For a no-fail gift, wrap up a sensational book this holiday season
by Nicole Feliciano
Why am I giving books to all my dog-loving pals? First, they are a one size fits all solution; no guessing about waist measurements or torturing my pals with having to endure long return lines at the mall. Second, they're calorie free (I know after my holiday bingeing I could use a gift that won't require extra trips to the gym). Third, books are the gifts that keep on giving. Long after that holiday candle has melted and the doggie ornament has been put away, these books will keep providing joy all year long. And finally, since the economic crisis has put a bit of a damper on Christmas this year, a glorious photo book can save the day and spread cheer. [Editor's note: Love the rhyme. :)]
Luxury and Playing Dress-up
Fans of high-end style are always on the hunt for beautiful books to enhance their homes. We've rounded up three can't miss presents for finicky furshionistas.
InDognito: A Book of Canines in Costume by Karen Ngo. For anyone who adores Broadway shows or period movies, you've found the perfect book. Ngo fills each page with a color portrait of a spectacularly dressed dog paired with a witty quote. ($19.99) Amazon price: $13.59
Followers of Project Runway will swoon for Lisa Knapp's Fabulous Pugs. Knapp — a costumer extraordinaire — poses her pug Charlie in a wild variety of period garments. With no detail spared Knapp nails figures ranging from Julius Pugustus Caesar to Lady Godiva. Hats off to Charlie, this pug knows how to dazzle a camera. ($16.95) Amazon price: $11.53
Luxury for Dogs is destined to earn a place of honor with any design-crazy dog lover. Author Manuela von Perfall traveled around the world to hunt down the most extravagant doggie items, such as high-end doggie dining spots and exquisite canine jewels. The large-format coffee table book offers something unexpected with each flip of the page. ($59.95) Amazon price: $37.77
Famous pet photographers
These well-known pooch photographers didn't just capture canine antics - they captured canine souls. These works of art will thrill any dog lover.
Elliott Erwitt's Dogs by Peter Mayle. Whether you've got a teacup or a towering hound, your bound to find an image you love in this volume. Erwitt (a famous American photojournalist) has an astounding connection with his canine subjects. This collection of black and white prints is an excellent showcase of his museum-worthy talent. ($55) Amazon price: $34.65
Lovers of the elongated and elegant Dachshund can stop hunting for the perfect book. Jim Dratfield's Day of the Dachshund celebrates the hot dogs with a glorious picture book. Packed with 60 portraits, this work may have some irreverent poses, but this well-known pet photographer always shoots with a loving eye. ($18) Amazon price: $12.24
Underdogs: Beauty Is More Than Fur Deep is another festival of fur from Jim Dratfield. This time his camera zooms in on loveable mixed breeds. Dratfield captures floppy ears, oddly proportioned bodies and silly faces, basically the characteristics that make an uncommon breed or unrecognizable mutt dear to a fur mom's heart. $17 Amazon price: $11.56
Award-winning photographer Rachel Hale tried to see the world through a pup's eyes in her latest work: Snog: A Puppy's Guide to Love. Napping, nibbling and exploring, it's all here in this sweet book. Cuteness abounds making this a sure-fire way to deliver a smile. $19.99 Amazon price: $19.59
For the person on your list who's a fan of history and keen on canines, we suggest Dogs by Catharine Johnson and William Wegman. Johnson and Wegman amassed 450 vintage photographs of dogs. The settings range from idyllic landscapes to formal Victorian interiors. It's a fascinating and highbrow look at the place of dogs on the early 20th century. ($14.95) Amazon price: $10.17
Want more Wegman? I don't blame you. That's why I'm adding his latest collection to my list. William Wegman: Dogs on Rocks has the familiar subject, the Weimaraners, but this time around the gorgeous grey beasts are basking in the breathtaking Maine backdrop. Wegman magically mixes a formal portraiture style with playful settings. The result: A book that will captivate from start to finish. ($29.95) Amazon price: $19.77
What do you get when you cross a boxer and a pit bull? Sharon Montrose would say something photo worthy. Mutts, a photo-essay of sorts by Montrose, explores the beauty of the crossbreed. Closely cropped photos provide hints of the large personalities behind her subjects. ($19.95) Amazon price: $13.57
If Montrose's sensibility appeals to you, here's a second book to consider: Lightweights. In this earlier effort, Montrose photographs "lightweights" or weeks-old puppies that are more accurately weighed in ounces than pounds. As expected, this book will turn even the Grinch into a dog lover. ($14.95) Amazon price: $11.66
If you want a deeper message, there are a few books that offer a unusual perspective on the canine life.
Shelter Dogs by Traer Scott is a gift with a message. All the dogs on these pages were hoping for rescue. In this meaningful work, Traer hopes to bring attention to the crisis of overcrowding in America's shelters by photographing their soulful faces. With every copy sold $.50 goes to the ASPCA. ($19.95) Amazon price: $13.57
Wild movement and manic energy. That's what comes across in Michael Crousers new photo book. Dog Run depicts the intensity of dogs at play. In all, Crouser give us 90 shots of dogs doing what we love to watch - losing themselves in the moment. A great book for your friend from the dog park or a beloved dog walker. ($32) Amazon price: $21.12
I've had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Asher and can tell you first hand he is passionate about his work. Old Friends: Great Dogs on the Good Life is Asher's ode to the aging companions that have filled our lives with love. Warning: these touching photos may move you to tears with their beauty. ($14.95) Amazon price: $10.17
Historian Donna Long studies the timeless link between kids and dogs in the book The Best Dog in the World: Vintage Portraits of Children and Their Dogs. The collection of 120 antique and vintage photographs is a innovative way to trace the history of the family pet between 1875 and 1925. ($14.95) Amazon price: $10.17