The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages, 1851–2008
(Black Dog & Leventhal, $60)
This “satisfyingly hefty” volume uses three DVDs to provide readers with 54,000-plus pages “of pure, undiluted history,” said Francine Prose in O magazine. Internet access to the Times’ complete electronic archives is also included in the price, but flipping through the book’s 300 bound front pages is the real pleasure. It’s a reminder “of how the experience of reading the newspaper is at once public and intimate,” and “of the enduring, essential, all-important power of the printed word.”

The Complete Ripley Novels
by Patricia Highsmith (Norton, $100)
“On the surface,” said James Sallis in the Los Angeles Times, Patricia Highsmith’s five novels about the precocious murderer Tom Ripley are “eminently readable, fairly straightforward novels of suspense.” But Highsmith took pains to break new psychological territory with each of them. By conning readers into seeing the world through the eyes of her Horatio Alger–like killer, she produced not just an extended allegory about “the creative imagination and its perils” but a savage “indictment of America’s very identity.”

The Phaidon Atlas of 21st-Century Architecture
(Phaidon, $195)
An atlas of 21st-century anything might seem premature, said Tom Dyckhoff in the London Times. But this 15-pound compendium offers ample evidence that we’ve been living for about a decade in “a global architectural golden age.” Sharp angles and “rollercoaster swoops” are everywhere now, but there’s variety as well. Central and South America in particular look like places to watch, while Japan easily remains—with a world-beating 240 architects per 100,000 people—“the greatest architectural nation on earth.”

Lyrics 1964–2008
by Paul Simon
(Simon & Schuster, $35)
Paul Simon’s music sometimes obscures the “genius” in his lyrics, said Jesse Wegman in The New York Observer. Simon can create a vivid picture with a mere “fistful of words.” Though he’s often playful in his choice of language, he possesses the rare talent “of being able to compose natural, sometimes lengthy sentences that scan and rhyme as though there were no other way to write them.” An argument could be made that he’s “the greatest popular songwriter of our time.”