This year was an incredible year for books. From stunning art and photography books to helpful interior design and do-it-yourself guides and delicious cookbooks, my wish list for reading this year seems to go on and on. I love giving books as gifts because they’re the gift that keeps on giving. Whether someone returns to a book to cook new recipes, consult for design advice or just be inspired again, there are endless ways to personalize books and make them something people will treasure for years to come. And if you want to add a little DIY extra to your book gift, here are a few great ideas: Free printable gemstone bookplates, DIY plaid book jackets, fabric pyramid bookends and digital bookplates (for gifting digital readers). xo, grace
Top Image: These are my personal favorite books from this year, the ones I feel drawn to over and over again for both their incredible content and their look. Clockwise from top left: Collected: Living with the Things You Love (Martha Stewart alums Fritz Karch and Rebecca Robertson celebrate inspiring ways to display your favorite collections) $26.49, The New American Herbal (Stephen Orr, also a Martha alum, has written THE guide to growing and using herbs beyond cooking. It’s as beautiful as it is useful for discovering how powerful herbs are) $16.69 , Forest Feast (Erin Gleeson’s colorful cookbook is an ode to flavorful vegetarian cooking) $35, Show Your Work! (Austin Kleon’s follow-up to Steal Like an Artist is an inspiring command to stand behind, show and promote your own work) $7.56, The Oldest Living Things in The World (Working with biologists, Rachel Sussman tracked down and lovingly documents the oldest living organisms on the planet. This is as moving and thought-provoking as it is beautiful) $40.50, The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers (Livia Cetti of The Green Vase has blown my mind with this book. Her projects show you how to make completely realistic flowers from paper and paint) $17.71.
Books for Cooks, clockwise from top left: Handmade Gatherings (Ashley English is my book hero. She has endless energy to write new books each year and this is my favorite. It’s a celebration of potlucks and how everyone can share in making gatherings easier and more fun.) $34.95, Camille Styles Entertaining (Camille’s beautiful event decoration and design is well documented on her blog, but this book is a wonderful expansion of her love of entertaining. I love all of the family recipes included – it makes the book feel personal and meaningful.) $29.99, Eat & Make (Paul Lowe is one of my favorite people in the design world and this book is a wonderful look at how crafts and cooking intersect. This is perfect for parents, too – the projects are often fun and easy for the whole family.) $20.12, A Kitchen in France (Mimi Thorisson’s life looks like something out of a movie, but she is the real deal. She cooks incredible food, photographed by her husband Oddur, from her family’s stunning home in the French countryside. The recipes are simple and delicious.) $24.49 , A Simple Feast: A Year of Stories and Recipes to Savor and Share (Diana Yen of Jewels of New York is one of my favorite cooks and I love how much time and care went into this book.) $29.95, Buvette (Buvette is where Julia and I had our wedding dinner and it could not be a more special place to eat. Julia worked on this book and tested these recipes, which are pure and simple joy. Definitely try the chocolate mousse.) $19.64.
Books for the gardener in your life: Flora Illustrata ($50) is a stunning collection of some of the world’s most beautiful botanical illustrations from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden. The Wreath Recipe Book ($24.95) is the latest book from the Studio Choo team and I love how modern and free-form so many of these wreath “recipes” are. It’s a great contemporary spin on a tradition as old as time.
Books for and about the artists you love: Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of Fifty Famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff (This incredible illustrated look at artists and their possessions was written by one of our favorite locals, James Gulliver Hancock) $14.47, Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them (I’m fascinated by the stories behind tattoos, and this book shares some great ones, from Cheryl Strayed to Tao Lin) $22, Matisse Cut-Outs (I can’t describe my love for Matisse’s cut outs beyond saying they’re like magic to me. This book walks you through his full collection. There is also this book devoted to the same subject. $47.88, The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History (This was one of my favorite books of the year. I love the idea of pairing writers and scholars with artists to illustrate some of the most fascinating stories about the people BEHIND famous people throughout history.) $19.05, My Favorite Things (Maira Kalman is one of my favorite PEOPLE and this illustrated look at her favorite pieces from the collection at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is endlessly inspiring – and will be an exhibit at the museum when it reopens soon!) $21.87.
Books for home, craft and design lovers, clockwise from top left: Make & Give (Steph Hung and Erin Jang have created some of the cutest – and easiest!- craft projects around. This book is a blast and great for projects year-round) $16.94, A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space (I’m a huge fan of ABM’s blog and this book is a fun look at ways you can decorate your home with DIY projects that don’t take a lot of time or cost a lot of money) $13.90, The Furniture Bible (If you love design, furniture and history, this is the ONE book you should buy this year if you buy nothing else. This will be with you for years and years to come and tells you how to restore – and spot – great furniture anywhere you go.) $23.37.
Fun books for creative people: Hello, NY (Julia’s Rothman’s love letter to NYC is one of the most moving things I’ve read all year. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, it breaks down some of the most beloved – and unknown – areas of all five boroughs and brings them to life.) $18.95, Cosmigraphics (If you’re a fan of maps and infographics, this is a wonderful visual journey through the history of how mankind has mapped and illustrated the skies above us.) $50, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (People have been talking about this book nonstop, and with good reason. Whether you’re looking to clean up around your home or embrace an entirely different way of viewing the objects around you, this book is a must-read. I learned so much about patience, decorating and why it’s important to love each and every thing in your home.) $11.17.