Books On Our Radar: Vol. 2

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Things Come Apart (Thames & Hudson), $19

THE SHORT OF IT: Photographer Todd McLellan dissects classic objects ranging from an espresso machine to a grand piano for a meticulously deconstructed view of design from the inside out that comes complete with thoughtful essays by the likes of iFixit co-founder Kyle Wiens and Tinkering School founder Gever Tulley on the art of the thing. BUY IT FOR: Your less-than-handy significant other--as motivation. QUOTABLE: "What happens when we do not know how things work? We are cut off, trapped in a modern wasteland where we can only try to solve problems with our credit cards rather than with our hands and brains."-- Kyle Wiens  
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The Greenest Home (Princeton Architectural Press), $31

THE SHORT OF IT: The founding principal of New York design firm Fabrica 718, Julie Torres Moskovitz spotlights eighteen of the world's most attractive energy efficient houses in her celebration of sustainable architecture, The Greenest Home. BUY IT FOR: Your landlord (and feel free to slip in that electricity bill as a bookmark). QUOTABLE: "It's the architects who hold the key to turning down the global thermostat." -- Edward Mazria, director of the sustainable building advocacy organization Architecture 2030
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Fire Island Modernist (Metropolis Books), $41

THE SHORT OF IT: Architect Horace Gifford get his due in this architectural and cultural history edited by WSJ Contributing Editor Alastair Gordon and penned by author Christopher Bascom Rawlings, which shines a spotlight on Gifford's oft-overlooked modernist beach house designs, constructed on New York's Fire Island in the days when Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor strolled the boardwalk. BUY IT FOR: Michael Kors--he's a regular. QUOTABLE: "It was an architecture of seduction, with hide-and-seek expanses of glass, skylights, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, prurient lines of sight, sunken living rooms and lurid conversation pits." --Alastair Gordon
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 Michael S. Smith: Building Beauty (Rizzoli), $36

THE SHORT OF IT: The Santa Monica-based designer behind the Obama's White House living quarters offers a room-by-room guide to designing the ultimate American dream house, using a Palladian-style Malibu residence as his case study. BUY IT FOR: Beyoncé and Jay Z QUOTABLE: "I don't care how old you are--you could be seven years old or seventy--there's something magical about a mirror." -- Michael S. Smith  
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The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appétit (Andrews McMeel Publishing), $29

THE SHORT OF ITBon Appétit magazine Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport geeks out on all things grill in this mouthwateringly photographed culinary ode to the summer bbq, which includes wide-ranging recipes that touch on everything from how to butterfly a chicken to how to properly smoke meat. BUY IT FOR: Your dad. Because he's already dusting off that chef's hat. QUOTABLE: "There's something about grilling--something that suggests that everything is about to get a lot better." -- Adam Rapoport