Books are the closest thing to real magic we have. They can teach you a new skill, entertain your mind, or even transport you to another world. No matter your taste, there is something for everyone. Read on for a list of books that we think worthy of a recommendation.
If Harry Potter fans are on your shopping list this year, consider one of three new Harry Potter-themed books from Insight Editions. Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Guide to Hogwarts takes a literal peek into Hogwarts itself and all around the grounds. It includes details galore, and the whole thing unfolds to display the entirety of Hogwarts’ grounds, all at once.
Harry Potter: Creatures: A Paper Scene Book opens up to show several detailed three-dimensional paper scenes that bring to life creatures from the Harry Potter universe. In addition, it includes more drawings of the creatures, information and quotes from the books, and behind-the-scenes facts. It’s all gorgeous to look at.
Harry Potter: Imagining Hogwarts: A Beginner’s Guide to Moviemaking is the perfect gift for any Harry Potter lover who enjoys acting out scenes themselves, and is interested in making their own mini Harry Potter-themed movie. The book actually includes many props that will help young moviemakers implement their vision, instructions and guidance for how to put a movie together, and worksheets to use to get it all organized. Read my GeekDad review of these three books from earlier this year to learn more and see what they look like inside.
Get your child learning the art of mindfulness and meditation with fun activities that will help them calm down, manage stress, and achieve a peaceful mind. Tracy Daniel makes it fun for kids to learn by breaking it down to its core basics and bringing in things that kids can relate to and putting it on their level.
The League of Regrettable Sidekicks: Heroic Helpers from Comic Book History! by Jon Morris
Suggested By: Dakster Sullivan
Mfg: Quirk Books
Purchase: The League of Regrettable Sidekicks: Heroic Helpers from Comic Book History! by Jon Morris
Ever wonder about the many sidekicks of your favorite superheroes that went to the wayside? Jon Morris his here to tell you all about them. Learn about Green Lantern’s partner, “Itty,” and Jaxxon from Star Wars #8. He takes you on a journey through The Golden Age of comics up to The Modern Age.
New Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Softcover Editions
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Purchase: New Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Softcover Editions
If you’re looking for a softcover edition of the Harry Potter series, or you need a second set of books just because, this is a great year to be on the hunt. The new 20th anniversary editions of each of the Harry Potter books were released earlier this year and include gorgeous new cover images done by Brian Selznick. Put them all together in order and they create a large, detailed, integrated image that more or less tells the entire story. They are now my favorite Harry Potter book art. The images include so much detail, and these lighter-weight books are easier to carry around than the traditional hardbacks. The books can be purchased individually or as a box set. Read my GeekDad review from earlier this year.
Kid Scientists: True Tales of Childhood from Science Superstars
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Mfg: Quirk Books
Purchase: Kid Scientists: True Tales of Childhood from Science Superstars
A perfect book for kids who love science, Kid Scientists takes us back to the childhoods of many famous scientists, such as Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, and Nikola Tesla. We learn about their origins and the kinds of obstacles, successes, and adventures they had when they were young that started them off on the road to becoming grown-up scientists. The people chosen to include in the book were picked with diversity in mind, including gender, period in history, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds. And if your kids like this book, check out the other books in the Kid Legends series. Read my GeekDad review from earlier this year.
National Parks of the USA by Kate Siber explores each of the USA’s 59 national parks one by one, showcasing their heritage, geology, ecology, and more. The parks are introduced one by one and each park receives two double-page spreads. The first double-page spread showcases a stunning illustration by Chris Turnham and the second covers facts such as the year it was founded and how many acres it covers, as well as information on what you’ll find there such as plants and animals, the park’s geology and landscape, archaeology, weather, current issues, and man-made history. National Parks of the USA made me want to jump on a plane and head off on a trip to visit all 59 parks!
Retro Games: Profiling the Best Titles From the Golden Age of Gaming
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Marty Allen
Purchase: Retro Games: Profiling the Best Titles From the Golden Age of Gaming
Full disclosure: I’ve been friends with Marty Allen (of Uncle Monsterface fame) for more than a decade now, and every time he has a new project, he’s always more than happy to share it with me. After his previous books on subjects as diverse as sock puppets and emojis, I was thrilled to see that his latest, at last, tackled his longtime passion, classic video games. At a tidy 64 pages, Retro Games: Profiling the Best Titles From the Golden Age of Gaming isn’t exactly a deep dive, but it’s a wonderfully enjoyable 10,000-foot view of the history of the contemporary gaming console. From the NES to the PlayStation, it outlines not only the games that made your favorite systems great, but also the technological advances (and, often, the clever marketing-speak) that helped differentiate them from both their forerunners and the distinguished competition. Perfect for the longtime gamer, hardware hobbyist, or even the more discriminating youngster on your gift list, Retro Games is a veritable love letter to our shared indoor electronic exploits.
Whether it’s selections from his Books of Adam webcomic or his lengthy “Dear David” creepypasta, chances are the work of Adam Ellis has made its way across your social media feed at some point. This latest collection by the NYC-based illustrator and Buzzfeed alumnus pulls together many of his most biographical comics into a single slim volume. Clever, surreal, and relatable—especially if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or a particularly demanding house cat—Super Chill is a quick read that’s easy to love and even more fun to share. So much so, in fact, that the unexpected copy his publisher had delivered to my front porch has already made its way through my friends and immediate family and has just started circulating my workplace.
This thesaurus of characters in “a galaxy far, far away” highlights the full range of female characters from the Star Wars franchise, not just the films. Characters as niche as Lyra Erso and Mama the Hut are found in the pages between memorable dames such as Maz Kanata and Rey. Characters brought to life in the side films such as Qi’ra and L3-37 are featured with characters we know best from novels including Rae Sloane, making this one of the most expansive guides to characters throughout the Star Wars franchise.
What makes this a truly great gift, though, is the character analysis included for each person. Backgrounds, catch phrases, motivations, mistakes, and victories are painted in prose alongside beautiful illustrations of each character. The tome brings the characters to life in a visceral way. Whether you’re trying to inspire greatness in a young one, or foster understanding of the greater universe, Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy is the perfect gift for most any age.
Also see: Sophie’s review of the book on GeekMom!
The LEGO BOOST Idea Book: 95 Simple Robots and Hints for Making More!
Suggested By: Rory Bristol
Mfg: No Starch Press
Purchase: The LEGO BOOST Idea Book: 95 Simple Robots and Hints for Making More!
This inspirational guide to taking your BOOST to the next level is a must-have for owners of the LEGO BOOST building set. Whether you’re constructing a functional (and powerful) decorative fan, or drawing Spirograph-style, this manual gives you general build instructions and detailed steps for coding inside the LEGO BOOST app.
For novice BOOST users, the 95-part guide helps you explore the possibilities of the BOOST platform. For experienced builders and BOOST programmers, there is plenty of content to inspire creative new builds and stretch their imagination with original builds from the clever mind of Yoshihito Isogawa, author of an entire collection of LEGO books also published through No Starch Press.
It’s entirely possible that the solution to surviving the Holiday Season is coffee. Now you can learn everything you need to know about your morning pick-me-up. The World Atlas of Coffee takes you through the coffee making process from the planting and processing of the bean to brewing and how to make the perfect espresso.
With a full breakdown of the world’s 35 coffee producing nations, this atlas will ensure you know how to tell your Burundi beans from those grown in Bolivia. The World Atlas of Coffee is the perfect gift for that person in your life who takes their coffee seriously, or is looking to take their caffeinated drinks to the next level.
I’ve reviewed many books this year for my Word Wednesday reviews. But the pick of them all, I think, is Absolutely Everything: A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things too Numerous to Mention.
This book makes the absorption of information an enthralling process. The effusive text is engaging from start to finish. It’s the perfect gift to spark curious minds, encouraging readers to not only think about what happened throughout history, but why events happened that way too. Absolutely Everything is an excellent book. It’s the perfect antidote to festive console fatigue. For a full review of the book, see my review at GeekDad.
Nick Harkaway imagines a world with a nearly perfect surveillance state, in which citizens are monitored and behavior is automatically analyzed so that many crimes are prevented before they happen. But in this seeming utopia, there are some deeper problems lurking just below the surface. It was one of my favorite novels this year (see this Stack Overflow for a lengthier examination of it) and is coming out in paperback just in time for the holidays.