121010_McSweeneys 

MCSWEENEY'S, ISSUE 36
EDITED BY DAVE EGGERS | MCSWEENEY'S | 8 BOOKLETS | $55
Get a load of the mug on this box-set. If Hulk Hogan and Dr. Phil had an inexplicably middle-aged, square-headed kid, this is probably what he'd look like. But let's not judge a box-set by its unequivocally freakish cover. Instead, let's judge it for what it really is: a 275-cubic-inch treasure trove of literary grandeur that includes a 100-page, annotated portion of Michael Chabon's lost novel, new stories from John Brandon and Colm Toibin, Jack Pendarvis's "Jungle Geronimo in Gay Paree," and a play by Wajahat Ali — to only name a few. Containing eight engrossing booklets in all, Issue 36 outdoes preceding collections with hundreds of pages ripe for your perusing pleasure.
_Michael Goetzman

121010_Funk 

FUNK & SOUL COVERS
BY JOAQUIM PAULO | TASCHEN | 432 PAGES | $39.99
Joaquim Paulo began collecting vinyl at 15, and he regularly flies to London, Paris, New York and São Paulo to add to his collection of over 25,000 LPs. Funk & Soul Covers is his compendium of 500 record covers, classics and rarities, that defined the golden era in African-American music. From the seminal stylings of Motown's Marvin Gaye to Prince's outré embrace of androgyny and the occult, Funk & Soul Covers chronicles the era through the often astounding album art that helped make the genre part and parcel of 20th century music history. This tome makes for a coffee-table boogie wonderland, featuring not only the art, but interviews with preeminent industry figures, detailed cultural context, and design analysis for many of the record covers.
_Michael Goetzman

 121010_The-Circus

THE CIRCUS, 1870-1950
EDITED BY NOEL DANIELLE | TASCHEN | 544 PAGES | $39.99
Before Hollywood, there was the Greatest Show on Earth. That was back when American's most beloved celebrity was Jumbo the elephant; back when there were no second or third takes and you were your own stunt-double. From the mid-1800s to mid-1900s, itinerant American circuses performed for crowds of up to 14,000 per show, traversing the country with their talented menageries. The Circus, 1870-1850 captures the spellbinding thrills that seized the American imagination, surmounting theater, comedy, and vaudeville shows of the day as the preferred form of diversion. In its over 500 pages, the book includes rare photographs by Mathew Brady and director Stanley Kubrick, bringing to light all the sordid splendor of America's circus phenomenon.
_Michael Goetzman

 121010_JayZDecoded

DECODED
BY JAY-Z | SPIEGEL & GRAU | 336 PAGES | $35
The first question you need to answer is: Does the receiver of your gift (or perhaps you) need a book by Jay-Z? The answer, no matter what the circumstances, could be nothing but a hearty diamonds-in-the-sky "Yes!" In Decoded, the CEO of hip-hop follows his career trajectory from the Marcy Projects of Bed-Stuy to record-label boardrooms. Photos and lyrics are interspersed with narrative under characteristically Hovian subheads such as "Sensitive Thugs, You'll All Need Hugs." Decoded provides a blue print of the Grammy winner's struggles, successes and inner musings. Besides, who doesn’t want to know what Mr. Carter meant by, "my shit is butter for the bread they wanna toast me"?
_Steve Miller

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