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From Sbsun.com

In a bind (sarah michelle gellar mention)

By Rob Lowman

Tuesday 28 December 2004, by Webmaster

The bad news is that the percentage of readers in America is down from a decade ago. The numbers are about the same — it’s just that the population has increased. The good news, however, is that giving a book for the holidays can be considered a real surprise. And who knows, you just might open up a new world for someone. Here is a grab bag of suggestions — no order, sort of like wandering through a bookstore. It shouldn’t be hard to find most of these, but a trip through your local bookstore — particularly an indie like Dutton’s in North Hollywood — might yield an even more interesting find.

"Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation’ by Lynne Truss (Gotham; $17.50). This surprise best seller from Truss features witty rants that actually make punctuation questions interesting — even for the nongrammarian.

"Frank Lloyd Wright: The Interactive Portfolio’ by Margo Stipe (Running Press; $40). A quirky way of looking at the famed architect’s career, includes pull-out items and a CD.

"In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits’ (National Geographic Books; $30). This book’s unforgettable images from far-flung corners of the world, taken over many years for the magazine, are both time capsules and ongoing examinations of life. Five essays accompany the text to give some perspective to the photos.

"California 24/7, Amazing Photographs of an Extraordinary State’ by Rick Smolan and David Elliot Cohen (DK Publishing; $25). Daily News photographer David Sprague took part in this offshoot of last year’s "America 24/7,’ in which amateur and professional photographers shot for a week, capturing various aspects of daily life.

"The Encyclopedia of Animals: A Complete Visual Guide’ (The University of California Press; $39.95). Paging through this 608-page volume reminds you we’re not alone on this planet and that the rich diversity of life is mind-boggling. Containing more than 2,000 color illustrations with text by a team of experts, this encyclopedia will interest animal lovers from young teens up.

"Horses,’ photographs and text by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (Workman Publishing; $60). For the equine lover — or those who just love beauty — consider this striking collection of 225 color photographs taken over the course of 15 years by Arthus-Bertrand. It’s a tribute to an animal that has meant so much to man through the centuries.

"People We Know, Horses They Love’ by Jill Rappaport, Wendy Wilkinson and Linda Solomon (Rodale; $39.95). These photo essays spotlight noted horse lovers and their animals, including celebs Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Richard Gere, Whoopi Goldberg, Maria Shriver, Jeff Bridges, Morgan Freeman and Christie Brinkley.

"Earth From Space’ (Firefly; $49.95). Compiled by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum from photographs taken by satellites, these pictures reveal some of the damage that’s been done to the planet through logging and urban development. But there are also some scenes of beauty.

"Oscar Night: 75 Years of Hollywood Parties’ (Knopf, $75). "Vanity Fair’ editor Graydon Carter writes a forward to this book, which chronicles Hollywood at its most glamorous — and for losers, possibly its most artificial.

"Human’ by Robert Winston and Dr. Don E. Wilson (DK Publishing; $50). Using historical, social and cultural touchstones and numerous illustrations, this book tries to examine what it means to be human.

"Atlas of the World,’ Eighth Edition, by the editors of National Geographic (National Geographic; $165). This oversize volume contains maps of every place on the globe as well as specialized maps of climate zones and population groupings. The title is a bit off; it also has maps of the moon, Mars, the solar system and the Milky Way.

"Diana: The Portrait.’ By Rosalind Coward with a foreword by Nelson Mandela (Andrews McMeel; $50). The Lady Di industry keeps rolling with this book that tells her story using her own words and those of friends. It contains almost 500 images of the doomed princess, including some that have never been published.

"Bringing Tuscany Home: Sensuous Style From the Heart of Italy.’ by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes (Broadway Books; $29.95). Mayes, the author of "Under the Tuscan Sun,’ capitalizes on the lovely Italian region again. This time, she and her husband write about entertaining, eating, gardening and life in general in Tuscany.

"American Music,’ by Annie Leibovitz (Random House; $44.95). For years, Leibovitz has provided us with the defining images of pop music with her photos of artists in such publications as Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. This collection includes shots of B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Dr. Dre, the Roots, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Beck, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams, Miles Davis, Tom Waits and the Dixie Chicks.

"America: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction’ by Jon Stewart, Ben Karlin and David Javerbaum (Warner; $24.95). You won’t find this in Wal-Mart, since the chain banned it because of photos of the Supreme Court justices superimposed over naked bodies. Hey, it was a joke, but even the jokes make their points in this highly illustrated satirical volume, which was named Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly.

"Return to the Titanic,’ by Robert D. Ballard with Michael Sweeney (National Geographic; $30). Earlier this year, Ballard returned to the Titanic almost 20 years after he made his discovery of the wreckage of the famed ocean liner. What he found, unfortunately, was evidence that the ship had been scavenged and that the wreckage itself was deteriorating.

"The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker’ (Black Dog & Leventhal, book plus two CD-ROMs; $60). The first thing I do when I get my New Yorker is page through for the cartoons, which range from witty and sophisticated to wonderfully silly. Many of the magazine’s cartoons through the years — actually 2,004 of them — appear on the pages of this massive tome, while all of the 68,647 cartoons that had appeared in the magazine by the book’s press time are on the two CD-ROMs. If you can’t find something to laugh at, check your pulse.

"The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes’ (Norton, in two volumes; $75). The game is afoot. Here are the first two of three volumes of everything Holmes. This heavily illustrated pair includes all the short stories with footnotes that explain some of the Victorian references. Next year, a third volume containing the novels will be published.

"The Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Edition’ (Doubleday; $35). Dan Brown’s best-selling novel alludes to a number of works of art as part of the mystery that forced readers to go scrambling for art books, particularly to look at Da Vinci’s "The Last Supper.’ This illustrated version eliminates that need.

"The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations’ (Oxford University Press; $50). Can’t think of how to say something? Somebody before you has already said it better. Here are quotes for all occasions — written or oral — including those when you want to sound learned.

"The DC Comics Encyclopedia’ by Phil Jimenez, Scott Beatty, Robert Greenberger and Daniel Wallace (DK; $40). With more than 1,000 characters, this compendium of DC’s heroes and villains seems a bit crammed together, but for real comic fans it’s probably a must.

"Under Antarctic Ice: The Photographs of Norbert Wu’ (California; $39.95). You think two things when you see these photos — many of them taken on the ice of McMurdo Sound — cold but beautiful. The creatures in Wu’s pictures range from whales to jellyfish. He also shoots colonies of penguins on the land.

"Miracle: A Celebration of New Life’ by Anne Geddes and Celine Dion (Andrews McMeel; $60). This book is as sappy as Dion’s music, but she’s got fans and so does Geddes, whose fluffy photography is meant to elicit oohs and aahs, like people do when cooing over a baby. Here the subject is the bond between mother and child. A CD with songs by Dion comes with the book, which has more than 100 photos.

"Sports Illustrated 50 Years: The Anniversary Book (Sports Illustrated Books; $29.95). Who better than Sports Illustrated to look at sports over the last half-century. Every one of the magazine’s covers from its inception in 1954 is included as well as some of its best writing. Well-known sports writer Frank Deford does the introduction.

"Gilgamesh: A New English Version’ translated by Stephen Mitchell (Free Press; $24). Mitchell has taken the 4,000-year-old epic of Gilgamesh and made it readable. For the classicists in the family.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition’ by Douglas Adams (Harmony; $35). Re-read or introduce someone new to the adventures of mild-mannered Earth man Arthur Dent and alien Ford Prefect as they travel through a very strange and funny galaxy in the first volume of the trilogy — which spawned both TV and radio-drama interpretations — by the author who died in 2001.

"The Annotated Brothers Grimm’ by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Translated and edited by Maria Tatar. (W.W. Norton & Co.; $35). Using annotations and illustrations, Tatar examines some of changes that occurred as the brothers rewrote the tales and along with that looks at some of the grimmer sides of the Grimms’ stories.

"In the Shadow of No Towers’ by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon; $19.95). An acerbic, dark and darkly funny work from Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Spiegelman on the events of 9/11 and its aftermath. "The Gurus’ Guide to Serenity: A Me-Time Menu of Celebrity Stress Reducers’ by Laurel and Sharon House (William Morrow; $24.95). Encino resident Laurel House and her mother, Sharon, have put together tips and stress-reducing recipes from those who pamper stars such as Madonna, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jamie Lee Curtis. One of them is knitting guru Edith Eig of La Knitterie Parisienne in Studio City. Knit one, purl two and breathe. Some of the tips include creating the perfect bath, adding stress-reducing food to diets, walking for peace rather than weight loss, painting and designing jewelry.

The New How Things Work: From Flatscreen TV’s to Surgical Robots and Everything in Between’ by John Langone (National Geographic; $35). Let’s face it, most of us couldn’t tell you how a toaster works; so describing the workings of a flatscreen TV would be akin to explaining quantum physics, the Holy Trinity and what our spouses are thinking rolled into one theory. In other words, we’d rather just hit the "on’ button on the remote. But for those of you with a smidgen of curiosity, this volume uses illustrations, photographs and readable text to give a painless and informative look at the science behind today’s technologies. Just don’t ask us to fix anything.

"The Illustrated on the Shoulders of Giants: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy’ by Stephen Hawking (Running Press; $35). The brilliant physicist looks at some of the brilliant scientific minds of the past — Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus and Einstein. Works by those scientists as well as essays and bios on them by Hawking are the basis of this handsomely illustrated edition of the best-selling book.

"The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition’ edited by Nathan Brackett and Christian Hoard (Fireside; $29.95). You might not agree with the magazine’s assessments, but music fans may want to check it out.

"Geography of Religion: Where God Lives, Where Pilgrims Walk’ by Susan Tyler Hitchcock with John Esposito (National Geographic; $40). Working on the premise that knowledge about other religions will bring about tolerance among people — an idea put forth by Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter, the Rev. Mpho Tutu, in the introduction and in the the epilogue by the Dalai Lama — "Geography of Religion’ is meant for those who already know something about the topic. At times, it’s a bit too academic, but the more than 200 photographs help bring the diversity of religions on the planet to life.

"Goblins!’ by Brian Fround and Ari Berk (Abrams; $25). Fround’s "faeries’ may have been too cute for words, but his grubby goblins, along with the messy text by Berk, have a certain amount of spunk.

"The Real Mars’ by Michael Hanlon (Carroll & Graf; $35). Hanlon contends that we’re just beginning to learn about Mars, although the Red Planet has been the object of speculation since ancient times. Earlier this year, we landed two NASA spacecraft on the planet. Orbital and surface photos from the recent landings as well as shots taken from the Hubble Space Telescope and other images taken from Earth give you plenty to look at — and speculate about.

"Handbook With Footnotes’ by Eve Arnold (Bloomsbury; $65). The theme of these photos by Arnold, a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, is literally hands — with a few shots of feet throw in. Among these shots by one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers is one featuring the hands of director John Houston playing poker in Mexico in 1983.

"Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ (Ripley; $25.95). Weirdness abounds — from tattooed ladies to those who think of dirt as an essential part of their diet.

"The Art of the Polar Express’ and "The Art of the Incredibles’ (Chronicle; $40 each). Two very different movies and two styles, but the art of both is fun.

"The Katurran Odyssey’ by Terryl Whitlatch and David Michael Wieger (Simon and Schuster; $29.95). George Lucas is behind this fantasy adventure filled with all kinds of strange creatures in a faraway land. Imaginative illustrations add to the adventure.

"Made You Laugh,’ by Joe Garner (Andrew McMeel; $29.95). A DVD with clips helps round out the text about what Garner considers America’s funniest moments. The book is divided into three main parts: "The Funniest Moments From Radio and Television,’ "The Funniest Stand-up Moments’ and "The Funniest Movie Moments.’