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Holiday Gift Books 2012

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A cornucopia of books to give as gifts for friends, family or for yourself.  Avoid the mall - give a book from this eclectic selection!

1. A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Edition by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Edition by Madeleine L'Engle
© Farrar, Straus, Giroux
Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2012

The 1962 story of Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, their scientist mother and the mysterious disappearance of their scientist father is back in a nniversary Edition. Its opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night," (made famous by Charles Schulz's Snoopy) the supernatural appearance of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, and the children's journey through the universe via tesseract, the folding of space and time, will come rushing back to readers who loved Madeleine L'Engle's novel as a child and want to share it with their own children.

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2. Broken Harbor by Tana French

Broken Harbor by Tana French
© Viking
Viking, 2012

Tana French engages and entertains readers in Broken Harbor, a tightly-scripted police procedural and psychological drama, in which Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, a minor character from one of French's previous novels attempts to unravel the heinous murder of a father and two children in their home. For the lover of mysteries and detective stories, French's novel is a perfect gift.

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3. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
© Little Brown and Company
Little Brown and Company, September 2012

J.K. Rowling didn't need a lot of help with the promotion of her first post-Harry Potter novel, and that's a good thing, because any marketing team would be challenged to sell a book on a premise surrounding the death of a council member on the parish council of a quaint English village and the ensuing contest for the departed's vacant council seat. Yes, the story of the town of Pagford, England is a far cry from the epic battles that Rowling is known for but that doesn't make it any less compelling. The fact of the matter is that J.K. Rowling is a superb author who could probably make the ingredients on a package of ramen noodles engrossing.

In The Casual Vacancy, Rowling expertly tells the story of a town through the voices of 15 or more residents - addicts, bullies, obsessive compulsives, abusive fathers and more - characters whose depth draws you into their drama and who won't let go until they are done with you. Give The Casual Vacancy as a gift this year. Just don't give it to children.

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4. Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure by Arthur Conan Doyle

Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure by Arthur Conan Doyle
© The University of Chicago Press
The University of Chicago Press, 2012

In 1880 Arthur Conan Doyle, a medical student at the time, climbed aboard the Hope, an Arctic whaler destined to the ice floes the Northern seas for five months, during which the 20-year-old Doyle kept a diary of his adventures. Dangerous Work is not only an annotated account of the budding writer's reflections; it includes an actual facsimile of Conan Doyle's journals (wonderful for the drawings Conan Doyle made along the way) as well as four pieces of writing inspired by the journies.

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5. Drawing Comics Lab by Robyn Chapman

Drawing  Comics Lab by Robyn Chapman
© Quarry Books
Quarry Books, 2012

Drawing Comics Lab is misleading in its title, not because Robyn Chapman doesn't strive to teach readers the art of drawing comics, but because the book is as much about thinking, designing and writing as it is about drawing. Drawing Comics Lab is comprised of a series of exercises that guide readers through the process of visual storytelling. From model sheets and building characters to page building, storytelling, and publishing, Robyn - along with a number of other comics artists - provides tutelage and exercises on various aspects of this medium.

Robyn Chapman is a cartoonist, publisher, and educator. She is an assistant editor at Graphic Universe and the publisher, editor, and designer at Paper Rocket, a minicomicxs publishing house.

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6. Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman

Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman
© Viking
Viking, 2012

The Grimm Brothers' fairy tales first appeared in print 200 years ago with Wilhelm Grimm's publication of the first volume of Children's and Household Tales. This year, Philip Pullman breathes new lives into the well known fairy tales in Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, in which Pullman has rewritten 50 of the old classics including many of your favorites, such as Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rumpelstiltskin. Don't miss this book, a masterful retelling that the Brothers Grimm would most certainly have approved of.

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7. Journalism by Joe Sacco

Journalism by Joe Sacco
© Metropolitan Books
Metropolitan Books, 2012

Joe Sacco is a graphic journalist whose cartoon treatments of international news has won him international fame. He is perhaps best known for Palestine, a graphic novel about his experiences in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the early 1990s.

Journalism is a collection of Sacco's graphic reportage, covering tumultuous events in international politics during the past fifteen years. From war-torn Chechnya to Malta and onward into the Middle East during the invasion of Iraq, Sacco employed the comics form to tell important and often heartbreaking stories with the same attention to integrity in his storytelling for which he is renown.

8. Wonderful Life With the Elements by Bunpei Yorifuji

Wonderful Life With the Elements by Bunpei Yorifuji
© No Starch Press
No Starch Press, 2012

Bunpei Yorifuji, famous in his native Japan for his humorous Tokyo Metro advertisements, is the creator of this absurdly original depiction of the periodic table of the elements. In the Super Periodic Table, each element is represented by a human figure with element families differentiated by hairstyle, usage area (daily, industrial, scientific...) by differences in clothing, and atomic weight and the year of the element's discovery by the illustrated heaviness (portliness) and age of the individual.

Yorifuji's fanciful illustrations, combined with interesting information and trivia about the elements, makes Wonderful Life with the Elements an perfect gift for the science buff / chemistry student in your life.

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