SALT LAKE CITY — We went a little wild with this year's holiday gift book guide, but come to find out, 2018 had some great books, perfect for gift giving. The following are some of our favorites from the year.
For the Potterhead:
"THE ARCHIVE OF MAGIC: The Film Wizardry of The Crimes of Grindelwald," by Signe Bergstrom, Harper Design, 160 pages; "FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM: Illustrated Edition," by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill, Arthur A. Levine Books, 160 pages
"The Crimes of Grindelwald," the latest film to dive into the magical world of, if not Harry Potter himself, at least witchcraft and wizardary, has had something of a mixed reception, but whatever your feelings are on the ending's big reveal or the head-scratching appearance of Minerva McGonagall, you have to admit that it looks great. "The Archive of Magic" highlights both the work of those graphic design magicians at MinaLima — who created the stylish graphics and many of the cool props for the "Fantastic Beasts" and _"_Harry Potter" films — and the film's major characters. Scholastic's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Illustrated Edition" takes readers right into the wild world of those fantastic beasts themselves with this beautifully illustrated edition of Newt Scamander's original book. If you're curious to know what a chizpurfle, erumpent and dugbog look like, this imaginative book has the answers.
For the foodie:
"WITH A MEASURE OF GRACE," by Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle with Lavinia Spalding, Provecho Press, 160 pages; "THIS IMMEASURABLE PLACE," by Blake Spalding, Jennifer Castle and Lavinia Spalding, HBG Press, 264 pages
If you haven't made the drive to Boulder, Utah, to partake of the glorious offerings at Hell's Backbone Grill, well, it's not too late to add it to your 2019 goals. For those who can't wait for Utah's most famous restaurant (featured most recently in a hefty New Yorker profile) to reopen in March, they have two cookbooks to nurse you through the long winter months. Both cookbooks — "This Immeasurable Place" came out this year — are a mixture of succulent recipes and life-affirming stories about the remarkable people who started and work at Hell's Backbone Grill. These are the perfect cookbooks for not just cooking from, but reading and relishing.
For the reader:
"1,000 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE: A Life-Changing List," by James Mustich, Workman Publishing Company, 960 pages
Any book that's been 14-years in the making deserves our attention, especially if that book is written by noted bibliophile (and VP of digital product at Barnes and Noble, as well as founder of the now-defunct catalogue "A Common Reader") James Mustich. Besides, who doesn't love a good book recommendation? And trust us, there are some excellent recommendations in this list of 1,000 books, each of which Mustich read. You will, of course, find familiar titles on this list — "Little Women" is there as well as "Don Quixote" — but Mustich also highlights some wonderful lesser-known gems, such as Eric Ambler's moody "A Coffin for Dimitrios" and the remarkable "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey. And the list gives plenty of opportunity to rail against Mustich's choosings ("A Passage to India" but not "Howards End"?) and best of all is the check list in the back, because nothing feels as good as checking off books we've read for others to see.
For the big kid:
"IT'S SATURDAY MORNING! Celebrating the Golden Era of Cartoons 1960s-1990s," by Joe Garner and Michael Ashley, becker&mayer! Books, 224 pages
"The Jetsons," "Super Friends," "The Smurfs," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" — for those of us who spent our childhood Saturday mornings in front of the TV, we also spent time with at least one of these cartoons. "It's Saturday Morning!" is a coffee table sized book that rejoices in those lazy free mornings, offering the backstories and tales from our favorite animated friends, as well as short histories about the toys that obsessed us (Teddy Ruxpin, anyone?) and sugar cereals like Golden Crisp that we longed for with all of our little sugar-loving souls.
For the '80s preteen:
"PAPERBACK CRUSH: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction," by Gabrielle Moss, Quirk Books, 256 pages
You know from the title of this one if it's for you (or your gift recipient). For those who lapped up the many teen and tween book series that helped make reading in the 1980s so great, "Paperback Crush" is full of dishy tidbits. Discover what Francine Pascal, creator — not writer — of the beloved (and let's face it, fairly trashy) "Sweet Valley" books had in mind when she dreamed up Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, those blond, perfect size-6 California twins. Or read about the origin story of "The Babysitters Club." Writer Gabrielle Moss has a chatty, let's-dish tone that works well for this trip down nostalgia road.
For the Tolkien fan:
"A MIDDLE-EARTH TRAVELER: Sketches From Bag End to Mordor," by John Howe, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 176 pages
John Howe knows a thing or two about the "Lord of the Rings" world. A long-time illustrator, he's become the go-to Tolkien artist, creating calendars, book jackets, maps, posters and acting as a conceptual artist on Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" trilogies. This new book contains mostly pencil drawings, with some full-color, epic landscapes scattered throughout, of Tolkien geography, buildings and creatures. Howe is clearly a gifted artist and it's hard not to feel the thrill of seeing these fantasy lands rendered on the page. There and back again, indeed.
For those still mourning Stan Lee:
"THE LEAGUE OF REGRETTABLE SIDEKICKS," by Jon Morris, Quirk Books, 256 pages
We know about the famous sidekicks: Robin's many holy proclamations, Kato's sleeve darts and maybe something about Superboy or Supergirl, but what about the many sidekicks we don't know? Jon Morris, a cartoonist, graphic designer and author, susses out characters like Stripesy, who worked alongside the Star-Spangled Kid and said things like, "Oboy — action is my favorite dish!" Accompanied by plenty of color comic book illustrations, Morris dedicates a page a piece to lesser-known sidekicks, with a side panel that gives helpful information at a glance about their superhero partners, the artists who created them, when they debuted and most importantly, information such as their secret fear. Stripesy's? "That horizontal stripes make him look fat."
For the food-loving reader:
"CHARLES DICKENS'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A Book-to-Table Classic," Puffin Books, 176 pages; "JANE AUSTEN'S PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: A Book-to-Table Classic," Puffin Books, 336 pages
How could we skip these two new, delicious editions of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice"? As if the stories weren't enough, Puffin Plated has given us what they are calling "a book-to-table reading experience," with recipes from Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiis and others in "A Christmas Carol" and Martha Stewart in "Pride and Prejudice." (All tea delicacies for Jane and Martha.) You know the classics, but these over-sized editions come with well-lit photos of beautiful and tasty looking food and charming decorations throughout each of the books.
For the curious child:
"THE ATLAS OBSCURA EXPLORER'S GUIDE FOR THE WORLD'S MOST ADVENTUROUS KID," by Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco, illustrated by Joy Ang, Workman Publishing Company, 112 pages
The Atlas Obscura folks have done their darnest to scope out the oddest, most interesting and often most wonder-filled places around the world, and with this new book, they share their love of discovery with the adventurous kid. No need to buy a plane ticket or have a passport to travel to the "47 countries and 100 extraordinary places" detailed in their guide, with its colorful illustrations, map locations and obscure facts about places such as China's Hanging Temple of Hengshan and Brazil's Snake Island, an entire island of golden lanceheads, the only place in the world where they live.
For those looking for a new winter tale:
"JACK FROST: The End Becomes the Beginning (The Guardians Book 5)," by William Joyce, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 384 pages
Many people may remember "Rise of the Guardian," the 2012 animated film that featured the voices of Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman and Chris Pine as stylish versions of Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Jack Frost. But they may not know that the film is actually based on the beautifully illustrated series "The Guardians" by Oscar-winning filmmaker, author and illustrator William Joyce. This final installment tells Jack Frost's origin story, a winter tale with a warm center, and comes splendidly packaged in icy blue and silver, peppered throughout with Joyce's gorgeous pencil illustrations.
For little ones:
"LITTLE HEROES: Inventors Who Changed the World," by Heidi Poelman, illustrated Kyle Kershner, by Familius, 20 pages (preschool-5)
We'd love to shake the hands of the brilliant folks who came up with the "Little Heroes" series. Perfectly sized for small hands, these brightly colored board books feature different notables through history, from courageous people who changed the world to their most recent edition, "Inventors Who Changed the World." Your kids can learn about the impressive and inspiring achievements of Cai Lun, who invented paper, coder Grace Murray Hopper and others. Plus, Utah author Heidi Poelman wrote them, so for locals, there's the extra feeling of goodness of supporting local authors.
For the movie buff:
"SELLING THE MOVIE: The Art of the Film Poster," by Ian Haydn Smith, University of Texas Press, 288 pages
Making a movie is one thing; getting people into the theater to watch it is another. While these days studios rely heavily on trailers to lure us in, for most of the 20th century, selling a movie depended on its poster. Film journalist, critic and writer Ian Haydn Smith's ("1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die") stylish coffee table-sized book takes movie fans through the decades of film history with text and analysis about the posters and their designers from the past 100 or so years. One of the real pleasures of this book is seeing how styles and designs have changed over the years and what decades' posters are the most eye-catching.
For the historian:
"CHURCHILL: Walking With Destiny," by Andrew Roberts, Viking, 1151 pagesComment on this story
We'll admit it now: We didn't read this one. But the reviews have been glowing — the New York Times called it "the best single-volume biography of Churchill yet written" — and writer Andrew Roberts got access to never-before studied Churchill documents like George VI's wartime diaries, transcripts of war cabinet meetings, diaries, letters and even George VI's notes following their bi-weekly meetings. And if nothing else, this handsome book is heavy and, at 1151 pages, long, which always makes us feel like we've really gotten that special history-loving someone something important.