In the unlikely case you find yourself responsible for planning a city, or, perhaps more plausibly, you decide it's time to up and move to a new place, or, even more likely, you're just looking to learn something new about food — The Monocle Guide to Better Living ($50) should be your go-to reference. Brought to you by the same people who write Monocole Magazine, this book is a guide to everything from diplomacy and design, to culture and travel. Broken down into sections on the city, culture, food, travel, and work, it provides in-depth essays on subjects as broad as the most livable cities in the world, to topics as narrow as how to build a good school, all accompanied by beautiful photography, design, and illustration.
Colonel Chris Hadfield is, by all accounts, a modern-day hero — whether he's exposing the wonders of space to an entire generation through social media, becoming the first Canadian to command the International Space Station, or playing the first music ever recorded in space. Now, you can get an even deeper look into the life of this remarkable man in his autobiography An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything ($17). Learn the details of his unique outlook on life, experience firsthand accounts of spacewalks, understand how he handled crises, and perhaps change the way you look at the entire world.
Attention grammarians, English majors, writers (or pretty much anyone who has ever been called a "grammar nazi"), this one's for you. Highlighting the myriad cases of the misuse of the humble quotation mark, The Book of 'Unnecessary' Quotation Marks: A Celebration of Creative Punctuation ($14) features photos of menus, signs, posters, and more, all using this somehow-misunderstood bit of punctuation for everything except actually quoting words someone said. At times hilarious, and at others disturbing, this book will leave you wondering just what exactly people had in mind when employing quotes. Is it sarcasm? Is it a euphemism? Is it an actual quotation? Or is it just a complete misappropriation of one of the most straightforward marks in our otherwise complex language? We may never know, but at least we can laugh.
Whether you're an aspiring woodsman, the kind of guy who appreciates the simple beauty of nature in its rawest form, or you're just cultivating a lumberjack aesthetic in your apartment, Woodcut ($20) is the coffee table book for you. This book highlights the intricate, painstaking work of artist Bryan Nash Gill, featuring relief prints of cross sections of trees. With prints of a range of trees found near his Connecticut studio (including ash, maple, oak, spruce, and willow), it clearly displays age marks, cuts, scuffs, animal burrows, knots, and branches like no photograph ever could. Find also a detailed interview covering his process, from cutting the blocks with chainsaws, sanding, burning, and sealing, to the careful application of ink.
Chances are you got a pretty heavy dosage of Daft Punk's most recent album this Summer — it was fairly hard to avoid, not that you'd want to — but for those of you who just couldn't get enough, there's the Daft Punk Random Access Memories Deluxe Box Set ($275). This box set is packed with goodies sure to please, starting with a double vinyl copy of the album decorated with gold and silver foil labels, as well as a pair of gold and silver plated, metal encased, USB drives containing all the music, bonus content, and an array of videos. You'll also find schematics for building your own Robot costume and helmet, a 56-page hardcover book of images from recording sessions, and a bunch more, making it well worth the price for hardcore fans.
While it sounds like a DIYer's guide to at-home booze making — and you'll certainly find directions for just that within these pages — the The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey ($16) is so much more. Split into several sections, this book first delves into the question of "what is whiskey?" followed by an in-depth history of the delicious brown stuff, and a detailed survey of all the options available. In the final two chapters, the book provides a guide for guys who want to safely distill whiskey at home, and then offers expert advice on how best to enjoy this intoxicating liquor in modern times.
Secret Audio Club Wax Packs ($28) were made for guys with fond memories of heading down to the local shop as kids and picking up a pack of baseball cards, hoping to come across something rare or special. These collectible seven-inch vinyl records come packaged like baseball cards, with ten records in each series printed on black or limited edition color vinyl. They also include trading cards for the various bands featured on the records, with each one containing digital download codes for more music. Get each record in the series with this pack to discover new music, all while re-experiencing one of your favorite childhood hobbies.
There's no denying the brilliance of Stanley Kubrick. The masterful director went to great lengths when making a film to ensure everything was as close to perfection as possible. He is said to have intentionally included everything you see in the frame for a reason. And like a true artist, he left a lot to the viewer to digest and decipher. Room 237 ($25) takes a look at his 1980 pseudo-horror masterpiece The Shining, but this isn't a documentary on the movie — it's more of a look at the obsessed fans of Kubrick (us included) who have spent obviously too much time dissecting his work. This entertaining collection of theories, conspiracies, and hidden meanings are told by unseen participants, scholars, and borderline-lunatics, and run the gamut from the Native American genocide, the Holocaust, Kubrick's supposedly-faked moon landing, impossible windows, and penis-insinuations. We especially loved the breakdown of The Overlook layout and Danny's Big Wheel rides. Even if you don't believe a single word spoken, it's still very much worth watching if you find yourself yearning to watch The Shining a couple times a year. Words of wisdom, Lloyd my man. Words of wisdom.
If you've ever wondered about the lengths our government goes to keep us safe from the stockpile of nuclear weapons at its disposal, you owe it to yourself to check out Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety ($17). This hard-hitting bit of well-researched investigative journalism delves into the secretive world of America's nuclear arsenal, exploring the risks of nuclear weapons, and the near miss of one almost-catastrophic accident. It reads like a taut political thriller, exploring the delicate balance between the use of these weapons of mass destruction to keep us safe, and the inherent conflict that arises from their very existence.
If you were to approach Ron Swanson and ask him to recommend a cookbook, he would, with absolutely no hesitation, tell you to pick up The Wild Chef ($23). Written by Jonathan Miles, Wild Chef columnist for Field & Stream, this is the ultimate outdoorsman's cooking companion. Whether you're just a fan of the taste of wild meat, you aspire to become a serious hunter-chef, or you've been butchering game for years, there's plenty to like in between these pages. Broken down into four sections by season, this cookbook is packed full of detailed recipes, anecdotes, and gorgeous photography of food and the outdoors.
Emmy and Grammy award-winning comic's comic Louis C.K. is back and more uncomfortable than ever with his raunchy, self-deprecating brand of observational humor in his latest HBO special Oh My God ($5). Whether he's riffing on the absurdities of road rage, discussing the uncomfortable realities of dating, or relating the advantages of being overweight, bald, and in your 40s in his own version of "It Gets Better," you won't know whether to laugh or cringe (and chances are you'll do both). This new show was recorded live at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, is downloadable from his website, and features 12 additional minutes of footage never seen in the original edition.
Ideally at this point in your life you understand that ramen isn't just a cheap way to eat your way through college, but a versatile dietary staple that can actually taste incredible. As a middle-aged Jewish man originally from Long Island, Ivan Orkin — now owner of two Tokyo ramen shops and author of Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo's Most Unlikely Noodle Joint ($18) — certainly has a unique perspective on these deceptively simple noodles. His book is part memoir, exploring how he became a culinary entrepreneur and minor celebrity in Japan, and part cookbook, exposing the secrets behind his now-legendary handmade noodles, broth, and toppings. After reading it, you'll have a new-found respect for this incredible food, and an admiration for a man who defied all odds to become who he is today.