Trying to reach as broad a range of tastes and pocketbooks as possible, we this year scavenged everything from the front pages of the Onion to R. Crumb's genesis, to valedictory Updike. Stuff to read, stuff to look at, glossy pages and matte. Remember: be careful not to nick the pages or spill eggnog on them before you wrap. Happy holidays!

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Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-Present | by Gail Buckland | Knopf | 336 pages | $40

With Who Shot Rock & Roll, iconic photo editor Gail Buckland performs a tremendous service for the culture voyeur in us all. After spelunking the portfolios of 100 acclaimed music photographers, she emerged with nearly 300 pages of public and candid moments that warrant significant stares. Some selections— like Mark Seliger's tortured Kurt Cobain portrait and Max Vadukul's shot of Amy Winehouse fingering herself — are everyday images at this point. Others — such as Ricky Powell's pic of Method Man and Edward Colver's flinch-worthy black-and-white piece from a 1980 Minor Threat show — are newfound classics.

In his review of Who Shot Rock & Roll, New York Times critic Ken Johnson suggests "one way to make rock photographs more interesting would be to analyze them as sociological or anthropological documents." If you agree with that nonsense, don't just take a hammer to your highbrow — you should also avoid this tome. Because while Buckland stuffed it with fascinating stories about these sharp shooters and their subjects, the thrill is only spoiled by negotiating her project as something more than a phenomenal kaleidoscopic tribute to the kings and queens of sound and stage.

— Chris Faraone

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