These four artist books created by Louis Cannizzaro ($15.95 each, Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651)—I Love my Girlfriend, Full of Grace, To My Sweetheart and Have Faith—are a simplistic collage of Basquiat-esque illustrations and phrases to memorize, each one capturing snapshots of cityscapes, lovers and time. Reading his pocket-sized books one after another is like drifting in and out of one long poem. Like a hand-held muse, it moves you to reflect and deliberate on some of the most inconsequential yet intimate moments of life, rarely acknowledged. Cheesy? Maybe a little. But by no means Kraft. More like a raw, milky Gruyère.
Yeah, it sucks to be a tourist. But it sucks even more to look like one. So leave that "Keep Oregon Weird" T-shirt at home and grab one of the latest collaborations between Wallpaper and Phaidon—smartly compact, color-coded travel guides ($8.95 each, Borders, 708 SW 3rd Ave., 220-5911, and other locations). Places like Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro and Istanbul top the list of the first set of 20 guides out, so now you can make your way around your choice foreign land with a pull-out map, "the best-of" in a 24-hour time frame, and all the urban, architecture and landmark resources you need without looking like a schlep.
Take nature-inspired fabric illustrations, meld in a love for whimsical prints and ribbons and add the organizational needs of a New Yorker and you've got the sweetness of Blissen all wrapped into an individualized Redwood Datebook ($15, New Seasons, 5320 NE 33rd Ave., 288-3838, and other locations), ideal for all of those holiday galas you need to keep track of. Jill Bliss' paper-pad cozies ($28, New Seasons) are the perfect companion for a beloved book—or to just simply keep things purty. These padded pieces bring out the girly girl—featuring side pockets for pens, pencils, love notes, catty gossip and whatnot.
A mix of superfine ephemera, old-school colors and new-school cool, these letterpress wonders created by Hammerpress ($6, Oblation Papers and Press, 516 NW 12th Ave., 223-1093) exchange sassy pleasantries such as "presents are nice" and "bah, humbug!" So fun to look at, you won't ever want to write them away. And also check out Hammerpress' fanciful screenprinted version of the Mexican wrestler wall calendar (above) ($16, Oblation). It's a daily reminder to bring out the rebel in you.
Pacific Northwest artist Nikki McClure's 2007 The Time Is Now calendar ($18, Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak St., 274-1449) may look simple, but her stark, three-tone, X-Acto-cut images coupled with powerful one-word expressions lend a different, deeper story. Make what you will of each illustration, but as the days of the month pass before you, you just might find that the words and actions within them take on a life of their own.
Local letterpress lovers Egg Press not only have a lovely take on finely designed cards ($7, Collage, 1639 NE Alberta St., 249-2190) with warm, bold colors and botanical blooms, but they've also created dainty message matchbooks ($14 for six, Collage) made of antique designs featuring honeycomb, alternating dots and line drawings. And for all you design wunderkinder, Egg Press now sells limited-edition pouches ($22, eggpress.com) with their signature organic screenprinted images, for all of your übercool knickknacks.
Dave Eggers' newest work, What Is the What ($26, Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651), tracks the life of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng, one of the 3,800 offered sanctuary in the U.S. in 2001. What Is the What, based on Eggers' years of actual interviews, provides a riveting and wholly honest reflection of Valentino's life, recollecting the Lost Boy's wandering childhood and heartbreaking struggle to assimilate into American culture.
From the idiosyncratic author of High Fidelity and About a Boy, Nick Hornby's latest work, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt ($14, Twenty-Third Avenue Books, 1015 NW 23rd Ave., 224-5097), is a compilation of essays surveying bookshelves far and wide, documenting his invaluable expertise on worthy reads. Collected from his monthly column in the well-distinguished literary magazine Believer, Hornby's book reviews meld deep musings and razor-sharp wit for a quick and always satisfying read.
Since the New Yorker's debut in 1925, its cartoons have been iconic in defining a distinct American sensibility. Now all 68,647 cartoons are published together in The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker ($35, Looking Glass Bookstore, 318 SW Taylor St., 227-4760). Plus, every one of them is featured on the accompanying CD-ROM set, a digital anthology fully accessible by date, subject and artist.
Apparently each of the 40 or 50 regular cartoonists at the New Yorker has the task of coming up with 10 cartoons a week. And every week a couple of lucky ducks get a call saying one of their cartoons was sold. All of the others simply get rejected. The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in the New Yorker ($22.95, Borders, 708 SW 3rd Ave., 220-5911, and other locations) pays homage to the lowly rejects and gives them a small token of consideration for their painstaking hard work. Now that's some good old American sensibility right there.
The Brothers Glam A collection of nursery rhymes for new mothers, This Little Piggy Went to Prada by Amy Allen ($20, Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 288-4651) mixes wit...all the way home.
A Book Noam Would Chomp The linguistics major will fall over when he or she reads Words Fail Me by Teresa Monachino ($13, Twenty-Third Avenue Books, 1015 NW 23rd Ave., 224-5097), then get back up again to enjoy the book's rich wordplay illumination of what is maddening and gladdening about the English language..
Cubicle Morgue The cubicle is a great way to die, slowly. Death by PowerPoint: A Modern Office Survival Guide by Michael Flocker ($13, Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Highway, 246-0053) is a sharp way to avoid the red-stapler obsession.