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Earth from Above: 365 Days

Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Abrams, $29.95 hb, 732pp., 2x6x10".

Of all the various editions of this title currently available--a coffee-table art book ($45) as well as a postcard book--this is the one which most appeals to our customers. In publishing slang the book is called a 'brick': its rough dimensions as well as its weight correspond fairly closely.

Spectacular aerial photography: a full-color photographic page-turner--and one of those titles customers simply must have, once they've seen it. The best of the photos, such as an immense flock of Kenyan flamingoes, offer a twofold pleasure: the thing-itself as abstract pattern. No special effects required; the cover-photograph of Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is indeed representative. Equally pleasing as a gift for oneself or another.

The newer edition, Earth from Above: 366 Days, contains 60 additional pages and almost 200 brand-new images.

Extraordinary Chickens

Stephen Green-Armytage, Abrams, $24.95 hb. 112pp., 10x9".

Okay: there are people who take chickens pretty seriously, we understand that. They're a living, they're pets, livestock, it's about animal husbandry, whatever. There's text in here for them. Fairly sober text about the variety of extraordinary chickens out there. But let's face it: chickens are also deeply silly-looking, and a coffee-table book of serious art-photography of creatures that look a cross between exposed genitalia and Liberace's cast-offs is a deeply silly thing. It's also irresistible. Be the first on your block. Our best-selling gift book. Believe it.

French for Cats: All the French Your Cat Will Ever Need

Henry Beard, John Boswell (contributor), Gary Zamchick (illustrator), $12.95, hb. 96pp., 4x6".

There are many gift books on or about animals. Most of them are cute. Excessively cute. This is one of the few cats books we've encountered over the years which has that special, snarky tone just right. In fact, the particularly irritating set of features cats come with, alongside the cuteness, is standard, straight out of the factory. So to read I prefer not to be neutered, or Excuse me, may I rip the couch to shreds? in perfect French (the text is bilingual) is to know you are in the presence of an author who has a deep... shall we say sympatico? with both sides of the food bowl.

How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

Mark Bittman, John Wiley & Sons, $29.95 hb. 832pp.

Winner of the prestigious Julia Child and James Beard Cookbook Awards, this is the user-friendly basic cookbook to give or receive. The recipies are simple but good, the breadth of foodstuffs covered is comprehensive, and the sheer number of recipies (over 1,500) relative to the price of the book make it the default cookbook purchase for someone new or tentative about their skills. A modern classic.

The Pop-Up Kama Sutra

Sir Richard Burton, illus. F. F. Arbuthnot, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $22.50 hb. 48pp.

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Besides, it's easy to rationalize: it's the authoritative translation, after all. Due October 2003.