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  1. For the long-distance nerd If you�d like to strike up a pen-palship with a friend, So-So Heroes (Chronicle Books, $9.95) by local cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier is a good place to start. Hornschemeier�s crisply drawn weirdos adorning the front of each detachable postcard in this collection include the nihilist CountMeOutDracula and a lumberjack left-hooking a three-headed sea serpent. Happy holidays! Available at Quimby�s, 1854 W North Ave (773-342-0910).

  2. For the Chicago buff It�s still one of the strangest and most pivotal moments in Chicago�s history: the reversal of the Chicago River. Richard Cahan�s new book, The Lost Panoramas (Cityfiles Press, $45), resurrects glass-plate photos from before, throughout and after the river�s reversal, documenting the Illinois Valley�s transformation. Available at the Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave (773-293-2665).

  3. For the ultimate bibliophile Even as publishing marches into the Kindle�s cold clutches, publishers are exploring the unique qualities of print. Taschen�s Letter Fountain ($69.99) is a gorgeous, borderline excessive celebration of the many riches of typography. Available at

2011 Gifts | Books

Editor Jonathan Messinger’s picks for the smartypants in your life.

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