NEW YORK (AP) -- Books are an easy gift choice, but that doesn't mean they can't be fresh. There's always a great selection around the holidays for a range of ages and interests.
"Creature," by Shaun Tan. It's as if, Tan writes, "I need to throw the artistic pebble far across a pond of weirdness in order to see some meaning in the ripples ..." Those words in the introduction of his new book speak volumes. The artist, writer and filmmaker from Perth, Australia, has collected his dreamy, sometimes eerie paintings and drawings. Tan reflects at length on his childhood in thoughtful text. $35. Levine Querido.
"Ugly-Cute," by Jennifer McCartney. Is there beauty in just about anything? McCartney thinks so. She has put together a small-in-stature, full-color look at "cuglies": oft-underappreciated species both well known and obscure. Gaze upon the male star-nosed mole and its 22 pink, fleshy appendages in place of a face. McCartney filled her little book with bite-size facts and fun quizzes. $14.99. HarperCollins.
"Regeneration: Black Cinema, 1898–1971," edited by Doris Berger and Rhea L. Combs. This companion to an exhibition of the same name at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles focuses on independent film. Interviews with Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, Ava DuVernay and more. Essays, glamour portraits and a chronology by year included. The goal: To provide a more expansive view of how American cinema has been shaped by African American creative expression. $49.95. Delmonico Books/Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
"Emily in Paris: The Official Cookbook," by Kim Laidlaw. Filled with 75 recipes inspired by the Netflix series. Lots of food porn here, along with photos of ex-pat Emily (Lily Collins) as fans await Season 3. Remember Gabriel's omelette? It's in there. How about that moment Emily was struggling to pronounce un pain au chocolate? The tasty croissant is included, too. $32.50. Weldon Owen.
"The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster," by Mo Willems. The determined blue pigeon with seven playful books on his resume is back with a not-so-topsy-turvy lesson in managing expectations. This time around, he's set on riding a roller coaster as he plots out the process: buying a ticket, waiting in line, the possibility of the bad-tummy dizzies. What he gets instead might surprise you. Great for children 3-5. $17.99. Union Square Kids.
"From Gay to Z," by Justin Elizabeth Sayre. Sayre is not a historian. Instead, they (their chosen pronoun) is a playwright and performer who turned their five-part stage show "GAyBC's" into a compendium of gay culture. Acknowledging they couldn't cram the entirety of queer culture into one book, they do a pretty good job in quick bites on everything from the AIDS activist group ACT UP to Franco Zeffirelli, the Italian film and opera director known for romantic and lavish productions. $24.95. Chronicle Books.
"Women Holding Things," by Maira Kalman. The artist, designer and bestselling author has expanded a booklet of the same name that raised money to combat hunger. True to its title, Kalman's paintings and ruminations feature women who often do the job of holding things together. A woman holds a baby. A woman holds court. Kalman includes a painting of Virginia Woolf, who's "barely holding it together." She writes of the book's last image, a girl with pink balloons: "Hold on." $32.50. Harper Design.
"It Starts With Us," by Colleen Hoover. She has millions of fans on TikTok and elsewhere who eagerly awaited this sequel to her bestselling "It Ends With Us." Her latest story of a dramatic love triangle and a woman's struggle against domestic abuse helped cement her status on TikTok and made her the country's most popular fiction writer. $17.99. Atria Books.