Top 5 books for Christmas gifts – The Christmas holiday season is upon us again, and that means shopping to get your friends and loved ones – hopefully – the right gift that they always wanted or needed. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t. However, there is one type of Christmas gift that practically never makes its way to the returns and/or exchange line as of December 26: books. Between September and December, publishers bring out a multitude of high profile key titles that will not only grab the attention of potential readers, but also those who need a good gift idea or two while they do their Christmas shopping. After reading my fair share of key Fall 2017 titles, here are my Top 5 books for Christmas gifts / shopping and/or wish list:
Montreal 1909 by Robert N. Wilkins (Shoreline, $35). Local historian Robert N. Wilkins really has a passion for Montreal’s history, and it shows in a big way with his latest book Montreal 1909. Basically, it’s a month-by-month, day-by-day look at what went on in Montreal – both significant and mundane – throughout the year of 1909. Why Wilkins chose that year is unclear (the only significant event that took place that year that Montrealers still remember was the establishment of the Montreal Canadiens), but the book is an absorbing snapshot of a Montreal that is no more (whether it be the growing concern regarding the height of telephone and telegraph poles, the outbreak of tuberculosis, the constant corruption at city hall, the declining quality of the city’s water supply, and the planning of a much-anticipated event that would attract a multitude of former Montreal residents called “Old Home Week”).
Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, $45). Isaacson, who has a knack of writing books about the lives of remarkable innovators like Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs that became mammoth best sellers, has turned his focus on the original “Renaissance man”, painter/inventor/scientist Leonardo Da Vinci. He traces Da Vinci’s astronomical talent and genius through the many notebooks that he noted down and drew his theories and studies that resulted in many of his artistic masterpieces and inventions that are still being used today (i.e., his flying machine that formed the basis of the airplane). Also, the book is beautifully put together, and is lavishly illustrated with many photos that makes this bio almost resemble a museum catalogue.
Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza (Little, Brown, $52). It’s been almost a year since Barack Obama finished his two terms as the 44th President of the United States, yet he still fascinates us (and in some respects, we still miss him). Souza, who has been Obama’s official photographer from the time he was a junior senator from Illinois right until his last day at the White House, has used his camera to effectively chronicle his remarkable career in politics, and the end result is this wonderful coffee table book that recently reached the #1 spot on the New York Times best seller list. Although he took over two million photos of Obama during his time as president, Souza has done a remarkable job choosing the right photos for this book that shows the many sides of Barack Obama … as the Chief Executive and Commander in Chief, as a father and husband, and as a warm, compassionate human being, whether it be during some light-hearted behind the scenes moments, official events and ceremonies, or moments that tested his will and his country’s will. It’s almost like we get an exclusive backstage pass look at what it’s like to be the President of the United States. And the book is also available in a deluxe limited edition that is autographed by Souza, printed on heavy matte art stock paper, encased in an embossed cloth slipcase, and includes a print that is suitable for framing (and sells for $200).
The Jacksons Legacy (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, $38.99). It’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years since a group of brothers from Gary, Indiana made their debut as a singing group that in 1969, were signed by Motown records and as the Jackson 5, had their first four singles reach the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 record charts. To commemorate the Jacksons’ golden anniversary, the family has put together an impressive illustrated history of their remarkable career in the pop music industry (both as a group and as solo artists), using countless artifacts and memorabilia from their personal archives (which includes candid photos, magazine articles and covers, record sleeves, frames from their TV specials and animated Saturday morning series, and even the Post cereal boxes that included a cut out record on the back), the Jackson family shows how they carved out their place in the history of rock music, which at times was not always easy as “ABC”.
Stephen Colbert’s Midnight Confessions by Stephen Colbert (Simon & Schuster, $26.99). This book is the ultimate stocking stuffer this Christmas. Based on a regular feature from his nightly CBS talk show “The Late Show”, Colbert displays his glib, pointed sense of humour in a collection of “midnight confessions” that deal with his brief take on a whole variety of topics, whether it be everyday life, religion, family life, technology, or America, which are funny, provocative, or sometimes downright outrageous (my favorite confession of Colbert’s is “I haven’t finished a book in twenty years. Don’t tell me how the Bible ends. I think Jesus is gonna pull this one out.”). The book also includes Midnight Confessions from a number of Late Show viewers, and a section at the end of the book where you can write your own confessions.
By: Stuart Nulman – mtltimes.ca