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Books, glorious books! Looking for a great gift for the holidays? We’ve rounded up 10 coffee-table beauties sure to please just about everyone on your list, from the sports fan to the Meghan Markle-obsessed.
1. “Modern Monarchy: The British Royal Family Today”
Photography and text by Chris Jackson | Rizzoli
What it’s about: The pomp, the circumstance, the clothes, the jewels, and, of course, the glamorous new American royal, Duchess Meghan. Getty Images photographer Chris Jackson, who has followed every move of the British royal family for the past 15 years, serves up his most dazzling shots.
What’s to love: Royals fans will feast on this splendid banquet of a book showcasing the Windsors, from the queen’s colorful outfits (her black patent leather handbag gets a close-up on page 111) to the youngest generation’s charm offensives (hello, Prince George!).
2. “Spectacle: Rare and Astonishing Photographs”
Foreword by Mark Thiessen | National Geographic
What it’s about: A worldwide armchair adventure in drama of the human and animal variety. Even inanimate objects, such as rusted-out fishing ships left to rot in the dried-up Aral Sea, are somehow beautiful as captured by National Geographic’s talented lens-men and women.
What’s to love: Can we still be awed by pictures, in a world in which everyone with a cellphone is a documentarian? NatGeo again makes the case that the best photographers have something new and, yes, awe-inspiring to show us.
3. “Tasting Italy”
Foreword by Jack Bishop | National Geographic
What it’s about: America’s Test Kitchen and National Geographic team up for this spectacularly produced “culinary journey” through Italy, complete with 100 recipes for temptations like Cacio e pepe (Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper) and Steamed Mussels with Spicy Tomato Sauce.
What’s to love: This handsome volume is really two books in one: a travel guidebook and a cookbook. Anyone who’s ever been to Italy – or enjoyed a bowl of pasta (isn’t that everyone?) – will sigh with pleasure over this delicious, multicourse “Tasting.”
By Joanna Gaines | Harper Design
What it’s about: The HGTV/Magnolia star brings her low-key, Texas-inspired decorating style to the page in this “guide to creating spaces you never want to leave.”
What’s to love: Fans can channel their inner Joanna by following her signature “Fixer Upper” design tips; or just sit back, relax, and enjoy peeking into the rooms on display, many from the Gaines family’s farmhouse in Waco.
By Alex Ross and Chip Kidd | Pantheon
What it’s about: Painter Alex Ross elevates mere comics to almost mythic status, and “Marvelocity” collects his most eye-popping cinematic renderings of Spider-Man (and Spider-Woman), Captain America, the X-Men and a host of fantastical warriors.
What’s to love: It’s Marvel’s world, and we just live in it. Any comics (or Marvel movie) fan will drool over this Marvel-ous superhero retrospective.
By Jane Mount | Chronicle
What it’s about: Author/illustrator Jane Mount has curated a clever and visually appealing love letter to books, assembling reading lists (short stories, cult classics) along with snippets (with drawings) on bookstore cats, iconic covers, authors’ writing rooms, even the popular “little free libraries” found around the country.
What’s to love: This quirky, whimsical and just plain fun “illustrated miscellany” will be a welcome addition to any bookshelf – although it’s more likely to be off the shelf, thumbed through and smiled at, as one says, “Oh, I need to read that book!”
7. “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play”
By Kobe Bryant; photographs by Andrew D. Bernstein | MCD/FSG
What it’s about: The retired NBA superstar explains how he got to the top of his game, through words (“From the beginning, I wanted to be the best”) and lots and lots of game-action photos.
What’s to love: For the sports (and especially hoops) fan, “The Mamba Mentality” is the next best thing to a courtside seat watching Bryant drive to the basket during his glory days with the L.A. Lakers.
8. “Harry Potter: A History of Magic”
By the British Library | Scholastic
What it’s about: The wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter comes to life in this companion volume to the British Museum’s “History of Magic” exhibit, currently at the New-York Historical Society (through Jan. 27).
What’s to love: Can’t make it to New York? This complete exhibit catalog contains 150+ artifacts that inspired J.K. Rowling’s imagination (a narwhal’s tusk?), along with manuscripts, letters and artwork by Potter illustrators Mary GrandPre, Jim Kay and Brian Selznick.
9. “Hindsight & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me”
By Justin Timberlake | Harper Design
What it’s about: J.T. gives fans a peek behind the curtain to reveal his creative process in this photo-packed celebration of his mega-career, from his musical childhood in Memphis, through the Disney and NSYNC days, to those ha-ha moments on “SNL” and today, as a 37-year-old dad at a “crossroads” in his life.
What’s to love: He may forever be bringing SexyBack, but what’s sweetest about “Hindsight” is Timberlake’s tender musings about his wife (“Jess,” as he calls Jessica Biel) and son, Silas. Cry me a river!
10. “The Animal Kingdom: A Collection of Portraits”
By Randal Ford | Rizzoli
What it’s about: Another book of animal photographs? This one stands out from the herd. Randal Ford literally shoots “portraits” of lions and tigers and bears (and pigs and hens and sloths and horses and cows and chimps) in a studio setting against a white backdrop. (Many were brought to the studio from zoos.)
What’s to love: These arresting, often startling images are somehow both intimate and remote, as if Ford were a 21st century John James Audubon, wielding a camera instead of a paintbrush. (Don't miss the fascinating stories Ford tells in the back about each photo session.)
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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: 10 coffee-table books perfect for the book lover on your gift list