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Best books, movies, music to give as holiday gifts

This holiday season, give a gift that makes an impact beyond the "Wow!" upon initially opening it. The best books, CDs and DVDs offer hours of reading, listening and viewing pleasure for the lucky recipients. Compiled by Tom Beer, Glenn Gamboa and Diane Werts.

To see more holiday gift guides, visit newsday.com/giftguides.

‘Queen in 3-D,’ by Brian May

What could be better than guitarist-songwriter Brian May's
Photo Credit: London Stereoscopic Company

What could be better than guitarist-songwriter Brian May's backstage photos of the rock group Queen in its '70s and '80s heyday? The same photos in 3-D. May, a photo buff, carried a 3-D camera with him on tour and into the recording studio, but many of his photos have not been seen publicly. Reproduced in a coffee-table-book format with an accompanying OWL 3-D viewer, May's snapshots put you right there with Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor and John Deacon; a final section depicts the band's current incarnation with Adam Lambert. London Stereoscopic Company, $60. More info: shop.londonstereo.com

‘France Is a Feast,’ by Alex Prud’homme and Katie Pratt

Some of us can never get too much
Photo Credit: Thames & Hudson

Some of us can never get too much of Julia Child and her remarkable culinary life. For fans of the movie "Julie & Julia," along with Child's own memoir, "My Life in France," comes this book, subtitled "The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child." Bringing together more than 200 pictures taken by Julia's husband, Paul, the book is a valentine to France in the aftermath of World War II, with plenty of photos of the irrepressible Julia, in the kitchen and out. With stories collected by Child's great-nephew Alex Prud'homme, her co-author on "My Life in France." Thames & Hudson, $35. More info: thamesandhudsonusa.com

‘Looking Backward,’ by Michael Lesy

More than a century before we scrolled through
Photo Credit: W.W. Norton

More than a century before we scrolled through endless pictures on Instagram, people saw the world -- in 3-D -- with a stereoscope. This volume, subtitled "A Photographic Portrait of the World at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century," collects 250 remarkably crisp black-and-white images, from the boardwalk of Atlantic City to the villages of Russia and beyond. Among the historic events captured are the Spanish-American War (1898) and the San Francisco Earthquake (1906). W.W. Norton & Co., $49.95. More info: wwnorton.com

‘100 Amazing Facts About the Negro,’ by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

This illustrated history by the well-known Harvard scholar
Photo Credit: Pantheon

This illustrated history by the well-known Harvard scholar and television documentarian is an homage -- and a corrective -- to a 1957 volume, "100 Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof," by Joel Augustus Rogers, billed at the time as "A Negro 'Believe It or Not.' " Gates combs through African-American (and world) history to answer such questions as "Who was the first African to arrive in America?" and "What black man made many of our favorite household products better?" (Answers: Juan Garrido and Herbert C. Smitherman Sr.) Pantheon, $40. More info: penguinrandomhouse.com

‘The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums,’ by Will Friedwald

If someone you know has Frank Sinatra (or
Photo Credit: Pantheon

If someone you know has Frank Sinatra (or Ella Fitzgerald or Tony Bennett) in heavy rotation, here's just the right present. Friedwald, a jazz and cabaret critic and author of "A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers," singles out 57 albums by vocalists from Fred Astaire to Cassandra Wilson. Yes, the usual suspects are here, as they should be -- Sinatra's "In the Wee Small Hours," Billie Holiday's "Lady in Satin" -- but so are some surprises. "God Bless Tiny Tim," anyone? Pantheon, $40. More info: penguinrandomhouse.com
 

Bob Dylan's "Trouble No More"

The massive eight-CD package, $174.98, features more than
Photo Credit: Columbia/Legacy Records

The massive eight-CD package, $174.98, features more than 100 previously unreleased live and studio recordings from what is known as Dylan's spiritual period, around the releases "Slow Train Coming," "Saved" and :Shot of Love." However, the biggest surprise may be the DVD, which includes "Trouble No More: A Musical Film," combining previously unreleased footage from Dylan's 1980 tours with sermons written by Luc Sante and performed by Michael Shannon. More info: bobdylan.com.

Picador Modern Classics

Here are some highbrow stocking stuffers: pocket-size editions
Photo Credit: Picador USA

Here are some highbrow stocking stuffers: pocket-size editions of indispensable works of contemporary literature. The latest volumes in the series are nonfiction works by iconic women writers, including Joan Didion's definitive 1960s essays, "Slouching Toward Bethlehem"; Susan Sontag's meditation on war, "Regarding the Pain of Others"; Hillary Mantel's memoir of illness and recovery, "Giving Up the Ghost"; and Barbara Ehrenreich's portrait of working-class America, "Nickel and Dimed." Picador, $16 each. More info: macmillan.com

"Mythology" by Edith Hamilton

Generations of readers have learned the Greek, Roman
Photo Credit: Black Dog & Leventhal

Generations of readers have learned the Greek, Roman and Norse myths from Hamilton's volume of lively retellings, originally published in 1942. This handsome edition celebrates the book's 75th anniversary with full-color illustrations by artist Jim Tierney. The gang's all here, including Zeus, Hera and the other gods of Mount Olympus; Perseus and the snaked-wigged Medusa; Theseus and the Minotaur; mighty Hercules. Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99. More info: hachettebookgroup.com

"David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town (1977-82)"

The boxed set (from Parlophone) collects all of
Photo Credit: Parlophone/Parlophone

The boxed set (from Parlophone) collects all of Bowie's work from his Berlin period - including "Low," "Heroes," "Stage," "Lodger," "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" and "Re:Call 3" - with both "Lodger" remastered by producer Tony Visconti specifically for the set. The vinyl version of 13 LPs goes for $249.98, while the CD version of 11 CDs will be $149.98. More info: davidbowie.com 

Billy Joel's "The Stranger" 40th anniversary picture disc

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Joel's breakthrough
Photo Credit: Brookvale Records

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Joel's breakthrough album, which includes the hits "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" and "Just the Way You Are," as well as classics like "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and "Vienna," the West Babylon-based indie label is issuing a special picture disc of the album, featuring the front and back cover artwork pressed on the vinyl. More info: brookvalerecords.com 

"Paperbacks from Hell"

If you know anyone who grew up obsessively
Photo Credit: Quirk Books

If you know anyone who grew up obsessively reading Stephen King and V.C. Andrews novels, look no farther for a present. This volume by Grady Hendrix bills itself as "The Twisted History of ''70s and ''80s Horror Fiction," collecting the deliriously lurid mass market covers of favorites such as "The Exorcist," "The Omen," "The Amityville Horror" and "Red Dragon." Just thumbing though these pages will bring back your youth -- and terrify you all over again. Quirk Books, $29.99. More info: quirkbooks.com

Mariah Carey's "Butterfly" 20th anniversary

Mariah Carey is celebrating the 20th anniversary of
Photo Credit: Legacy Recordings

Mariah Carey is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her "Butterfly" album with a collector's edition version, $29.99, featuring a Carey photo pressed on the vinyl for . "Butterfly" includes hits like "Honey" and "My All" and fan favorites like "The Roof." More info:  mariahcarey.com

Peanuts Holiday Collection

Nine classic animated specials look better than ever
Photo Credit: Warner Home Entertainment

Nine classic animated specials look better than ever in a new combo-pack, $45, representing their 4K Ultra HD debuts -- "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown," "Play It Again, Charlie Brown," "Charlie Brown's All-Stars," "It's Magic, Charlie Brown," "It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown," and "The Mayflower Voyagers." (Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween shows available separately, $30 each.) More info: wbshop.com

"The Vietnam War: An Intimate History"

If anyone you know was riveted by the
Photo Credit: Knopf

If anyone you know was riveted by the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS, they'll appreciate this companion volume. Here the reader can spend more time considering the history of the war, the powerful images that captured it and the personal stories of those who experienced it. "The Vietnam War was a tragedy," writes author Geoffrey C. Ward. "But meaning can be found in the individual stories of those who lived through it, stories of courage and comradeship and perserverance, of understanding and forgiveness and, ultimately, reconciliation." Alfred A. Knopf, $60. More info: penguinrandomhouse.com

"E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" 35th Anniversary Limited Edition

Steven Spielberg's 1982 blockbuster comes to 4K Ultra
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Steven Spielberg's 1982 blockbuster comes to 4K Ultra HD looking as sharp as you'd expect, reflecting all the L.A. smog of its era and film grain of its production format. What it doesn't reflect is any new effort in bonus features, simply retaining the interviews and other extras of the film's 2012 Blu-ray set. Audio steps up to DTS:X (similar to Dolby Atmos), with 4K rendering HDR color gamut. $40 for two discs. More info: uphe.com.

"Green Acres": The Complete Series

Oliver, Lisa, Eb, Mr. Haney and the whole
Photo Credit: Shout! Factory

Oliver, Lisa, Eb, Mr. Haney and the whole Hooterville gang can finally be seen in all 170 episodes of the surreal cornpone series from those silly-sitcom '60s. This may be the Dada masterpiece of its era, with hard-as-nails hotcakes and pigs that go to school, set in ramshackle rural houses with the latest Barbie-pink appliances. Bonus features may be slim, but they're superb. A 38-minute featurette has a historian tracing the series' creation, production and impact, while a vintage "Merv Griffin" talkfest half-hour shows how sharp stars Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor could be. A fact-filled finale-episode commentary puts the show in perspective with its cultural/TV times. $140 for 24 discs, shoutfactory.com.

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