Mike Grandmaison's Prairie and Beyond
Photographs by Mike Grandmaison, text by John Volney
Turnstone Press, 242 pages, $40
THIS beautiful collection of Prairie images takes you on an intimate, colourful journey across our vast and rugged landscape.
If you hail from this part of the world, Winnipeg photographer Mike Grandmaison's pictures will reignite your love for your home and might even draw you to places you've never visited. If the book is a gift for someone far away, they just have to move here.
Grandmaison's delicate and thoughtful work not only celebrates the beauty of the Prairie, it will help you see it with fresh eyes.
-- Ruth Bonneville
The Chronicles of Downton Abbey
A New Era
By Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis, foreword by Julian Fellowes
St. Martin's Press, 320 pages, $34.50
BILLED as the inside story of the history, characters and behind-the-scenes drama of Season 3 of the popular Masterpiece series as the upstairs-downstairs tale enters the 1920s, this book has 15 sections covering main characters and a look behind the scenes.
The text outlines the story of postwar changes at the manor, as new characters are introduced and the social order faces challenges, and the gorgeous colour photos bring the class-conscious times to life. Illustrations include magazine covers from the time, ads for household goods and steamship prices, and an assortment of everyday items used by the characters.
-- Chris Smith
Streets of Fire
Bruce Springsteen in Photographs and Lyrics 1977-1979
Photographs by Eric Meola
It Book, 128 pages, $33
FANS of the "darkness" in U.S. rocker Bruce Springsteen's 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town will be fans of this collection of 70 moody black and white photographs shot in 1977 by New York-based Eric Meola as potential album art.
Meola is the photographer who produced the iconic cover of Born to Run, featuring Springsteen and his longtime saxophonist Clarence Clemens. It's clear in these shots that his connection to the rocker was just as strong three years later.
Especially interesting is Meola's description of Springsteen and him on a road trip, watching a storm rise from the desert floor and hearing dogs howl along Main Street, images Springsteen used in writing The Promised Land just weeks later.
-- Julie Carl
Legends, Lore and Artifacts
By Cath Oberholtzer
Firefly, 144 pages, $35
IN collaboration with Mi'kmaq/Mohawk artist Nick Huard, Ontario anthropologist Cath Oberholtzer created an artistic and scholastic context for a stunning presentation on dream catchers.
Artistic and spiritual, these internationally prized artefacts added lustre to her achievements at Trent University as a once mother of four, who became in her lifetime a scholarly expert on legends and materials from Algonquian and non-Algonquian artists.
Her continental investigations of aboriginal cultures embrace the importance of dreams. Dream catchers, thought to give protection either by screening bad influences or by admitting blessings, had been recognized as spiritually special partly through the efforts of Oberholtzer, who died this past August.
-- Ron Kirbyson
Greatest Discoveries and Latest Images
By Terence Dickinson
Firefly, 300 pages, $50
AS Canadian amateur astronomer and science writer Terence Dickinson points out, the previously "most powerful telescopes on Earth could only see halfway across the universe." In the more than two decades since, the Hubble Space Telescope has shown us how galaxies develop, that supermassive black holes are common, the universe's expansion rate, and information about planets (and their atmospheres) orbiting other stars.
Filled with arresting images of distant galaxies and nebulae, this catalogue of discoveries made thanks to the Hubble telescope works just as well as an otherworldly art book. It also shows that the latest effects in sci-fi cinema can hardly compare to the majesty of the real thing.
-- David Fuller
From the Ground Up
U2 360 Tour Official Photobook
By Dylan Jones, pictures by Ralph Larmann
Random House, 256 pages, $40 256 pages.
HERE'S the story and pictures behind one of the most spectacular touring rock shows of all time, the U2 360 tour. There are dozens of pictures of the dazzling claw stage and the Irish band that performed before more than 45,000 fans at Canad Inns Stadium in May.
It's hard to tell if any Winnipeg photos made the book, but that shouldn't matter to U2 fans, who will also enjoy reading about the massive effort to put on the 760-day tour.
-- Allan Small
Tribute to an Icon
Intro. By Clive Davis
Atria Books, 191 pages, $47
RECORD producer Clive Davis's glowing foreword at the start of this massive pictorial fails to mention that the superstar's untimely death earlier this year was caused by a tragic drug overdose. And the collection of colourful images dating back to the early '80s do very little to enlighten us of her troubled 30-year singing/acting career. Instead, true Whitney fans will be pleased to find not a hint of drug abuse nor a glimmer of addiction, only more than 100 glossy shots of a vivacious, glowing, beautiful Whitney Houston.
-- Leesa Dahl
Eyewitness to World War II
By Neil Kagan and Stephen G. Hyslop
National Geographic, 350 pages, $65
THE world doesn't need another coffee-table book on the Second World War, but this tome might be an exception.
It is American-centric, but it still provides a global overview. Canada's enormous role is limited to a small essay on Dieppe. But it contains lots of compelling sidebars, with interesting text and dramatic photos.
-- Dave O'Brien
200 Small Apartment Ideas
By Cristina Paredes Benitez
Firefly, 798 pages, $50
WHAT'S Christmas morn without a little housing porn? And this hardcover book, packed with ideas for small-space living and colour photos as proof of the possibilities, more than fills that bill.
Barcelona-based Cristina Paredes Benitez's visions of living small are so beautiful in so many ways, the reader can actually envision living happily in 500 square feet -- of course, unencumbered by boots and ls of real life.
But like any good fantasy-spinner -- and Benitez is among the best with a long list of housing books to her credit -- this how-to tome lures the reader into the scene.
-- Julie Carl
World's Best Travel Experiences
400 Extraordinary Places
By National Geographic
Random House, 320 pages, $45
THE fun here, other than the gorgeous photos, is tallying how many places you've already been and which ones to add to your bucket list.
Manitoba's own Churchill is one of the first places highlighted in this over-sized coffee table book from National Geographic. Want to know the world's best place to climb a mountain, learn to dance, take a cooking lesson, look at paintings or see wildlife? There are dozens of themed lists, as well as a world map and index to help you find what you are looking for.
Text is brief -- even highlighted authors Bill Bryson and Anna Quindlen get only one paragraph. However, websites are listed for those who want more.
-- Gail Marchessault
A Century of Photographs Preserved
by the New York Times
Introduction by William Morassutti
Doubleday Canada, 214 pages, $45
IN 2009, Canadian businessman Christopher Bratty purchased the New York Times' archive of photographs of Canada, more than 22,000 images captured over a century.
The most iconic of these, beginning, of course, with a Mountie on horseback silhouetted against the Rockies, show us Canada as seen by America, with the significance of the images explained in short essays by such leading Canadian writers as Peter C. Newman and Charlotte Gray.
-- Gerald Flood
History Through the Photographs of L.B. Foote
Introduction by Esyllt W. Jones
University of Manitoba Press, 154 pages, $40
NO one would characterize L.B. (Lewis Benjamin) Foote as a great photographer -- his photos look more like snapshots than compositions. But over a 50-year career, Foote took thousands of snapshots, capturing and chronicling Winnipeg's history through events big (1919 strike) and small (office workers at a hatchery on Logan) and odd (campaigning for women's rights in blackface), all of which together tell the story of Winnipeg during its salad days from 1905 to 1950.
-- Gerald Flood
Just Getting Started
By Justin Bieber
HarperCollins, 239 pages, $24
ALTHOUGH being a multimillionaire superstar at age 18 years has its advantages, pop sensation Justin Bieber admits in his adequately penned, colourful autobiography that sometimes when the pressure's on, he wishes he could just be a regular teenager.
For now, the heartthrob remains grateful for the few fans who have helped him do some ordinary things, like skateboard uninterrupted outside his hotel in Tennessee. And he writes how appreciative he is of all the Beliebers out there who, by the way, are sure to feel more connected to their idol simply by reading his book.
-- Issy Dahl
Hockey Night in Canada
By Michael McKinley
Viking, 331 pages, $39
HOCKEY players have stickhandled Canada's favourite game across our television sets every Saturday night for 60 years. Vancouver writer and filmmaker Michael McKinley documents its rich history -- the personalities of the on-air commentators, the players and coaches they interviewed, the challenges and opportunities created by changing times and technologies.
This hockey-lovers' chronicle will keep fans engaged with the game between Saturday nights and help them remember the good times during strikes or lockouts.
-- Harriet Zaidman
The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs
Foreword by Malcolm Gladwell
Random House, 304 pages, $48
THE combination of New Yorker and dogs immediately brings to mind the magazine's sublime drawings of cartoonist George Booth, he of the frazzled bull terrier.
Many of those cartoons are here and so much more, including reproductions of 18 dog-themed covers, immaculate poetry and prose from the likes of Susan Orlean, Arthur Miller, E. B. White, Ogden Nash and Donald Barthelme, and more cartoons/essays by James Thurber. An ideal gift for the literary dog lover.
-- Randall King
By Chris Ware
Pantheon, 260 pages, $55
YOU'D need something bigger than the average coffee table to spread out all the stuff contained in Building Stories' sturdy box, which houses pamphlets, booklets, newspapers, books and cards, 14 items in all. And you'd need hours to fully immerse yourself in the strange, melancholy world American graphic novelist Chris Ware has created -- and that you help to create, simply by reading in a certain order.
Birth and death, buildings and bees, the process of growing up and growing old -- all are documented in Ware's meticulous yet oddly moving style. A must for lovers of ephemera, nostalgia and footnotes.
-- Jill Wilson
Monty Python's Flying Circus
Complete and Annotated ... All the Bits
Edited by Luke Dempsey
Black Dog & Leventhal, 880 pages, $56
SHAKESPEARE had his First Folio, Dickens had his Collected Works, and now Monty Python's Flying Circus has ... All the Bits.
Every word from every script of all 45 episodes from the famed British comedy sketch comedy troupe's series is here. The massive tome is generously illustrated with photographs and art from the shows, which first aired from 1969 to 1974, and designed and laid out to simulate the program's anarchic style.
Editor Luke Dempsey, an Englishman working in the U.S., provides annotations to explain the Python's relentless Britishisms. Talk about a bleedin' life's work.
-- Morley Walker
By Seth Casteel
Little, Brown, 132 pages, $20
A water-loving dog named Buster inspired American pet photographer Seth Casteel to buy a cheap underwater camera during a shoot in 2010 -- a brainstorm that led to a series of photos shared online by millions of dog-lovers, and eventually to this book.
Casteel photographed hundreds of dogs -- some of whom had never swum before -- from underwater as they leapt into pools after balls and rings. The book includes not just the retrievers you'd expect, but also bulldogs, pugs, dachshunds and even a wolf mix.
The 80 vibrant photos selected for the book are by turns hilarious and striking, showcasing both the pooches' enthusiasm and the primal, predatory nature that lies beneath their desire to please.
-- Wendy Sawatzky
Owls of the World
A Photographic Guide
By Heimo Mikkola
Firefly, 512 pages, $50
OWLS have untold variations of captivating eyes and flat-disk faces that turn humans like zoologist Heimo Mikkola into "owlaholics." Expect to be riveted by exceptional photographs (some by Winnipegger Christian Arturso) and descriptions of 249 species of owls from all over the world.
The introductory information provides a thorough overview of owls, accessible for the casual birder and relevant to today's changing environment. Those pages devoted to each individual species, categorized by types, presume some greater knowledge of ornithology, but the pictures and maps make this a book that will be admired over and over.
-- Harriet Zaidman
The Brain Book
By Ken Ashwell
Firefly, 352 pages, $45
THIS could have easily been a very dull tome. It isn't.
Combining the latest image technology with surprisingly easy to understand text, this remarkable book dissects what makes us all who we are. Written by an Australian anatomy professor, it covers all the bases from the brain and spinal cord function to disorders and brain diseases to the aging brain.
This treatise should be required reading in every medical facility and an integral part of every medical library.
-- Randy Midzain
100 Grey Cups
This Is Our Game
By Stephen Brunt
McClelland & Stewart, 204 pages, $45
SPORTS fans will steep in this official history of Canadian football. It begins in 1909 and ends with a chapter on the 2007 Grey Cup, although stats up to 2011 are included.
Veteran Toronto sportswriter Stephen Brunt recounts the lead up of each season to the big game, the tensions and triumphs of the playoffs, the players who made the difference either as winners or losers.
Statistics-lovers can compare one year to another and admire great photographs of muddied gladiators hoisting the prized mug after hard-fought contests.
-- Harriet Zaidman
Team Canada 1972
As told by the players, with Andrew Podnieks
McClelland & Stewart, 296 pages, $45
IN this lockout season of hockey discontent, this celebration of that iconic faceoff 40 years ago has what it takes to bring a smile to the faces of even the most jaded of fans.
Photos from the Hockey Hall of Fame archives. Insights from those who wore our country's colours. And lots of stats -- not only game by game, but also for each and every player.
Broadcaster Foster Hewitt's famous call that "Henderson has scored for Canada!" still gives hockey fans goose bumps. So too will this book.
-- Paul Samyn
Life In Color
National Geographic Photographs
Foreword by Jonathan Adler, text by Susan Hitchcock and curated by Annie Griffiths
National Geographic Society, 504 pages, $45
THIS gorgeous photography book is sure to be a hit this holiday season. It is jammed full with an amazing selection of world's best images categorized in colours from a team of the world's best photographers.
If you are looking for a gift for the photo enthusiast in your life, this book is worth every penny and will be cherished for many years.
-- Joe Bryksa
The Truth About Style
By Stacey London
Penguin Canada, 216 pages, $35
NEW York's Stacy London brings her famous sartorial snap to nine women in this how-to/self-help manual.
As she strips down their bodies and psyches (like those who watch her for the unique brand of style therapy she offers on TLC's What Not to Wear), she lays bare the truth about her own youth marred by a permanently scarring bout of full body psoriasis that tipped her into anorexia and then a battle with overweight as she hit adulthood.
She gets it. She's had body issues. And the truth is, with this book, she can help.
-- Wendy Burke
The Disappearance of Darkness
Photography at the End of the Analog Era
Photography by Robert Burley
Princeton Architectural Press, 175 pages, $57
WITH the rise of digital cameras and the instant image gratification generation, Canadian photographer, Robert Burley brilliantly chooses to set his sights on the demise of the film-manufacturing industry.
From the demolition of the Kodak factory in Rochester, N.Y., to the empty Polaroid factory in the Netherlands, Burley's images capture a nostalgia for the recent past. For that person in your life who relishes photographic history and quite possibly still has a roll or two of Kodachrome in the freezer.
-- Mike Deal