Best books, movies, music to give as holiday gifts
Find gifts for the movie buff, music junkie and bookworm on your holiday shopping list.
To see more holiday gift guides, visit newsday.com/giftguides.
'Mission: Impossible' 5-Movie Collection(Credit: Paramount Pictures)
The espionage franchise starring Tom Cruise as Agent Ethan Hunt has evolved over time, from Brian DePalma's slick-and-savvy original (1996) to the more fanciful recent entries by Brad Bird (2011) and Christopher McQuarrie (2015). They always give the James Bond films a run for their money, and there's no arguing with the charisma of Cruise. All five films are in this collection, each with bonus features and/or audio commentaries. (Paramount Home Media; $64.99 for 5 Blu-ray discs)
'The Walking Dead' Season 5 limited edition(Credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Because who doesn't need a gross zombie crawling over pavement as it dissolves into a bloody mess? That's the attraction of the AMC hit's latest superfan lure -- Season 5's Blu-ray set reconfigured into a collectible, now "buried" in a McFarlane Toys "grave" topped by said blood-red zombie plus random "parts." (Bits of green grass pushing up through asphalt next to a crushed beer can -- genius.) Slide back the plastic top to reveal an exclusive hard-side folding case covered with zombies hovering, with discs nestled safely in plastic trays. Sure, the price is a hefty premium. But this genre fave's previous souped-up sets seem to hold their value pretty well. English/Spanish subtitles; alternate French audio. (Anchor Bay; $150 Blu-ray+digital, Standard Season 5+digital: $70 DVD/$80 Blu-ray)
'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' 40th anniversary(Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Celebrating its 40th year, this classic spoof of the Middle Ages has itself hit middle age, but its surreal brand of comedy remains as sharp as ever. In a nod to one of the film's famous scenes, this edition comes packaged with a castle, a working catapult and a few rubber farm animals for launching. Also included are new artwork from director Terry Gilliam and a 30-minute recording of the group's live appearance at this year's Tribeca Film Festival with host John Oliver. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; $55.99 for 1 Blu-ray disc)
Little House on the Prairie: The Complete Series(Credit: Lionsgate)
Raise the roof off this, yes, little-house-shaped box to discover a slick cardboard foldout for each of this vintage family favorite's nine seasons. Though "Little House" was previously released on DVD in its entirety, the wagon-box binder of 2008 used episodes trimmed for TV repeats. And its visuals didn't look this sharp -- now remastered to stunning clarity for Blu-ray's aborted high-def release. (Lionsgate sold Seasons 1-6 individually, then stopped. No complete Blu box has been announced.) Both the show's 1974 pilot movie and its three later TV movies are here. Extras carry over from Blu-ray seasons (not previous DVDs): six-part series documentary, screen tests. English subtitles; alternate Spanish/French audio. $150 DVD+digital (48 discs).
Lou Reed, 'The Sire Years: Complete Albums Box'(Credit: Rhino/Parlophone)
It's fitting that the boxed set chronicling the final act in the late Reed's career starts with his album "New York," seen by many as his best solo album. However, this set shows just how many different styles Reed, who grew up in Freeport and spent much of his later years in Southampton, actually mastered, including concept albums dedicated to Andy Warhol ("Songs for Drella") and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." It's on "The Raven" that Reed introduced the world to Antony, who would go on to form Antony & The Johnsons. On "Call on Me," he teams up with his wife Laurie Anderson for a lovely, wrenching collaboration. (10 CDs, Rhino/Warner Bros.; $48.99)
Bruce Springsteen, 'The Ties That Bind: The River Collection'(Credit: Rhino Handmade)
"The River" was a breakthrough for Springsteen in 1980 -- his first No. 1 album, and it featured his first Top 10 hit, "Hungry Heart." This set includes the original double album "The River," a single-CD album that he originally meant to release called "The Ties That Bind," an album of outtakes and unreleased tracks, a documentary by Thom Zimny, and a two-DVD concert film from the era. "Meet Me in the City" is the standout among the unreleased tracks, where Springsteen takes on a bit of Elvis Costello new wave. In the documentary (which airs on HBO on Nov. 27) he explains his process for the album, saying, "At the time, I was pouring through a variety of history books just to contextualize myself, understand where I came from and what that meant." (4 CDs, 3 DVDs, Columbia, out Dec. 4; $122.99)
'Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion'(Credit: Abrams)
Is anyone you know mourning the end of "Mad Men"? Console them with "Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion" (Abrams, $27.50), which assembles all the episode "recaps" written by critic Matt Zoller Seitz for New York magazine, Vulture.com and other magazines and websites. Seitz's take on this enigmatic show was essential as it was unfolding, and "Carousel" provides a rearview mirror on this fascinating series. Just reading again about Don and Peggy and Pete and Joan gives you a fond pang.
'The Weegee Guide to New York'(Credit: Delmonico Books)
Weegee (born Usher Fellig in Austria in 1899) was the ultimate tabloid photographer in 1930s and '40s New York, capturing crowds, corpses, car crashes, crimes and other dark facets of city street life. "The Weegee Guide to New York" (DelMonico Books, $39.95) maps his iconic pictures by neighborhood, guiding the reader on a tour of the Lower East Side, Times Square, Brooklyn, Rockaway and other neighborhoods.
'Only What’s Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts'(Credit: Abrams)
If your family loved "The Peanuts Movie," here's the perfect gift for anybody: "Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts" (Abrams ComicArts, $40) presents original comic strips, rare sketches and Peanuts ephemera from the archives of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center. The commentary and art direction come from graphic designer Chip Kidd, the ultimate Peanuts aficionado.
Alice in Wonderland book collection(Credit: Heather Walsh)
When Lewis Carroll sent a little girl down a rabbit hole 150 years ago, who could anticipate the not-really-a-children's book would still captivate readers all these years later? This anniversary year sees a crop of new editions, explications and reimaginings. "The Annotated Alice" (Norton, $39.95), first published in 1960 by the late scholar Martin Gardner, now comes in an expanded edition decoding the book's wordplay and mathematical riddles; contemporary author David Day offers his own interpretations in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded" (Doubleday Canada, $40). Depending on your taste in art, you can buy editions illustrated by surrealist Salvador Dalí in 1969 (Princeton University Press, $24.95) or contemporary illustrator Anna Bond (Puffin, $30), creative director of Rifle Paper Co. stationery company. And novelist Gregory Maguire ("Wicked") sinks his teeth into Carroll's rich imaginary world in "After Alice" (William Morrow, $26.99).
'On Cats' and 'Beloved Dog'(Credit: Heather Walsh)
When Time magazine dubbed poet Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) the "laureate of the lowlife," its doubtful they were referring to felines. Yet "On Cats" (Ecco, $25.99) collects his musings on this enigmatic creature never fluffy and cute in his hands. Illustrator Maira Kalman offers a more benign view of Man's Best Friend in "Beloved Dog" (Penguin Press, $25), full of her whimsical, color-saturated paintings.
'They Drew as They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney’s Golden Age: The 1930s'(Credit: Heather Walsh)
Early Walt Disney Studio animation has a special, glowing magic familiar to anyone who has seen classics such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" or "Pinocchio." Credit the Disney Story Department, and the artists "including a woman, Bianca Majolie" whose stories and artwork are collected in a lovely coffee-table book, "They Drew as They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney's Golden Age: The 1930s," by Didiez Ghez. (Chronicle, $40)
Sherlock Holmes stories and novels(Credit: Heather Walsh)
Nearly 130 years after he was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is hotter than ever. "Sherlock Holmes: The Novels" (Penguin Classics, $25) combines four longer narratives, including "The Hound of the Baskervilles." Over the years, many writers" James M. Barrie, P.G. Wodehouse, Anne Perry, Stephen King" have made Doyle's detective their own; "The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories," edited by Otto Penzler, collects 83 tales, some serious, others parodic (Vintage Crime, $25).
'James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters' book(Credit: Heather Walsh)
If the release of "Spectre" whet somebody's appetite for all things 007, you'll make their holiday if you give them "James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters" (DK Publishing, $29.95). This is serious eye candy, with original posters for "From Russia With Love," "Octopussy," "License to Kill, "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Casino Royale" from around the globe.
'The New York Pizza Project'(Credit: Heather Walsh)
Can you even imagine New York City without its by-the-slice pizzerias? Should these neighborhood joints "God forbid" someday go the way of the automat, we have "The New York Pizza Project" ($29.95 from nypizzaproject.com), documenting in vibrant color the makers, the eaters, the shops and the signage. From North Riverdale to Hell's Kitchen, Elmhurst to Carroll Gardens, it's a love letter to a beloved NYC institution.
'Florence: The Paintings & Frescoes, 1250-1743'(Credit: Heather Walsh)
The next best thing to a Tuscan sightseeing trip is a tour through the pages of "Florence: The Paintings & Frescoes, 1250-1743" (Black Dog & Leventhal, $75), which opens the doors of the Uffizi, the Accademia, the Duomo and countless Florentine churches to the armchair traveler. Color reproductions of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and others sit alongside commentary by art historian Ross King, author of "Brunelleschi's Dome."
Frank Sinatra book collection(Credit: Heather Walsh)
The Frank Sinatra centennial brings a trove of books about the great American singer. Clockwise from left: "Sinatra: The Photographs" (Abrams, $50) captures his sense of style and, of course, those famous Old Blue Eyes; "Sinatra: The Chairman" (Doubleday, $35) concludes James Kaplan's monumental biography; "Sinatra's Century" (Harper, $24.99) serves up 100 short reflections on the icon by poet and critic David Lehman; John Brady's "Frank & Ava: In Love and War" (Thomas Dunne, $26.99) chronicles his grand tabloid-ready romance.
‘Emma’ and 'Middlemarch’ deluxe editions(Credit: Penguin)
For the unreformed English major: Those well-thumbed paperback classics from college aren't holding up so well. Why not give him or her a bright new replacement copy courtesy of Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions? New to the collection are a 200th anniversary annotated edition of Jane Austen's "Emma" ($17), with a new introduction by Juliette Wells, author of "Everybody's Jane," or George Eliot's "Middlemarch" ($16), introduced by New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead, author of "My Life as Middlemarch."
'The Complete Works of Primo Levi'(Credit: Liveright)
For the serious littérateur on your gift list: "The Complete Works of Primo Levi" (Liveright, $100) combines in three volumes the novels, stories, poems and essays of the Italian chemist, writer and Holocaust survivor (1919-1987). Here is a new translation of his classic memoir, "If This Is a Man" (published in the United States as "Survival in Auschwitz"), along with "The Periodic Table" and other works that made Levi one of great figures of 20th century literature.
'Lists of Note'(Credit: Chronicle)
A companion volume to last year's "Letters of Note," "Lists of Note" compiled by Shaun Usher (Chronicle, $40) collects such historical oddities as Johnny Cash's to-do list ("Not Smoke," "Kiss June"), Gene Autry's "Cowboy Code" ("must never shoot first") and F. Scott Fitzgerald's turkey recipes (turkey cocktail: To one large turkey add one gallon of vermouth and a demijohn of angostura bitters. Shake").
'The Ghost Army of World War II'(Credit: Priceton Architectural Press)
World War II history buffs will get a charge out of Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles' "The Ghost Army of World War II" (Princeton Architectural Press, $40), about a top-secret group of GIs who in 1944 deployed rubber tanks, fake artillery and other decoys to distract and mislead the Germans in France. This little-known episode is recounted alongside photographs, memos, maps sketches and other memorabilia.
'Fast & Furious' complete collection(Credit: Universal Studios)
All seven of the "Fast & Furious" films are available on one limited edition Blu-ray collection. List price is $99.98 from Universal Studios.
'Downton Abbey' Seasons 1-5(Credit: PBS Home Video)
If "Downton Abbey" is your cup of tea, get ready to binge on the acclaimed PBS series. Seasons 1-5 are being released Oct. 27 in a 15-disc set on DVD ($99.99) and 14-disc Blu-ray ($109.99).
'Women Crime Writers' suspense novels(Credit: Library of America)
Move over, Raymond Chandler, these hard-boiled dames prove that classic detective fiction wasn't just a man's game. The two-volume slipcovered anthology brings to light nail-biters such as Vera Caspary's "Laura" (basis for the 1944 film), Patricia Highsmith's "The Blunderer" and other dark gems. $70, from Library of America
'Lost in Space: The Complete Series'(Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
The space family Robinson is getting a big launch on Blu-ray. "Lost in Space: The Complete Series" is an 18-disc set containing all 83 episodes of the 1965-68 space opera remastered in high definition. Want more? How about seven hours of extras with recently discovered content. ($129.99 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
'Drawn and Quarterly' comic collection(Credit: Drawn and Quarterly)
It's hard to imagine the vibrant contemporary comics scene without Drawn and Quarterly, the Montreal-based publisher and bookshop. This handsome volume, a must-have for comics geeks, features work by Kate Beaton, Chester Brown, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine and more, plus a history of D+Q and essays by Margaret Atwood, Lemony Snicket and others. $49.95 from Drawn and Quarterly