Book Article

Photo Finishes

We look at the latest in coffee-table books -- About everything from boxers to Blahniks, these picks are sure to please everyone on your list

Who ever said books were supposed to be cheap? If you're going to give a gift this holiday season, the only way to prove you mean it is to spend the money! So whip out your wallets for these pricey, hefty, and good-looking coffee-table tomes. To make it easy, we'll do the heavy lifting and offer you one for each of those very particular people in your life.

FOR THE SUBURB-SCORNING AESTHETE
Gregory Crewdson 1985-2005 Gregory Crewdson (Hatje Cantz, $60)
It's no surprise that Crewdson was able to get such stars as Gwyneth Paltrow to participate in one of his photographic sequences. Each of his incredibly crisp pictures is essentially a mini-movie shoot (perhaps directed by David Lynch). Using Hollywood apparatuses — cranes, props, actors — Crewdson creates eerie suburban scenes with empty twilight streets and the occasional woman floating in a flooded living room. His work makes you feel something troubling is seeping out into a previously placid world.

FOR THE WACKY NATURALIST
Vanishing Act Art Wolfe (Bulfinch, $50)
Like a Where's Waldo? for grown-ups, nature photographer Wolfe's book is full of camouflaged animals playing peekaboo with the camera. The images briefly make you feel dumb before offering simple satisfaction. See that pebble-skinned lizard mimicking tree bark? It's right there in front of you!

FOR THE UNABASHED NERD
Star Wars Chronicles: The Prequels Stephen J. Sansweet and Pablo Hidalgo (Chronicle, $150) (pictured)
This book proves the geek dictum that there can never be too much information about worlds that don't exist. Covering every aspect of the most recent Star Wars trilogy, it devotes entire pages to alien species that could not have been on screen for more than four seconds tops.

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