Your Holiday Shopping Guide 2016: Books


For friends who’d like to revert to a simpler, more hopeful time

‘The Badass Feminist Coloring Book,’ by Ijeoma Oluo

It’s easy to understand why adult coloring books have been having a moment. After all, there’s undeniable satisfaction in applying just the right crayon to the words “Fuck Everything” in such offerings as The Sweary Coloring Book for Adults. For our regressive political moment, The Badass Feminist Coloring Book: A Colorful Celebration of Modern-Day, Intersectional Feminism ($25) by author/artist Ijeoma Oluo is a great way to de-stress from President Handsy McGrabsalot. With every new page your friends color, they’ll learn about one of forty intellectually and ethnically diverse feminist activists, writers, artists, or thinkers they may have never heard of. Suitable for folks of all ages because, as Oluo notes, “You’re never too old for coloring books and you’re never too young for feminism.” (A teen-friendly edition is also available.) Throw in the biggest Crayola box you can find and let the therapeutic benefits begin! — Jennifer L. Pozner

For your twelve-year-old aspiring riot grrrl niece

‘Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History,’ by Sam Maggs

If you know a feminist, punk-rocking preteen who’s as concerned with body piercings as she is with book reports, pick up a copy of Maggs’s Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History ($26.99), a compelling collection of profileshighlighting history’s forgotten women of science, adventure, and espionage. Chances are your niece didn’t know about Ada Lovelace, the first programmer, or mountaineer and suffragist Annie Smith Peck. Alongside the historical stuff there are Q&As with modern women in STEM careers, providing plenty of inspiration for class projects or career day, while Sophia Foster-Dimino’s illustrations keep things fun and colorful. If you’re angling for favorite-aunt status, wrap it up with a pot of Tish & Snooky’s Manic Panic hair color in a rebellious hue ($13.99). A couple of local inventors in their own right, the Bellomo sisters make a great vegan, kid-friendly hair dye. — Heather Baysa

Tish & Snooky’s Manic Panic Inc.
21-07 Borden Avenue, Long Island City

For the person who thinks the Voice hasn’t had a good film critic in forty years

‘Scrapbook of the Sixties: Writings 1954-2010,’ by Jonas Mekas

The legendary underground filmmaker and exhibitor Jonas Mekas — who was also the Voice‘s first film critic, starting in 1958 and writing the “Movie Journal” column until 1977 — is one of the most incisive, provocative, and just plain entertaining film writers of all time. This selection of pieces gathered across six decades ($35) — interviews, unpublished letters, stray observations — finds him at his conversational (and, occasionally, conspiratorial) best. Sometimes he’s just commenting, as in his discussion of the films of Joseph Cornell, which he calls “the invisible cathedrals of our age.” Other times, he is part of the story, as in his recollection of how he and Harold Pinter smuggled a print of Jean Genet’s scandalous Un Chant d’Amour from Paris to New York in 1964. (Mekas would later land in jail on an obscenity charge for screening the film alongside Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures.) Mekas knew pretty much everybody in the underground and beyond, so when he talks to or about a filmmaker or artist or playwright, these conversations have all the forthrightness of old friends shooting the shit about the things that matter most to them. — Bilge Ebiri

For lefty warriors who also like coffee table books

‘The Oliver Stone Experience,’ by Matt Zoller Seitz

Through the darkest days of the Reagan era, when Rambo and Rocky flicks were tearing up the box office, Oliver Stone somehow managed to make some of the most vibrant, politically engaged popular movies of all time, including Salvador, Platoon, and Born on the Fourth of July. This gorgeous, dense tome ($50) examines the writer-director’s eventful life and career through essays, interviews, excerpts, and a wealth of archival material. Stone recalls his conservative upbringing, his time in Vietnam, and his growing political engagement in the 1970s and ’80s, as well as the perils of success and the insanity of the film industry. All throughout, Seitz and his collaborators’ essays contextualize and make the case for the director’s work. In its collage-like approach — its mixture of the conversational, the intellectual, and the surreal — the book at times feels like one of Stone’s movies. The highlights are the interviews with the director himself, who is extremely candid about his work, and whose contentious relationship with Seitz at times recalls a buddy movie. This was already one of the most essential film books of the year, but in a Trump-infused world, it may become more vital than ever. — Bilge Ebiri

For the noncommittal L.A. transplant

‘The Truth About New York: The Long-Term Visitor’s Guide to the City That Never Sleeps,’ by Amir Said

In this cultural study and ultimate New York City guide ($24.99), Brooklyn writer/publisher/musician Said aims to uncover the many layers of New York and its residents, warts and all, through a detailed examination of city life: from dining to race, education to sex, gentrification to multiculturalism. It’s a great gift for the new New Yorker, the jaded veteran, or the many who fall somewhere along that spectrum; Said’s book is a reference tome of sorts that covers a vast scope of the NYC experience yet remains accessible. — Julianne Pepitone

For the rabid fan of Ric Burns’s New York documentary

‘You Are Here: NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City,’ by Katharine Harmon

Harmon’s third book on maps, You Are Here: NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City ($24.95) compiles more than two hundred beautifully rendered illustrations depicting every inch of the five boroughs through their history and mythology. By turns whimsical, historical, and clever, the maps explores such subjects as the birth of hip-hop, a nerd’s guide to the city, the apartments owned by Friends characters, subway bacteria, a rejected idea for Central Park, an imagined future nuclear shelter, and a mapping project that created gel wax buildings as a lighted sculpture. The collection redefines the word “map” — and offers new insights into the New York that is, was, and may someday be. — Julianne Pepitone

For the s/m comics lover

‘The Complete Crepax’

The Milanese graphics maestro Guido Crepax (1933-2003) brought a sinuous, sensuous line to his horror comics, now reproduced in a beautiful new collection from Fantagraphics ($75). His 1987 adaptation of Dracula makes the implicit sexuality of Bram Stoker’s novel explicit, as when the count’s three female slaves take their oral pleasures with a trussed Jonathan Harker — “No! Horrid harpies!” “Spoiled brat! We just want to drink your young blood!” Decades earlier, Crepax created Valentina, a character whose adventures border on the lysergic, whether plunging into a subterranean civilization populated by blind armies and gargantuan scorpions or flying naked on a broomstick over Russian onion domes, like the gorgeous witch from the Soviet-era literary classic The Master and Margarita. More surrealist than gory, the Valentina tales collected here — deftly mixing Aztecs and Nazis in one spread, turning erotic haute couture into op art on another — capture the contradictions of the Cold War Sixties with a swinging verve summed up in the helter-skelter typography of one panel: “FREE SEX! ATOMIC BOMB! POP!” — R.C. Baker