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Books for stocking stuffers

November 29, 2018

Here are some choices for your shopping list — or your wish list.

Classic books

“Black Beauty,” by Anna Sewell. (The Folio Society, illustrated by Annette Hamley-Jenkins, $53.95.) The moving story of the horse that went from riches to rags to contentment turns 150 this year and gets star treatment, with old-fashioned illustrations and a sturdy slipcover. The story might make you weep, but this lovely edition will make you smile.

“Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott. (Little Brown, illustrated by Shreya Gupta, $24.99.) It’s also the 150th birthday of this fine book, but even modern kids can relate to Amy’s vanity and Jo’s fiery temper. With a new introduction by J. Courtney Sullivan.

“The Kairos Novels,” by Madeleine L’Engle. (The Library of America, $80.) This two-volume edition of “A Wrinkle in Time,” “A Wind in the Door” and the six other Kairos novels includes previously deleted passages and comes in a colorful slipcase.

Quirky books

“The Book of Extraordinary Deaths,” by Cecilia Ruiz. (Blue Rider Press, $17.) These are real deaths — Isadora Duncan’s fateful auto ride, a Frenchman who died fighting a duel in a hot-air balloon, a baritone who collapsed while singing opera. The concept of this oddly charming book might be Goreyesque but Ruiz’s illustrations are softer, more haunting.

“The Beautifull Cassandra,” by Jane Austen, illustrated by Leon Steinmetz. (Princeton University Press, $16.95.) Jane Austen was just 12 or 13 when she wrote “The Beautifull Cassandra,” a rebellious, hilarious and occasionally misspelled tale. In 12 short chapters, Cassandra puts on her bonnet and heads into town, where she steals ice cream, bows to people and knocks down a pastry chef.

“Bibliophile, an Illustrated Miscellany,” by Jane Mount. (Chronicle Books, $24.95.) A compendium of odd literary information. Such as: Irma Rombauer wrote “The Joy of Cooking” to get through a hard time after her husband’s suicide; the author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” wanted to be an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; in a book cover design, Chip Kidd added an extra leg to the iconic Knopf borzoi and nobody noticed. Lavishly illustrated by Jane Mount, who loves painting books.

Almost coffee-table books

“This Land,” by Dan Barry. (Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99.) A fine collection of Barry’s smooth-as-silk and keenly observed columns for the New York Times. He travels to post-Katrina New Orleans, witnesses an execution in Tennessee, talks with the minister who befriended serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Barry finds beauty in the tragic, the bizarre, the overlooked.

“Fred W. McDarrah: New York Scenes.” (Abrams, $40.) Fred McDarrah’s black-and-white photographs — primarily of Greenwich Village — vibrate with life and glow with excitement. This collection of 250 photos taken between the 1950s and 1970s includes a young Arlo Guthrie, a cigarette-smoking Susan Sontag, a naked Taylor Mead, a snowy Tompkins Square Park.

“Chinese-ness,” by Wing Young Huie. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $29.95.) Minnesota photographer Wing Young Huie explores what it is like to be Chinese in a series of photos and observations that stretch from his birthplace of Duluth to his parents’ village in the Toisan area of China. In this deeply felt book, Huie explores his culture, language and ancestry — and imagines (in photos) what his life might have been like had his parents stayed in China.

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