Find gifts for the intellectually curious, part 2

To kick off the holiday shopping season, explore the perfect gifts for the creatives, eclectics, and audiophiles in your life

The holidays are right around the corner, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to get to work on our shopping lists. This year we’ve gathered in one place the perfect gifts for everyone in your life. Explore part two—featuring gifts for your favorite eclectic readers, creatives, and music lovers—below, and discover more perfect gifts here.


Gifts for eclectic readers who feed their passions with new ideas

Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons by Jon Peterson

Cover of Game Wizards

When Dungeons & Dragons was first released to a small hobby community, it hardly seemed destined for mainstream success—and yet this arcane tabletop role-playing game became an unlikely pop culture phenomenon. In Game Wizards, Jon Peterson chronicles the rise of Dungeons & Dragons from hobbyist pastime to mass-market sensation, from the initial collaboration to the later feud of its creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. As the game's fiftieth anniversary approaches, Peterson—a noted authority on role-playing games—explains how D&D and its creators navigated their successes, setbacks, and controversies.

A Biography of the Pixel by Alvy Ray Smith

Cover of A Biography of the Pixel

The Great Digital Convergence of all media types into one universal digital medium occurred, with little fanfare, at the recent turn of the millennium. The bit became the universal medium, and the pixel—a particular packaging of bits—conquered the world. Henceforward, nearly every picture in the world would be composed of pixels—cell phone pictures, app interfaces, Mars Rover transmissions, book illustrations, videogames. In A Biography of the Pixel, Pixar cofounder Alvy Ray Smith argues that the pixel is the organizing principle of most modern media, and he presents a few simple but profound ideas that unify the dazzling varieties of digital image making.

Running Smart: How Science Can Improve Your Endurance and Performance by Mariska van Sprundel

Cover of Running Smart

Conventional wisdom about running is passed down like folklore (and sometimes contradicts itself): the right kind of shoe prevents injury—or running barefoot, like our prehistoric ancestors, is best; eat a high-fat diet—and also carbo load before a race; running cures depression—but it might be addictive; running can save your life—although it can also destroy your knee cartilage. Often it's hard to know what to believe. In Running Smart, Mariska van Sprundel, a science journalist and recreational runner who has had her fair share of injuries, sets out to explore the science behind such claims.

Dressing Up: The Women Who Influenced French Fashion by Elizabeth L. Block

Cover of Dressing Up

French fashion of the late nineteenth century is known for its allure, its ineffable chic—think of John Singer Sargent's Madame X and her scandalously slipping strap. For Parisian couturiers and their U.S. customers, it was also serious business. In Dressing Up, Elizabeth Block examines the couturiers' influential clientele—wealthy women in the United States who bolstered the French fashion industry with a steady stream of orders. Countering the usual narrative of the designer as solo creative genius, Block shows that these women—as high-volume customers and as pre-Internet influencers—were active participants in the era's transnational fashion system.


Gifts for the creatives who seek beauty and truth in the world

A Black Gaze: Artists Changing How We See by Tina M. Campt

Cover of A Black Gaze

In A Black Gaze, Tina Campt examines Black contemporary artists who are shifting the very nature of our interactions with the visual through their creation and curation of a distinctively Black gaze. Their work—from Deana Lawson's disarmingly intimate portraits to Arthur Jafa's videos of the everyday beauty and grit of the Black experience, from Kahlil Joseph's films and Dawoud Bey's photographs to the embodied and multimedia artistic practice of Okwui Okpokwasili, Simone Leigh, and Luke Willis Thompson—requires viewers to do more than simply look; it solicits visceral responses to the visualization of Black precarity.

Banksy: Completed by Carol Diehl

Cover of Banksy: Completed

Banksy is the world's most famous living artist, yet no one knows who he is. For more than twenty years, his wryly political and darkly humorous spray paintings have appeared mysteriously on urban walls around the globe, generating headlines and controversy. Art critics disdain him, but the public (and the art market) love him. With this generously illustrated book, artist and critic Carol Diehl is the first author to probe the depths of the Banksy mystery. Through her exploration of his paintings, installations, writings, and Academy Award-nominated film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Diehl proves unequivocally that there's more to Banksy than the painting on the wall.

Sandfuture by Justin Beal

Cover of Sandfuture

Sandfuture is a book about the life of the architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912–1986), who remains on the margins of history despite the enormous influence of his work on American architecture and society. That Yamasaki's most famous projects—the Pruitt-Igoe apartments in St. Louis and the original World Trade Center in New York—were both destroyed on national television, thirty years apart, makes his relative obscurity all the more remarkable.

Designing Motherhood: Things that Make and Break Our Births by Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick

Cover of Designing Motherhood

While birth often brings great joy, making babies is a knotty enterprise. The designed objects that surround us when it comes to menstruation, birth control, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood vary as oddly, messily, and dramatically as the stereotypes suggest. This smart, image-rich, fashion-forward, and design-driven book explores more than eighty designs—iconic, conceptual, archaic, titillating, emotionally charged, or just plain strange—that have defined the relationships between people and babies during the past century.

Featured journal: Leonardo

Cover of Leonardo

Leonardo is the leading international peer-reviewed journal on the use of contemporary science and technology in the arts and music and the application and influence of the arts and humanities on science and technology. Leonardo is interested in work that crosses the artificial boundaries separating contemporary arts and sciences. Featuring illustrated articles written by artists about their own work as well as articles by historians, theoreticians, philosophers and other researchers, the journal is particularly concerned with issues related to the interaction of the arts, sciences and technology.

Featured journal: ARTMargins

ARTMargins publishes scholarly articles and essays about contemporary art, media, architecture, and critical theory. ARTMargins studies art practices and visual culture in the emerging global margins, from North Africa and the Middle East to the Americas, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia and Australasia. The journal acts as a forum for scholars, theoreticians, and critics from a variety of disciplines who are interested in art and politics in transitional countries and regions; postsocialism and neo-liberalism; postmodernism and postcolonialism, and their critiques; and the problem of global art and global art history and its methodologies.

Featured journal: African Arts

African Arts

African Arts presents original research and critical discourse on traditional, contemporary, and popular African arts and expressive cultures. Since 1967, the journal has reflected the dynamism and diversity of several fields of study, publishing richly illustrated articles in full color, incorporating the most current theory, practice, and intercultural dialogue. The journal offers readers peer-reviewed scholarly articles concerning a striking range of art forms and visual cultures of the world’s second-largest continent and its diasporas, as well as special thematic issues, book and exhibition reviews, features on museum collections, exhibition previews, artist portfolios, photo essays, contemporary dialogues, and editorials.

Featured journal: Design Issues

Cover for Design Issues

The first American academic journal to examine design history, theory, and criticism, Design Issues provokes inquiry into the cultural and intellectual issues surrounding design. Regular features include theoretical and critical articles by professional and scholarly contributors, extensive book and exhibition reviews, and visual sequences. Special guest-edited issues concentrate on particular themes, such as design history, human-computer interface, service design, organization design, design for development, and product design methodology.


Gifts for the music lovers who dance to their own beat

Designed for Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance by Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder

Cover of Designed for Dancing

In midcentury America, eager dancers mamboed in the kitchen, waltzed in the living room, Watusied at the nightclub, and polkaed in the pavilion, instructed (and inspired) by dance records. Glorious, full-color record covers encouraged them: Let's Cha Cha Cha, Dance and Stay Young, Dancing in the Street!, Limbo Party, High Society Twist. In Designed for Dancing, vinyl record aficionados and collectors Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder examine dance records of the 1950s and 1960s as expressions of midcentury culture, identity, fantasy, and desire.

WBCN and the American Revolution: How a Radio Station Defined Politics, Counterculture, and Rock and Roll by Bill Lichtenstein

Cover of WBCN and the American Revolution

While San Francisco was celebrating a psychedelic Summer of Love in 1967, Boston stayed buttoned up and battened down. But that changed the following year, when a Harvard Law School graduate student named Ray Riepen founded a radio station that played music that young people, including the hundreds of thousands at Boston-area colleges, actually wanted to hear. WBCN-FM featured album cuts by such artists as the Mothers of Invention, Aretha Franklin, and Cream, played by announcers who felt free to express their opinions on subjects that ranged from recreational drugs to the war in Vietnam. In this engaging and generously illustrated chronicle, Peabody Award–winning journalist and one-time WBCN announcer Bill Lichtenstein tells the story of how a radio station became part of a revolution in youth culture.

Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World by Nina Kraus

Cover of Of Sound Mind

Making sense of sound is one of the hardest jobs we ask our brains to do. In Of Sound Mind, Nina Kraus examines the partnership of sound and brain, showing for the first time that the processing of sound drives many of the brain's core functions. Our hearing is always on—we can't close our ears the way we close our eyes—and yet we can ignore sounds that are unimportant. We don't just hear; we engage with sounds. Kraus explores what goes on in our brains when we hear a word—or a chord, or a meow, or a screech.

Guitar Talk: Conversations with Visionary Players by Joel Harrison

Cover of Guitar Talk

Guitar Talk offers interviews with many of the most creative guitarists of our time. This new book presents these conversations, between Joel Harrison and Nels Cline, Pat Metheny, Fred Frith, Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, Elliott Sharp, Michael Gregory Jackson, Ben Monder, Anthony Pirog, Henry Kaiser, Mike and Leni Stern, Vernon Reid, Mary Halvorson, Nguyên Le, Rez Abbasi, Ava Mendoza, Liberty Ellman, Brandon Ross, Wayne Krantz, Dave Fiuczynski, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Miles Okazaki, Sheryl Bailey, Rafiq Bhatia, and Ralph Towner—twenty-seven great guitarists in all. An enormous range of approaches and sounds exist in the modern guitar. The instrument can howl, scrape, scratch, scream, sing, pluck, and soothe. What stands out in this book is not so much the instrument itself, rather the wonderful and idiosyncratic personalities of these bold souls, their sometimes wild, often zigzagging, and ultimately profound journeys toward beauty, meaning, and excellence in their work.

Featured journal: PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art

Cover of PAJ

PAJ explores innovative work in theatre, performance art, dance, video, writing, technology, sound, and music, bringing together all live arts in thoughtful cultural dialogue. Issues include critical essays, artists’ writings, interviews, plays, drawings, and notations, with extended coverage of performance, festivals, and books. Podcasts, video and audio clips appear on PAJ’s online home.

Featured journal: Computer Music Journal

Cover of Computer Music Journal

Computer Music Journal is published quarterly with an annual sound and video anthology containing curated music. For four decades, it has been the leading publication about computer music, concentrating fully on digital sound technology and all musical applications of computers. This makes it an essential resource for musicians, composers, scientists, engineers, computer enthusiasts, and anyone exploring the wonders of computer-generated sound.


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