The promise of a lavish photography book is that it can remove you from the here and now, if only for a spell. So if you choose to cast that spell on a friend, just consider their passion (some would refer to it as interests) and browse through these titles. A match makes a perfect gift.
POOLSIDE WITH SLIM AARONS (Abrams, $75, by Slim Aarons and Getty Images) The late Slim Aarons called his work "photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places." Nice. This full-color coffee-table tome reveals the "jet set" as a bikini-clad "wet set" at splashy international retreats.
Look for Kirk Douglas and Cheryl Tiegs and Slim's wife, Rita, whose Hollywood pool is deliciously decked for Christmas, in pics taken over five decades beginning in the late 1950s.
THE SOPRANOS: The Complete Deluxe Edition (Time Inc., $39.95, by Brett Martin) If the measure of a TV show's popularity is the obsession it generates for its trivia, the "Sopranos" may never die. This coffee-table remembrance doesn't provide much that fans of the show don't already know, but it does continue the conversation. It feels like sitting around with a bunch of fellow fans, chatting and reminiscing. "Glory Days," Tony Soprano-style.
THE KENNEDYS: Portrait of a Family (CollinsDesign, $29.95, by Richard Avedon and Shannon Thomas Perich) More than 75 never-before-seen images from Richard Avedon's iconic sittings with JFK and family, just weeks before he was inaugurated, offer admirers an intimate peek inside the crafting of the Kennedy legend at a pivotal moment in history. Numerous outtakes, accompanied by notes and anecdotes detailing everything from Jackie's wardrobe choices to the family's interactions on- and off-camera, are as much of a treat for fans of Avedon's work as they are for those fascinated by the Kennedys themselves.
THE HERE AND NOW: The Photography of Sam Jones (HarperEntertainment, $39.95, by Sam Jones) Celebrity snapper Sam Jones captures some of the world's most recognizable faces in a dramatic series of portraits that's a visual greatest hits collection. There's plenty here for Hollywood aficionados, from shots of Matt Damon caked in mud, to the late Anna Nicole Smith displaying her baked goods. George Clooney fans in particular will enjoy his numerous appearances.
The actor offers his stamp of approval with a brief but droll foreword and, where Clooney leads, we usually follow.
Sherryl Connelly, Robert Dominguez, Joe Dziemianowicz, David Hinckley, Patrick Huguenin, Eloise Park