Noah Scalin (Lark Books, $14.95)
This book is the perfect gift for lovers of art, blogs and skulls alike. Scalin took on the challenge of rendering a skull in any medium every day for a year, captured on www.skulladay.blogspot.com. The book features more than 150 wildly creative versions of the most durable part of the human head, and Scalin outdoes himself with multimedia eye candy on every page.
“Facts and Legends of the Hills of Richmond”
Brooks Smith and Wayne Dementi (Dementi Milestone Publishing, $14.95)
“Facts and Legends” is a poetic homage to the nooks, crannies and neighborhoods within the capital of the South, peppered with maps and black and white photographs taken by Dementi's own family. Brooks, an environmental attorney with the WCVE Public Radio's “Rediscovering Richmond,” worked with Dementi, author of books about the Byrd Theatre and the State Fair of Virginia.
“See You in a Hundred Years”
Logan Ward (Bantam Dell, $13)
Now in paperback, Ward's account of leaving New York City to recreate the year 1900 in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and young son is a must-read for anyone interested in goat cheese, time travel or true grit. Better than reality TV, readers will be jealous of, awed by and, should you be an indoorsy kind of person, perhaps feel sorry for Ward's ancestral journey. But Ward and family are back in 2008, living in a home with running water and an indoor toilet in Staunton.
“Richmond in Ragtime: Socialists, Suffragists, Sex & Murder”
Harry Kollatz Jr. (The History Press, $24.99)
Local arts personality and Richmond Magazine writer Kollatz has rendered a telling portrait of the city from 1909 to 1911, a rousing few years when prejudice against blacks increased and women fought for the right to vote, muckrakers were thrown in jail and murder trials were a spectator sport, but great novels, music, art and the invention of flying machines also bloomed.
904 W. Broad St.
Cyril Pedrosa (First Second Books, $15.95)
This illustrated novel about a small family trying to escape the punishing shadows of death illustrates grief as beauty.
“Bottomless Belly Button”
Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics, $29.99)
Richmonder and Godwin graduate Dash Shaw hits a graphic home run with the Loony family in a wacky comedic drama about divorce.
“Omega the Unknown”
Jonathan Lethem, illustrated by Farel Dalrymple (Marvel Comics, $29.99)
The first 10 issues of the 1970s superhero series is reinvented by the author of “Motherless Brooklyn” and “The Fortress of Solitude,” giving a modern twist to a strange backwater in comics history.
THE BLACK SWAN BOOKSTORE
2601 W. Main Street
“The Complete Chronicles of Narnia”
C. S. Lewis; illustrated by Pauline Baynes (Harper Collins, $20)
Finally, Aslan, the White Witch, Prince Caspian and all of the Narnians are bound together in a lovely, thoroughly illustrated volume, collecting all seven books of the series.
“Boy Gangs of Richmond in the Dear Old Days”
Charles Wallace (Richmond Free Press, $95)
This gem from 1938 relates the exploits of Richmond's small fry during the last couple of decades of the 19th century. A quainter version of “Gangs of New York.”
“The Old Man and the Sea”
Ernest Hemingway (Charles Scribner's Sons, $500)
Like fine wine, well-preserved first editions of the literature's high points get better with time and never go out of style.
3100 Kensington Ave.
“Pete & Pickles”
Berkeley Breathed (Philomel Books, $17.99)
The mind behind the great American comic strips “Bloom County,” “Outland” and “Opus” produces the eighth of his children's books, which also tend to be good reads for adults. They are a wild and silly romps with the most unlikely, but loveable, pig-and-elephant duo in literature.
“Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things”
Lenore Look; illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Schwartz and Wade Books, $15.99)
Elementary-school readers should identify with iconic Alvin: shy second-grader by day, the superhero Firecracker by night.
Ingrid Law (Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99)
The kids-with-superpowers theme is strong this year, a literary trend following Hollywood's lead, probably. Turning 13 isn't an everyday event in the Beaumont family. Mibs is about to find out she has a superpower and to come of age in a whole new way.
2913 W. Cary St.
“The Red Shoes”
Gloria Fowler; illustrated by Sun Young Yoo, (AMMO Books, $16.95)
Intricate and lavish illustrations highlight an imaginative retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen story — with a positive spin.
“More Information Than You Require”
John Hodgman (Dutton Adult, $25)
Hodgman is pop culture's Flying Dutchman: a commentator on “The Daily Show,” the sorry PC in those Mac ads, the occasional film role and now a second book of elaborately detailed, made-up trivia, this is the bathroom book of the season. Considering how full of stuff it is, it might be the book of next season too. Doubles as a page-a-day calendar!
“Illustration Play: Craving for the Extraordinary”
Thirty artists from around the world offer thought-provoking samplings of their cutting-edge multimedia illustrations in this lovely coffee-table book.
THE FOUNTIAN BOOKSTORE
1312 E. Cary St.
“It's Time to Sleep My Love”
Nancy Tillman and Eric Metaxas (Feiwel & Friends, $16.95)
This bedtime book by the authors of “On the Night You Were Born” will lull the entire animal kingdom, species by species, into sweet dreams with gentle rhymes and illustrations worth staying up late to enjoy.
“Country Music: The Masters”
Marty Stuart (Sourcebooks MediaFusion, $49.99)
Country music legend Stuart's magnificent photographs are a tribute to greats such as Johnny Cash and the lesser-knowns who played in concerts and on recordings that established the genre. The book captures the heart and soul of country music — and includes a CD!
“Casanova: Actor, Lover, Priest, Spy”
Ian Kelly (Tarcher, $28.95)
Kelly's fast-paced history of love, sex and notoriety reads like an intelligent, riveting soap opera, slipping the history in like sugar.