Who doesn't like a list? Here is my first installment of Southern art books that make great gifts.
Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890–1950.
Receiving a package from Atlanta-based Dust-to-Digital is an exciting event. Originally founded by Lance Ledbetter in 1999 as a record label, the enterprise continues to release beautifully packaged box sets of obscure oldies—antique Southern gospel, scratchy field recordings, "throat songs" from Tuva. D2D also produced the highly entertaining film documentary, Desperate Man Blues, about an obsessive 78-rpm record collector, Joe Bussard (I recommend getting the CD soundtrack, too). Take Me to the Water is yet another aesthetic pleasure—artfully designed, the book presents dozens of intriguing old photographs of baptism scenes (white and black folks) from the collection of Jim Linderman. Most of the murky scenes take place in rivers and streams, though there is one shot with "screaming, white-robed converts" (as the original 1945 caption reads) being doused with fire hoses. Accompanied by a CD of baptism songs and sermons, which was nominated for a Grammy, the compact book is itself an immersion experience.
Visit the Dust-to-Digital website for info about this book and their other worthy projects.