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New York Times: Holiday Book Review

The Martha Stewart Show, December 2008

If you're still doing your holiday shopping and are in a quandary as to what to buy your friends, family, and just about anybody on your list, think books! The selections below include a spectrum of genres (young adult, illustrated, coffee table, autobiography, mystery, novel) covering a wide range of ages and interests.

"The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages 1851-2008"
Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers: Coffee Table Book
A century and a half of history, reported on the front pages of The New York Times, is captured in this spectacular volume.

"Vanity Fair Portraits: A Century Of Iconic Images"
By Graydon Carter and the editors of Vanity Fair
Abrams: Coffee Table Book
Vanity Fair magazine has the reputation of being one of the pre-eminent showcases for portraits in the world, and this book gathers together a good chunk of them in all their glossy splendor.

By Joseph O'Neill
Pantheon: Fiction
Hans van den Broek, the Dutch-born narrator of O'Neill's dense, intelligent novel, observes of his friend, Chuck Ramkissoon, a self-mythologizing entrepreneur-gangster, that he never quite believed that people would sooner not have their understanding of the world blown up, even by Chuck Ramkissoon.

"A Mercy"
By Tony Morrison
Knoph: Novel
Nobel laureate Morrison returns more explicitly to the net of pain cast by slavery with a novel set at the close of the 17th century. The book details America's untoward foundation: dominion over Native Americans, indentured workers, women, and slaves.

"Nothing to Be Frightened Of"
By Julian Barnes
Knoph: Autobiography
In this virtuosic memoir, Barnes makes little mention of his personal or professional life, allowing his audience very limited ingress into his philosophical musings on mortality. Readers will find themselves granted access to an unexpectedly large world, populated with Barnes's daily companions and his chosen ancestors.

"The Private Patient"
By PD James
Knopf: Mystery
In James' stellar 14th Adam Dalgliesh mystery (after 2006's "The Lighthouse"), the charismatic police commander knows the case of Rhoda Gradwyn, a 47-year-old journalist murdered soon after undergoing the removal of an old disfiguring scar at a private plastic surgery clinic in Dorset, may be his last. James's readers will fervently hope it isn't.

"Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out"
Candlewick Press: Kids' Illustrated
"Our White House: Looking in, Looking Out" is an astounding collection featuring more than 100 award-winning children's book authors and illustrators. It will likely be a favorite of children -- and adults -- who love presidential trivia, historical facts, and old stories. (Ages 9 to 12)

"Moving Day: Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls, Book One"
By B Meg Cabot
Scholastic: Young Adult Fiction
The first installment of a new series presents a 9-year-old girl attempting to impose rules for living in her increasingly complex world.

Martha's Favorite Book:
The Big Fat Duck Cookbook
By Heston Blumenthal
Bloomsbury: Cookbook
This lavishly illustrated, stunningly designed, and gorgeously photographed masterpiece takes you inside the head of maverick restaurateur, Heston Blumenthal. Separated into three sections (History, Recipes, Science), Blumenthal chronicles his improbable background and unorthodox rise to fame and, for the first time ever, offers a mouth-watering and eyes-widening selection of recipes from his award-winning restaurant. He also explains the science behind his culinary masterpieces -- the technology and implements that make his alchemic dishes come to life.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the Book Review for sharing these lovely publications. The following books were given to members of the studio audience by their respective publishers: "The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages 1851-2008," "Netherland, A Mercy, Nothing To Be Frightened Of," "The Private Patient," "Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out," "Moving Day: Allie Finkle's Rules For Girls, Book One." Courtesy of the New York Times Store, the studio audience also received a Boat Tote bag in which to carry home their new books.

Book reviews on these items and other selections can be found at

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