Geekdad Holiday Gift Guide #2 — Books, Chapter One

Books Geek Culture Gift Guide

We sat down to come up with a list of our favorite books and we ended up with a pretty long list. In fact, it was so long we had to break it into two parts (look for chapter two tomorrow). Who would’ve thought a bunch of geeks would’ve been passionate about books? This guide includes selections from Nathan Barry (NB), Erik Wecks (EW), Jonathan Liu (JL), Corrina Lawson (CL), Jenny Williams (JW), Curtis Silver (CS), John Baichtal (JWB), James Floyd Kelly (JFK), and me (DB). If you missed earlier gift guides, you can find them here.

The Complete Calvin & Hobbes in Paperback

There are many days I miss the adventures of Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes. It’s hard to believe the two have been gone for darn near twenty years. However, I can still revisit the two in The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, an anthology cataloging all of their wonderfully imagined flights of fancy, that has just been released in paperback. It’s four volumes instead of the three in hardcover, but still delivers every single panel in almost 1500 pages of pure, unadulterated fun — and it’s all protectively tucked away in a nice heavy-duty slipcase. Buy it at Amazon. (DB)

Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun

Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun is an activity book for children aged 8 and up. It’s over 350 beautifully designed and illustrated pages encourage kids to use their natural curiosity and skills to be creative and to try to change the world. Activities include science experiments, crafts, upcycling, board game hacking, code-cracking, geocaching, by famous contributors from places like Etsy, MAKE magazine, BoingBoing and more. Look out for a full review as soon as my copy arrives! Buy it at Amazon. (NB)

From Elvish to Klingon

If you’re looking for a good overview of geeky languages, both fictional and spoken, this book is an excellent choice. It will fascinate the linguist in you, or give you a head start learning your favorite invented language. Read the GeekDad review here, or buy it at Amazon. (JW)

Wool Omnibus

Hugh Howey is the breakout indie author of the year. His book Wool sold well over 100,000 copies between October 2011 and March of 2012. Wool explores the lives of 10,000 people living in an industrial sized silo hundreds of years after the atmosphere was poisoned. It is a tale about the hardwired human need to expand our horizons and explore the world around us. It also takes seriously the conflict and dangers which arise from our innate sense of hope and curiosity. Well written, tense, and immensely satisfying Howey’s Wool Omnibus will be considered a classic of science fiction many years in the future. Wool Omnibus is available on Amazon. The GeekDad review can be found here along with an interview with Howey. (EW)

Constellation GamesConstellation Games

Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson

Constellation Games is a novel of first contact with aliens, but it’s unlike any first contact stories you’ve read. Told by a 30-something videogame blogger, it’s a hilarious yet astute observation on human behavior in the face of the truly alien. To get you started, you can read the first two chapters for free. Go to Candlemark & Gleam’s website to read the free preview and get your subscription, or order it from Amazon. Read the full review here. (JL)

Dinah of Seneca

An alternate history set in 900 AD where Romans and Vikings have colonized North America, the story follows Dinah, a former Roman slave trained as a spy and assassin as she tries to save her new home from an attack by the Native American tribes. Forming an alliance with the Vikings is the only way but

doing so also asks Dinah to give up her dream of ever being accepted into Roman society. Written by GeekMom Senior Editor Corrina Lawson. Buy it at Amazon. (CL)

The Unofficial Lego Technic Builder’s Guide

I just spent the last year up to my neck in Lego’s robotics platform, Technic — Lego for big kids and grownups who want to build robots and machines. Part of the challenge was building assemblies from scratch; learning, for instance, how to build a steering mechanism for a car. This book, written by Technic builder Pawel “Sariel” Kmiec, is all about those mechanisms. With everything from gears to levers, transmissions, pneumatics, couplings, suspensions, and so on. There’s more, of course; Sariel provides diverse explanations of Technic parts as well as mechanical principles. The Technic Builder’s Guide provides an amazing amount of information on power building techniques, all in really beautiful color. Buy it from Amazon. [JWB]

The United States Constitution: A Round Table Comic

Unless you are familiar with the musical 1776, you might possibly think that studying how the United States Constitution came about would be dry and boring. But if comics are your thing, this telling of an important piece of history is very interesting. The participants from the time take you on the journey of the creation of the foundation of our country. Read the GeekDad review here, or buy it at Amazon. (JW)

Amazing Things Will Happen

This is not a self-help book. Written by Digital Dads founder and modern day renaissance man C.C. Chapman, this book is full of straightforward advice from a geekdad who loves what he does. With a passion for the creative and a need to constantly move forward, C.C. has filled Amazing Things Will Happen with anecdotes from his life, interview from peers across industries and a fulfilling sense of do-goodness and feel-goodness. The Kindle version (printed version on the way) is already available at (CS)

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

It starts with a young unemployed art major stumbling upon a 24-hour bookstore that he’s sure is a front for something … and then dives deep into a rabbit hole that leads to code-breaking, Google, and an old D&D-like role-playing game. It’s an ode to books, both digital and analog, and you won’t want it to end. Read the full review here, or click here to purchase. (JL)

Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind The Hat

It’s well known that Dr. Seuss created dozens of well-known children’s books that appealed to kids of all ages. What has remained a bit of a secret is that, in the evening, Ted Geisel liked to get surreal. What he called his “midnight paintings” are an impressive collection that extends beyond the bounds of how we all think of the doctor. This book compares the midnight paintings to his commercial work and how the two intertwined. He was fiercely protective of his secret art during his lifetime, cautious of criticism and intending for these secretive works to be seen when he was gone. That time is now. Buy it at Amazon. (DB)

Mr. Gum Collection

Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum books are great fun for kids and parents alike. They’re simple enough that 7 year olds can read them, but also full of crazy characters for us parents to give voices to as well. Heroine Polly (whose full name would use up my entire allotment of words) and her friends, including Alan Taylor (a gingerbread man with electric muscles) and Friday O’Leary (catchphrase: “The truth is a lemon meringue”), must strive to save the town of Lamonic Bibber from the evil plans of Mr Gum and Billy William The Third. They’re chock full of silly jokes, funny songs and scribbly illustrations and will have you laughing out loud over and over again. Buy it at Amazon. (NB)

Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games

Want your kids to learn how to program? The best way is to give them a copy of Super Scratch Adventures. It’s difficult to over-emphasize how fun and addicting Scratch is for kids. It’s is a visual programming language that teaches the principles of coding to children, while entertaining them. It also teaches collaboration skills and creative thinking.

And the book itself grabs kids immediately. I showed it to my two youngest kids, separately, and both reacting the same way: each kid paged through the book raptly, then ran to his or her computer to download Scratch from MIT — It’s free and works even on older computers. Scratch is a great way to get your kids to learn programming basics (they suggest 8+ but my 7-year-old likes it) and the book only reinforces this with fun comics and activities. Buy it from Amazon. [JWB]

Firefly — A Celebration

Firefly: A Celebration: It’s Firefly’s 10th anniversary, and Titan Books has released a hardbound compilation of essays, scripts, interviews, short stories, and much more, all in a full-color, 500+ page book that belongs on every Firefly fan’s bookshelf. It’s full of behind-the-scenes stuff, prop and costume closeups, and more photos of the cast and crew (both in front of the camera and behind) than any fan has ever seen in one place. If you’re a Firefly fan or know one, this is one of those books that will be sought after years from now as the definitive guide to the show. Read the full review here or buy it at Amazon. (JFK)

Sorry Please Thank You - Charles YuSorry Please Thank You - Charles Yu

Sorry Please Thank You by Charles Yu

Charles Yu followed up his meta-sci-fi novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe with a collection of short stories, Sorry Please Thank You. The stories range from sci-fi to just plain weird, but they’re all geeky. Click here for the full review of the book, or here to read an interview with Charles Yu. Sorry Please Thank You is available from Amazon. (JL)

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