2020 Holiday Gift Guide – Books, Movies, Music – Part 1

Featured Gift Guide Products

We do love to be entertained. This is certainly a universal human trait, but it definitely holds true throughout the geek communities. Be it the fresh smell of paper, the rattle of a projector, or sweet musical notes, we have enough suggestions this year to fill two guides. Read on for our picks.


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Dbury@50: The Complete Digital Doonesbury Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Dbury@50: The Complete Digital Doonesbury
Suggested By: Jonathan H. Liu
Mfg: Andrews McMeel
Price: 125
Purchase: Dbury@50: The Complete Digital Doonesbury

This box set includes all 50 years of published Doonesbury strips on a flash drive, along with a “User Manual” that includes a summary of each year with an index of story arcs to help you find a specific strip. The manual also provides historical context for each year. The drive also has full biographies of 35 cast members (also depicted on the fold-out poster). This is a treasure trove of comics that has tracked the ups and downs of politics and current events for five decades and is still relevant now.


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CRaft Lab for Kids

Craft Lab for Kids: 52 DIY Projects to Inspire, Excite, and Empower Kids to Create Useful, Beautiful Handmade Goods
Suggested By: Mariana Ruiz
Mfg: Quarry Books
Price: 17.47
Purchase: Craft Lab for Kids: 52 DIY Projects to Inspire, Excite, and Empower Kids to Create Useful, Beautiful Handmade Goods

Stephanie Corfee is the author of several books on art and illustration, including Paint Lab for Kids, Fashion Design Workshop, Creative Doodling & Beyond, and Creative Illustration & Beyond. These 52 DIY projects will work wonders with your teens, inspiring them to do all kinds of entertaining things with a plus level. These are all things to wear, decorate with, and give. Bath bombs, jiggly soap, mandalas, hot pockets, clay charms, postcards, you name it, there’s a good and proven cool idea in this book to do and try. There are ideas to improve old stuff, for homemade projects, and for DIY self-care. There are just-for-fun projects and even 15 minute makes. I think this book came with a lot of thought about creativity. I distinctly remember that I wanted to spend my vacation just doing things, everything under the sun: I wanted to sew, to paint, to create something special every single day. This book is for that.


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Pounce!

Pounce! A How to Speak Cat Training Guide
Suggested By: Mariana Ruiz
Mfg: National Geographic
Price: 9.99
Purchase: Pounce! A How to Speak Cat Training Guide

Nat Geo has great and entertaining nonfiction books. I was surprised when I stumbled upon this one, though: you usually think that only dogs can be trained.
This is a very lengthy and fun guide, full of illustrations and examples. Whether you want to train your kitty to walk on a leash or wish to teach your cat to scratch a scratching post instead of the couch, there are steps here to guide you through it. With the help of veterinarian Dr. Gary Weitzman, your kids and you can learn all about basic training, corrective training, and tricks you can do with your cats. As usual in the Nat Geo series, you will find plenty of data inside the 180 pages of this paperback: famous trained cats, felines in ancient Egypt, cat language, and more. Perfect for families who are bringing home a kitten for the first time or just want to teach their longtime feline family member some new tricks.


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It’s D&D on the go!

2oz5E
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Brian Humphreys
Price: $14.95
Purchase: 2oz5E

Created by a game developer living near Atlanta, GA and originally launched via Kickstarter, 2oz5E is an ultra-compact revision of the Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition SRD (Systems Resource Documents). It’s a nicely stripped-down offering boasting four classes and races, 141 spells, 84 magic items, and 96 creatures, all seemingly inspired by the natural beauty of the Appalachian wilderness and perfectly-sized to fit in your trail pack, travel bag, or carry-on. (Review materials provided by Brian Humphreys.)


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The perfect starting place for new D&D gamers.

The Young Adventurer’s Collection
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Ten Speed Press
Price: $25.18
Purchase: The Young Adventurer’s Collection

The Young Adventurer’s Collection takes the first four volumes in this excellent series for D&D beginners—Monsters & Creatures, Warriors & Weapons, Dungeons & Tombs, and Wizards & Spells—and combines them in one perfect package. Presented as four slim paperbacks in a cardboard slipcase, it delivers all the gorgeous art, inspiring prose, and old-style fantasy of Dungeons & Dragons without any of that messy math. If you have a young (or not-so-young) would-be adventurer on your gift list, this is the perfect place to start their journey into the Forgotten Realms. (Review materials provided by Random House.)


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For hypebeasts and hobbyists alike.

Complex Presents: Sneaker of the Year: The Best Since ’85
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Complex Media
Price: $28.49
Purchase: Complex Presents: Sneaker of the Year: The Best Since ’85

The ideal coffee-table book is one that visitors pick up out of sheer curiosity but then can’t put down. Sneaker of the Year: The Best Since ’85 is just such an example. Written as much for the hardcore sneakerhead as it is for the wholly uninitiated—read: anyone who enjoyed the “Sneakers” episode of The World According to Jeff Goldblum—it charts the development of sneaker culture from the iconic 1985 release of Nike’s Air Jordan 1 to the rise of the Yeezy, spotlighting the art and design of this streetwear staple in a way that only the voices of Complex can. (Review materials provided by Abrams Books.)


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Explore the fascinating tale of creation behind one of fantasy’s most enduring properties.

The Complete History of Middle-Earth
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Christopher Tolkien
Price: $147.56
Purchase: The Complete History of Middle-Earth

Some gifts are sure to please anyone on your list, while others have a very specific appeal. The Complete History of Middle-Earth boxed set, for example, isn’t for just any Tolkien fan; it’s for the Stephen Colbert-style uber-enthusiast that already knows their Silmarils from their Sauron and Saruman! This special collector’s edition presents all twelve volumes charting the creation of Middle-Earth as we know it—much of it cribbed from Tolkien’s own notes and obscure early drafts—into three massive hardbacks totaling more than 5,000 pages. Exploring the development of the languages, landscapes, and lore of Middle-Earth, it’s a stunning look at J.R.R. Tolkien’s creative process lovingly (and extensively) compiled by his son Christopher. (Review materials provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.)


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Images: Chronicle Books

Mythos and Heroes by Stephen Fry: The Greek Myths Reimagined
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Mfg: Chronicle Books
Price: $18-22
Purchase: Mythos’ and ‘Heroes’ by Stephen Fry: The Greek Myths Reimagined

In this pair of books filled with masterful story re-telling, Stephen Fry educates and entertains us with traditional Greek myths, both the familiar and the more obscure. With his signature wit and an attention to detail, any lover of Greek myths (or Stephen Fry) will find something to enjoy here. Read my reviews of Mythos and Heroes.


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Images: Chronicle Chroma

Mid-Century Modern Women in the Visual Arts
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Mfg: Chronicle Chroma
Price: $24.95
Purchase: Mid-Century Modern Women in the Visual Arts

This new, inspiring anthology profiles 25 different creative and impactful women from the mid-century era who excelled in art, design, or fashion. This book captures the style and flavor of each woman’s contribution to the creative world, along with a meaningful quote to inspire readers. The back of the book includes short biographies. Even well-versed mid-century lovers may discover a new (to them), inspiring artist. Read my full review.


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Image: Chronicle Books

Pride and Prejudice, with Actual Letters
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Mfg: Chronicle Books
Price: $27.87
Purchase: Pride and Prejudice, with Actual Letters

Because lovers of Jane Austen can’t have too many versions of her novels and other references (not sarcasm), a new, more immersive version of Pride and Prejudice has been published that includes 19 actual, physical letters that readers can take out of sleeves at just the right moments in the story. Unfold the meticulously styled letters and read words written by the fictional hands of Jane Bennet, Caroline Bingley, Mr. Collins, and, of course, Mr. Darcy. Read my full review.

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