03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Christmas Gifts 2009: The Most Beautiful Books Of The Year

"Here is my secret...what is essential is invisible to the naked eye"
--The Little Prince

I grew up with a Swedish mother and a Hungarian stepfather both of whom had a powerful aesthetic. She was emotional, raw, and dramatic -- she was an actress, after all. He was still, like a stream of water, intellectual, political and funny. I was always in love with art and drama and it is no surprise I became a publisher of visual books. It is equally of no surprise that I am relentlessly interested in what is behind EVERYTHING.

The idea that people cannot be put in little boxes was validated for me when I was Publicity Director at Abrams almost thirty years ago, touring John Walker (we were publishing The National Gallery book where he had been Director before Carter Brown). His favorite show was "Kojak". He had a passion for wine. He told great jokes. He was a whole person. Astonishing.
And, yet I know categories help when we are trying to make good decisions for someone we love (even ourselves). So, although the books in this piece are never just one thing, I have listed some of the things they are. All are exquisitely made -- designed and produced with passion and creativity. None are boring, nothing to pick up and put down. Each will leave you different than you were before.

(Scroll down for captions to each choice)

Christmas Gifts 2009: Gift Books

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