Good to Go 

Big illustrated books that you should be buying as last-minute Christmas gifts.

1. American Music, by Annie Leibovitz (Random House, $39.95). Portraits by the Rolling Stone photog capture thirty genre-spanning years' worth of faces.

2. California Wild, by Tim Palmer (Voyageur, $29.95). From the Mexican border to the big trees, these dazzling pix make the state look truly golden -- and green.

3. The Getaway Home, by Dale Mulfinger (Taunton, $30). Maybe you can't buy your own ski chalet, clifftop aerie, or adobe cottage -- but you can always dream.

4. Dinosaurs and Other Mesozoic Reptiles of California, by Richard P. Hilton (University of California, $39.95). From your plesiotylosaurus crassidens to your californosaurus perrini.

5. Beauty, Power & Grace: The Many Faces of the Goddess, by Krishna Dharma (Mandala, $65). Lush paintings of Kali, Lakshmi, et al. vibrate with color.

6. The Encyclopedia of Animals, by George McKay, et al. (University of California, $39.95). Everything you'll ever need to know, with no vole left behind.

7. Land and Light in the American West, by John Ward (Trinity, $45). A master photographer renders deserts, canyons, and cabins in glorious black and white.

8. In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits, edited by Leah Bendavid-Val (National Geographic, $30). Nearly 300 unforgettable international faces.

9. Kingyo: The Artistry of the Japanese Goldfish, by Kazuya Takaoka, et al. (Kodansha, $37.50). Finned beauty in porcelain, paint, and real life virtually leaps off the pages.


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