See the World

These high-impact holiday gift books are packed with images that challenge perspectives—and feed dreams of global adventure

Himalaya + (Harry N. Abrams, $50)
Éric Valli's Himalaya is a slab of a book, with more than 200 color images taken during the two decades the French photographer and filmmaker (his Himalaya was nominated for the 1999 Oscar for best foreign film) spent living in Nepal. The rugged, austere landscape is beautiful, but Valli's atmospheric snapshots of children frolicking in millet fields and herdsmen threading steep, snowy passes—accompanied by thoughtful essays on Nepalese culture and geography by Paris-based anthropologist Anne de Sales—prove that the appeal of this kingdom extends far beyond its tallest peaks.—Jason Stevenson

Earthsong + (Phaidon, $60)
German aerial photographer Bernhard Edmaier's new collection looks more like a series of abstract paintings than a book of landscape photography. Earthsong features more than 250 color images of every environment on our planet, from Namibian sand dunes to Day-Glo–green glacial moss in Iceland. What sends the book into literary orbit is geologist Angelika Jung-Hüttl's fascinating text describing how air, fire, water, and rock became the subjects in Edmaier's lens.—Will Palmer

The Travel Book + (Lonely Planet, $40)
Leave it to Lonely Planet to give us a 444-page dream book covering 200-plus countries and dependencies—now your fingers can do the traipsing from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Instead of dry statistics, The Travel Book (edited by Roz Hopkins) delivers soulful snapshots of place, with 1,200 photos—Balinese girls in procession, a healing ceremony in Gabon—along with savvy cultural observations from LP's expert travelers. Armchair adventure doesn't get better than this.—Leslie Weeden

Himalaya + (Harry N. Abrams, $50)
Éric Valli's Himalaya is a slab of a book, with more than 200 color images taken during the two decades the French photographer and filmmaker (his Himalaya was nominated for the 1999 Oscar for best foreign film) spent living in Nepal. The rugged, austere landscape is beautiful, but Valli's atmospheric snapshots of children frolicking in millet fields and herdsmen threading steep, snowy passes—accompanied by thoughtful essays on Nepalese culture and geography by Paris-based anthropologist Anne de Sales—prove that the appeal of this kingdom extends far beyond its tallest peaks. - Jason Stevenson

Earthsong + (Phaidon, $60)
German aerial photographer Bernhard Edmaier's new collection looks more like a series of abstract paintings than a book of landscape photography. Earthsong features more than 250 color images of every environment on our planet, from Namibian sand dunes to Day-Glo–green glacial moss in Iceland. What sends the book into literary orbit is geologist Angelika Jung-Hüttl's fascinating text describing how air, fire, water, and rock became the subjects in Edmaier's lens. - Will Palmer

The Travel Book + (Lonely Planet, $40)
Leave it to Lonely Planet to give us a 444-page dream book covering 200-plus countries and dependencies—now your fingers can do the traipsing from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Instead of dry statistics, The Travel Book (edited by Roz Hopkins) delivers soulful snapshots of place, with 1,200 photos—Balinese girls in procession, a healing ceremony in Gabon—along with savvy cultural observations from LP's expert travelers. Armchair adventure doesn't get better than this. - Leslie Weeden

 

Roaming

Roaming + (Nazraeli Press, $65)
Todd Hido's acclaimed 2001 debut, House Hunting, was a collection of haunting long exposures of suburban dwellings at night. Now the Bay Area photographer takes to the country with a series of seductive, darkly lit color photographs, most taken through the windows of a moving car. In each masterly print, behind the blurring of rain or wiper-blade tracks, a mysterious presence seems to be lurking—a glowing streetlight in the fog, a motel sign, or some imminent, unnamed threat—ready to tell its story if someone will take heed. Hido does.—Will Palmer
Surf Book + (Channel Photographics, $65)
When six-time U.S. Open surfing champion Joel Tudor set out to produce a book about the living legends of his sport, he had no trouble picking his subjects. What he needed was a photographer who shared his vision—and he found one in New York–based portrait photographer Michael Halsband. The two visited breaks around the world to shoot the portraits collected in Surf Book, a sumptuous, inspiring homage to greats like Kelly Slater and the Irons brothers, plus dozens of lesser-known stars, that makes you want to chuck it all for a life on the circuit.—Christine Cyr

Passage + (Harry N. Abrams, $60)
British artist Andy Goldsworthy takes objects you'd find on a typical hike (fallen leaves, flower petals, icicles) and uses them to create strangely beautiful outdoor sculptures, which he photographs before they melt or crumble. Check out his recent work—from leaf-wrapped branches floating in Massachusetts streams to egg-shaped sandstone cairns towering above Scottish farmlands—in his newest book, Passage. Or, if you missed it at your local art house in 2003, pick up German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer's award-winning documentary Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time (Metropolis Films, $27), now on DVD.—Dianna Delling

Carnet de Voyage
Islands in the Stream

GENRE BUSTERS
Voyeurs take note:
Carnet de Voyage (Top Shelf Productions, $15), a graphic novel–cum– travel journal by award-winning comics artist Craig Thompson, illustrates the joys and sorrows of solo journeys in intimate detail. The text and drawings that recount Thompson's three-month trip through France, Spain, and Morocco chronicle everything from the ill-timed effects of diarrhea to the intensity of romance on the road. ("We kiss again at a stoplight," one passage reads, "not so innocent this time.") Equally revealing is The Rivers of the Mandala (Thames & Hudson, $22), by French designer Simon Allix and journalist Benoit de Vilmorin. Both a travel tale and a primer on Buddhism, it draws from a decade of adventures in Central Asia, with collages of photos, diagrams, and even a clay model of Mount Kailas.—Stephanie Pearson

EDGE STALKERS
Stuff your favorite thrill junkie's stocking with a DVD that will keep him stoked. Islands in the Stream (Monterey Video, $20)—the debut from filmmakers Wes Brown (whose dad, Dana, brought us Step into Liquid) and T. J. Barrack—follows pro surfers like Tom Curren and Layne Beachley as they take on the waves of Tahiti. » The six discs in the Bones Brigade series (Skate One, $30 each), first released in the 1980s and now available on DVD, offer classic footage of skateboard legends like Stacy Peralta, Lance Mountain, and Tony Hawk as they shred in and around Los Angeles. » And the 2004 Tour de France Collector's Edition (World Cycling Productions, $90) lets fans relive Lance's historic sixth-in-a-row victory, with 12 hours of highlights from last summer's epic race.—Tasha Zemke

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