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I love giving and receiving books so perhaps it’s serendipitous that it took me so long to write about this trio of books that that has inadvertently turned into a holiday shopping post.

The first is Charlotte Moss’s Garden Inspirations. This oversized book is published by Rizzoli, which is known for beautiful, photo-filled books and this one is no exception. Page after page of gorgeous color-filled photos are a feast for the eyes.

The book is equally divided between matters of the garden and the interior, although the whole point of Charlotte Moss’s way of thinking is that both of those areas should reflect each other. My absolutely favorite part of the book is a perspective drawing of her garden and house (I love it so much I think I’d like to have someone make one for me) that spans two pages, but every photo of her garden is incredibly inspirational. The photos of gorgeous table decorations and bouquets picked from the garden really put Martha Stewart to shame, not in the least because Charlotte Moss makes it look effortless while Martha certainly does not.

All photos courtesy of Rizzoli

But it’s not just pretty pictures. Moss shares her go-to garden design tips, many gathered from a lifetime of touring great gardens all over the world, as well as interior design philosophies. I have a lot of books, but this is one that is beautiful enough to earn a spot on table, where it will be enjoyed, perhaps in bits and pieces, time and time again. Certainly any gardener or frequent entertainer would love this gem.

Next up is another beautiful book that will be a hit with gardeners with a strong appreciation for European history. A Day at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a small book that comes in a beautiful little slipcase that is packed with great history and beautiful photos of the 17th century castle that inspired many of the great chateaux of Europe. The book is more about the castle than the gardens, although the two are obviously important to one another. If you have a Francophile on your list, this should be a hit.

And last on this little book tour is Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating by Lauren Liess. To say that I’m enthusiastic about this book is putting it mildly. I love this thing (I preordered it months before it came out and sort of forgot about it so the surprise of receiving it was even sweeter). With Pinterest and Houzz, not to mention so many great blogs, one hardly needs to turn to books for interior design inspiration. So interior design books only appeal to me if I can get something from them other than a lot of pretty pictures (although I want those too, of course). If I’m going to shell out for a book, I want information that I can’t get on a blog or website. I want to know HOW to make my house look like the ones in the pictures.
I’ve only bought two interior design books in recent memory: Sarah Richardson’s Sarah Style and this book by Lauren (who I feel like I’m on a first-name basis with after reading her blog for several years), and that’s because I happen to like both of their styles very much. Lauren’s designs in particular have soul to them. I’m so sick of rooms that are so general anyone could walk into them and feel at home. I want my home to feel like me (or us). I want the objects in it to say something about me (so help me god if I ever buy books just because the spines are the right color to match my decor), and I think Lauren does this better than anyone. 
What’s great about her book is that she details how to get certain looks and offers tips for every room in the house. She even weighs in on perennial design questions like mixing metals and creating a cohesive room. If you read decorating forums, you’ll find that the holy grail of interior design is “timeless.” No one wants a room that looks like it came out of a catalog circa 2000 (or any year, for that matter). Lauren tells you how to achieve that. I want to live in every room she designs and I can’t think of higher acclaim than that. 
This book would be appreciated by anyone looking to create a home with soul, but I’ll be honest. I don’t think you should just buy it for your friends and family or wait for them to buy it for you. Pick it up; I promise you won’t be disappointed (and this is coming from someone who paid more for it than it’s currently selling for). 
What books will you be picking up for friends or yourself this year?
A note: I’ve provided links to all the books on Amazon, because who’s kidding, that’s the first place you think of when shopping for books. But if you have a great independently owned bookstore near you, please consider buying your books there. I don’t mean to get preachy but there are few places in the world more comforting to be than a small, well-stocked bookstore where you can peruse to your heart’s content and there are little signs on the shelf with recommendations from the staff.

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