Sam Abell's fine, generous, and personal new book The Life of a Photograph has been available for a couple of weeks now. It's a book about process: he shows other frames taken "around" some of his favorite pictures; pairs of picture taken over time; sequences; even failures. Along the way he gives the reader a genuine glimpse inside his sensibility, and visual, not theoretical, indications of what it is that makes his pictures his. The effect is of a gentle, pleasant guided tour of what it's like behind one famous photographer's eyes.
There's not much text, and what there is is elliptical and personal. Much of the information here is visual as opposed to verbal, which could leave more literal, less visual readers feeling shortchanged. The Life of a Photograph requires contemplation. You'll have to purposely slow down the frantic and hasty intake of information that many of us are encouraged to indulge in by modern technological tools and the pace of life today; this book is more of a meditation. Taken on its own terms it has plenty of depth, but it's poetic, condensed, direct.
Ironically it's also very easy—superficial readers could get a lot out of it in one quick pass, too.
In any event it's certainly an enjoyable experience, and I think an insightful and rewarding one. I've been through it (slowly) three times now, and have enjoyed it more each time. It's this week's "recommended by M.J."
P.S. There's a nice interview with Sam about the book on Doug Plummer's blog. (Thanks to Mike C. for the tip.)