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Hey Kids! Christmas!!

November 19, 2012

It looks like Christmas is coming around again. Of course, if the doomsayer cult is interpreting the Mayan calendar correctly, then we won’t actually make it to Christmas. I prefer to interpret the impending apocalypse as one last time to go shopping.

The bulk of this list is going to be books. Because you can buy (at least some of these) digitally, I’m not going to provide links to Amazon, but list the ISBN only. That way, you can choose the store (and format) that suits your needs.

Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files

Jim Butcher. ISBN: 9780451464408

This is it, folks!! Dresden comes back from the dead and becomes the Winter Knight. After spending the better part of this year getting caught up in the series, I’m drooling at the mouth to see what comes next. Butcher has indicated in interviews that the series may go anywhere inbetween 20-25 books, so Cold Days (#15) puts us squarely into the ramp-up towards the series climax.

The Dresden Files is the best kind of urban fantasy: not too dark or gory, not too campy. With a solid, three-dimensional cast and a strong lead, you can’t beat this series. If you love this, try books by Charles DeLint and Tanya Huff, two Canadian fantasists who have been writing urban fantasy for decades.

Steve McCurry: The Iconic Photographs

Steve McCurry. ISBN: 9780714865133

McCurry is one of the most famous photographers of the latter half of the twentieth century, producing some of it’s most arresting and beautiful pictures. This oversize, lavishly produced coffee-table book represents the best of the best. The ISBN above is for the standard edition, but there is a premium edition available (for $450…ouch).

McCurry has shot for many magazines, most famously for National Geographic, and was chosen by Kodak to shoot the absolute last roll of Kodachrome produced. If you love portraits, nature and landscapes, and above all vibrant, arresting colour, you’ll love this book.

The Art of William S. Burroughs: Cut-ups, Cut-ins, and Cut-outs

William S. Burroughs. ISBN: 9783869843155

Burroughs is the godfather of pastiche, utilizing it in many of his works, and a direct influence on writers as diverse as Kathy Acker, Leonard Cohen, William Gibson, and Michael Ondaatje. This book of his art experiments in collage, pastiche, and sampling provides a unique view of his oeuvre.

Locals Only

Hugh Holland. ISBN: 9781934429839

This is a visual record of the skateboarding scene in California during the 1970’s. The photos have that beautiful, vintage feel, with candid subjects caught inventing a subculture that persists to this day. This book is available in a number of different versions, with a gorgeous oversize version that really puts you in the center of those empty swimming pools and abandoned pipes.

The Burning House

Foster Huntington. ISBN: 9780062123480

This book is based on the blog of the same name, whose basic premise is: if your house was on fire, and you had only seconds to make a decision, what would you take? The answers, with accompanying photographs, range from tongue-in-cheek to heart-wrenching. All the participants are regular folk from all over the world, and the range of stuff reflects that. While you may not be ready to answer the question yourself (at least one contributer made the decision for real, barely escaping his own burning house), the answers given generate an interesting commentary on culture, consumerism, and the nature of value.

Vintage Shopping Toronto

If you’re looking for books and knick-knacks that aren’t quite new, there are a few good places to shop this Christmas.

The Sunday antique bazaar opposite St. Lawrence Market

Every Sunday a large range of sellers set up shop at the building opposite St. Lawrence Market, and all sorts of weird and wonderful things can (and do) show up there. It’s not as large as the big flea market/antique stall markets that operate in the suburbs, but it is conveniently located about 5 minutes away from Union Station if you’re in the city. I go fairly regularly, and find tons of stuff there.

A few good bookstores.

Some of these sell new books, some sell vintage and used; all are wonderful shops staffed by great people. If you haven’t bought a Kobo, Kindle, Nook or iPad yet, these are the go-to shops for great books:

  • Bakka/Phoenix: A great sci-fi, fantasy, horror bookstore. You Will Love This Shop.
  • The Monkey’s Paw: Eclectic, weird, wonderful, vintage, odd; only some of the terms used to describe this antiquarian shop.
  • David Mason: A true antiquarian shop, this is a pricey place, but the books are first editions, old, and generally return the value. It’s also a beautiful shop to walk through.
  • The Silver Snail: Go visit them at their new location next to HMV 333 Yonge St. A classic part of the TO comics scene, they have something for every nerd on your shopping list.

That’s it

Hope you found something for a loved one on this list. And hey, let’s face it, something for you, too.

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