Ideas for gift giving this holiday season
A thoughtful gift-giver should consider the interests of the recipient in selecting an appropriate present. Here are several suggestions.
All’s Fair in Love and War: The Ultimate Cartoon Book by the World’s Greatest Cartoonists, edited by Bob Eckstein, 144 pages, Princeton Architectural Press hardcover, 2020
This witty and sophisticated anthology of captioned cartoons will be appreciated by anyone who eschews saccharine sentimentality and rhapsodic romanticism. The subjects of love and marriage, divorce and infidelity, same-sex relationships and the war between the sexes, the frisson of love at first sight and the ennui that descends on long-lasting marriages are all fodder for humorous, pithy commentary.
More than 130 cartoons are presented, each reproduced in easy-to-read, full-page black-and-white. They represent the work of more than 40 cartoonists who have appeared in The New Yorker. Their biographies, in a concise one-paragraph format, are included in the back.
The most prolific contributor, with 10 entries, is 67-year-old William Haefeli. Octogenarian Edward Koren, septuagenarian Bob Mankoff and sexagenarian Roz Chast provide several entries each. Their distinctive drawings are recognizable to cartoon aficionados. Their wit, undoubtedly a product of their senior status, is accessible to all.
Cherry Blossoms: Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress, by Mari Nakahara and Katherine Blood, 96 pages, Smithsonian Books hardcover, 2020
The story of D.C.’s cherry blossoms explores the history of Japan’s gift to the United States and the annual celebration of the blossoming trees.
The cherry trees in bloom are a haven of serenity in the nation’s capital. Cherry Blossoms is a keepsake volume that preserves their beauty and elegance no matter the season.
The blossoming cherry trees are situated most prominently along the Tidal Basin in the shadow of the Jefferson Monument. They are a magnet for locals and tourists attracted by their delicate beauty.
Giving this harbinger of spring will be a most welcome gift during winter and a reminder of life before pandemic times. For out-of-town family and friends, it’s an invitation to travel to view these fragile flowers or a memento of a previous trip. To residents — many of whom have made hurried trips to catch the buds at their peak — it is a lovely reminder of spring.
Those with an interest in graphic arts will appreciate the reproductions of more than 20 lithographs, 17 of which are posters that are designed each year to commemorate the annual festival.
Enjoy the 20-plus Japanese drawings and woodblock prints of the Nippon sakura, the Japanese word for cherry blossoms. Eleven elegant watercolor depictions of the delicate species of cherry blossoms are reproduced. Vintage photographs of the early and mid-20th century are sure to please history buffs. Everyone will cherish iconic views of the trees in bloom on the Mall and along the Tidal Basin.
Mari Nakara and Katherine Blood are curators at the Library of Congress. This stunning book is derived from the archived material that is housed at the Library, whose grounds include two of the original 1912 cherry trees.
Best in Show, by Dolly Faibyshev, 132 pages, Chronicle Chroma hardcover, 2020
Shutterbugs and dog lovers will be enchanted by this book. Be charmed at the more than 110 color photos featuring purebred canines. The photographs were all shot at dog shows, including the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club competition, by professional photographer Dolly Faibyshev.
Best in Show identifies neither breeds nor the individual dogs, thereby making this book a purely visual feast. Human faces do not intrude on this dog-centric approach. You’ll catch glimpses of the handlers and groomers (mostly hands and legs), but the emphasis of this book is on the show dogs themselves.
Be mesmerized by the expressive canine emotions depicted in these photos. Peer over the shoulders of handlers as they coax their dogs to be at their best.
You can almost feel the tension mount as the competition heats up. Get a glimpse of the backstage goings-on, the frantic prepping and intense competitiveness of the shows you may have seen in person or watched on television.
This book is the perfect gift for those devoted to their four-legged friends. They will turn the pages with knowing looks, sincere appreciation and broad smiles.