There is a oh so brief lull in publishing this week, as bookstores creak under the weight of all the new books that have been hauled in to our stores during the “fall” season. Basically, if publishers are going to get books in front of your eyeballs before Christmas, they need to be in the stores already so as to give us time to find prominent places to put them so they catch your eye. And while we’re off doing that, this week’s newsletter is going to be the equivalent of dangling shiny objects in front of you—i.e., fancy picture books.
Like, DK’s Fashion. As with all DK books, this is fabulously attired, and it is a pictorial history of fashion, all the way from early Stone Age outliers to 21st century visionaries. Every page jumps forward a couple of decades, and even just idly looking through this book, you can watch the evolution of fancy dress and everyday attire. We love this book, and you might have to pry it out of our hands if you wish to take it home.
And speaking of timeless beauty and fantastic attire, we’ve also got Mihaela Noroc’s The Atlas of Beauty, a collection of five hundred portraits of women from all over the world. The Atlas began as a blog, but has since grown into this intimate and moving collection of faces from so many different cultures and ethnicities. Noroc has an incredible ability to capture so much story in a single portrait, and this book is filled with many, many courageous and strong personalities.
[We looked at all five hundred of the pictures because, well, every single woman was engaged in a honest moment of sharing herself with total strangers, and we needed to honor that. And, uh, yeah, we don’t really know how to follow up this book. Give us a moment. There’s a lot of dust in the air or something. Look over here for a second while we get our sh*t together.]
Hey, look! A shelf full of sort of pocket sized Taschen art books! Well, you have to have enormous pockets, but still, relative to the more normal size of Taschen’s always fantastic books, these nifty sized models are like getting the mass market paperback of the latest Stephen King opus and taking it to go. Except, instead of eleventy-million pages of text, these have four or five hundred pages of gorgeous pictures. Like, all of Edward Curtis’s photographs of Native Americans, for instance. Soon-to-be-classic contemporary houses, for another. Monet, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, da Vinci! Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Curiosities! 1000 Record Covers! Tree houses (a favorite)!
So many choices. Too many, probably; our brains tend to explode when we have too many choices. Which is why we are thrilled with how Atlas Obscura has hand-picked some of the best of the weird for their 2018 travel posters calendar. Designed much like the national park posters calendar, the images for the Atlas Obscura calendar are iconic and eye-catching, which makes us want to pack our bags and report remotely during 2018.
And speaking of reporting remotely, how about Lindsey Tramuta’s The New Paris, a delightful expose of how the City of Romance is tackling the new millennium, with lots of great photographs by Charissa Fay.
And speaking of breathing new life into the old, Ree Drummond has a new autumnal-influenced cookbook. Come and Get It! is the latest in the Pioneer Woman Cooks series, and as you may know, her recipes are chock full of step-by-step photographic evidence. There’s no “get all the ingredients and voilá! Meatball Tortilla Soup!” Drummond provides lots of pictorial reference so you know exactly what the dish is supposed to look like when it’s not ready for the family table.
And for those who are a little more daring in their kitchen adventures, we have 10,000 Cocktails which is an ingenious boozy flip flap book. With pictures, of course. You start with the top of the glass, pick a liquor for the middle, and then choose a mess of ingredients. Can you make 10,000 distinct cocktails? Ask us next month.
And speaking of mixing and matching parts, we also have the oversized edition of J. K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In series with the illustrated editions, this book is filled with awesome illustrations by Olivia Lomenech Gill, bringing all of Rowling’s fantastic beasts to eye-popping and colorful life.
And finally, because sometimes you don’t need pictures or a thousand words when a few bon mots delivered in a gravel-filled voice will suffice, we have Jocko Willink’s Discipline Equals Freedom, a field manual for life. Now, Jocko knows a thing or two about field manuals and discipline, and his book boils everything—and we’re talking everything—down to a few precise instructions. For instance, his recommendation for getting up earlier is: “Go to bed. When your alarm goes off, get up.”
And so, our sign-off this week should be read in Jocko’s voice. “Get yourself a book. Or two. However many make you happy, because your happiness isn't something that someone gives to you. You don't get happiness. You make it. Yourself. Much like you peel an orange or dig a hole. And so, with your own hands—those same hands that make happiness—open that book. Read it. Now go outside and make eye contact with another person. Tell them about the book. Smile. Because that’s what people do. And if you don’t feel better about yourself, you're doing it wrong. Get another book."