Sunday, 15 December 2013

4 best holiday gift book ideas

1. "Sense and Sensibility: An Annotated Edition," edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks

If you haven't yet seen the Harvard University Press's annotated Jane Austen series, prepare yourself for a major treat. This year "Sense and Sensibility" joins the other novels – "Pride and Prejudice," "Persuasion," and "Emma" – already available. The books are gorgeous. Notes and commentary in the broad margins enlighten and enrich the text and offer historic context without interfering with the narrative flow. Illustrations are plentiful and include everything from an old engraving of the Theatre Royal in London's Drury Lane to a still from the Hugh Grant-Emma Thompson film version of the novel. Jane Austen lovers worldwide will cherish these books. (Harvard University Press, $35, 448 pp.)

2. "John Updike: The Collected Stories," edited by Christopher Carduff

Some John Updike fans argue that his short stories are the best way to truly understand this American master. Whether in agreement or not, it would be hard for any Updike enthusiast not to embrace "John Updike: The Collected Stories," a wonderful two-volume edition from the Library of America. The stories in the two books, which span 50 years, include the definitive versions – based on new archival research – of 186 Updike stories arranged in chronological order. More than a dozen of these stories have not been included in earlier Updike story collections and two have never before appeared in a trade book edition. Together with more familiar material, they make for wonderful reading. (Library of America, $75, 1872 pp.)

3. "The Economics Book," edited by Niall Kishtainy

From Aristotle to Adam Smith and well beyond, "The Economics Book" joins other volumes – "The Philosophy Book," "The Politics Book," "The Psychology Book," and "The Religions Book – in DK's marvelous "Big Ideas, Simply Explained" series. With colorful graphics and clear, simple explanations, everything from dependency theory to the Keynesian Multiplier suddenly becomes accessible. (DK Publishing, $25, 352 pp.)

4. "New Concise World Atlas," by Oxford University Press

Every civilized home, work space, and dorm room needs one. Oxford University's "New Concise World Atlas" includes more than 100 pages of the most up-to-date topographic and political maps, in addition to information on climate, population, area, and physical dimensions. It's a beautiful book capable of shining a light into every corner of our planet. (Oxford University Press, $39.95, 224 pp.)



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