Gift ideas for this Christmas: Art, Travel, (Big) Kids, and Psychology and Inspiration

Let us be your personal shoppers!

ABC’s booksellers don’t just sell books: as well as being voracious readers, almost everyone you’ll meet at the cash desk at ABC is personally responsible for buying the books for one or more sections in the store. That means you’ll always find someone who can put exactly the right book in your hands when you need it. We asked our buyers for their tips for the best gifts for Christmas, and they came up with some crackers: a sackful of ideas to suit every taste and budget. There are new books, classic books, magazines, games, puzzles, and even cuddly toys. Here are just a few of their ideas. Follow the links to find more ideas on:

Art and Design
(Big) Kids
Psychology & Inspiration

Or, to see all of our gift ideas for 2011, see the other posts!

Art & Design

The Principles of Uncertainty
An irresistible invitation to experience life through a beloved artist’s psyche, The Principles of Uncertainty is a compilation of Maira Kalman’s New York Times columns.

Part personal narrative, part documentary, part travelogue, part chapbook, and all Kalman, these brilliant, whimsical paintings, ideas, and images-which initially appear random-ultimately form an intricately interconnected worldview, an idiosyncratic inner monologue.

100 Artists’ Manifestos : from the Futurists to the Stuckists
A collection of 100 manifestos from the last 100 years.

It presents the contradictory and echoing spirits of such diverse movements as Vorticism, Feminism, Dogme, Surrealism, Communism and Cannibalism, taking in along the way cinema, architecture, fashion and cookery.

344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillmen – Stefan Bucher
The secret to creative success lies not in knowing the right answers, but in knowing how to ask the right questions-and this little book is full of them! A veritable therapy session on paper, “344 Questions” is composed entirely of questions designed to help you determine where you are in your life and career, where you want to be, and how to get there. Hopefully, you’ll also laugh along the way.

Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book – Ellen Lupton
A practical guide to creating and distributing printed books regardless of your background, skill set, or ambition. It will help you realize projects of every scale and budget, from the traditional bookmaking techniques used to create zines to the more ambitious industrial production methods required to produce hardcover books in large quantity.

Bare Essentials – Dennis de Groot
Inspired by work of the likes of Saul Bass, Ben Bos & Keith Haring, graphic designer Dennis de Groot started a study on the usage of geometric shapes in illustrations. He began illustrating pop culture characters, who had formed his own palette of inspiration throughout the years, by reducing them to necessary shapes and colors, ‘Bare Essentials’ explores the line between recognition and detail through 50 illustrations of cartoon, movie, video game & comic book characters in their ‘barest essentials’.

The Art of McSweeny’s
The sharp wit, gorgeous design, and playful why not invention of independent literary publisher McSweeney’s have earned it a large and loyal following and made its journals, books, The Believer magazine, and Wholphin DVDs collectible favorites of readers and graphic designers alike. Created by the McSweeney’s staff to commemorate their 11th (or 12th) anniversary, this book showcases their award-winning art and design across all the company’s activities. It features hundreds of images, interviews with collaborators such as Chris Ware and Michael Chabon, and dozens of insights into McSweeney’s quirky creative process and the visual experience of reading.

M.C. Escher Pop-Ups
Produced in association with the Escher estate, this book presents some of the artist’s most intriguing works in original three-dimensional pop-ups. These marvelous paper constructions allow us to appreciate in new ways the artist’s impossible geometry and his themes of infinity and paradox. The book also features quotes from Escher on the original pieces of art as well as reproductions of a number of his other works.

Art News Magazine
Founded in 1902, ARTnews is the oldest and most widely circulated art magazine in the world. Published eleven times a year, ARTnews reports on the art, personalities, issues, trends and events shaping the international art world. In clear, well-crafted language that is as comprehensible to the novice as it is to the expert, the magazine offers a lively, provocative, and visually stimulating package that informs as well as entertains with news dispatches from a worldwide network of correspondents, hard-hitting investigative reports, criticism, and opinion. Has it arrived lately? Check here!


The New York Times 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA & Canada
To travel in North America is to face a delicious quandary: how to experience as much as possible in limited time? One answer is the quick hit, a jam-packed adventure that delivers a full sense of a single place’s opportunities and personalities over a well-plotted two-night stay.

The New York Times has been offering up dream weekends with practical itineraries in its popular weekly “36 Hours” column since 2002. This collection brings the best of them together, with full-color photographs to entice you and handy maps to guide you.

The Tao of Travel – Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux celebrates fifty years of wandering the globe by collecting the best writing on travel from the books that shaped him, as a reader and a traveller. Part philosophical guide, part miscellany, part reminiscence, The Tao of Travel collects excerpts from the best of Theroux’s own work are interspersed with selections from travellers both familiar and unexpected, including Vladimir Nabokov, Henry David Thoreau, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway and more.

Point It!: The Traveller’s Language Kit – The Original Picture Dictionary
Don’t speak the language? Don’t panic! Point to pictures of anything and everything you might need –  for any occasion, in any country – in this simple but very usefull little guide and the locals will understand you (almost) easily.

Show Me How to Survive: The Handbook for the Modern Hero
A practical hands-on guidebook that will help you conquer any situation with cheeky humor and simplified instructions.

From basic first aid to battling wild animals, 175 things every modern-day survivor needs to know–one step at a time. Presented in the bold visual style of the award-winning Show Me How series, this is an innovative reference book that can and will be enjoyed as a work of art and as a quirky, thoughtful gift.

The Lonely Planet Travel Book (mini): A Journey Through Every Country in the World (For another €8 you can push the boat out and get the big version!)
This book–a mini, square repackaging of the same award-winning formula found in the original “The Travel Book”–shows a slice of life in every corner of the globe, and all points in between, engaging the reader’s senses in an adventure which conjures up the sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and feel of this amazing world.

Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine
Budget Travel aims to inform, interact, and inspire—providing readers by presenting realistic, affordable vacation options, real deals and planning tools that cover everything from easy road trips to the hottest hideaways around the globe. Has it arrived lately? Check here!

Conde Nast Traveller Magazine
This high-end magazine consistently features the best destinations in the world. In addition to writing and photography about various popular as well as exotic locales, the magazine also rates travel destinations and travel facilities such as hotels and airlines. Has it arrived lately? Check here!

(Big) Kids

(needs more YA fiction!)

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
“The Harry Potter series may be over — but fantasy fiction has a successor to JK Rowling’s crown in the form of Inheritance by Christropher Paolini.”Oh No They Didn’t Blog

With the publication of the fourth and final installment in this epic fantasy tale of dragons and warriors, the whole series is now available together for the first time in a definitive box set.

The Annotated Alice: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
For over half a century, Martin Gardner has established himself as one of the world’s leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. His Annotated Alice, first published in 1960, has over half a million copies in print around the world and is highly sought after by families and scholars alike–for it was Gardner who first decoded the wordplay and the many mathematical riddles that lie embedded in Carroll’s two classic stories: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

The Annotated Alice combines the notes of Gardner’s 1960 edition with his 1990 update, More Annotated Alice, as well as additional new discoveries and updates drawn from Gardner’s encyclopedic knowledge of the texts. Illustrated with John Tenniel’s classic and beloved art–along with many recently discovered Tenniel pencil sketches–The Annotated Alice will be Gardner’s most beautiful and enduring tribute to Carroll’s masterpieces yet.

The Lonely Planet Not For Parents Travel Book by Michael DuBois
Compiling only the really interesting bits (absolutely not the “really interesting bits” that you’ll find in the grown-ups’ Lonely Planet guides), this book tells and shows the epic events, amazing animals, hideous histories, funky foods, and crazy facts that make the world’s 200 countries so fascinating.

The Lego Ideas Book – Daniel Lipkowitz
Packed with tips from expert Lego builders, this book is divided into six themed chapters – transport, buildings, space, kingdoms, adventure and useful makes – and is perfect for Lego fans who want to make their models cool, fun and imaginative.


The Art of Happiness – The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama’s guide to dealing with everyday human problems and achieving happiness. It addresses such issues as: the sources of happiness; desire and greed; marriage and romance; resolving conflict; facing our suffering; overcoming anxiety; anger and hatred; and finding balance.

Speeches That Changed the World
From declarations of war to demands for peace, and from cries of freedom to shouts of righteous anger, this stirring anthology is a celebration of more than 50 speeches that have shaped history. Beginning with the prophets of the great religions and concluding with Barack Obama’s election victory vow that ‘this is our time’, Speeches that Changed the World spans eras, nations and many voices – revolutionaries and tyrants, soldiers and statesmen, monarchs and martyrs.

The Book of Awesome – Neil Pasricha (and The Book of Holiday Awesome)
The Book of Awesome reminds us that the best things in life are free. Based on the award-winning, multimillion hit blog, it’s a high five for humanity and a big celebration of life’s little moments. With wise, witty observations from #1 international bestselling author Neil Pasricha this treasure trove is filled with smile-inducing musings that make readers feel like kids looking at the world for the first time.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
One of the most thoughtful, entertaining and prescriptive works on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject. Filled with practical advice, sharp insight, charm, and humor, Rubin’s story will inspire readers to navigate their own paths to happiness.

Psychology Today Magazine
Psychology Today is devoted exclusively to everybody’s favorite subject: ourselves. Founded in 1967, the highly readable and accessible magazine covers all aspects of human behavior and mental health, from the workings of the mind to the bonds between people and the larger cultural forces that drive our most intimate decisions.

Experience Life Magazine
Experience Life magazine sees the big picture: it covers the cutting edge of fitness, nutrition and wellness, and helps you discover the joy of new, active adventures. It probes the depths of personal development and questions cultural assumptions. It gives you the heads-up about truly worthy products — from healthy foods and fitness gear to natural health and beauty products. But it also looks at the common-sense essentials, the nuts-and-bolts information that can be easy to overlook in the midst of diet crazes and fitness fads competing for attention.

Experience Life’s readers are intelligent, discerning, busy women and men who appreciate knowing what works and what doesn’t. If you’re like them — if you’ve been waiting for a whole-person magazine with personality and integrity, guts and soul — we think you’ll like Experience Life.

Life’s Little Instruction Book: 511 Suggestions, Observations, and Reminders on How to Live a Happy and Rewarding Life – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr. originally wrote Life’s Little Instruction Book™ as a gift for his son who was leaving home to begin his freshman year in college. Brown says, “I read years ago that it was not the responsibility of parents to pave the road for their children but to provide a road map, and I wanted to provide him with what I had learned about living a happy and rewarding life.” Life’s Little Instruction Book™ is a guidebook that gently points the way to happiness and fulfillment. The observations are direct, simple, and as practical as an umbrella.

“But it’s not just for young people,” says Brown. “Most of us already know how to live a successful and purposeful life. We know we should be more understanding and thoughtful, more responsible, courageous and appreciative. It’s just that we sometimes need reminding.” Life’s Little Instruction Book™ is that reminder, as well as the perfect gift for a relative or a friend who needs encouragement at any time of the year.