ABC’s Gift Ideas: Philosophy, Photography, Plays, Poetry

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. :-)

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Philosophy, Photography, Plays and Poetry as picked out by section buyers Ester, Marten, Martijn and Tom. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

Philosophy

1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think – Robert Arp (ed.)

Can be found in the Reference section at ABC Amsterdam.

Besides the great, eternal questions (how was the universe created and what is the place of humans within it? How should a person live? And how can we build a just society?), 1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think also includes a host of hypotheses that are remarkable for their sheer audacity—from the concept of the transmigration of souls to parallel universes and the theoretical paradoxes of time travel. Discover the mathematical proof of the existence of life in other galaxies, and relearn inspiring ideas ranging from Gandhi’s theory of civil disobedience to Mary Wollstonecraft’s groundbreaking advocacy of women’s rights.

Abounding with quotations and more than 900 full-color, gorgeous illustrations, this is both an in-depth history of ideas and a delightfully accessible popular reference.

The Art of War: A Graphic Novel – Kelly Roman & Michael DeWeese

Can also be found in the Graphic Novels sections.

This stunning and gritty two-color graphic novel integrates the iconic strategy text by Sun Tzu into a sweeping adventure story set 20 years in the future when Wall Street is militarized and China is the world’s dominant economy. KR was sent to prison for a friendly fire incident which left his unit in tatters. Upon release he learns that his brother was brutally murdered while serving as a financial analyst under the brilliant mogul Sun Tzu, a modern incarnation of the ancient master. He heads into Manhattan to get inside Sun Tzu’s organization and find out who killed his brother and why.

A New History of Western Philosophy: In Four Parts – Anthony Kenny

Here readers will find not only an authoritative guide to the history of philosophy, but also a compelling introduction to every major area of philosophical inquiry. Kenny tells the story of philosophy chronologically, his lively narrative bringing the great philosophers to life and filling in the historical and intellectual background to their work. Kenny also looks closely at each of the main areas of philosophical exploration: knowledge and understanding; science; metaphysics; mind and soul; the nature and content of morality; political philosophy; and God. A New History of Western Philosophy is a stimulating chronicle of the intellectual development of Western civilization, allowing readers to trace the birth and growth of philosophy from antiquity to the present day.

Ebooks available for the four separate parts: part one, part two, part three and part four.

Photography

Humans of New York – Brandon Stanton

In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton set out on an ambitious project: to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories. The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called Humans of New York, in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes.

The blog has steadily grown, now boasting more than a million devoted followers. Humans of New York is the book inspired by the blog. With four hundred color photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, Humans of New York is a stunning collection of images that showcases the outsized personalities of New York.

Understanding a Photograph – John Berger

John Berger’s explorations of the relationships between the individual and society, culture and politics, and experience and expression through the written word, films, photographic collaborations, and performances are unmatched in their diversity, ambition, and reach. His television series and book Ways of Seeing revolutionized the way that art is understood. Now, Aperture is pleased to present Understanding a Photograph, a collection of writings by one of the most internationally influential writers of the past fifty years.

Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs – Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry’s iconic images have made him one of the world’s most popular photographers working today. Now, for the first time, he shares the stories behind stunning images taken from around the world throughout his extensive career.

In the finest documentary tradition, Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs delves into McCurry’s personal archive to reveal never-before-seen ephemera, including journals, portraits, maps, and beautifully reproduced snapshots from various assignments. The book is organized into 14 photo stories, each brought to life by narrative text and over 100 lavish, full-color photo plates. Together, these fascinating documents create a living biography of one of photography’s greatest legends.

Waits/Corbijn: 77 – 11 – Anton Corbijn

With his trademark growl, his incorporation of pre-rock styles such as blues, jazz and vaudeville, and experimental tendencies verging on industrial music, Tom Waits seems a perfect match for Anton Corbijn’s grainy signature photographs. Their long-time collaboration has now yielded this book combining Corbijn’s Tom Waits portraits of twenty-five years with Tom Waits lyrics from such legendary albums as Blue Valentine, Small Change, Heartattach and Vine, Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, Bone Machine, Mule Variations, Alice, and Blood Money.

Before They Pass Away – Jimmy Nelson

In his landmark project Before They Pass Away Jimmy Nelson captures the lives and traditions of the last surviving tribes who have managed to preserve their traditional ways and customs within our increasingly globalized world. The British photographer’s epic portraits present these dignified inheritors of noble and age-old traditions in a proud spirit and in all their glory — a unique visual experience. This exquisitely photographed showcase for world tribal culture is not only a joy to look at, but also an important historical record.

Plays

Ester: Yes, I’m one of the, what people often refer to as crazies/weirdos/etc. that like to read plays. Here are three of my favorites as a special gift to you.

Twelve Angry Men – Reginald Rose

Ester: A brilliantly crafted story of twelve jury men who decide the future of one accused boy.

Reginald Rose’s landmark American drama was a critically acclaimed teleplay, and went on to become a cinematic masterpiece in 1957 starring Henry Fonda, for which Rose wrote the adaptation. A blistering character study and an examination of the American melting pot and the judicial system that keeps it in check, Twelve Angry Men holds at its core a deeply patriotic belief in the U.S. legal system. The story’s focal point, known only as Juror Eight, is at first the sole holdout in an 11-1 guilty vote. Eight sets his sights not on proving the other jurors wrong but rather on getting them to look at the situation in a clear-eyed way not affected by their personal biases. Rose deliberately and carefully peels away the layers of artifice from the men and allows a fuller picture of America, at its best and worst, to form.

Rhinoceros and Other Plays: Includes: The Leader; The Future Is in Eggs; It Takes All Kinds to Make a World – Eugene Ionesco

Ester: An absurd(ly good) play full of people who turn into rhinos, save for one man.

In Rhinoceros, as in his early plays, Ionesco startles audiences with a world that invariably erupts in explosive laughter and nightmare anxiety. A rhinoceros suddely apears in a small town, tramping through its peaceful streets. Soon there are two, then three, until the ‘movement’ is universal: a transformation of average citizens into beasts, as they learn to ‘move with the times.’ Finally, only one man remains. ‘I’m the last man left, and I’m staying that way until the end. I’m not capitulating!’

Rhinoceros is a commentary on the absurdity of the human condition made tolerable only by self-delusion. It shows us the struggle of the individual to maintain integrity and identity alone in a world where all others have succumbed to the ‘beauty’ of brute force, natural energy and mindlessness.

Educating Rita – Willy Russell

Ester: A lovely story of a cynical English professor and a woman who never really had a chance in life to make something of herself, but has, as it turns out, great potential.

Educating Rita portrays a working-class Liverpool woman’s hunger for education. It premiered in London, in 1980 and won the Society for West End Theatres (SWET) award for Best Comedy of the Year. It was made into a highly successful film with Michael Caine and Julie Walters and won the 1983 BAFTA award for Best Film.

This is a Student Edition of Willy Russell’s play, with introduction, commentary, notes on the text and questions for study. This edition contains the author’s revised version of the play, produced in 2002.

Poetry

Even Now – Hugo Claus

Beautifully translated from the Dutch by David Colmer, the IMPAC Award-winning translator of Gerbrand Bakker’s The Twin, Hugo Claus’s poems are remarkable for their dexterity, intensity of feeling, and acute intelligence. From the richly associative and referential “Oostakker Poems” to the emotional and erotic outpouring of the “mad dog stanzas” in “Morning, You,” from his interpretations of Shakespeare’s sonnets to a modern adaptation of a Sanskrit masterpiece, this volume reveals the breadth and depth of Claus’s stunning output. Perhaps Belgium’s leading figure of postwar Dutch literature, Claus has long been associated with the avant-garde: these poems challenge conventional bourgeois mores, religious bigotry, and authoritarianism with visceral passion.

The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems – Emily Dickinson

The Gorgeous Nothings – the first full-color facsimile edition of Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts ever to appear – is a deluxe edition of her late writings, presenting this crucially important, experimental late work exactly as she wrote it on scraps of envelopes. A never-before-possible glimpse into the process of one of our most important poets.The book presents all the envelope writings – 52 – reproduced life-size in full color both front and back, with an accompanying transcription to aid in the reading, allowing us to enjoy this little-known but important body of Dickinson’s writing.

Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996 – Seamus Heaney

New edition, out soon.

When Seamus Heaney prepared Opened Ground it came as close to being a ‘Collected Poems’ as the author cared to make it. The edition draws from four decades of Seamus Heaney’s verse, together with examples of his work as a translator, from his scintillating debut, Death of a Naturalist, to The Spirit Level, winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year. The book concludes with ‘Crediting Poetry’, the speech with which Seamus Heaney accepted the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded to him, in the words of the Swedish Academy of Letters, for his ‘works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth’. Opened Ground remains the most comprehensive edition of his work that Seamus Heaney ever made.

Ebook available here.