Read All About It

Book gift ideas top this week's picks


1,000 Comic Books You Must Read


This photo- and fact-filled book looks at 1,000 essential comics from the past 80 years. There are plenty of the usual superhero suspects (Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men), but writer Tony Isabella also has a thing for Archie comics and Carl Barks' great work on various Donald Duck titles. Best of all, you'll fill up your reading list in no time.


The Batman Vault:

A Museum-in-a-Book Featuring Rare Collectibles From the Batcave

(Running Press)

This overstuffed volume includes tons of Dark Knight memorabilia from seven-plus decades: sketches, lithographs, a mask. The Caped Crusader's TV and movie history is also covered, but it's mostly about the comics. The coolest thing? You can pull items — like a paper Batplane and a how-to-draw-Batman booklet — out of the book and geek out all over them.


The Tao of Wu


Wu-Tang Clan mastermind the RZA wrote this book in which he dispenses philosophical enlightenment on various subjects. And like his hip-hop collective, The Tao of Wu is wild and strange at times. Anyone familiar with the Clan knows that the RZA is as much influenced by Eastern spirituality as the streets. This amusing book drops a little wisdom from both.


Best Music Writing 2009

(Da Capo)

The series celebrates its 10th anniversary with guest editor Greil Marcus, who stocks up on brainy music stories from the past year. There's a Rolling Stone piece on Britney Spears, a story about emo boys from the late, great Blender and the liner notes from the Replacements' Let It Be reissue. Plus, Rosanne Cash and Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein contribute.


Bicycle Diaries


Talking Heads oddball David Byrne penned this smart, funny travelogue based on 30-plus years of riding his bike around New York City and the rest of the world when he was on tour. His mind often drifts from the subject at hand to dissertations on the environment and culture, but — like the great music he recorded with the Heads back in the day — it's an eye-opening trip to many different and bizarre worlds.


Classic Toys of the

National Toy Hall of Fame

(Running Press)

The National Toy Hall of Fame kicks major ass when it comes to all the other halls of fame. This photo-stuffed book chronicles the first 10 years' worth of inductees. Faves like Mr. Potato Head, Barbie, G.I. Joe and Leo are here; so are Monopoly, Silly Putty and Slinky. Best of all, old-school playthings like Stick and Cardboard Box are included too.

BOOKCorn Flakes With John Lennon and Other Tales From a Rock 'n' Roll Life


Robert Hilburn has been The Los Angeles Times' music critic for, like, ever, and this entertaining memoir documents interviews and run-ins he's had with legends like Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Hilburn isn't a bullshitter. He's no starfucker either, which makes Corn Flakes a rare honest look at rock 'n' roll royalty.


The Grateful Dead Scrapbook: The Long, Strange Trip in Stories, Photos and Memorabilia


Loaded with tons of band photos, concert flyers and other Dead-related items, this hefty book gathers more than three decades of pot-stenched archives. Writer Ben Fong-Torres was in San Francisco at the beginning, so his text ably pulls together the historical stuff. But it's all the removable documents (plus a CD of interviews) that will keep you busy for hours.


Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times


Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley will be 83 in February. This memoir (which he penned with Eddie Dean) looks at his long, exciting life, which not so surprisingly reads an awful lot like the gloomy songs he sings. Depression-era childhood in the Virginia mountains? Check. A murdered singer? Check. A thorough history of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? hitmaker? Check.


Music Listography: Your Life in (Play)lists


All music fans are like the guy in High Fidelity: We choose our friends by their record collections, and we spend approximately 47 percent of our lives making lists. This cool book makes it easy for you to catalog your Top 10 album covers, break-up songs and dead rock stars you wish were still alive. All you need is something to write with and your snobby opinion.

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