The delightful thing about home decor books is that you not only can get ideas on how to decorate, you also can decorate with them. It's the same with fashion books. Usually oversized with eye-catching covers, they command a strong presence on the coffee table or artfully arranged bookcase.
This season's roundup includes some real beauties but there's also a practical guide on developing DIY skills and even a stocking stuffer.
Vogue 100: A Century of Style by Robin Muir, Abrams, 304 pages, $65
With a photograph of Linda Evangelista on the front cover and Fred Astaire on the back, you know this beautiful book holds great promise. It marked British Vogue's 100th birthday and accompanied an exhibition in Spring 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
As the book explains, British Vogue has always been more than a fashion magazine: "In nearly 2,000 issues, British Vogue has acted as a cultural barometer, putting fashion in the context of the wider world: how we dress; how we entertain; what we eat, listen to, and watch; who leads us, excites us, and inspires us."
Inside are more than 300 photographs of artists, actors, writers and other pivotal figures through the decades by the talented photographers of the times. There's Alfred Hitchcock by Irving Penn (1948). Iman by Norman Parkinson (1976). Matt Dillon by Bruce Weber (1976). Kate Moss by Mario Testino (2008).
To start it all off, there's an in-depth introduction: "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: The Century in Vogue" by Robin Muir, a contributing editor to British Vogue and writer on photography.
The Useful Book: 201 Life Skills They Used to Teach in Home Ec and Shop by Sharon and David Bowers, Workman, 404 pages, $19.95
Know someone who can't sew on a button? Roast a chicken? Hang a shelf? Change a flat tire? Perhaps you'll sleep better at night knowing that this book is a big step in helping that person master everyday tasks and take on a variety of projects and repairs around the house. "Becoming more self-sufficient is not only easier than many people imagine, it's also extremely satisfying," the authors write in the introduction.
This DIY encyclopedia is divided into sections - some under the Home Ec part of the book (cooking, sewing, laundry and clothing and life skills) and others under the Shop heading (domestic repair, woodworking and metalworking, plumbing, electrical and mechanical). Included among those 201 skills: how to zest a lemon, hem a skirt, save a shrunken sweater, fold a fitted sheet, remove gum from a rug, paint a room, refinish a deck, unclog a drain and jump a battery.
Also found here: lists of pantry staples, sewing supplies, tools and other items every household should have.
Who knows? Before long, you may be the one reaching out to your budding DIYer for tips on how to braise beef, repair a screen or bang out a dent in your car.
The Fashion of Film: How Cinema has Inspired Fashion by Amber Butchart, Mitchell Beazley, 224 pages, $39.99
The author, a fashion historian, clearly shows how fashion designers through the decades have drawn inspiration from screen stars and their costumes. One of the first films featured in this book is the 1946 classic "The Big Sleep," starring Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. The pair, as the author points out, provides "a template for film noir style."
Bacall's hound's tooth-check suit was a signature look in the film and later provided inspiration for designer Yves Saint Laurent's couture collection in 1971, writes Butchart. "In later years, Bacall touched the imagination of Galliano for Dior Spring/Summer 2010, with noir hallmarks such as trench coats, strong shoulders and sultry red lips," she adds.
Sections cover topics including "Crime: Dressed to Kill," "The Musical: Spectacular Fashion," "Historic Epic: Dressed to Excess," "Horror: Supernatural Chic" and more. Images from the films combine with those from the fashion runways.
A good pick for the fashion/film lover on your list - and others looking to add to their coffee table book collection.
domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home: discovering your perfect style and creating a space you love by domino editors Jessica Romm Perez and Shani Silver, Simon & Schuster, 272 pages, $35
While the photographs may not blow you away, inspiration can indeed be found here. The book sets out to help DIY decorators - and domino magazine readers - define their personal style.
It's easy-to use format breaks things down into essential elements of home decor. The 10 chapters include "seating," "walls," "art," "flooring," "shelves + vignettes," "lighting," "soft stuff," "plants + flowers" as well as one on owning your style and another on entertaining.
There are lots of helpful tips and information found on these pages. The chapter on seating highlights some of domino's favorite chair styles, discusses patterned vs. solid sofas and offers three no-fail seating setups. The chapter on "soft stuff" serves up "10 tactile treats for every home" - "fluffy white towels bring to mind hotel serenity" and "mohair throws are lightweight but really warm - the ideal combination for movie nights."
domino editors love to use lower-case letters - have you noticed?
By the way, the book also can be purchased as part of a set that includes the brand's first book, domino: The Book of Decorating ($51.33 on amazon.com).
A Field Guide to Redheads: An Illustrated Celebration by Elizabeth Graeber, Workman, 152 pages, $12.95
This may well fit into the Christmas stocking (a red one, no doubt) of your favorite redheads - or person who loves them. This approximately 5-by-7-inch book may be small, but it packs in not only illustrations of famous redheads - Lucille Ball, Pippi Longstocking, David Bowie, Jessica Rabbit, Aphrodite - but also several recipes.
On the page next to Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls (aka Geri Halliwell) is a recipe for Chewy Gingersnaps. Next to Shirley Temple - come on; this one is easy - a mocktail for one. (Temple, Graeber points out, was never a fan of the drink. Too sweet.)
Redhead tidbits are scattered throughout as well, such as "Red is the world's rarest hair color" and Redheads are most likely to be left-handed."
And you'll find a few fun quotes, such as this one attributed to Lucille Ball: "Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead."