Books of the Year: Picture books

Questions of inequality, identity and invincibility are asked throughout these visual masterpieces
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The Independent Culture

'We English' by Simon Roberts (Chris Boot, £40)

What does it mean to be from this sceptred isle? This delightful portfolio of the English at leisure (photographed over the course of a year in which Roberts travelled the length of the land in a motorhome) is a romantic elegy to national identity

'75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking' (Taschen, £135)

Less a coffee-table book than a table in itself, this gargantuan tome traces the history of the world's most influential comics company, from the Atom to Wonder Woman. A real collector's item – and must-have for DC fans

'Chroma' ed Michel Pastoureau (Thames & Hudson, £38)

A vibrant breakdown of the meaning of different colours in different cultures, as refracted through stunning images of everything from the surreal to the quotidian, shot by photographers from Martin Parr to Thomas Hoepker

'Where Children Sleep' by James Mollison (Chris Boot, £20)

The inequality of society is writ large in this collection of photographs of children's bedrooms, from Kaya's in Tokyo (whose mother spends $1,000 a month on dresses for her) to a boy who sleeps on the floor of a hut in the Amazon jungle

'Decade', ed Eamonn McCabe (Phaidon, £24.95)

This exhaustive visual overview of the Noughties, from 9/11 to the first tests of the Hadron Collider, provides a fascinating exploration of the social developments that have shaped our recent lives

'A Year in Photography: Magnum Archive' ed Magnum Photos (Prestel, £22.50)

Not, as you might expect, photographs from a single 12-month period, but rather a stunning, bulky quasi-diary, where 365 shots from the illustrious agency's best snappers sit opposite blank pages for your scribbles

'Outside Inside: Journey of Consciousness' by Bruce Davidson (Steidl, £220)

A three-volume tour de force of reportage assembled by the Magnum man of his work from the 1950s to the present day. This is no less than a chronicle of modern America from one of the pioneers of documentary photography '

Chosen by Hannah Brenchley, picture editor of 'The New Review'