2015 Holiday Gift Guide: #2 Books

Books, a near universal passion of geeks everywhere. These magical tomes can transport us to forgotten realms, teach us a new trade, or encourage thought. It matters little if you prefer the smell of freshly printed ink or the glow of an e-book, as it is the contents of the book that hold the value.

As GeekDads we have spent countless hours reading for ourselves and our kids, and sometimes we like a book well enough to recommend it to our readers. Below we feature some of our favorite books that we’ve discovered this year. Many of these have been, or soon will be, reviewed on GeekDad or GeekMom.


The Art of Dave Seeley

David Seeley is a talented illustrator of fantasy and science fiction. Some of my favorite works can be seen on many Star Wars book covers. Seeley has also contributed to many other properties, including Halo, Battlestar Galactica, and Aliens vs. Predator. He uses a unique mix of digital photography and illustration to bring the characters to life. This coffee table book covers much of Seeley’s career and includes over 200 images. You can get a sneak peak of some of these images on Amazon.

Made by: Insight Editions
Price: $35
Available at: The Art of Dave Seeley
Submitted by: Anton


Monster ABC

Monster ABC is our favorite new family book this year. Not only is the artwork amazing, but the rhymes for each letter make this a great, infinitely re-readable alphabet book. My two-year-old son can actually “read” the entire book–he loves it so much he’s actually memorized all 26 pages. Read my review, read an interview I did with the creators, or listen to my son and I read it together on our podcast. You definitely don’t want to pass up the best alphabet book out there.

Made by: Hazy Dell Press
Price: $14.00
Available at: Monster ABC
Submitted by: Will James


Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

The latest visual guide from DK features a wealth of information about the Star Wars universe, covering everything (well, everything that’s still canon, anyway) from droids to characters to weapons and more, up to and including The Force Awakens. It’s richly illustrated, is chock-full of both in-universe and real-life facts, and is a must have for any serious Star Wars fan.

Made by: DK Children
Price: $11.21
Available at: Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
Submitted by: Rob Huddleston


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The Lego Architect

In The Lego Architect, Tom Alphin gives lessons on the history and function of different styles. Each section also features pictures of classic examples of that type. From the Robie House to the Salk Institute, the pictures bring the best of each style to light. Each style is then followed by between one and four builds for you to bring to life with your personal LEGO collection. The reader will find the content to be easily digested, and instructions easy to follow. Each section builds on the last leaving the reader with a greater understanding of architecture. The last chapter even addresses how to use LEGO bricks in new and creative ways, encouraging the reader to stretch their creativity with their own builds. The LEGO Architect is a great gift for novice and experienced builders alike.

Made by: No Starch Press
Price: $24.95
Available at: The Lego Architect
Submitted by: Rory Bristol


Dewey Mac Maker Mysteries: Dog Gone Dog

Dewey McClain is a typical 12 year old. He’s in the sixth grade, is annoyed by his sister, and still thinks girls are gross. Dewey Mac, as he p efers, is a lover of all things science, math, and maker. Together with his friend Ched they form the AKA (Awesome Kid Agency) and sleuth their way around town solving cromes. Follow along as they set out to solve a dognapping case which quickly turns serious. In addition to reading ab out Dewey’s inventions, you can play along at home and build the very tools Dewey does. Complete plans are printed in the back of the book.

Made by: Mascot Books
Price: $15.00
Available at: Dewey Mac Maker Mysteries: Dog Gone Dog
Submitted by: Anton


The Complete Alice

This 150th anniversary edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There is absolutely gorgeous, inside and out. It has an embossed hardcover, gilded edges, and a red ribbon bookmark. Inside are Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations in full color, reproduced from original artwork from the Macmillan archives, plus a story about the creation and publication of Alice.

Made by: Henry Holt and Company
Price: $40.00
Available at: The Complete Alice
Submitted by: Jonathan H. Liu


Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton

Photojournalism at its best, Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories 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 a story.

Made by: St. Martin’s Press
Price: About $17 each
Available at: Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
Submitted by: Jenny Bristol


Hunter

Ever wish The Hunger Games had more mythological monsters and dragons? Are you burnt out on YA dystopia and are convinced that you’ve seen it all? Well how about a teen heroine that can wield magic against a host of beasts ripped from the nearest D&D Bestiary, plus summon a pack of hellhounds to do her bidding? Joyeaux Charmand is the titular Hunter of the first book of Mercedes Lackey’s latest YA trilogy. It’s through her that we get to see a far-flung future dystopia where all of our imagined monsters have become real, ripped through into our reality, and have nearly destroyed human life as we know it. Summoned to the capital, she learns that she and a chosen few other hunters are celebrities, carefully packaged to a populace that is constantly being distracted from the inevitable fate that surrounds their shielded central city. Hunter is a breakneck middle-age read that mixes magic, monsters, social posturing, secret agendas, and lots of carnage to craft the first book in what is the most entertaining dystopian series I’ve read since Hugh Howey’s Dust. My only issue is having to wait for the next book.

Made by: Disney Hyperion
Price: $9.00
Available at: Hunter
Submitted by: Anthony Karcz


The Art of World of Warcraft

Following the 20th anniversary of the Warcraft universe, Blizzard released The Art of World of Warcraft. This collection includes hundreds of sketches, concept drawings, and articles discussing the Warcraft universe. Normally, editions of The Art of World of Warcraft are reserved for collectors’ editions of the expansions. This time, however, Blizzard released a stand-alone edition focused on the whole world, rather than on an expansion. Upon opening, the book launches the reader into a vibrant and bold trip through Azeroth. With sections for each of the five expansions, the art and interviews tell the stories of Warcraft heroes as they unfold from “vanilla” to Lords of Draenor. The reader is privileged with the opportunity to hear from developers and designers as they reveal the goals, stories, and emotions behind the art for each part of the development of Azeroth. The Art of World of Warcraft is a great gift for any of the millions of W.o.W. players.

Made by: Blizzard
Price: $28.00
Available at: The Art of World of Warcraft
Submitted by: Rory Bristol


National Geographic Kids Guide to Photography

National Geographic Kids Guide to Photography: Tips & Tricks on How to Be a Great Photographer From the Pros & Your Pals at My Shot by Nancy Honovich, with photos and commentary from National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths, is a perfect little book to help any budding photographer hit the ground running. Including topics such as how a camera works, different camera types, photo editing, and composition and lighting, Guide to Photography covers everything you would want in a beginner photography book. Don’t let the name of this book fool you, though. It may have been written for kids, but the information contained within is valuable for new photographers of any age.

Made by: National Geographic
Price: $10.77
Available at: National Geographic Kids Guide to Photography
Submitted by: Randy Slavey


Assassin’s Creed: The Complete Visual History

Assassin’s Creed: The Complete Visual History is a must have book for any AC fan. For starters, the book is absolutely gorgeous. It also gives readers tons of behind the scenes details about every game in the series along with a bunch of never before seen art. If someone on your shopping list is an AC fan like me, they will love getting a copy of this book. Check out my full review for more details.

Made by:
Price: $60.00
Available at: Assassin’s Creed: The Complete Visual History
Submitted by: Will James


The Walking Dead: The Pop-Up Book

One of the seasonal items I got an early peek at during this year’s Halloween coverage was The Walking Dead: The Pop-Up Book. This totally unlikely and surprisingly engaging take on AMC’s acclaimed horror series is now available at retail, and it’s an easy way to please to the Walking Dead fan on your list. With masterfully articulated vignettes spanning Rick’s escape from the hospital to the Governor’s assault on the prison, it allows readers to relive many of the show’s pivotal moments. It’s a perfect, unexpected gift for horror lovers. (Review materials provided by: Insight Editions)

Made by: Insight Editions
Price: $65.00
Available at: The Walking Dead: The Pop-Up Book
Submitted by: Z.


Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition

My family already owns two sets of the Harry Potter series–the original US hardcovers and the anniversary edition with covers by Kazu Kibuishi–but it looks like we’re going to start collecting a third. This gorgeous new edition features watercolor illustrations by Jim Kay throughout the book, both in spot illustrations and full-page bleeds. It’s a big, oversized book, all the better to showcase the artwork, and is sure to delight the Harry Potter fans in your life.

Made by: Arthur A. Levine
Price: $39.99
Available at: Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition
Submitted by: Jonathan H. Liu


LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes

LEGO and Star Wars. They go together kind of like peanut butter and jelly. DK has been on a roll recently with their Star Wars books, and this one is no exception. The book is basically exactly what the title promises. It retells the first six films in the Star Wars saga through 100 scenes reenacted in LEGO bricks. The book is divided into six roughly equal sections – one for each film. Enhancing each scene are dialogue balloons (with the trademark LEGO humor) and callouts that identify random factoids about both Star Wars and LEGO. C-3PO also acts as your guide, providing a sort of running commentary on almost every scene. Perfect for any Star Wars or LEGO fan who just can’t get enough awesome in his or her life.

Made by: DK Publishing
Price: $18.99
Available at: LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes
Submitted by: Jamie Greene


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.

Made by: Plume
Price: $10.10
Available at: Poorly Drawn Lines: Good Ideas and Amazing Stories by Reza Farazmand
Submitted by: Jenny Bristol


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.

Made by: Chronicle Books
Price: $26.33
Available at: Lists of Note: An Eclectic Collection Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher
Submitted by: Jenny Bristol


Ellie

When Walt the zookeeper tells the animals that the zoo must close, they all pitch in to tidy up their home. Ellie wants to help, but she’s not tall, strong, or clever like her friends. Dejected, she decides to ask Walt to give her a job, too. That’s where Ellie discovers a most peculiar object and a hidden talent of her own that just might be the key to saving the zoo. Ellie is filled with beautiful and expressive illustrations reminiscent of the Reys or Maurice Sendak, making it a great book for pre-readers through adults. Even in my house, where there’s not a reader under 12, we all finished the book quickly, then flipped back through it again, admiring the artwork.

Made by: Disney-Hyperion
Price: $12.28
Available at: Ellie
Submitted by: Randy Slavey


Star Trek Pop-Ups

I’m consistently amazed by “paper engineers.” They’re truly unsung heroes who exist at the intersection of the art and publishing worlds. In this book, Courtney Watson McCarthy’s amazing pop-ups are married to the Star Trek universe and include the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, a Klingon Bird of Prey, the iconic pile of tribbles from the original series, a Borg cube, Deep Space Nine, the Fortress of Doom (from season 5 of Voyager, and the Enterprise NX-01. Accompanying these seven pop-ups are photos and text by Trek veterans Paula Block and Terry Erdmann, providing some basic contextual information (about the original series and films, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. Even though it’s an oversized hardcover, I think this book could still qualify as a “stocking stuffer.” Especially for a devoted Trek fan.

Made by: Thames & Hudson
Price: $29.95
Available at: Star Trek Pop-Ups
Submitted by: Jamie Greene


The Art of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

Gamers are harder to shop for than you’d think. (Does she already have this game? Does he even like this series? Did they say they had an Xbox One or a PS4?) If you’re looking for a gift for a friend or family member that’s also a lover of Capcom’s Ace Attorney franchise, though, a new book from Udon Entertainment definitely hits the mark. Compiling all of the amazing art of the quirky 2013 download-only Nintendo 3DS title–from pre-production sketches to the final in-game designs–The Art of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is 240 pages of pin-ups, storyboards, and character profiles.

Made by: Udon Entertainment
Price: $44.99
Available at: The Art of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
Submitted by: Z.

I am a maker of things and an aficionado of loud and heavy live music.