It’s that time of year, folks. Halloween is over, and we’ve begun our holiday shopping. Or perhaps we have just begun our wish lists. In any case, first up for GeekMom’s gift guides this year is Books! Books are wonderful gifts for all ages, and there’s bound to be something here for someone on your gift list.
Updraft by Fran Wilde
“Welcome to a world of wind and wings, songs and silence, secrets and betrayal.” GeekMom Fran Wilde’s debut novel has made several prestigious lists, including Library Journal’s Debut of the Month and Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Fall 2015 SF, Fantasy, Horror Debuts. It also received a very favorable review on NPR.
Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families
Start the new year right, with plenty of project and activity ideas to do with your kids. Written by the founding editors of GeekMom, this book is also full of insightful essays on being a geek and a geeky parent, as well as bits on geeky people and topics of interest to the geek world.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
MSRP $29.99/Amazon $16.14
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (AKA The Bloggess) is a book about dealing with depression, severe anxiety, and other mental health conditions, and probably doesn’t seem like the greatest choice of Christmas gifts on the face of things. Especially considering that the face of this particular book features a frankly startling taxidermied raccoon that appears ready to leap off the page and either hug or murder you: I’m suspicious as to its motive. You would be wrong. I am planning to give Furiously Happy to as many people as I can possibly justify this Christmas, partly because it made me laugh so hard my husband actually banned me from reading it in bed because I woke him up so often, and secondly because its poignant anecdotes and bizarre shenanigans are perfect for those of us wondering if we’re alone in our craziness. Whether or not you or someone you know has suffered from a mental illness (and statistics say it’s almost certain that they have), Furiously Happy will offer you something wonderful.
I Heart Cute Coloring / I Heart Coloring by Jess Bradley
I Heart Cute Coloring and I Heart Coloring are the perfect stocking stuffer book for anyone who enjoys a relaxing color break. Pair this with a nice set of colored pencils so they can get started right away.
A Wizard of Earthsea Folio Society Edition
With illustrations by David Lupton and a glorious introduction by David Mitchell, this Le Guin classic is worthy to add to your treasured books shelf. Folio Literary Society has re-issued (and we’ve featured) gorgeous illustrated hardback books of our favorites for years, and this first book in the Earthsea quartet seems to resonate with magic.
Lists of Note: An Eclectic Collection Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher
A follow-up to Letters of Note, this book is filled with 125 list entries, formal and casual, ancient and new. They stretch from reasons why Ancient Egyptian workers missed work to a list of gifts given to Queen Elizabeth I to Kurt Cobain’s list of items needed to make the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video. We learn of Johnny Cash’s romantic side, Pablo Picasso’s handwriting style, and what chemist Robert Boyle wished to be discovered by science. And we learn the Art Department rules from Immaculate Heart College. That list of ten rules, alone, is worth the price of the book.
Ultimate Star Wars
The ultimate book for the ultimate Star Wars fan, this encyclopedia contains everything there is to know about a galaxy far, far away. Gorgeous photos, incredible details, and information about every film and TV series make this a must-own for Star Wars aficionados.
How to Draw Batman, Superman, and Other DC Super Heroes and Villains
How to Draw Batman, Superman, and Other DC Super Heroes and Villains is a step-by-step art book with characters drawn in Bruce Timm’s wonderful style of the animated DC Comics series. This isn’t a how-to-draw book for young kids or beginners, but the facts included about each superhero and villain make it worthy of being added to a young comic fans’ collection.
Welcome to Night Vale
MSRP $19.99/Amazon $12.22
The Welcome to Night Vale novel is the first publication from the popular podcast by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, and although based on the three-year-old show could easily be picked up by people who had never listened to the show before. The book delves into the interwoven stories of 19-year-old Jackie Fierro who owns the town pawn shop, and PTA treasurer Diane Crayton. Their lives are overtaken by the mysterious Man in The Tan Jacket whom nobody can remember, and a piece of paper with the words KING CITY written on it, and soon they find themselves working together in an attempt to regain control. Perfect for anyone who loves quirky adventures, small town secrecy, and a sprinkling of terror.
Poorly Drawn Lines: Good Ideas and Amazing Stories by Reza Farazmand
At last, the webcomic Poorly Drawn Lines is in book form! If you’re a fan of the comic, you’ll want this book. It has some of Reza’s best work, plus plenty of new stuff not found anywhere else, including some text-based humor (that had me laughing out loud). If you enjoy a bit of dry and wry humor, check out this book.
The Martian by Andy Weir
If you know anyone who hasn’t read The Martian yet, now’s your chance to give a no-fail gift! With a great deal of humor and nail-bitting plot twists, it’s one science fiction novel that appeals to a wide audience. If you don’t believe me, you can count on the 21,000 Amazon reviews averaging 4.6/5.
Septimus Heap by Angie Sage
The Septimus Heap series follows the seventh son of a seventh son as he discovers the wonders of wizardry, alchemy, and medicine. From dragons to necromancers, Septimus, his family, and his friends come together to discover the many wonders of their world, and overcome its challenges. The wonderful characters include a long-lost princess, talking mice, and ghosts both kind and menacing. This seven-book series depicts a fantastic coming of age saga, and many examples of how time and love can change many hearts.
LEGO Star Wars: Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy
This is a gorgeous coffee table book from DK, created by Finnish photographer Vesa Lehtimäki. He used his son’s Lego to recreate scenes from the movies, plus some other little gems for Star Wars super fans. It’s all kinds of good in one place: Lego, Star Wars, and some serious photography. Release date: November 10th.
100 Amazing Paper Animal Snowflakes
Snowflakes are a bit like a precious work of art. They’re beautiful and hard to keep with kids around. Also, no two are alike. In this book, they don’t look alike, they look like animals—if you do them correctly, that is. Author Marion T. Nichols shows you how to turn papercutting into a project you can share with kids of all ages. The book features 100 different templates that you can copy, fold, cut, and display proudly. It’s the type of book you’ll want to pull out on days that you’re stuck inside, even during the summer. The designs are fun, funky, and reusable, with plenty of options for the crafty and not-so-crafty on your gift list.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling
If you’ve been waiting for just the right time to invite your kids to Hogwarts, there’s no better opportunity than the new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The illustrations are unique, gorgeous, and eye-catching, making the first part of Harry’s adventure a better read-aloud experience than ever.
Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
$17.04 and $17.64
Photojournalism at its best, these books capture every day life in New York City–both the mundane and the extraordinary–including joyous and sad moments. The Stories book goes deeper into the stories of several people, reminding us that everyone out there is a person with an interesting background.
Sherlock: The Mind Palace: A Coloring Book Adventure
$9.69 (Amazon), $9.88 retail
With the therapeutic and creative benefits of adult coloring books being all the rage, this BBC Sherlock coloring book by illustrator Mike Collins is filled with intricate scenes from the show. What makes this especially appealing is each picture includes an important clue from the episode it represents. However, these clues will only be revealed after the picture is colored. Now fans can solve their own little mysteries while waiting for the next season of Sherlock to finally begin. Can’t get enough BBC coloring? A Doctor Who Coloring Book is planned for February, 2016.
William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First by Ian Doescher
Released in April, The Phantom continues in Doescher’s tradition of translating George Lucas’ screenplays into traditional Shakespearean plays, complete with settings, stage directions, and proper verse. The piece that Patricia has found most fascinating about The Phantom is Doescher’s treatment of the controversial, reviled, ridiculous Jar Jar Binks. What is done is very clever and I encourage others to check out this book just to see for yourself this unique version of everyone’s favorite <cough cough> Gungan.
Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
If you’re a fan of Neil’s, you’ll love this book. If you’re a fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books, you’ll get a kick out of the format. This mostly-true autobiography will make you laugh, ponder, and be confused, along with giving some quite intimate looks into Neil’s life. It’s a fun read that works equally well linearly and by following the “go to page X” prompts.
The Toymaker’s Apprentice by Sherri L. Smith
The Toymaker’s Apprentice is a new take on the Nutcracker classic. After his father the toymaker is kidnapped, Stefan Drosselmeyer and his cousin embark on an adventure through Germany to save his father and a princess from the evil Mouse King and Queen.
The Superhero Comic Kit by Jason Ford
If your kids love to make comics but need a little bit of hand-holding, this book is fun and helpful. It’s a very-large-format book, measuring in at 16.8 x 11.5 inches, plenty of room for your kids to create. They get a bit of a drawing lesson first, and are then set free to write and draw their stories in the many included templates. Stickers in the back help with extra story characters and lots of BAMs and THUDs and CRUNCHes.
Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What to Do with Your Life by Roadtrip Nation
Useful at any age, but especially helpful when starting out in one’s adult life, this book will help you figure out in what direction you want to begin. It’s not just about choosing an occupation or college major. This one is about helping you listen to those voices inside of you that tell you where your passions lie. It helps you suss out your needs and wants, figure out how to make choices and when to cut your losses, and how to create a life for yourself that is personally fulfilling. It also includes exercises and several projects to help you on your way. I highly recommend it for all high school students, and adults of any age who may be a bit lost.
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
$12.99 – 19.99
If you have been a fan of Judy Blume’s poignant youth-point-of-view novels since a young age, as Patricia has been, you won’t be disappointed in In the Unlikely Event, her most recent novel. The story follows several characters’ lives brought together by a C-46 commercial airliner crash in 1952 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, a true event that impacted Judy Blume herself in real life.
The X-Files: Trust No One, Edited by Jonathan Maberry
MSRP $19.99/Amazon $15.92
With The X-Files returning to television in 2016, now is a great time to catch up with Mulder and Scully, getting yourself back into a headspace filled with shadows, conspiracies, menacing government agencies, and alien conspiracies. If watching back over all 202 episodes (and two movies to boot) is a little overwhelming, then Trust No One could be just the sort of thing you need to uncover. The book collects fifteen brand new X-Files tales from a variety of writers including Kevin J. Anderson, Paul Crilley, and Keith R.A. DeCandido that span across time from pre-series to the modern day. The stories avoid tackling the overarching (and insanely complex) show mythology focusing instead on monster-of-the-week style stories. The book is worth its price tag if only for the stand out “Dusk” in which Mulder and Scully track down the reclusive author of a phenomenally successful ‘tween book series about an attractive male vampire!
The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor by Robert Schnakenberg
$11.99 for Kindle; $22.99 Hardcover
This book is an A-to-Z encyclopedia of Bill Murray facts, covering all of his movies (yes, even including Garfield and Charlie’s Angels) as well as his days with Saturday Night Live. In between sections are numerous anecdotes about the dozens of parties he’s crashed over the years. A great gift for that Bill Murray fan in your life…That’s a Fact, Jack!
Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot by Dav Pilkey
If your kids’ sense of humor runs along the lines of underpants and stinky smells, you can’t go wrong with any of the books in the Captain Underpants series. This latest book is just as wonderful, and, like the others, also has plenty of humor for the parents who also read it.
$8.99 and up
Even though you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, let’s face it, we all do it. Puffin Pixels takes the classic stories of Robin Hood, King Arthur, Swiss Family Robinson, and other classics and gives them a new cover to attract the younger audiences.
Pierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone by Hiro Kamigaki and IC4DESIGN
If your kids love mazes that they can do over and over, or busy books that allow them to pore over pictures for hours to study its contents, this book is a wonderful specimen for such activity. The artwork is colorful and the settings are varied. Plus, there is a mystery to solve, and they need your kids to help solve it!
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children 3-Volume Boxed Set by Ransom Riggs
$25.88 for Kindle edition; $56.97 Hardcover Edition
Just in time for the holidays, the New York Times bestselling series by Ransom Riggs is available as a beautiful hardcover boxed set. Enjoy the trilogy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and the just-released Library of Souls together. As an added feature, the set includes 12 collectible “peculiar photographs” of some of the featured characters, such as Olivie Elephanta and Hugh Apiston. This series of perfect for older elementary-school-aged children…and teens…and adults…and you catch my drift.
This Book Loves You by PewDiePie
This Book Loves You is perfect for anyone who gets annoyed by all those positive affirmations they see online. Not to say this book doesn’t have any of those, but the spin it takes makes them more funny than inspiring.
DC Super Heroes Origami
This origami book, which comes complete with origami paper, is a must-have for young fans of Superman and Batman. With the projects in the book, you can make a paper Batarang, Green Lantern’s lantern, Wonder Woman’s tiara, Clark Kent’s glasses, and many, many more items. Even more fun for super hero geeks, each project is accompanied by a little bit of comic lore about the hero or item.
Anything that Loves
The one book Rory cannot suggest enough is the stunning book Anything that Loves. This anthology covers a huge variety of people, and their non-binary love lives. People who fit somewhere in the middle. It is a collection of comics, short stories, and memoirs centered around the universal flexibility of love, and the inherent disregard for rules that relationships embody. It’s an inspired work, capable of teaching even non-binary veterans that there’s no way to define love.
Note: This book is graphic, suggestive, and in some cases explicit. This work is not for young children. Many of the themes are NC-17, but there are many comics inside this book that are less explicit. Parental guidance is a must.
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
An amazing period drama with magic and a flying carpet chase–a delightfully enjoyable adult read. What author Karen Lord calls “A deliciously true tale of politics and power in a charming, cruel world–it demands and deserves to be read again and again. Cho has humor and flair to match Pratchett and Heyer plus her own marvelous style.”
COSMOS: The Infographic Book of Space by Stuart Lowe & Chris North
For anyone who likes to consume their information about space and astronomy in colorful, infographic-style chunks of information–low on the data but high on visual appeal–there is a new book out. It takes us on a tour of our own history of space exploration, and then takes us further afield into our own solar system, telescopes, the Milky Way, other galaxies, and more. For those who still like their numbers, plenty of the graphics include specific details and data on the given topic, so there is something here for everyone.