There’s pretty much no better gift than the gift of travel. First class seats, fancy hotels, shopping, beaches, dinning…but seriously, who can afford that for themselves much less friends and loved ones? Until you have the opportunity to screw everybody over en masse by planning a destination wedding or group outing to the rainforest of Central America, some books will have to suffice. Here are a few juicy ones that we’ve found this year to make people drool over their EggNog.
1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die
$37 / Universe Publishing
Last year, our top pick for a book was also from this series, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Well, as you can imagine this is the architectural equivalent. On the cover, you’ll see the Chrysler Building (a fave of the New York JoyHoggers, revisit “Two Weeks Notice” for tidbits on that). Inside, it’s just delicious. You’ve got the Château de Versailles, Gehry’s Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain, Notre Dame, pyramids, pantheons and palaces. It’s a key volume for art lovers.
The Best American Travel Writing 2007
Edited by Susan Orlean / Houghton Mifflin
The ‘Best American’ Series is a good one for folks who get distracted during the year and miss out on some of the best essays out there. The selections here have appeared in publications like The New Yorker, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler and Gourmet. Check out great stuff like Elizabeth Gilbert’s essay on France, ‘Long Day’s Journey into Dinner’ and trips to São Paulo, Antartica and more. It’s a great gift for people who are frequent flyers. They can take off on one journey and land on the other side of the globe.
City Walks: 50 Adventures on Foot
CARDS IN A BOX / $15 / Chronicle Books
When you move to a new city (or have the luxury of a long visit), the best way to explore is in your most comfy shoes. When JP moved to L.A. this fall, he promptly squeaked up to get the Los Angeles edition of these City Walks sets. Considering that it’s not so much (or not-at-all) a walking town, this was invaluable. In the City of Angels, there’s a South Park (snicker), Los Feliz and Griffith Park. Each card has a couple paragraphs of notes with a map on the back to plan out your journey as if you were off to Middle Earth. We also got the Boston set for James K. and the Beantown contingent. Check it out. A perfect, affordable gift.
Make the Most of Your Time on Earth
$30 / Rough Guides
A couple months back, JP reviewed this one for the Hog and it’s still a key talking point when folks drop by. It’s a geographical breakdown of some of the best adventure travel (not, you know, deadly or anything…just fun) on the planet. The title really says it all. Makes you want to get off your rump and paint every town red. You only live once, so may as well add up those frequent flyer miles and live it up!
A Pig in Provence:
Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France
By Georganne Brennan
$25 / Chronicle Books
Now this lady has the right idea. Georganne Brennan divides her time between northern California and Provence, where she’s got a seasonal cooking school (we would like to sign-up for French Deep Frying 101). In the telling of her story, the routine is not quite as ho-hum as a day in the life of strip-mall American suburbia. There is cheese to be made, people! Step lively! Here’s a country-life story that makes sense. A great gift for the escapists on your list.
Wallpaper* City Guides
BOOKS / $9 ea. / Phaidon
We fell in love with these pocket-size softcover guides when we reviewed them back in February. Not only does Phaidon keep updating their books to keep it fresh (London, Tokyo and others have 2008 volumes available already), but some unexpected cities make the cut with fun colours on the cover. Among them: Dubai, Tel Aviv and Mumbai. Panoramic photos in the front are key, as are the maps on the back flaps and tabs so you can find your favorite pubs, museums and shops in a pinch.