2013’s Best Books to Give as Gifts

If you’ve got a coffee table or bank account big enough to collect all of them, 2013 was a pretty fine year for beautifully packaged books that were interesting reads, but could also make any room look smarter. For those of you who plan to give books as gifts this holiday season, we’ve collected some excellent options published within the past 12 months.

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National Geographic: Around the World in 125 Years, Reuel Golden (editor)

This collection ain’t cheap, but if you know — and care deeply about — someone whose bookshelves overflow with the iconic magazine’s famous yellow spines, why not spend the dough (close to $400) on this gorgeous hardcover collection that compiles some of the best articles and images from the National Geographic archives?

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Drive Style, Horst A. Friedrichs

Friedrichs proved that he has an eye for taking sleek photos of stylish people paired with good-looking vehicles in his bestselling Cycle Style, so there was no doubt that this collection of shots featuring rockabilly guys and girls next to big American cars from the 1950s and blond-haired preppies in classic English autos was going to be a favorite for car buffs and fashion fiends alike. 

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Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion, Kate Irvin and Laurie Anne Brewer (editors)

Sure, the photos of dandies past and present, from Oscar Wilde to John Waters, are great, but this Yale Press collection also features essays from the likes of Patti Smith and Scott Schuman that make it a must-have for fashionable gentlemen. 

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The Collected Stories, John Updike

Get this lovely box set for the John Updike fan in your life, or perhaps a collector of the beautiful editions Library of America puts out. Either way, this beautiful two-volume set of Updike’s short fiction is sure to be attractive to someone you know. 

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Heirloom Modern, Hollister and Porter Hovey

After falling in love with their blog, it was only a matter of time before somebody was smart enough to put out a Hovey Sisters book that not only documented the collection of heirlooms that decorates their Williamsburg loft, but also included photos and essays on the homes and collections of some of their most stylish friends. 

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The Wes Anderson Collection, Matt Zoller Seitz

Sure, the cover to this book was enticing, but what’s below the beautiful surface of this volume about the generation-defining director? Thankfully, along with the great images and illustrations, The Wes Anderson Collection offers more than enough interesting tidbits to keep any superfan’s interest.

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Dior Glamour, Mark Shaw

“Glamour” is, in fact, the best word to describe the famous fashion house, especially during the ten-year period this book covers, from 1952 through ’62. Filled to the brim with photos by Mark Shaw, Dior Glamour is the perfect gift for anyone interested in lavish heyday of Parisian style. 

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Vanity Fair 100 Years: From the Jazz Age to Our Age, Graydon Carter (editor)

The title pretty much says it all, but what’s inside this epic retelling of the Vanity Fair century deserves more attention that any old book you’d plop on your coffee table. Everything that — and everyone who — has mattered since 1913 is covered (save for the period when the magazine was folded into Vogue in the middle of the 20th century), proving why Vanity Fair has long been the magazine we read not just because we want to see what the rich and famous are up to, but also because it features some of the best writing of its time. 

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Hearst Ranch: Family, Land, and Legacy, Victoria Kastner

Hearst’s legendary castle had both a private airstrip and a private train car that ushered celebrities in from Los Angeles, but the most wonderful thing about the newspaper baron’s iconic estate (which was the inspiration for Charles Kane’s estate in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane) is still the 82,000-acre cattle ranch surrounding the castle. This book takes a look at the ranch, which remains privately owned, and the people who live on and around it.

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Jane & Serge: A Family Album, Andrew Birkin and Alison Castle

For 12 years the British actress Jane Birkin and French singer Serge Gainsbourg were the sexiest couple on the planet, and this book shows why while also showing a softer side of the type of celebrity couple we aren’t likely to ever see again. This one is every bit as stylish as you’d expect.