NEW YORK — The holidays bring out the inner-coffee table book obsessive in gift buyers. They’re easy, weighty and satisfying to give. You’ve done your job with your pricey treat. A few to consider for music lovers, history buffs, foodies, fashionistas and more:
The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, by Nathan Myhrvold, The Cooking Lab, $120. Composed dishes levitated to reveal every delectable part. Food bisected in ovens and pots and beautifully scrutinized microscopically. The photo-scientists at The Cooking Lab offer lush, oversized spreads and all their secrets on how the work was done. Not a cookbook.
Fruit: Edible, Inedible, Incredible, by Wolfgang Stuppy and Rob Kesseler, Earth Aware Editions, $35. Similar microscopic cross-sections focused on fruit, seeds and nature’s seed dispersers from the toucan to the fruit bat. Exhaustive scientific text. Stuppy is the seed morphologist for the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, the international conservation project.
The Beatles: The BBC Archives: 1962-1970, by Kevin Howlett, Harper Design, $60. The Fab Four’s years on air at home, as told in transcripts of interviews, photos and internal documents. Coincides with the November release of a new album, On Air – at the BBC, Volume 2.
Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation, by Questlove, Harper Design, $45. Aretha, Smokey, Ike and Tina, Marvin, Michael, Diana – and plenty of photos and text covering the work of Don Cornelius, the creator and host of the longest running syndicated program in TV history. The frontman for the Roots takes us on the journey through the show’s debut in 1971 to Cornelius’ final episode in 1993.
Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music that Changed the World, by Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson and Jared Levine, Tundra Books, $29. For young readers, the music industry veterans offer an introduction to 27 legends, including James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. Includes two CDs totaling 27 tracks.
Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection, edited by Neil Kagan and Stephen G. Hyslop, Smithsonian Books, $40. From the story of Winchester, the swift-footed horse of Union commander Philip Sheridan, to Winslow Homer sketches.
Vanity Fair 100 Years: From the Jazz Age to Our Age, edited by Graydon Carter, Abrams, $65. Anything you ever wanted to know about the magazine in archival black-and-white, color covers and illustrations, all spanning the arts, war and politics.
Vietnam: The Real War, by The Associated Press, $40. Mostly black-and-white, up-close photography of the fog and debris of war, including an injured John McCain and the cut of a knife into the belly of a Viet Cong prisoner under interrogation by a South Vietnamese soldier.
Guillermo del Toro, Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections and Other Obsessions, by del Toro and Marc Scott Zicree, Harper Design, $60. Notebooks, sketches and interviews from the mind of the Hellboy and Pan’s Labrynth creator. Includes thoughts from Neil Gaiman, Ron Perlman and others.
Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton, St. Martin’s Press, $29.99. Includes 400 color portraits from the meandering chronicler of the New York condition.
The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion, by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman, Harper Design, $40. Production stills, munchkin and Dorothy hair and wardrobe tests. Mock certificates for a brain, courage, heart and home are included in a back envelope of memorabilia, along with a death certificate for the Wicked Witch of the East.
Caught in the Act: Actors Acting, by Howard Schatz, Beverly J. Ornstein and Owen Edwards, Glitterati Inc., $65. Portraiture by Schatz with oral histories and improvisation at his direction. One hundred percent of royalties from sale of the book to be donated in equal shares to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the SAG Foundation.
Dior Glamour, by Mark Shaw, Rizzoli New York, $115. Shaw was behind the lens at the House of Dior shooting haute couture from 1952 to 1962. Color and black-and-white candids, portraits, commercial spreads and shots of intimate fashion shows for small crowds, conducted in utter silence and without music.
The Dirty Side of Glamour, by Tyler Shields, HarperCollins, $25. Celebrities bloodied, naked, on fire and otherwise staged for the unrelenting, Los Angeles-based provocateur. He includes the infamous chainsaw hacking of a $100,000 Birkin bag, Gary Busey in a straitjacket and never-before-seen work.
Hollywood Costume, edited by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, Abrams, $55. Spans the silent era to present day with brief histories, accounts by costume greats such as Edith Head and the people they dress. Learn what Johnny Depp thinks about the impact of his costumes on his work, along with Robert De Niro, a collector of the clothes he wears on set.