Writing about photography, reading about photography and thinking about how to take photographs are seamless activities for me. They inform one another in ways I can’t fully separate. A great photo book, even more than an exhibition, is where these things all come together. A photo book costs a lot of money to make and is unlikely to sell very many copies. But it is as essential a part of the culture as a good jazz album or a book of poems; and it possibly has as dedicated and fractious an audience as those modestly popular genres. There’s still such consolation and excitement in the swish of paper and the smell of ink, in the fact of stitching and the solidity of a hardcover. I didn’t acquire too many photo books this year — only about a hundred, all told — but I made an effort to seek out a wide variety. These are eight I particularly liked.