Christmas 2016: our books and comics gift guide

Is there any older tradition than giving books at Christmas? Well yes, there is. But here's a list anyway...

Books! Undeniably, the combination of ink, paper, a nice cover and a gripping story makes for a classic Christmas present.

Whether you and your loved ones are into books or comics, biographies or crime, laughs or love stories, we hope you’ll find something in our gift guide of the biggest and best books coming to shops both real and digital this festive season…

Out now

A Life In Parts 

If you saw Bryan Cranston on The Graham Norton Show, you’ll know that he’s lived a fair few different lives, from waiter to actor via murder suspect and online dating expert. He chronicles all those roles, and the ones he’s played in TV and film. You’ll come to find out how Heisenberg and the dad from Kung Fu Panda 3 can possibly be the same man, you’ll stay for the honesty and the dry humour.

Buy A Life In Parts on Amazon

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Alan Bennett: Keeping On Keeping On

The latest prose collection from the mighty Alan Bennett, Keeping On Keeping on is a chunky tome that’s full of witty and warmth. The cover is emblazoned with a excerpt, in which Bennett posits that he could stab Judi Dench with a pitchfork and still be deemed “a teddybear.” If there’s an Alan Bennett fan in your life, or someone who loved the film of The Lady In The Van, this could make for a great gift.

Buy Keep On Keeping On on Amazon

Alan Partridge: Nomad

“Through witty vignettes, heavy essays and nod-inducing pieces of wisdom, Alan shines a light on the nooks of the nation and the crannies of himself”, the description of Alan Partridge’s second autobiography thingy tells us. Steve Coogan co-wrote the book, with Rob Gibbons and Neil Gibbons, if you were wondering. It’s all about Alan wandering the British isles, soul searching and trying not to impale his foot on any spikes. 

Buy Alan Partridge: Nomad on Amazon

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Double Down

The 11th book in the joyous-for-kids-and-grownups Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series is Double Down, which doubles down on the relationship between Greg and his mum, who thinks he should put the videogames down and get creative. He eventually opts to try and make a film, dreaming of fame and fortune as he goes. The book has garnered an abundance of positive reviews, so if you’ve got a fan of the franchise In your family, go for it!  

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Empire Of Storms

The latest in Sarah J. Mass’ bestselling Throne Of Glass saga, Empire Of Storms picks up with former assassin and aspiring queen Celaena at a point where the throne looks like a pipedream. Magic and uneasy new alliances could provide the answer, as this Cinderella-inspired series veers into its most action-packed segment yet. Expect some adult themes, too.

Buy Empire Of Storms on Amazon, or start Throne Of Glass from the beginning

The Power

Naomi Alderman’s The Power is an impressive slice of sci-fi, set in a world where women have the ability to conduct electricity and thus quickly overpower men, become the dominant gender in the world in the process. From that beginning, an intriguing yarn is spun, offering visceral thrills, a fair bit of violence and a lot of food for thought.

Buy The Power on Amazon

Rather Be The Devil

The latest John Rebus novel from Ian Rankin, Rather Be The Devil sees the iconic detective working around his unwelcome retirement using every dodgy contact he has, all the tricks he can muster and the bottomless determination he’s famous for. Cold cases, new crimes and old enemies collide in a typically excellent yarn from Rankin. It also harks back to one of best Rebus books, Black And Blue, in a big fan-pleasing way.

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Buy Rather Be The Devil on Amazon

Scrappy Little Nobody

“I’m very, very funny on Twitter, according to Buzzfeed and my mom, so I feel like this is a great idea”, reads Anna Kendrick’s blurb on the back of Scrappy Little Nobody. Fans of the actress will find plenty to laugh at in this collection of essays she’s written about her life so far. Whether know her from Pitch Perfect, Up In The Air, Trolls or all three, a lot of fun awaits you if you pick this one up.

Buy Scrappy Little Nobody on Amazon

The Secret History of Twin Peaks

The Secret History Of Twin Peaks is an absolute treat for fans of the series, packed with lush images, insightful expansions of the world and all the assembled oddities you’d expect. It was written by Mark Frost, who co-created the series with David Lynch, adding an air off official-ness to proceedings. If you just can’t wait until next year for the new episodes, this will tide you over nicely. 

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Star Wars: Catalyst – A Rogue One Novel

James Luceno is one of the longest standing authors in the world of Star Wars novels. He’s also one of most-praised, and one of the few who stuck around when the old continuity was thrown out. His latest offering is Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, the prelude to this Christmas’s huge cinematic spectacular. It begins during the Clone Wars, detailing a Republic Vs. Separatists space-race of deadly proportions. Characters from the film are given fleshed-out backstories, setting the stage perfectly for Rogue One itself.

Buy Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel on Amazon

The Lunar Chronicles Boxed Set

The Lunar Chronicles is a tetralogy of Y.A. novels, which retells iconic fairytales with a futuristic new spin. These include Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. The sci-fi stuff includes cyborgs, androids and people living on the moon. Once you’ve finished the mainline books there are prequels and short stories to check out, too, making this a great franchise to sink your teeth into if you’re looking for a new obsession.  

Buy The Lunar Chronicles on Amazon

The Midnight Gang

The man who used to tickle the nation by saying “eh eh eh” on a Saturday night has recently become one of our favourite family-friendly storytellers. David Walliams has a new charming novel out just in time for Christmas. It’s not even been out for a month yet and Amazon page is flooded with happy customers’ reviews. It follows a group of children on a hospital ward as they discover friendship, magic and the magic of friendship. 

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Night School

“There is serious shit going on, signs of a world gone mad” – prescient words there from the blurb of Night School, the 21st book in the Jack Reacher series. This time, Lee Child has sent his lanky action hero back to school, to train up for a mission with an FBI agent and a CIA analyst in a bid to track down a mysterious American demanding a large sum of dosh. Expect thrills, chills and kills, and probably one or two ‘Reacher said nothing’ moments. 

Buy Night School on Amazon

Where Am I Now?: True Stories Of Girlhood And Accidental Fame

An absolute treat this, from the pen of Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire actress Mara Wilson. If you’ve ever imagined what it’s like growing up under a microscope of public scrutiny as a stratospherically famous child star, you should really give this one a read. By turns funny and poignant, Wilson proves here that she’s a terrific writer. Really, we should all stop asking where she is now and start asking when her next book is out.

Buy Where Am I Now? on Amazon and read our review here

The Whistler

Nowadays, there are probably more John Grisham novels found in Christmas stockings than there are satsumas or lumps of coal. This year’s one is The Whistler, which is all about a lawyer representing a whistle-blower from the world of organised crime. The story is set within the American judicial system, promising a scandal full of twists, turns and – dun, dun, DUNNNNN! – murder.

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Inside The Magic: The Making Of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

There’s a lot of Fantastic Beast merch and tie-in material heading into the world this festive season, but one in particular has caught our eye – Inside The Magic, a making of book penned by Empire Magazine mainstay Ian Nathan, with a foreword by Eddie Redmayne himself. Nathan had access to the full cast and crew, including J.K. Rowling and David Yates, and we trust he’s come up with an excellent exploration of how the film got made. The pictures will probably be nice as well.

Buy Inside The Magic: The Making Of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them on Amazon

The Art Of The Film: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them 

If nice pictures sound more up your street than reading stuff, the Fantastic Beasts tie-in for you may well be this one: The Art Of The Film, the perfect coffee table accompaniment for any Rowling fan planning to play host this Christmas. “Oh, is this yours?” they’ll say. “Yes, I just keep beautiful concept art lying around, it really brightens up the place – lumos-style”, you’ll retort.

Buy The Art Of The Film: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them on Amazon

J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World – A Pop-Up Gallery Of Curiosities

Or what about A Pop-Up Gallery Of Curiosities? It’s a lovely gift to give a Potter-head who loves imagery, isn’t big on reading and enjoys being mildly surprised. It offers a blend of Potter props and Fantastic Beasts paraphernalia, and could well be a great present for little ones.

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Civil War II: Choosing Sides

Before the Marvel Comics saga that is Civil War II reaches shelves in its collected edition this coming February, fans can sink their teeth into Choosing Sides, a collection of six side stories that document how heroes across the Marvel Universe decided which team to fight on in the conflict between Captain Marvel and Iron Man. If you were wondering, they’re fighting because an Inhuman gains the power to see the future and they can’t agree on how to use this knowledge.

Buy Civil War II: Choosing Sides on Amazon

Small Great Things

“When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.” That’s the basic story set-up for Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, a drama focused on the fallout of said tragic event. It is humbly dubbed ‘To Kill A Mockingbird for the 21st Century’ in its Amazon page listing.

Buy Small Great Things on Amazon

Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon: The Official Strategy Guide 

Almost everything you could ever want to know about a game seems to appear online instantaneously these days, but still official strategy guides continue to exist. These days, to be honest, I’d say its more about being a completist and have a nice, illustrated book about your favourite new game than it is actually hunting for hints and clues. Since Pokémon Sun and Moon are bound to bother the gaming charts this Christmas, expect this guide to do well too.

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The Princess Diarist

Here’s one that’s definitely on my Christmas list. Carrie Fisher has unearthed her diaries from the set of Star Wars, which apparently include “plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized.” Presumably with a few edits and additions, The Princess Diarist will let you look into Princess Leia’s head like never before. We already know how candid it is from the news stories doing the rounds, and given Carrie Fisher’s hilariousness we’d expect a lot of chuckles too.

Buy The Princess Diarist on Amazon

Young Frankenstein: The Story Of The Making Of The Film

November 24th is shaping up to be quite a day for film fans. As well as Carrie Fisher’s aforementioned diaries, we’ll also be getting a tome about Young Frankenstein from the pen of Mel Brooks, “all about the players, the filming, and studio antics during the production of this great comedy classic.” Judd Apatow wrote the introduction and Rebecca Keegan worked with the mighty Mr Brooks on the rest of it. It includes new interviews and “hundreds of images”. 

Buy Young Frankenstein: The Story Of Making The Film on Amazon

The Complete Book Of Gerry Anderson’s UFO

A revised and expanded edition of The Complete Book Of Gerry Anderson’s UFO is being released, making the previous edition seem far less ‘complete’ than advertised. Tut tut. Jokes aside, though, this is a treat of fans of Gerry Anderson’s first totally live-action TV series. The book comes as a hardcover in full colour, stuffed with episode guides and images from the ITV archives, allowing UFO lovers to experience the 1970s series afresh.

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Watchmen Collectors Edition Box Set 

Fans of Watchmen will already own at least one copy of Watchmen, but wouldn’t they love to upgrade to a Collectors Edition Box Set? This has been released to mark the 30th anniversary of Alan Moore’s dark superhero odyssey. If your old copy is getting a bit tatty, or you love the look of the box, or you fancy introducing someone else to Watchmen with a bit of tactical gift-giving… it might be worth putting this in your basket. 

Buy Watchmen Collectors Edition Boxset on Amazon

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 28

“Mega-City One is plagued by a group of rebelling Jimmy Dean clones, underground murder clubs, a Sexmek serial killer and a revenge-filled taxidermist, back from the grave and looking for justice!” What more could you want? This is the latest in a lengthy series of lush Judge Dredd reprint collections from John Wagner, which is the perfect stocking-filler for that person in your life who still hasn’t given up hope of seeing Dredd 2 in cinemas some day. (Sob.)

Buy Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 28 on Amazon

Paper Girls Volume 2

Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s Paper Girls comic – which won a ‘Best New Series’ Eisner Award not long ago – is all about Erin, Mac and Tiffany, three young women from 1988 who are plucked from their paper rounds to visit “a distant and terrifying future… the year 2016.” It’s a terrific read, with gorgeous art, and the second collection is out just in time for Chrimbo.

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Star Wars: Poe Dameron Volume 1

Wish that Oscar Isaac’s dashing pilot Poe Dameron was gracing cinema screens again this Christmas? This comic is the next best thing. These six issues follow Poe on another daring mission for General Leia Organa. He’s investigating sites of historical importance to the Force, and getting in all sorts of scrapes along the way. Phil Noto’s art is wonderful and the writer Charles Soule captures the essence of the characters very well.

Buy Star Wars: Poe Dameron Volume 1 on Amazon

Talking As Fast As I Can

Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls To Gilmore Girls, And Everything in Between is the autobiography of Lorelei Gilmore herself, the hilarious Lauren Graham. It promises “laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, ‘Did you, um, make it?’” By Christmas, Gilmore Girls fans will have run out of new episodes. This could help us get through.

Buy Talking As Fast As I Can on Amazon 

Tools Of Titans

How do you become a titan in your field? You just become a titan in your field. If you want more specific tips than that, Tools Of Titans could be for you. Here, compiling interviews from his podcast, Tim Ferriss distils the wisdom of super-sized successes in various industries, including Hollywood stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Foxx, world class athletes, special operations commanders and – surprisingly enough – a black market biochemist. 

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Released December 8th

Pinewood: The Story Of An Iconic Studio

A core part of the global film industry, nestled away in the English countryside – Pinewood is legendary, iconic and a cornerstone of our moviemaking world here in the UK. This book tells the story of the studio that has help tell so many others over the last eighty years, from James Bond to Stars Wars and Marvel, via Carry On. Fans of film will surely find plenty to sink their teeth into with this one. 

Buy Pinewood: The Story Of An Iconic Studio on Amazon 

Released December 13th

Vision Volume 2

You’ve seen Vision fight in Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. You’ve seen him wearing a dodgy jumper and attempting to cook. But you’ve never seen him like this. The Vision comics imagine a family of androids, all attempting to live normal suburban lives within the trappings of a paranoid thriller narrative. A must for Marvel fans who like their superheroes to have multiple dimensions and discernible emotions.

Buy Vision Volume 2 on Amazon or start at the beginning  

Released December 15th

Tomb Raider Archives Volume 1

“Join Lara as she fights against a shadowy organization intent on her destruction, faces the ultimate betrayal and uncovers legendary treasures.” If you missed her first comic book adventures when they hit shelves in 1999, you may want to check this out. With a glossy cover, colourful imagery and tense tales, fans of Lara Croft’s gaming and movie exploits can expand their fandom with this 15-part comic book collection.

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Released December 16th

Star Wars Rogue One – The Ultimate Visual Guide

Rebellions are built on hope, but fandom is built on knowing as much minutiae as possible about the things you love. That’s why we reckon that this book will go down a treat with fans as the latest cinematic story from the galaxy far, far away arrives on Earth this winter. The book describes itself as “an exciting reference format” guide, and if you don’t think “exciting reference format” is an oxymoron, you’re probably the target audience. 

Buy Star Wars Rogue One – The Ultimate Visual Guide on Amazon

The Art Of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Last year, The Force Awakens’ art book was an utter treat, compiling concept art both used and unused to pull together an idea of how the film was developed, from vague ideas to visual bombast and eventually the movie that cemented Star Wars’ position right back at the top of the pop culture pyramid. I for one will certainly be checking out The Art Of Rogue One in hope of some more intriguing insights.

Buy The Art Of Rogue One on Amazon

Released December 20th

DC Rebirth Omnibus

With Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad behind us, it’s time to look to the future of DC. On the big screen that means Wonder Woman, Justice League and Aquaman, but in the comics something even bigger is afoot: a page 1 rewrite of the DC universe occurred this year, and as of December 20th you’ll be able to own the book that started it all in chunky hardback form. Rebirth was an ambitious undertaking, and it could well impact the films in future. It’s well worth checking out. 

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Have a great Christmas, folks!