Between the Lines: Have a second cup of coffee-table books

The list of books for consideration as holiday gifts has room for more.

“National Geographic: The Covers” by Mark Collins Jenkins ($50, 384 pages): Some of the world’s greatest photography has appeared on the covers and inside pages of the National Geographic Society’s official publication, which debuted in 1888. This sampling runs from 1960 to the present, with informative text. A masterpiece of “iconic photographs and unforgettable stories.”

In startling photos from archives and private collections, matched with fascinating text, the limited-edition “Vintage Black Glamour” by Nichelle Gainer recalls dozens of pioneering and trend-setting African American women (mostly) in the arts from decades past (Rockett 88, $45, 208 pages). That includes Josephine Baker, Lena Horne, Pearl Bailey, Donna Summer, the Sister Sledge quartet, Miriam Makeba and many others.

In the decades that followed its founding in 1952, Mad magazine’s editors, writers and cartoonists spared no person or institution in the cultural landscape from their wickedly funny satire. In the 1970s, its monthly circulation was 2 million-plus. Its most popular cartoonist was the late Don Martin, who was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. “Don Martin: Three Decades of His Greatest Work” shows his twisted sense of humor at its best (Running Press, $30, 272 pages).

Quick Martin story, from 1972: A writer at the Miami Herald learned that Martin, his wife and their children had rented a house in Key West for the summer. The writer drove there and interviewed Martin, who unexpectedly refused to allow the photographer to take a family portrait to run with the story. What to do? Feeling guilty and thinking quickly, Martin drew life-size faces of his cartoon characters on poster board, cut them out and made masks. He and his family wore the masks for the photographer’s portrait, which ran in the Herald’s Sunday magazine, Tropic, with the writer’s interview.

“The Complete Gillian Flynn,” the boxed set of Gillian Flynn’s three disturbing novels isn’t a coffee-table book, but her fans will be happy to receive it. The set contains “Sharp Objects” (her debut), “Dark Places” (her second) and “Gone Girl” (the movie is still in theaters; Broadway, $43, 1,072 pages).

From the hallowed halls

The faculties and alumni of the nation’s universities are known for publishing scholarly books in their fields of expertise, but they also have some titles that are more mainstream. This sampling recently arrived from the University of California, Davis:

“The Culinary Imagination: From Myth to Modernity” by Sandra M. Gilbert (Norton, $30, 432 pages): The critic-memorist intellectually scrutinizes our obsessions with all things food, linking them to the arts past and present. A big-buzz title.

“Nobody Home” by Gary Snyder and Julia Martin (Trinity University Press, $18, 280 pages): The collection of humorous and touching interviews and letters between Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder and South African writer Julia Martin covers 30 years.

“California Bees and Blooms” by Gordon W. Frankie, Robbin W. Thorp, Rollin E. Coville and Barbara Ertter (Heyday, $28, 304 pages). Here’s everything you need to know about the 1,600 species of undomesticated bees that buzz around California, especially 22 of the most common. Plus, it names bee-friendly plants and how to grow them.

“Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper” by Charles Perrault, illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia (Harper Design, $17, 80 pages): The internationally renown Garcia illustrated the best-selling “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Snow White.” She continues her dark and compelling style with this retelling of the classic tale.

“The Book of Life” by Deborah Harkness (Penguin, $29, 561 pages). The conclusion of the “All Souls Trilogy” fantasy finds witch-historian Diana Bishop and scientist-vampire Matthew Clairmont in renewed battle with various villains.

“Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel” by Anya Ulinich (Penguin, $17, 361 pages). In this graphic novel, the artist takes readers on a wild ride of online dating when a single mom looks for love in the wrong places.

“Drone” by Mike Maden (Putnam, $9.99, 544 pages). In this thriller, the head of a private security firm brings drone technoloty to bear on the hunt for a group of killers.

“The Question of Miracles” by Elana K. Arnold (HMH, $17, 240 pages): Young Iris is in a new school, where she befriends an awkward boy who’s still alive only because of a medical miracle. Could another miracle occur – one that would let Iris communicate with her deceased best friend, Sarah?

A trio by local authors

“Night Flares” by Robert M. Pacholik of Carmichael (Action Adventure Press, $13, 142 pages): The six stories from the Vietnam War are a “hybrid” of fact and fiction and winner of a bronze medal from the Military Writers Society of America. Pacholik is a two-tour combat photographer/journalist.

“Outpost” by D.W. Stephen of Elk Grove (CreateSpace, $13, 498 pages): Five of the “greatest minds” on Earth become the first colonists to land on Mars. They narrowly escape the nuclear holocaust of World War III, and become stranded on the Red Planet.

“Rescued: One Family’s Miraculous Story of Survival” by Cosumnes Fire Department captain Brian Brown (Harvest House, $17, 256 pages): Brown and his family lived to tell the tale after their Cessna 172 crashed at night into a snow-covered mountainside in Idaho.

These series live on

In 2011, a year after mystery writer Robert B. Parker died of a heart attack while writing at his desk, it was announced that his estate had made a deal with Penguin-Putnam. The publisher would continue with Parker’s popular “Spenser” and “Jesse Stone” series (to be written by Ace Atkins and Michael Brandman, respectively), as well as the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch novels, by actor-writer-producer Robert Knott.

Cole and Hitch are Old West lawmen, introduced by Parker in 2005 in “Appaloosa” (the 2008 movie starred Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, and was co-written by Knott and Harris) and continued in “Resolution,” “Brimstone” and “Blue-Eyed Devil.” Since then, Knott has written “Ironhorse” and “Bull River,” and now has published his best yet, “The Bridge” (Putnam, $27, 320 pages). It’s the most fully realized of his three, in which Cole and Hitch must solve a mystery as well as put down some very bad guys. Oh, and there’s a ghostly psychic-medium as a love interest.

On the subject of long-running series, award-winning author and Bee Book Club alumnus Walter Mosley continues his “Easy Rawlins” mysteries with No. 13, “Rose Gold,” set in 1960s Los Angeles. (Doubleday, $26, 320 pages). Easy is on the trail of a missing woman who may or may not want to be rescued. Along the way he confronts killers, kidnappers, con men and racist cops.

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.


If you have information on author appearances or other book-related special events, email it to at least two weeks before the event. To read the online calendar, go to Questions? Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.