The MIT Press staff has been telling us which books they'd suggest as gifts all month--you can view their recommendations here and here. For those of you who are still seeking very last-minute gift ideas, below are a few final staff picks. Happy Holidays!
My holiday book recommendation is Spacesuit by Nicholas de Monchaux. It is the perfect gift for a wide range of recipients; anyone interested in the space program, fashion design, technology, engineering, history, or politics would love it. De Monchaux’s account of the spacesuit’s design is detailed and fascinating, and his selection of images are as informative as they are whimsical.
The icing on the cake is the book’s cover, which is printed on an unusual rubbery black paper, and silkscreened with white ink. It feels as futuristic now as the spacesuit must have looked in 1969. Spacesuit makes for a truly special gift.
For Stocking Stuffers:
Boston Review Books
Aaaaw to Zzzzzd: The Words of Birds by John Bevis
101 Things to Learn in Art School by Kit White
101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick
Or any other small format book.
Gilles Deleuze from A to Z by Gilles Deleuze, Claire Parnet, and Pierre-Andre Boutang
This is an amazing 3-disc labor of love DVD set from Semiotext[e]: an 8-hour discussion between Deleuze and one of his former students filmed over several days at the end of the 1980s on a wide range of topics, with his thoughts and feelings on everything from animals, drinking, and illness to the importance of philosophy, to memories of childhood and May 68 (striking for being almost the sole instances of anything resembling autobiography for him), to more whimsical commentary on such topics as tennis and Benny Hill. As someone who continues to struggle with the concepts and books of Deleuze (and his frequent cohort Félix Guattari), I wish I had had access to this film years ago, before my first attempt at diving into tomes like Anti-Oedipus. The humor and humility on display in this film has introduced me to the human behind the concepts, and the fact that Deleuze is speaking here, before us, knowing his illness is going to eventually overtake him (“I speak after my death,” he begins, insisting on the film being posthumous), also makes the whole thing very moving. How can one not be stirred, knowing that he will eventually take his own life, when he speaks of Primo Levi and Parnet beings up Levi’s suicide: “Ah yes, ah yes,” Deleuze acknowledges, “he could no longer hold on, so he committed suicide to his personal life. But there are four pages or twelve pages or a hundred pages of Primo Levi that will remain, that will remain eternal resistances...”