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Tis the season… for buying books for your friends, family, and colleagues! We’ve compiled a list for the variety of nerds in your life—from Doctor Who to Dune, from Game of Thrones to The Adventure Zone, we’ve got a geeky book gift recommendation for you.
Here is a list of books we recommend for every kind of nerd in your life.
I Love the Bones of You: My Father and the Making of Me by Christopher Eccleston
For: The Doctor Who fan in your life
Raw and real, this memoir by Doctor Who and The Leftovers actor Christopher Eccleston is a reflection on his relationship with his stoic yet loving father following his death. If you’re looking for something a bit more serious this holiday season, check this out—it includes some lovely details about Eccleston’s personal life, including the fact that his kid calls the Daleks “the Garlics.” Adorable.
Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson
For: The literary history nerd in your life
Women have, historically, been written out of history and/or had their impact greatly diminished. Monster, She Wrote attempts to correct some of that injustice by highlighting the women writers who “defied convention to craft some of literature’s stangest tales.” Including more well-known writers like Mary Shelley and lesser known scribes like Magaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a sci-fi epic 150 years before Shelley penned Frankenstein, even your most obsessive of literary friends will most likely find something new in this tome.
Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series by Aaron Harvey, Rich Schepis, and Saturday Morning Trek
For: The Star Trek fan in your life
With a new animated Star Trek series right around the corner, now is the perfect time to celebrate the original animated Trek adventure: the highly underrated Star Trek: The Animated Series. Continuing on the canon begun in The Original Series, The Animated Series continues to influence Trek canon today—most especially when it comes to Discovery.
This book includes behind-the-scenes production documents, never-before-seen art, and all-new interviews with the people who produced the animated adventures, and is perfect for Star Trek fans who have already consumed The Animated Series and Star Trek fans who have yet to discover the series’ unique delights.
Firefly: The Big Damn Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel
For: The Firefly fan in your life
We’re always looking for ways to dive back into the world of cancelled-too-soon Firefly, and this cookbook is a particularly fun way to do so. Including over 70 recipes inspired by the Joss Whedon TV show, Firefly: The Big Damn Cookbook is the perfect gift for your nerdy friend who also happens to be into cooking. Who knows? Maybe they’ll share some of Mama Reynold’s shoofly pie with you?
Warrior of the Altaii by Robert Jordan
For: The Wheel of Time fan in your life
With Amazon’s Wheel of Time series currently filming, the fantasy epic nerd in your life is probably hyped for all things Robert Jordan. While the beloved author passed away back in 2007, Tor Books recently published his very first novel, Warrior of the Altaii, an action-driven fantasy about a group of horse warriors whose very existence is threatened. It’s the perfect gift for the Wheel of Time fan in your life.
Resistance Reborn: Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rebecca Roanhorse
For: The Star Wars fan in your life
By the time Christmas rolls around, most Star Wars fans will have consumed The Rise of Skywalker with their eyeballs and will be hungry for more. Enter this official book from Hugo Award-winning author Rebecca Roanhorse, which explores what happens to Poe, Leia, Rey, and Finn between the last two movies.
The Art of Game of Thrones, The Official Book of Design From Seasons 1 to 8
For: The Game of Thrones fan in your life
While Game of Thrones fans may not be happy with the narrative consistency of the last few seasons of the HBO epic, I don’t think anyone can find a flaw in the production design work of this gorgeous (and expensive) show. Game of Thrones fans can celebrate the consistent successes of this show with The Art of Game of Thrones—which includes 432 pages of concept art, sketches, and production design images. The perfect coffee table book for the fantasy nerd in your life!
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
For: The riot girl in your life
In what is sure to become a feminist time travel classic, io9 founding editor Annalee Newitz ties together the perspectives of time traveler Tess, working to stop a group of misogynists from destroying time travel forever, and Beth, a 17-year-old girl exploring the punk scene in 1992 California. Really, this standalone novel a great book for any science fiction lover in your life, but if they have a particular interest in social justice, even better!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Illustrated Edition
For: The Harry Potter fan in your life
Harry Potter is always a safe gift bet, especially when it comes to these gorgeous illustrated editions, with art from award-winning artist Jim Kay that could be framed and hung on the wall. The Goblet of Fire is the most recent release in this series, but, even if your gift-receiver doesn’t have the previous three books in the series, this is a gift any Potterhead would be ecstatic to get.
The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!
For: The D&D fan in your life
The second book in the McElroy family’s wildly successful graphic novel adaptation series of their popular D&D podcast, Murder on the Rockport Limited! works for longtime fans of the pod or for those who couldn’t tell Clint from Travis. Art from Carey Pietsch brings this fantastical and hilarious world to life, making this the perfect gift for loved ones who have always wanted their own D&D campaign jump off of the table.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance
For: The YA fan in your life
Hot off the presses this December, this sequel to Tomi Adeyemi’s debut fantasy Children of Blood and Bone is sure to be one of the most-talked-about YA books of the year. The story of Zélie and Amari continues as Adeyemi further explores her west African-inspired fantasy world, as magic returns to the land of Orïsha in this second book in the planned trilogy.
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
For: The classic science fiction fan in your life
Many have compared Charlie Jane Anders’ work to sci-fi legend Ursula Le Guin, and it’s not hard to see why: Anders’ work is as topical and it is visionary. Anders’ second novel after All the Birds in the Sky, The City in the Middle of the Night takes readers to a tidally-locked planet divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side of the body and an endless sunshine on the other. Anders’ recycles some of the elements of classic science fiction into something beautiful and new.
Dune: Deluxe Edition by Frank Herbert
For: The person in your life who won’t stop talking about the upcoming Dune movie
It’s a good time to be a Dune fan. Not only is there a screen adaptation coming from Arrivaldirector Denis Villeneuve in 2020, but Ace just released this gorgeous special edition of the fantasy classic. With an iconic new cover, a redesigned world map of Dune, an updated intro from Brian Herbert, and stained page edges, this story has never looked so good.
Gideon: The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
For: The lesbian necromancers in your life
Come for the lesbian necromancers, stay for the skeleton battles! I… don’t really feel like I need to write anything else after that. But this buzzworthy 2019 title is a definitive winner: The start of a planned trilogy, Gideon the Ninth follows indentured-servant-turned-swordswoman Gideon Nav, who is tasked with keeping sworn enemy Harrowhark Nonagesimus safe.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
For: The speculative fiction fan who only has time for a novella
To call this lovely story “only” a novella would be doing the craft of the story a disservice. Told from the dual perspectives of two time-traveling agents from warring futures, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone choose every word of this story thoughtfully. Their war may stretch across space and time, but the relationship between Red and Blue is beautiful in its intimacy. The perfect gift to trick your loved one into reading more of both El-Mohtar and Gladstone’s wonderful work.
Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy
For: The Star Wars fan in your life
Every year is a year to celebrate Star Wars, and 2019 is no different. Delight the Star Wars geek in your life with this beautifully-illustrated book featuring 75 profiles of some of the women from the Star Wars universe, including the films, fiction, comics, animation, and games. Characters featured include: Leia Organa, Rey, Ahsoka Tano, Iden Versio, Jyn Erso, Rose Tico, and Maz Kanata.
Each profile includes key story beats, fresh insights, and behind-the-scenes details, which means this is not only good for the Star Wars fan who knows everything about this universe, but for the more casual fan looking to get into the world or even for a future Star Wars fan you are cunningly trying to convert so you can nerd out about Star Wars together. You’re welcome.
The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid
We all know that holiday gift-giving tends to be all about the kids in your life. This explorer’s guide featuring profiles on countries all around the world is the perfect gift for the child in your life who nerds out about geography and cultures. (We all know one… many of us have been one.)
Billed as “a thrilling expedition to 100 of the most surprising, mysterious, and weird-but-true places on earth,” The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid takes its readers to a 355-foot waterfall in Zambia, to Antarctica’s Blood Falls, and through ice caves in Argentina and Austria. You might not be able to actually zipline with your kid through rainforests, but this book is the next best thing until you do get there.
The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine
For: The Prisoner fan in your life
Last year, Titan did comic fans and cult TV obsessives a solid by publishing an artist’s edition of a failed attempt by Marvel to bring The Prisoner to comic books in the 1970s that featured art by Jack Kirby and Gil Kane. It was a fascinating experiment, and one we wish had come to fruition. Eventually the series — ostensibly about a secret agent who resigns and subsequently finds himself in the mysterious Village, although it explores much bigger issue — was given a DC Comics sequel as 1988’s The Prisoner: Shattered Visage mini-series. While by no means a failure, the book largely ignored the show’s bonkers finale and thus wasn’t fully satisfying.
The same can’t be said of Titan Comics’ The Prisoner series, an audacious contemporary take on the story that succeeds in all the ways that the regrettable AMC remake of a few years back failed. The first four issues of writer Peter Milligan and artist Colin Lorimer new take on the saga are collected in The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine. Having the thankless task of trying to put their own stamp on Patrick McGoohan’s allegorical tale, the duo offers up a story rich with interesting new characters and the sort of mindfucks you’d come to expect from The Prisoner. In other words, it’s great stuff.
The Phantom of Eternia
For: The Fans of Skeletor in your life
For the past decade, a performer in Philadelphia named Carmen Martella III has been hosting a monthly karaoke night/comedy show. While this seems like a fairly ordinary occurance, there is a deliciously nerdy catch–he does so in the guise of an over-the-top spoof of Skeletor. This leads to such madcap fun as the performances being more Gong Show then anything (for example, attempting to sing “My Way” will earn you an instant booting off the stage).
Adding to the insanity, ‘Skeletor’ peppers each event with his own custom song parodies, such as an evil take on Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” in which he sings the praises of, well, poisioning the audience. One Skeletor Karaoke devotee is Kelly Phillips. Part of the all-girl comic art anthology collective Dirty Diamonds, Phillips is a bona-fide nerd whose Weird Me explores her Weird Al Yankovic fandom. In The Phantom of Eternia, she presents a compelling story about friendship and singing terrible songs in public that will forever change the way you think about both karaoke and Masters of the Universe.
Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction
For: The short story fan in your life
Tor.com celebrated its tenth anniversary last yearwith this anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror from its first ten years as one of the go-to places for speculative fiction shorts. Edited by Irene Gallo and including work from some of speculative fiction’s most exciting writers, such as N.K. Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders, Ken Liu, Kameron Hurley, and Jeff VanderMeer (to mention a very few), this is the kind of present that can be savored over the course of many reading sessions. It’s the perfect gift for the person in your life who is really up on their speculative fiction or for that literary friend you’re trying to get into speculative fiction.
The Making of Planet of the Apes
Well they did it. They finally did it. No, not blow up the Earth (yet!), but rather Harper Collins has released the definitive book chronicling the creation of one of the best-loved science fiction films of all-time. Written by J.W. Rinzler (whose behind-the-scenes chronicles of the original Star Wars trilogy should earn a place on every self-respecting nerd’s bookshelf) The Making of Planet of the Apescharts the difficulties 20th Century Fox had in translating Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel to the big screen and into pop culture infamy through an insanely researched volume that is just as compelling as the feature itself. Our fingers are crossed for future volumes chronicling the saga’s various sequels.
Chilling Adventures in Sorcery
For: The Archie horror fan in your life
Long before Archie’s current horror renaissance, the publisher originally dipped its toes in the genre with the short-lived 1970s comic Chilling Adventures in Sorcery. For the first two issues, the title was narrated by Sabrina the Teenage Witch and featured spooky stories done in the typical house style. From the third issue onwards, the book was issued through Archie’s Red Circle imprint, Sabrina was jettisoned, and art was handled by the likes of Gray Morrow.
This revamped work was just as compelling as the earlier weirdo dark Archie-style stories, and more than holds its own with classic horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and The Witching Hour.With Chilling Adventures of Sabrina once again stirring a cauldron of interest in spooky Archie tales, this book should be an in-demand item this holiday season… even if Halloween is long gone.
A History of Video Games in 64 Objects
For: The gamer in your life
We’re getting to a place in the evolution of the video game where its history is valued, which means wonderful potential gifts like this one: A History of Video Games in 64 Objects. Inspired by A History of the World in 100 Objects, this book attempts to chronicle the history of video games so far, from Pong to first-person shooters, as told through the stories of some of the medium’s most important objects. Each object is paired with an in-depth essay outlining its significance in the history of gaming. Objects featured include: The Oregon Trail, the Atari 2600, and a World of Warcraft server blade.
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Volume Three
For: The Victorian horror nerd in your life
There’s all different kinds of nerds out there, and the history nerd is a special variety. This third volume of Christmas ghost stories from the Victorian era is the perfect gift for that person in your life who thinks learning and indulging in cultures past is just the coolest thing ever. Apparently, following the success of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Christmas ghost stories became all the rage in Victorian newspapers and magazines. Some of these stories have never been reprinted since… until now. The collection features 20 stories, and will make any holiday gathering just a little bit creepier.
The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition by Ursula K. Le Guin
For: The Le Guin fan in your life
We lost Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the greatest speculative fiction writers of all time, last year, but we didn’t lose her stories. Her legacy lives on in the many classics she left behind, including her beloved Earthsea series. Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of A Wizard of Earthsea‘s release, this complete illustrated edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles includes over 50 illustrations done by Charles Vess and selected by Le Guin.
In addition to the main books in the series, The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition includes early short stories, Le Guin’s “Earthsea Revisioned” Oxford lecture, and a new Earthsea story. If that wasn’t enough, the book also includes a foreword by Le Guin herself. This is the perfect gift for fans of Earthsea and Le Guin or for friends who have yet to venture into this magical world.
The Art of Juan Ortiz: Star Trek: The Next Generation
For: The Star Trek: The Next Generation fan in your life.
Juan Ortiz’s coffee table book tribute to the series is nothing short of a valentine to the crew of the Enterprise-D. Just as he previous did in a book dedicated to the original series, Ortiz has created art commemorating each of Next Gen’s 178 episodes. Some of these, like the Twilight Zone-y illustration of “Who Watches the Watchers?” play up the series’ sci-fi conceit, while goofball installments like “Qpid” get the irreverent treatment you’d expect. We suppose you could say that this book is, forgive us, quite engaging.
Kirby: King of Comics
For: The classic comics fan in your life.
Originally released in 2008, Mark Evanier’s definitive comics biography got a revised and expanded paperback edition in 2017, in honor of the King’s 100th birthday. This hugely enjoyable volume is highlighted by beautiful splash pages, a touching intro by Neil Gaiman, and, best of all, fantastic full-page reproductions of art that illustrate once more how Jack Kirby was the best that ever was and ever will be.
Luminescent Threads: Connection to Octavia Butler
For: The Octavia Butler fan in your life.
Octavia Butler, the author of The Parable of the Sower and Kindred, is one of the most important science fiction authors of all time; this book aims to celebrate her contribution to the genre. Luminescent Threads is an anthology of letters and original essays written to, for, and about Butler by writers and readers for whom her work has meant something. A follow-up of sorts to the Locus Award-winning Letters to Tiptree, Luminescent Threads is a book for anyone who has ever loved Butler, or for those who want to learn more about her legacy.