One for the Books by Joe Queenan
Since Gutenberg first began moving type around five centuries ago, the book--one of the great achievements of human culture--has been subjected to any number of indignities, from being banned to being burned to being turned into a breathtaking quantity of unspeakably appalling movies. It has managed to survive all of these, only to find itself at the dawn of the twenty-first century facing the most radical challenge to its existence from the digital tsunami that has already left the tattered remains of the music business in its wake. As bookstores disappear and readers, apparently, along with them, alarmed bibliophiles everywhere can't help but wonder: Whither the book?
The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo, and the Artistic Duel that Defined the Renaissance by Jonathan Jones
This is the galvanizing story of a sixteenth-century clash of titans, the two greatest minds of the Renaissance, working side by side in the same room in a fierce competition: the master Leonardo da Vinci, commissioned by the Florentine Republic to paint a narrative fresco depicting a famous military victory on a wall of the newly built Great Council Hall in the Palazzo Vecchio, and his implacable young rival, the thirty-year-old Michelangelo.
The Art of the Epigraph: How Great Books Begin by Rosemary Ahern
For many book lovers, there is no more pleasing start to a book than a well-chosen epitaph. These intriguing quotations, sayings, and snippets of songs and poems do more than set the tone for the experience ahead: the epigraph informs us about the author's sensibility. Are we in the hands of a literalist or a wit? A cynic or a romantic? A writer of great ambition or a miniaturist? The epigraph hints at hidden stories and frequently comes with one of its own.