Top Picks For You

Fodor’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Books

Jennifer Arnow

'Tis the season for holiday shopping, so we've done the legwork and rounded up this year's best gifts for the travelers on your list. Of course, we think Fodor's Travel guidebooks make great presents, but there are countless novels, anthologies, cookbooks, photography collections, and other new releases that deserve your consideration. These 28 outstanding titles will make fine additions to any coffee table, beach bag, carry-on, or kitchen shelf. And if you're looking for more ideas, check out our main gift guide and our suggestions for stocking stuffers.

By Michael Alan Connelly

Michael Alan Connelly is the Editor of Follow him on Twitter: @malanconnelly.

Jennifer Arnow
1 of 28

‘My Portugal: Recipes and Stories’

By George Mendes and Genevieve Ko

Chef George Mendes, the man behind New York City’s Michelin-starred Aldea, shares recipes from his restaurant as well as his contemporary takes on classic Portuguese dishes. More than a cookbook, this volume also reads like a travelogue, with Mendes’ accounts of traveling through Portugal alongside Genevieve Ko’s gorgeous photographs of the country and its cuisine.

Buy it here, $35.

Jennifer Arnow
2 of 28

‘Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views’

Photographs by Gail Albert Halaban

The photographer’s new collection, which peers into Parisian apartment from the outside, is all about public vs. private, reality vs. fantasy, and interior vs. exterior. The beautifully composed images also serve as a lovely documentation of the city iconic architecture.

Buy it here, $63.96.

Jennifer Arnow
3 of 28

‘Henri Matisse. Cut-outs. Drawing With Scissors’

By Gilles Néret and Xavier-Gilles Néret

Released to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Matisse’s death and the blockbuster Museum of Modern Art exhibition, this new edition of Taschen’s prize-winning volume provides historical context for the artist’s cut-outs. This handsome book features rare photographs of Matisse by Henri Cartier-Bresson and others, in addition to text from poets, Matisse’s son-in-law, and the artist himself.

Buy it here, $69.99.

Jennifer Arnow
4 of 28

‘Never Can Say Goodbye’

Edited by Sari Botton

There’s no shortage of essays about moving away from New York, some of which were collected in the anthology Goodbye to All That. This follow-up collection goes the opposite direction, celebrating the agony and the ecstasy of living in the idiosyncratic metropolis. Contributors include such luminaries as Elizabeth Gilbert, Susan Orlean, Rosanne Cash, Nick Flynn, Whoopi Goldberg, Phillip Lopate, Owen King, Amy Sohn, Alexander Chee, and many others.

Buy it here, $16. 

Jennifer Arnow
5 of 28


Having hosted the World Cup and due to host the Olympics in 2016, Brazil, already one of the world’s most exciting and energetic countries, is increasingly the focus of international attention. This volume, featuring contributions from 10 writers who are experts in their field, surveys the country’s contemporary culture scene, taking into account art, architecture, design, fashion, film, music, photography, and even street food.

Buy it here, $69.95.

Mary Robnett
6 of 28

‘Home Style by City’

By Ida Magntorn

Capturing the essence of five design-forward cities, this visually rich tome takes readers inside some of the world’s most stylish and eclectic residences. There’s more than just pictures, though: The book also covers must-visit flea markets in each city and bits of colorful local history.

Buy it here, $19.95.

Jennifer Arnow
7 of 28

‘Brooklyn Spirits’

By Peter Thomas Fornatale and Chris Wertz

Since 2002, Brooklyn has become home to a growing numbers of distilleries producing small-craft liquors, leading to a cocktail renaissance in New York City and beyond. This new release covers the borough’s distilleries and the spirits they offer, and features nearly 70 drink recipes along with 15 recipes for syrups, bitters, and other cocktail-pro ingredients.

Buy it here, $35.

Jennifer Arnow
8 of 28

‘The Vacationers’

By Emma Straub

One of the best-reviewed novels of the year is this tale of a tight-knit but troubled family on vacation in idyllic Mallorca, Spain. A light-hearted take on contemporary life, Straub’s novel is perfect for anyone who knows the highs and lows of family vacations.

Buy it here, $20.31.

Jennifer Arnow
9 of 28

‘Mexico: The Cookbook’

By Margarita Carrillo Arronte

Born in Mexico, the author has spent more than 25 years researching, teaching, and cooking Mexican cuisine. This visually striking culinary bible is an authoritative guide to the country’s authentic dishes, featuring more than 700 recipes and 200 photographs and illustrations.

Buy it here, $29.97.

Jennifer Arnow
10 of 28

‘Come Here Often?’

Edited by Sean Manning

This delightful collection of stories takes readers on a journey to cherished watering holes across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Featuring humorous anecdotes and sorrowful remembrances, this volume will inspire travelers to find a new favorite bar next time they’re on the road.

Buy it here, $12.

Jennifer Arnow
11 of 28

‘A Kitchen in France’

By Mimi Thorisson

The author and her family moved from Paris to a small town in remote Médoc, where she found wonderful ingredients and inspiration (and time) to make meals. Featuring eye-opening recipes and gorgeous photography, this cookbook beautifully captures the culinary charms of rural France.

Buy it here, $40.

Jennifer Arnow
12 of 28

‘Living Language Dothraki’

By David J. Peterson

The perfect gift for any Game of Thrones fan, this set offers an introduction to the Dothraki language heard in the HBO series. Including a 128-page language guide and an hour-long audio CD featuring over 200 words and phrases plus grammar explanations, cultural notes, a dialogue, and practice exercises—more than enough to be conversational in this fantasy language.

Buy it here, $19.99.

Jennifer Arnow
13 of 28

‘Horn Please’

By Dan Eckstein

A fascinating look at an element of Indian society that most tourists will never see, this photo diary documents the colorful, hand-painted trucks that can be seen across the country’s burgeoning road network. Serving as a second home of sorts to men who spend weeks on the road away from their families, the trucks serve as a form of folk art, individual expression, and religious tribute.

Buy it here, $45.

Jennifer Arnow
14 of 28

‘O Africa!’

By Andrew Lewis Conn

This ambitious novel takes readers on an unlikely journey to 1920s Africa, where two filmmakers at the height of their careers escape troubles at home in New York City to work on a couple of projects. Featuring scenes in Coney Island and glamorous Hollywood, the story also tackles issues of race, class, sexuality, and success.

Buy it here, $25.

Jennifer Arnow
15 of 28

‘How to Eataly’

By Oscar Farinetti

A companion book of sorts to Eataly, the Italian food emporium with more than 26 international locations, this gorgeous volume feels like an encyclopedia, with instructions on everything from how to chop garlic to eating breakfast like an Italian. With forewords by chefs Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich, the book also features 100 recipes for contemporary Italian dishes.

Buy it here, $35.

Mary Robnett
16 of 28

‘Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo’

By Chris McDonnell

Equally popular with younger viewers and adults, Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time is a runaway hit series featuring one-of-a-kind characters and surreal landscapes in the land of Ooo. This full-color, 352-page hardcover takes a deep dive into the show’s background, with concept art, storyboards, early character sketches, and much more all wrapped up in one visually striking volume featuring an introduction written by director Guillermo del Toro.

Jennifer Arnow
17 of 28

‘Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook’

By Ina Garten

The doyenne of Food Network and East Hampton returns with her latest cookbook, a handy guide to cooking in advance. Featuring international influences, Ina’s recipes and tips are the key to stress-free entertaining—and to making dishes that intensify in flavor when you make them ahead of time.

Buy it here, $35.

Jennifer Arnow
18 of 28

‘Piano. Complete Works 1966–2014’

By Philip Jodido

The work of one of the world’s most important living architects is thoroughly documented in this monograph spanning his work to the present. Piano’s notable creations include the Pompidou Center, The New York Times Building, the London Bridge Tower, the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, and many more, all of which come to life with photographs, sketches, and plans in this tome.

Buy it here, $49.99.

Jennifer Arnow
19 of 28

‘A New Napa Cuisine’

By Christopher Kostow

The James Beard Award–winning chef of the celebrated Restaurant at Meadowood (which has been awarded three Michelin stars for several years running) reveals his favorite artisans, products, growers, and wild ingredients from the Napa Valley in this new cookbook. Featuring 100 recipes and personal anecdotes, the book is filled with artistic photographs of the local food and scenery.

Buy it here, $50.

Jennifer Arnow
20 of 28

‘All the Light We Cannot See’

By Anthony Doerr

This stunning World War II novel features an unlikely pairing: a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths cross in occupied France. Magnificent and moving, this New York Times bestseller captures, with beautiful detail, a bygone time and place and populates it with wonderful characters.

Buy it here, $27.

Jennifer Arnow
21 of 28

‘Plenty More’

By Yottam Ottolenghi

The chef behind celebrated Ottolenghi shared 120 dazzling vegetarian recipes in the cookbook Plenty. This follow-up goes even further, packing in more than 150 recipes that focus on spices, seasonality, bold flavors, and, of course, not cooking with meat.

Buy it here, $35.

Jennifer Arnow
22 of 28

‘Di Palo’s Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy’

By Lou Di Palo and Rachel Wharton

Located in the heart of New York City’s Little Italy, Di Palo’s is a cherished, family-owned Italian market that’s been in operation for more than a century. In addition to charting the establishment’s history, this book highlights foods from each of Italy’s 20 distinct regions, and there’s a foreword penned by director Martin Scorsese and publishing legend Jason Epstein.

Buy it here, $28.

Jennifer Arnow
23 of 28

‘Robert Doisneau’

By Jean Claude Gautrand

The photographer Robert Doisneau was one of the most important documenters of Parisian life ever. This impressive, 540-page book collects his lifetime’s work, with more than 400 photographs interspersed with quotations from the photographer. Doisneau’s most iconic images capture a bygone era in the French capital, yet reveal how little some aspects of life have changed since the 1950s.

Buy it here, $69.99.

Jennifer Arnow
24 of 28

‘In the Kingdom of Ice’

By Hampton Sides

The true story of an Arctic expedition gone wrong comes to life in this captivating work, which recounts the ill-fated 1879 voyage of the titular ship. Even though the tale is harrowing—two years into their journey, the crew gets stranded 1000 miles north of Siberia—the writing is spellbinding.

Buy it here, $28.95

Jennifer Arnow
25 of 28

‘The Art of Eating Well’

By Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley

The women behind Hemsley & Hemsley, a London-based food consultancy focused on healthy eating, share the secrets and recipes that have earned them an A-list following in this beautifully shot cookbook. With an emphasis on organic, nutrient-dense, grain- and sugar-free cooking, these recipes are truly unique and eye-opening, with the potential to transform your eating habits.

Buy it here, $35.

Mary Robnett
26 of 28


By Gabrielle Hamilton

For more than 15 years, the beloved restaurant Prune has attracted a cult following in New York’s East Village, with lines that stretch down the block. This one-of-a-kind cookbook replicates one of the kitchens binders, complete with more than 250 recipes and detailed instructions from Hamilton herself.

Buy it here, $45.

Jennifer Arnow
27 of 28

‘Leaving Time’

By Jodi Picoult

A decade after her mother’s strange disappearance in the aftermath of a tragic accident, a woman is still trying to solve the mystery. Desperate for answers, she teams up with a gifted psychic and the private investigator who’d originally looked into her mother’s disappearance. Bestselling author Picoult has crafted a gripping page-turner that would make a fine read on any trip.

Buy it here, $28.

Jennifer Arnow
28 of 28

‘Fried & True’

By Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman

A man of many hats, Lee Schrager is the founder of the New York City Wine & Food Festival (and it’s South Beach sibling), a vice president of communications at Southern Wine & Spirits, Inc., and now an author. The product of his quest to find the best fried chicken in the country, this book features drool-inducing recipes from iconic chefs and restaurants, plus there’s a foreword by Whoopi Goldberg, who hosts an annual fried chicken tasting at the NYCWFF.

Buy it here, $22.50.