Holiday cocktail parties are as much about the cocktails as they are the conversation. And if you need a primer on differentiating Magritte from Man Ray or Stieglitz from Steichen, here’s a book to add to the pile by your bedside: the 2012 edition of Phaidon’s The Art Book. It’s an upgrade to the original that came out nearly two decades ago. The premise is the same — an easy-to-grasp A-to-Z introduction to all the artists you need to know. This time, the lineup includes newer media like performance art and video installations (over 100 additions). The beautifully illustrated tome makes a great gift, too, for art lovers and smarty-pants wannabes alike.

Roseate Spoonbill, 1835-8, by John James Audubon

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