Allen, Ludlow, Delancey and Hester — evoke a deep, nostalgic response.
With time, the neighborhood has gentrified, the immigrant generation has passed on, and their progeny Americanized. The nature of the neighborhood has changed.
Remnants is a lovingly compiled book of exquisite photographs depicting what remains of the Jewish Lower East Side. The photographs were shot beginning in 2008, with the exception of one taken in 1999. They record for posterity the rich and unique lifestyle that tugs at the heartstrings.
Reading about the neighborhood and viewing the photographs remind the reader of a community that centered around family and faith. The reverence afforded the subjects is commendable. The esthetic appeal of the photographs makes the book a truly accomplished work of art to be treasured.
The story of the official residence of the Vice President as told by Charles Denyer is sure to delight lovers of history, politics, Americana and interior design. This lavishly illustrated book tells the tale of Number One Observatory Circle, which old time-Washingtonians will remember as the imposing home of the Chief of Naval Operations, situated up a hill on Massachusetts Avenue.
This historic mansion was designated the official residence of the Vice President beginning with the tenure of Nelson Rockefeller, who used it only for official functions. It truly became a family home when the Mondales moved in.
Although all succeeding veeps have taken up residence there, it is still by law temporary. Learn this and other interesting trivia while admiring the interior and grounds. Get an intimate look at the Second Families in posed settings and candid moments.
You’ll find especially touching the tribute to the late Joan Mondale by her adoring husband. Read about the mostly unheralded contributions of our nation’s Second Ladies. Relive the history of the modern vice presidency through the domicile of the men who were “a heartbeat away.”
For anyone who has been inspired by the life of President John F. Kennedy, JFK: A Vision for America is a must read.
This book is a literary, historical and photographic compendium of immense value. It includes the many speeches of JFK, and essays by historians, public figures and journalists in appreciation of his unique vision.
The photographs include candid shots of the Kennedy family, and a timeline summarizing the key moments of his life and times. Magazine covers and political paraphernalia are showcased. Jackie is given her due, and the book covers with great elan her years as the Senator’s wife and the nation’s First Lady.
This year marks the centennial of JFK’s birth. The book evokes warm and wonderful memories for those of us who lived in that era. It also reminds us of an idealism that flourished when we were young.