2010 gift guides: books

When Grace asked me to wrap up the 2010 Design*Sponge gift guide marathon (This is number 24! Whew!) with the ultimate last-minute gift — books — I nearly jumped for joy! After all, I am a librarian, so I have that love of books thing down, but honestly, there have just been so many amazing books that have come out this year! I narrowed my huge list down to 35 of my absolute favorites! There’s everything from classics bound in black rubber to, my personal favorite, a book devoted to the craft of Victorian Jelly. Happy reading! (PS — I’m always looking for a good book recommendation, so be sure to leave your 2010 favorites in the comments!) — Amy A.

Images above, clockwise from left: Handmade Weddings: More Than 50 Crafts to Personalize Your Big Day, $16.47; The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game, $19.77; Paper + Craft: 25 Charming Gifts, Accents, and Accessories to Make from Paper, $13.57; P.S. — I Made This, $12.89; How to Design a Typeface, $12.32 (the series also includes How to Design a Light, $13.60; How to Design a House, $13.60 and How to Design a Chair, $13.60); Lotta Jansdotter’s Handmade Living: A Fresh Take on Scandinavian Style, $19.77; Creative, Inc., $11.11; Crafting a Meaningful Home, $16.47

Image above: 1. From Seed to Skillet: A Guide to Growing, Tending, Harvesting, and Cooking Up Fresh, Healthy Food to Share with People You Love, $19.80; 2. The Commonsense Kitchen: 500 Recipes Plus Lessons for a Hand-Crafted Life, $23.10; 3. Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys, $23.10; 4. The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing, and Sausage Making: How to Harvest Your Livestock & Wild Game, $15.81; 5. Laduree: The Sweet Recipes, $26.37 (This book is from mine (and Sofia Coppola’s — they made the sweets for the movie, Marie Antoinette) favorite Paris spot for macaroons!); 6. Jelly with Bompas and Parr, $21.81 (I am dying for this book!!!); 7. Canal House Cooking Cookbooks Set, $39.95

CLICK HERE for 20+ more books!

Image above: 1. One Big Table, $27; 2. Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, $22.43; 3. The Essential New York Times Cookbook, $23 (This book came highly recommended by Rebecca Federman, culinary librarian, blogger and fantastic cook — and my personal go-to source for restaurant recommendations!); 4. Around My French Table, $24 (Dorie Greenspan was Julia Child’s pastry chef; this is her foray into savory!); 5. DIY Delicious, $16.47; 6. La Cuisine: Everyday French Home Cooking, $29.70; 7. The New Brooklyn Cookbook, $26.40; 8. Cooking with Italian Grandmothers, $26.40

Image above: 1. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights, $16.18; 2. Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, $16.29; 3. United States of Americana: Backyard Chickens, Burlesque Beauties, and Handmade Bitters: A Field Guide to the New American Roots Movement, $10.19; 4. Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits, $14.55; 5. Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World, $33 (I’ve become totally obsessed with these rubber-sealed paperbacks from Occulter.); 6. Let’s Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By, $13.57

Image above: 1. Home Love: 100 Inspiring Ideas for Creating Beautiful Rooms, $55; 2. Stables, $34.65; 3. V&A Pattern: Slipcased Set #2, $31.35; 4. Antiquaires: Flea Markets of Paris, $47.25; 5. Allegra Hicks: An Eye for Design, $26.40; 6. Details: A Stylist’s Secrets to Creating Inspired Interiors, $25.97 (This book just came out on December 7th, so I haven’t even seen it yet, but I’m a huge Lili Diallo fan, so I can’t wait!); 7. Bunny Williams’ Scrapbook for Living, $37.80

Pretty much anything from the V&A is a-ok with me! And then pattern? Sold! Images above, left to right: Iranian Textiles, $40.15; Toiles de Jouy, $35.65

  1. Frances says:

    What an inspiring selection of books – gorgeous pattern, tasty food and new craft projects to try out. My Amazon wishlist just got a whole lot longer!

  2. Karen E says:

    I can’t wait to buy some of these fantastic titles. One warning to shoppers, though: I flipped through Bunny Williams’ Scrapbook in a bookstore and as appealing as it is, the number of typos is more like appalling. Hello, editors? Anyone home? Here’s hoping for a reprint!

  3. amy dendy says:

    This collection blows my mind. Simply amazing!

  4. Masha says:

    Spotted a few favourite in the first selection, but I especially loved “Cooking with Italian Grandmothers” – I loved the title – it sounds like a crazy Italian comedy. :)

  5. Kimberley says:

    Such an impressively curated list! And so many that I covet. Two of my favorite cookbooks this year are Rene Redzepi’s NOMA and the Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion.

  6. I love this…I haven’t seen any book gift guides:) Thanks!

    If you’d like to join in, I’m having a giveaway today!
    Julie xo

  7. What a great list! Books are totally one of my favorite things to receive.

  8. I just received my copy of “Details” and it is wooooonderful! Great picks here; the rubber encased books are to DIE for!

  9. Sara says:

    The L’aduree cookbook is incredible. I went there in Paris and I need to learn how to make every recipe in that book.

  10. Shokoofeh says:

    Great choices. It’s also wonderful to see a book from my country (Iran) is on your list.


  11. julia says:

    Thanks for having us on the list Amy! xoxo

  12. kimberley says:

    such a fun list!
    an important reminder, too: there are tons of struggling indie bookstores that we can all support instead of everyone habitually going to amazon. maybe check with your local sources first? even powell’s and the strand are great outlets…

    1. grace says:


      i’d love people to buy in person as much as possible, but this website is read by people spread all over the place, so to suggest one regional source would alienate other readers outside of that area. so for this purpose (easy last minute gifts you can get online) we focused on amazon bc of the cheap, fast shipping. but i would always encourage someone to shop locally if that’s an option.


  13. Bunny Williams’ SCRAPBOOK FOR LIVING is a popular choice this year, but all those little pattern and design books from the V&A Museum are valuable resources.

  14. These all look so lovely! Thanks for sharing as always :)

  15. Vita says:

    What a great list! I’d like to add The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, as it is completely amazing.

  16. ola appletea says:

    really great set! THNX!!

  17. Beautiful Books, Jellies, French Toile and Laduree (my favorite too). Can’t wait to pick up the handmade weddings.

    Kimberly Sevilla

  18. Darcy says:

    Thank you for the list!! These are wonderful!

  19. Rachel says:

    Thanks for this post! Next semester I am taking an independent research course in which I pick a topic of my choosing. I will be working on my small business, and needed some material to read!

  20. Katie says:

    Lovely collection! I’ll be checking many of them out :)

  21. Anna Rodriguez says:

    I’m wondering if there might be some suggestions for cook books geared toward the male cook?

    1. grace says:


      you might like this book that was part off the bbb craft sisters’ “men’s heritage” gift guide post (full of “manly” ideas):

      (book) http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Butchering-Smoking-Curing-Sausage/dp/0760337829

      (full guide) http://www.designspongeonline.com/2010/12/2010-gift-guides-mens-heritage.html

      most of the guys i know love that book ;)

      grace :)

    2. amya says:

      Anna – Also if your guy doesn’t have Mark Bittman’s book – “How to Cook Everything” – then I would totally recommend that. It’s not targeted to the boys but very guy friendly!-AmyA

  22. gift ideas are always welcome but your ideas are so inspiring. thanks a lot!


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