Hair today, Gone Tomorrow
The bigger the hair, the closer to God— God being David Lee Roth. American Hair Metal ($22.95, Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651) fuels pages with photographs of the 1980s rock 'n' roll lifestyle, from the glamour chests of Poison to the peroxide-blond manes of King Kobra.
This compact, highly stylized compilation of emotional photographs and stinging scripture is an anthem to the life experience of Muhammad Ali. Ali Rap: Muhammad Ali, The First Heavyweight Champion of Rap ($25, Adidas Originals, 1039 NW Couch St., 223-3109) is 297 pages of solid punches, witticisms, poetic rhythms, jestful banter and straight-up scorn. Graphic designer George Lois visually captures Ali's "ferocious" declarations, making for a pummeling, rousing lookbook. Kill two birds with one stone and take a look at the signature Ali by Adidas line of classic kicks, hoodies and track pants ($60-$175, Adidas Originals).
No 50-cent late fees on these bad boys! Yeah, they may smell like your grandpa's old sweater vests, but they bring back sweet memories of Tuesday class trips to your grade-school library. Attic journals ($14-$20, Flutter, 3948 N Mississippi Ave., 288-1649) are a safe haven for your thoughts, bound by vintage library-book covers and stamped archives of previous checkouts.
Local Green ink blotters Pinball Publishing have a penchant for all things organic. modern, echoing designs of mushrooms, petals and seaweed give way to the simplistic, nature-inspired look of their notecards, notebooks and coasters ($2.50-$12, Pinball Publishing, 1003 SE Grant St., 238-4514, and other locations). Plus, they feature a variety of limited-edition local artists' prints; Cason Ellis came up with some quirky characters, ranging from an in-your-face skydiver to a serene illustration of a tree writer ($2.50).
write 'Em Cowboy
Who knew 52 cents could go such a long way? Yeehaw Industries' panoramic postcards ($20, set of two, Oblation Letters and Press, 516 NW 12th Ave., 223-1093) will get the message across loud and clear. Brighten up a long-lost friend, relative or ex-lover's holiday without setting foot in the mall. These simple messages—"You are my Sunshine," "Keep on the Sunny Side"—are akin to a mail-order bear hug. For those of you not into giving "bear hugs," Yeehaw has also created a shopping list of Farmer's Market love notes ($50, variety of sizes) to the almighty beet, tomato and sweet pea (among other veggies). Each notecard is beautifully letterpressed and scrumptious enough to eat.
The Whole Kit and Caboodle
The 2007 Animal Friends Calendar ($8, In Other Words, 8 NE Killingsworth St., 232-6003) compiles a yearlong mix of sweet sketches and quirky commentary. Local animal lover Nicole Georges bases her simple and endearing illustrations on real-life oinkers, neighers and quackers.
Make thank-yous a breeze with Paper+Cup Designs' sweet Shadow Folds ($4, singles, papercupdesign.com) featuring muted, freeze-frame silhouettes of snowy steps, church archways and old lamplights. Each one is like a frame-worthy photograph-turned-notecard. Or try out Paper+Cup's Oldschool Mailers ($4, singles, fredflare.com). These resourceful creations are cards and envelopes (cut from lined or graph paper with tasteful colors and labels) all rolled into one and accompanied by bright-red sticker dots to seal and send away.
We Like You Too, Amy
If you have ogled your way in deep amazement through the deliciously obscene episodes of Strangers with Candy, and love Amy Sedaris as 36-year-old high-school freshman Jerri Blank, then just wait and see what she does with her alternative take on Martha Stewart. I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence ($27.99, Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651, and other locations) is a tried-and-true compendium of tips and tools that will make your holiday festivities all the more entertaining. The recipes, anecdotes and peculiar pieces of advice ("A good trick is to fill your medicine cabinet with marbles. Nothing announces a nosy guest better than an avalanche of marbles hitting a porcelain sink") are only heightened by the kitschy illustrations and photos of Sedaris playing dress-up.
The 13th book by Jodi Picoult, The Tenth Circle ($15, Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651, and other locations), is a topsy-turvy ride of skillful plot twists and family dramas combined with elements of a graphic novel. Artist Daniel Stone collaborated with Picoult to add an illustrative counterpart that gives well-crafted support to her fast-spinning narrative. An ideal holiday gift for your high-schooler who will not pick up a book.
A Spot of Greatness
George Hall sits back to revel in his new life after retirement when his stormy and unsettled daughter, Katie, decides to remarry, this time to a most inappropriate bloke (described by her brother, Jamie, as having "strangler's hands"). And so the unraveling begins. A Spot of Bother ($24.95, Looking Glass Bookstore, 318 SW Taylor St., 227-4760) is Mark Haddon's disturbingly amusing follow-up to the internationally acclaimed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
At Least American Women Don't Stink
If you haven't already heard, French women have the longest life expectancy in the Western world. Now you ask, how? Why? And what must I do to jump on that bandwagon? Well, take heed, fair American, for all of those answers and more can be found in Mireille Guiliano's French Women for All Seasons ($24.95, Powell's Books for Home and Garden, 3747 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 238-1668), the cunning follow-up of saucy secrets to her uproarious bestseller French Women Don't Get Fat.
America, the Distorted
Jon Stewart and his co-conspirators at The Daily Show have ingeniously resuscitated the stuffy, stale memories of old high-school textbooks and rectified them in the newly updated America (The Book): Teacher's Edition ($15.99, Twenty-Third Avenue Books, 1015 NW 23rd Ave., 224-5097). This paperback edition of the 2004 bestseller is still chock full of historical inaccuracies, gross distortions and complete fabrications from cover to cover, exploring everything from "Discussion Questions" to "Classroom Activities." And there are two new justices in the all-nude Supreme Court spread—habeas corpus, indeed.
Those Crazy Kids
These brutally honest holiday cards created by Super Industrial Love ($2.50 each, superindustriallove.com) are like roadkill—obscene, but you just wanna keep on looking. Simple storybook characters utter downright indecent commentary. For example, a trio of wholesome-looking children stand back to admire their completed snowman, announcing, "All he needs are some bitch tits." You'll spend hours picking out just the right card for bitchy Aunt Peg.
Bridges are a part of our everyday lives. Yet to us romantics, their mixture of historicism and pragmatism preserves a sense of mystery. The Portland Bridge Book ($34.95 hardcover, St. Johns Booksellers, 283-0032, 8622 N Lombard St., ) is filled with bridge lore, pictures and information about P-town bridge construction and engineering. The collection of historic and contemporary photographs and the expanded glossary of localized bridge terms will surely titillate the nerdiest Portlander on your list.
Lost and Found
John Connolly, the Irish author of bestselling crime thrillers, is at it again with a mysterious and mythical mosaic of loss and fantasy. The Book of Lost Things ($23, Borders, 708 SW 3rd Ave., 220-5911, and other locations) brings us into the lonely world of 12-year-old David, an imaginative young boy who takes refuge in his deceased mother's attic of books—but soon finds he cannot distinguish the real from the unreal.
Black and White
Set in L.A.'s angry punk-rock scene of the early '80s, Paint It Black ($16, Barnes & Noble, 1317 Lloyd Center, 249-0800, and other locations), Janet Fitch's follow-up to the highly acclaimed White Oleander, is a gritty account of an all-consuming relationship gone bad. White trash-bred Josie Tyrell meets privileged Ivy Leaguer-turned-dropout Michael Faraday. Michael's suicide early on in the novel ignites a search for questions left unanswered.
With short, cutting prose; stylish writing and a deeply dark story line, Sharp Objects ($24, Borders, 708 SW 3rd Ave., 220-5911, and other locations) is a gripping debut for Gillian Flynn. Reporter Camille Preaker's troubled past links curious clues and a warped connection between her and the murders that she is trying to solve. This psychological puzzle is an eerie tale of childhood tragedies and the memories that we choose to remember.
For the Love of Flowers
Experience the feng shui of flower arrangements with Design on a Lime by Anne Ryan ($27, Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651).
Into the Looking-Glass Prairie
Know the difference between a flatiron and a milk gap? How about ripples and riffles in streams? Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape ($30, Twenty-Third Avenue Books, 1015 NW 23rd Ave., 224-5097) has 45 writers, from Jon Krakauer to Barbara Kingsolver, identify them.
The Little French Boy that Could
With a cover design to adore, Nicholas on Vacation by René Goscinny (Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651) is a tactile pleasure. It's a kids' book for grown-ups, featuring a cheeky French schoolboy.
Bow Wow Wow Yippie Yo, Yippie Yay
The Dog Dialed 911: A Book of Lists from The Smoking Gun is a published collection from the popular website known for celebrity mugshots and scandalous public documents ($16, Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Highway, 246-0053).
Well, Don't Just Sit There
If you want to trade responsibilities with your 4-year-old, give 'em the hint at story time. Baby Be of Use baby books ($9 each, Black Wagon, 3964 N Mississippi Ave., 916-0000) will point them in the right direction: Baby, Mix Me a Drink, Baby, Make Me Breakfast, and Baby, Do My Banking are all especially easy to follow—simple illustrations, pleasing colors and concepts—your fast-learning toddler will get the job done in no time.
It's a Wrap
More than half the fun of giving (and receiving) is the package (get your mind out of the gutter—we're talkin' gifts here, people), so gussy 'em up with some bold wrap. Whimsy Paper ($4.50 per sheet, Ecru, 1215 NW 11th Ave., 227-2611) brings modern design and cheer to any present. Its festive combination of patterns, colors and coordinating gift-stickers still leaves just enough up to the imagination.