Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jen’s Five Books with Excellent Illustrations

These beautiful books of pictures make great gifts!

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray (Black Dog and Leventhal, $29.95)
This coffee table photo-essay has quickly become one of my all-time favorite books. Shiny copper. Blue liquid oxygen. The purple of a xenon sign. A sample of vicanite that may or may not contain an atom of actinium at any one time. Clever little facts about everything. And I do mean really everything. (See also the book excerpts I posted to the blog in November.)

The Book of Clouds by John A. Day (Sterling Publishing, $15.00)
Cloud names and classifications, which I had always wanted to learn, with gorgeous photographs that make me want to jump in and gaze at the sky all day.

Transit Maps of the World: The World’s First Collection of Every Urban Train Map on Earth by Marc Ovenden (Penguin, $25.00)
I love transit maps, from my “Tate Gallery by Tube” London Transport postcards to my Hard Rock Café St. Petersburg T-shirt with the Metro on the back. This book is full of transit maps -- modern, historical, laced with commentary about both the rail systems and the mapmaking. And, you know, handy to carry if you find yourself in a city without a map!

The Songs of Wild Birds by Lang Elliott (Houghton Mifflin, $19.95)
I’ve spent the past year slowly learning new bird songs, and I love how it changes my experience of the world. This book has beautiful close-up photos of fifty birds, with sound spectrograms of their songs! CD included.

Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain (Arsenal Pulp Press, $19.95)
An entertaining and instructional manual on the use of handwork as street art. There’s something so cool and whimsical about the idea of finding a bike rack cozy or an extra pad on a prickly pear or a sweater on a statue. Or at least it looks like it in the book. I haven’t seen (or planted) any of these things in my own travels...yet.

June 2010, Jennifer Sheffield

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