Saturday, February 3, 2007

Books

Today we're doing some more book reviews, but something a bit different. Not really the sort of thing you read (although you can read them), these are big hardcovers full of glossy pictures to flip through. Relax indoors with a glass of something and chill out with a good picture book. These sorts of things are usually, though not always, sort of expensive. Sorry. The first one I picked today is one of my favorites: I've had it for years and looked through it many times. All four are good when you're looking for a diversion.

The Mediterranean in History, by David Abulafia
$50.00 at Bn.com ISBN: 0892367253
The text is interesting enough, but the majority of this book is maps, photos of Southern European landscapes, and the breathtaking artwork of the ancient world. Let everyone else run off to look at the Dutch masters, I for one think ancient art is beautiful: so simple and elegant. The Mediterranean Sea has hosted so many impressive cultures: the Romans, Egyptians, the genius of the Renaissance and the simple beauty of the first civilizations. A bit pricey, but worth the extra dough.
Straight Boys, by Steven Underhill
$29.56 at Bn.com ISBN: 386187105X
Fans of my Eye Candy features will enjoy this one. There's no text at all, just photos of nice looking dudes in the prime of life. Like the material at Hansisgreat, there's absolutely no porno here either... just Cosmopolitan magazine level nudity, so you can leave it on the coffee table with impunity for all but the most sensitive guests. So what sets this apart from all the other erotica-as-art books out there? Steven has an eye for what is simple and wholesome, never posed or over-the-top.
Marvel: Five Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, by Les Daniels, Lee Daniels, Stan Lee
$26.95 at Bn.com ISBN: 0810925664
Marvel has brought us such heroes as Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, and (my favorite) the X-Men. Here's their story traced back to the old pulp-magazines from the '20s. The story is interesting, our country does have quite a comic book heritage, as it turns out. The art work will also blow you away. Not just muscled heroes in tights whaling on each other, often the art is quite creative and the stories surprisingly genuine. This is the perfect coffee table book with a little whimsy, for the all-American boy in your life.
India: A Photographic Journey, by John Gallagher
$12.98 at Bn.com ISBN: 0760773351
Other than the Taj Mahal, I couldn't tell you too much about Indian architecture and monuments. Imagine my surprise when I found this gem in the Bn bargain department. Landscapes that are almost beyond belief, with a eerie beauty. Fortresses set in thick, steamy jungles, exotic wildlife, and intricately carved sculpture in a very affordable volume. India's mountain ranges are also quite beautiful. Never boring, and since it's all the way on the other side of the world (from me) none of it is as familiar as, say, the Eiffel Tower. For those of us not fortunate enough to be able to afford to visit India in person, this book is perfect for an evening spent at home getting stoned.

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