Even in a year that saw the release of a blockbuster work of nonfiction about blockbusters called 'Blockbusters,' many of the best books were small enough in scope to hide their ambition. As George Saunders continued to play cutman for the American short story, two English journalists journeyed across continents in an attempt to map alcohol's role in culture and an ex-NFL tight end pulled back the curtain on life in the locker room. The world of men was scratched across book after book. These are the ones you need to read.
By Sebastião Salgado
The title of this tome from the 70-year-old king of black-and-white photography befits its biblical scope. Portraits of New Guinean tribal leaders lead into images of Canadian peaks, migrating elephants, and sweeping deserts. The book is so expansive, in fact, that it contains a smaller book designed to explain each of the stunning and stunningly diverse images. 'Genesis' is a sort of travel brochure for planet Earth, and Salgado is the only working photographer who might be in danger of running out of subjects.