Staff Holiday Picks: Visual Gifts of the Season

Michelle Komie, Senior Editor, Art & Architecture, shares her gift-giving list of stunning visual books for the holidays.

Michelle Komie—

Sometimes I’m inspired by the recipient, but usually I fall in love with a book and want to find the best possible home for it. This year, my holiday list works both ways:

For my sister, who recently moved to Arizona, and gets to wear flip-flops most of the time: 100 Shoes, edited by Harold Koda, because everyone could use another 99 pairs of shoes.

For my friend Emily, a textile artist who makes gorgeous felted hats and dresses: Knoll Textiles, 1945-2010, edited by Earl Martin. I know she’ll love the images of the fabrics, but she’ll also appreciate the book’s amazing, tactile embossed cover and binding.

For the owner of the gift shop I worked at in high school, who remains a friend: American Christmas Cards 1900-1960, by Kenneth Ames. There are so many wonderful and surprising things about this little book, which is beautifully designed and packed with information on everything related to the history of holiday card-giving. (I especially love that the book is organized by visual themes: sleighs and travel, Santa Claus, caroling, etc.)

For my former boss, William Gass, who loves marginalia, and anything that can be pasted, filed, or lost in the pages of a book: Ex Libris by Martin Hopkinson. This little history of bookplates also serves as a micro-history of printing and collecting.

For my neighbors Kathy and Melissa, who are voracious readers and always looking for new titles to add to their lists: Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books, edited by Leah Price, which provides inspirational and voyeuristic looks inside the personal libraries of 13 contemporary novelists. But this book can be dangerous—it makes me want to stay home all day, reading and rearranging my own collection of books!

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