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From Tiny To Tome, The Best Gift Books Of 2011

Illustration: Books wrapped up to be given as gifts.

There is an important distinction to be made between a great book and a great gift book. Last month, the curious minds at W.W. Norton published a fascinating nonfiction keeper called The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Guide to History's 100 Worst Atrocities. In its own thoughtful way, it is genius. But you couldn't, in good faith, put a bow on it. The art book that thrilled me most this year, Saul Bass: A Life In Film & Design, is a picture-stuffed history of the master movie-poster and movie-credits designer. But would I recommend it to anyone other than a graphic designer or hard-core film geek? Not likely.

Any list of gift books has to keep some niche interests in mind. But within each of those subsets of enthusiasm — science, history, art, fashion, photography, etc. — there are books that demand to be spotlighted and are worth remembering at gift-giving time. This year's batch includes the most gargantuan one we've ever recommended — and one smaller than an iPad. No matter the size, they're all enriching page-turners. And by that we mean the actual turning of pages, not the flicking of your digits across the face of a Kindle Fire. That, you can save for a game of Fruit Ninja.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
John McAlley is the editor of NPR.org's Books We Like series. A longtime top editor at Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Us and Entertainment Weekly, McAlley has written for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.org's Monkey See blog. He has worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone and been a contributor to Aperture. He lives in Dallas, Texas.