Hardcover Christmas: Five Titles

I think it’s been fairly well established that books make great presents, wouldn’t you agree? It must then be said that a wonderful hardcover book is possibly one of the best gifts that one person can give another…

They’re readable, durable and substantial. They wrap so nicely, sit on the shelf so proudly, and can be enjoyed many times over.

Today I’ve got five hardcover titles that I’ve received throughout the year that I think would make really interesting gifts this Christmas.

text and drugs and rock n rollFirst up is Simon Warner’s Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll (Bloomsbury)… Exploring the connection between the the Beat Generation and rock (and jazz), this book has it all. This is the kind of book that I would have saved up for for ages as a teenager, and then taken a full year to read. It’s a collection of well-researched, well-written essays, stories and accounts capturing the ghosts of Ginsberg, Felinghetti, Kerouac and co. all wrapped up in the music of their time; Jazz, Dylan, and others.

My favourite essay so far is ‘Chains of Flashing Memories: Bob Dylan and the Beats, 1959 – 1975’, but I’ll be dipping back into this tome many times, as I’m sure any lucky recipient would.  You can find out more about this book here…

new york cult recipesNext is one for the foodies out there, a really unique recipe book, New York Cult Recipes by Mark Grossman (Murdoch Books). I love New York and so I wasn’t that fussed about whether this was an actual ‘usuable’ cookbook or not. I would have been satisfied with a few ‘spirit of New York’ dishes and some great photos of my second favourite city in the world.

As it happens, there are actually page after page of recipes I can’t wait to try. Smoothies, pancakes, bagels and burgers – my mouth was watering from start to finish. I can’t recommend this one enough, for any fan of NY or cooking, and especially a lover of both. You can find out more about the book here…

Oh dear, I just flicked through the book again, and now I’m really hungry…

bedside book of philosophySorry I digress. Next is something a little more pensive. It’s The Bedside Book of Philosophy, by Michael Picard (Allen and Unwin), a witty and intelligent guide to philosophy. It’s not entirely a ‘layman’s guide’ as it requires a bit of concentration, but it is a really approachable packaging-up of the fundamentals of philosophy. It uses illustrations, scenarios and puzzles to help you wrap your mind around some of the most interesting ideas in philosophy – logical paradoxes, moral dilemmas, utilitarianism – all the good ones! It’ll give you an intellectual workout that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.

I got particularly hooked on the discussion of ‘grammatical ambiguouity’…

The following sentences are [also] grammatically ambiguous. They are amphibolies, each having two meanings. Distinguish these meanings and identify the different grammatical roles played by individual words (as below):

Flying planes can be dangerous.

The lamb is too hot to eat.

The shooting of the hunters was terrible.

They are cooking apples.

Visiting relatives can be a nuisance.

These spun my head around, and as a lover of words, had me fascinated. The Bedside Book of Philosophy would make a great gift for that twisty-thinker in your life! Find out more about the book here…

1001 ideasAlong the same lines, book number four is all about ideas, but this time it’s about other people’s cleverness. 1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think by Robert Arp (Allen and Unwin) is a fantastic reference, tracking 1001 ideas across the ages from Pre 500 CE to today including soap (2800BCE), the Chicken and Egg Conundrum (350 BCE), traffic lights (1868) and Rap music (1979) plus 997 others.

For lovers of trivia, this will be a bible. Not only that, but I’m loving having it on hand to slide over to my kids when they’re researching a period or concept. 99.9% of their research for school is now done online, but I love being able to show them that sometimes academically useful information comes out of books too!

You can find out more about 1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think here…

the melbourne bookFinally, something a little bit lighter but equally as fascinating is the newest edition of The Melbourne Book, by Maree Coote (MelbourneStyle). Perfect for lovers of Melbourne, past and present, the fourth edition of this beautiful history includes new tales, added to stories of Melbourne – of the people, the places, the passions of residents and visitors alike.

As you might expect, it’s beautifully illustrated with photographs of landmarks and hidden corners. These photos are both new and old, the vintage shots capturing moments in time in Melbourne’s history. This is the first of Maree’s books that I’ve read, and I’m going to make sure I pass it around to all those who I know love Melbourne as much as I do. If you’d like to find out more about the book, and about Maree’s work, you can visit here…

Hopefully by now your shopping basket is pretty full, so I’ll leave it there (although I could go on). My point, in short, is that I think you should give books this Christmas – there’s just nothing better!