When it comes to holiday gifts, it’s hard to go wrong with a beautiful and smart book — especially compared with a chunky sweater or a dreary gift certificate. You’d have to be pretty Scrooge-like indeed to turn up your nose at the following six volumes, which take the world of design seriously, but not too soberly. All demonstrate the magic that can happen when the elements of the physical world are arranged just so. Something transcendent occurs, and isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
At the end of August, our daily rhythms slow down to their most languid summer pace. This is the time to feed our brains with the best of the recent crop of design books — which are not only good reads, but they look great on the coffee table stacked next to a vase of freshly cut hydrangeas.
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, August is all about ripeness and the beginning of the true harvest season. And right now, good books are nearly as plentiful as zucchini in our vegetable gardens. The four volumes below all have seductive beauty as their theme, whether it’s the angular lines of a pioneering modernist or the actual flora in a guide to appreciating plant life in the broadest sense.
The stereotypical view of summer reading is that the heat melts our brains, so we can only absorb books with gilded raised lettering on their covers. The Introspective reader knows different. We may be camped out at the beach or at a mountain retreat this August, but being removed from the pressures of real life makes us all the more eager for substance — and actually better able to process books that deliver it. These four volumes show how stimulating summer reading can be.
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