The holidays are upon us and this is your last chance to buy meaningful gifts for the loved ones in your life. There are many great gifts for readers, but for the rare book enthusiast in your life, making the right choice can be tricky. Here are some first edition novels, volumes, and autobiographies that will astound your fellow rare book lovers:
1. View from the Summit by Sir Edmund Hillary.
View from the Summit is the extraordinary autobiography of the first person to ever conquer Mt. Everest. This remarkable personal account of Sir Edmund Hillary’s adventures to the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953, as well as other expeditions to exotic places from the South Pole to the Ganges. The story begins with Edmund as a country boy growing up in New Zealand and dreaming of wild adventures in far-off destinations.
As a youngster I was a great dreamer, reading many books of adventure and walking lonely miles with my head in the clouds.
Famed for scaling the world’s tallest peak, for which he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, the elder statesman and unlikely diplomat writes from a gripping perspective, realistically conveying the risks and dangers of climbing at high altitudes. Available in its first edition, View from the Summit is loved by adventurers across the globe and makes a perfect gift for the snowy season!
2. The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
Beautiful in its first illustrated addition, The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin is a book of human discovery in every form: exploration, scientific, medical, mathematical and also theoretical ones, such as time, evolution, plate tectonics and relativity. This history is detailed through narratives that include the personal accomplishments, beliefs, and historical commentary from notable individuals. In the chapter, “In Search of the Missing Link,” he highlights the life of Edward Tyson and his contributions to comparative anatomy. Meanwhile, “The Witness of the Naked Eye” features Danish astronomer Tyco Brahe, and “God said, Let Newton Be Free!” is taken up by Isaac Newton’s life and accomplishments.
A sumptuous, totally engaging panorama. No one who reads it will look at the chronicle of human ingenuity in the same way again. (David McCullough)
You don’t have to be an intellectual to appreciate the rich, dramatically detailed history of human expedition in this rare and inscribed publication of The Discoverers.
3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
There’s no more thrilling escape in a book than with the futuristic science fiction novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Adapted into film in 2013 and two comic series, Ender’s Game tells of a perilous time in humanity after intergalactic space flight has been discovered and the entire human race prepares for a potential third encounter with the alien race dubbed “buggers.”
If you try and lose, then it isn’t your fault. But if you don’t try and we lose, then it’s all your fault.
A must-own for any science fiction reader, Ender’s Game was considered Card’s breakout novel, one which “exploded onto the science fiction scene,” and is available in its first edition, signed by the author.
4. My Life by Bill Clinton
If Bill Clinton’s signature isn’t already a great gift, make the holidays extra special with a signed first edition of Bill Clinton’s autobiography, My Life. The story of Bill Clinton’s life begins in Arkansas, where Clinton attended school and learned tenor saxophone, which would play a role later in his public appearances.
By a generous measure, the richest American presidential autobiography – no other book tells us as vividly or fully what it is like to be president of the United States… And he can write. (Larry McMurtry, New York Times Book Review)
It took Clinton 2 and a half years to write out his life story, the first draft of which comprised of 22 large notebooks. The first edition published in 2004 is available in a fine dust jacket, inscribed by former president Bill Clinton.
5. The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski
The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski is a story about a dark-haired, olive-skinned boy, abandoned by his parents during World War II, as wanders alone from one village to another, sometimes hounded and tortured, only rarely sheltered and cared for.
A powerful blow on the mind because it is so carefully kept within the margins of probability and fact. (Arthur Miller)
Through the juxtaposition of adolescence and the most brutal of adult experiences, Kosinski sums up a Bosch-like world of harrowing excess where senseless violence and untempered hatred are the norm. A great book to revisit for the holiday season, The Painted Bird appears more relevant to today’s society than it was upon it’s original publication. Available in its first British edition, inscribed by the author.
6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
A great gift for any time of year, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is loved around the world by kids and adults alike. The story follows a “very hungry caterpillar” as he eats his way into transforming into a butterfly. The book is great for teaching children about counting and also about their own bodies and the importance of accepting what you need to grow.
Eric Carle was one of the first illustrators intrigued with the idea of introducing natural science concepts to young children. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has remained in print for [over] 25 years, attesting to its popularity. (Silvey, 120)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is available with Eric Carle’s signature alongside a little doodle of a caterpillar that he drew.
7. A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz.
The heartwarming classic tale A Charlie Brown Christmas brings with it all the lovable Peanuts characters and laughter for all. A Charlie Brown Christmas is the first of the Peanuts stories to be animated as a TV special, airing in 1965 and winning an Emmy award. Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, said this about Charles Schulz’ work:
Peanuts pretty much defines the modern comic strip, so even now it’s hard to see it with fresh eyes. The clean, minimalist drawings, the sarcastic humor, the unflinching emotional honesty, the inner thoughts of a household pet, the serious treatment of children, the wild fantasies, the merchandising on an enormous scale – in countless ways, Schulz blazed the wide trail that most every cartoonist since has tried to follow.
Inscribed with the words, “Best wishes, Charles Schulz,” this first edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas is a shining star in the sky of holiday gifts for book lovers.
8. Flowers by Irving Penn
The first edition of Flowers by Irving Penn is an absolutely stunning monument in the work of photography. Irving Penn was an internationally known American photographer who became popular for his work in fashion photography. He worked at Vogue magazine, where he photographed for Issey and Miayke. Penn was one of the first photographers to pose items against a simple grey or white backdrop, a minimalist technique showcased at its finest in Flowers. Irving Penn said befittingly of his work:
Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is one they would like to show the world. …Very often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe. (1975)
The first edition of Flowers, made extra special with Irving Penn’s signature, “Irving Penn, New York, 1980” on the half-title page, will bring beauty and perfection to any home.
9. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Truman Capote’s world famous novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, features his greatest and most beloved character, Holly Golightly. The mystique of Holly in her oversized sunglasses, surrounded by men and lavishness, and the grandeur of New York City make this classic story a feel-good one for the winter season.
Truman Capote is the most perfect writer of my generation. He writes the best sentences word for word, rhythm upon rhythm. If you want to capture a period in New York, no other book has done it so well. He could capture period and place like few others. (Norman Mailer)
The first edition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, signed by the author, is available in an excellent dust jacket.
10. Byron Nelson’s Winning Golf by Byron Nelson.
Byron Nels0n’s Winning Golf is the perfect gift for the golfer in your life, whether they’re new to golfing or a longtime pro! This classic uses simple pictures to hone in on the basics of swinging a golf club. Byron Nelson won the 1939 U.S. Open, the 1940 and 1945 PGA Championship, and the 1937 and 1942 Masters Tournament, landing him a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, a culmination of his many previous awards.
Available in its first edition, inscribed, Byron Nelson’s Winning Golf is an insight into the legendary player’s career and talents, and is great to revisit for new golfers or those who have had some time between the last time they were on the course.