?The Worlds of Ernest Thompson Seton (Knopf, $25), edited by John G. Samson, displays the paintings, drawings and words of Seton and his romanticized view of nature. Seton, a perfectionist, was much concerned with illustrating exact numbers of feathers, but nonetheless he wound up with an impressionistic rendition.
?This is a good year for birds. Best of all is the ambitious and authoritative The Audubon Society Book of Wild Birds (Abrams, $35) by Les Line and Franklin Russell. To Say it is remarkable is to damn it with faint praise. Even for many of us who have little more knowledge of birds than crows, gulls and pigeons and have certainly never cared whether the South American upland goose ever ventures below 11,000 feet (only rarely), this book of birds photographed in natural habitat is joy squared. More scholarly but less a visual delight (no photos although the illustrations by Ad Cameron are excellent) is Birds—Their Life, Their Ways, Their World (Abrams, $18.50) by Christopher Perrins. For those who want to watch birds and even want to plan a vacation around the endeavor, there's Roger Tory Peterson's Dozen Birding Hot Spots ( Simon and Schuster, $9.95) by George Harrison. Another superior work is The Bird Decoy (The University of Nebraska Press, $17.95), edited by Paul A. Johnsgard. Ironic, isn't it, that this fully American creation involves deceit?
?Fish are much in the swim again in 1976. The Lore of Sportfishing (Crown, $29.95) by Tre Tryckare and E. Cagner is technical, encyclopedic and beautiful, telling not only of hundreds of fish but of everything related to fishing, including hooks, lines and electronic sounders. The Fresh & Salt Water Fishes of the World (Knopf, $25) by Edward C. Migdalski and George S. Fichter, with illustrations by Norman Weaver, is similarly striking, although it deals almost entirely with the fish themselves. Both books are exceptionally handsome. And while there may already be more books on fly tying than the subject deserves in the scope of human events. The Essential Fly Tier (Prentice-Hall, $12.95) by J. Edson Leonard is a splendid example of the genre as is The Fly Tyer's Almanac (Crown, $12.95), edited by Robert H. Boyle and Dave Whitlock, which is an authoritative and handsome compendium of the latest advances and developments in this exacting art form.
?Any auto race fan will cheer at Great Auto Races (Abrams, $45) by Peter Helck, which details the sport since the invention of the car, when people foolishly said it would scare horses, kill people and pollute the air.
?The second edition of The Complete Book of Boating (Prentice-Hall, $14.95) by Ernest A. Zadig is a winner as a reference work and each section certainly starts with the basics: "A cruiser is a boat in which you are able to cruise...."
?And The Pro Style (Prentice-Hall, $17.95) by Tom Bennett is perfect for the football fan who craves to know the latest on stacks, slants, stunts and misdirection.
?Now the ultimate snob gift: The two volume Encyclopedia of Sport (republished by Gale Research of Detroit) which encompasses 1,287 pages and brings you up to the moment in sport—as of 1897. It costs $85 and only 300 sets are available. The ordinary-looking books include info on the aardvark, agouti, and on through badger baiting, gazelle stalking, tent pegging and whippet racing. Happy blizzard!