It’s one of the last remaining universal truths: Books are never bad presents.
We here at Den of Geek love giving and getting all sorts of books…during the holidays and year round. While our inner-Luddite has come around to the pleasure of digital reading, there is still nothing as aesthetically pleasing as turning the pages on a great volume. This holiday season sees the launch of all sorts of can’t miss tomes for the geek in your life. Then again, there’s no shame in treating yourself while buying books for others. After all, you’ve been good this year!
Here’s a rundown of 2018’s must-have geekcentric books:
Every year is a year to celebrate Star Wars, and 2018 is no different. Delight the Star Wars geek in your life with this beautifully-illustrated book featuring 75 profiles of some of the women from the Star Wars universe, including the films, fiction, comics, animation, and games. Characters featured include: Leia Organa, Rey, Ahsoka Tano, Iden Versio, Jyn Erso, Rose Tico, and Maz Kanata.
Each profile includes key story beats, fresh insights, and behind-the-scenes details, which means this is not only good for the Star Wars fan who knows everything about this universe, but for the more casual fan looking to get into the world or even for a future Star Wars fan you are cunningly trying to convert so you can nerd out about Star Wars together. You’re welcome.
The Making of Planet of the Apes
Well they did it. They finally did it. No, not blow up the Earth (yet!), but rather Harper Collins has released the definitive book chronicling the creation of one of the best-loved science fiction films of all-time. Written by J.W. Rinzler (whose behind-the-scenes chronicles of the original Star Wars trilogy should earn a place on every self-respecting nerd’s bookshelf) The Making of Planet of the Apes charts the difficulties 20th Century Fox had in translating Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel to the big screen and into pop culture infamy through an insanely researched volume that is just as compelling as the feature itself. Our fingers are crossed for future volumes chronicling the saga’s various sequels.
Buy The Making of Planet of the Apes
The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid
We all know that holiday gift-giving tends to be all about the kids in your life. This explorer’s guide featuring profiles on countries all around the world is the perfect gift for the child in your life who nerds out about geography and cultures. (We all know one… many of us have been one.)
Billed as “a thrilling expedition to 100 of the most surprising, mysterious, and weird-but-true places on earth,” The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid takes its readers to a 355-foot waterfall in Zambia, to Antarctica’s Blood Falls, and through ice caves in Argentina and Austria. You might not be able to actually zipline with your kid through rainforests, but this book is the next best thing until you do get there.
Buy The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid
The League of Regrettable Sidekicks
Look, not everyone can be a Robin or Jimmy Olsen. With that in mind comes Jon Morris’ The League of Regrettable Sidekicks. Following up his previous works (The League of Regrettable Superheroes and The League of Regrettable Supervillains), this time around Morris sets his comedic sights on second and third tier associates like Thor’s pal Volstagg the Voluminous and Little Archie‘s off-abused pal Little Ambrose. While most of these characters are lovable — if downright forgotten — would-be assistants, others are absolute oddballs like Plastic Man’s trouble-prone pal Woozy Winks who are captivating footnotes in comic book history.
Buy The League of Regrettable Sidekicks
Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down
If you’re anything like everyone else on the planet, then you’re desperately awaiting the arrival of more Stranger Things content. This book is not a new season, but it’s still pretty darn awesome. The official behind-the-scenes companion to the Netflix show’s first two seasons, it includes concept art, original commentary from Matt and Ross Duffer, interviews with the cast, and some of the earliest pitches and story drafts from the show’s start.
The kicker? It’s all delivered in the form of a “used” book, which means the book itself is distressed to look like it has been around for awhile. This may strike you as the most millennial thing yet, but, for me, it makes the book not only a fascinating deep dive into this iconic show, but also a physical object that adds to your bookshelf, coffee table, or wherever else you (or your present-receiver) may want to lay this thing down and wait for friends to excitedly discover it. Oh yeah, and it includes some sneak peaks into season three!
The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine
Be seeing you! Earlier this year, Titan did comic fans and cult TV obsessives a solid by publishing an artist’s edition of a failed attempt by Marvel to bring The Prisoner to comic books in the 1970s that featured art by Jack Kirby and Gil Kane. It was a fascinating experiment, and one we wish had come to fruition. Eventually the series — ostensibly about a secret agent who resigns and subsequently finds himself in the mysterious Village, although it explores much bigger issue — was given a DC Comics sequel as 1988’s The Prisoner: Shattered Visage
mini-series. While by no means a failure, the book largely ignored the show’s bonkers finale and thus wasn’t fully satisfying. The same can’t be said of Titan Comics’ current The Prisoner series, an audacious contemporary take on the story that succeeds in all the ways that the regrettable AMC remake of a few years back failed. The first four issues of writer Peter Milligan and artist Colin Lorimer new take on the saga are collected in The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine. Having the thankless task of trying to put their own stamp on Patrick McGoohan’s allegorical tale, the duo offers up a story rich with interesting new characters and the sort of mindfucks you’d come to expect from The Prisoner. In other words, it’s great stuff.
Buy The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine
The Phantom of Eternia
For the past decade, a performer in Philadelphia named Carmen Martella III has been hosting a monthly karaoke night/comedy show. While this seems like a fairly ordinary occurance, there is a deliciously nerdy catch–he does so in the guise of an over-the-top spoof of Skeletor. This leads to such madcap fun as the performances being more Gong Show then anything (for example, attempting to sing “My Way” will earn you an instant booting off the stage). Adding to the insanity, ‘Skeletor’ peppers each event with his own custom song parodies, such as an evil take on Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” in which he sings the praises of, well, poisioning the audience. One Skeletor Karaoke devotee is Kelly Phillips. Part of the all-girl comic art anthology collective Dirty Diamonds, Phillips is a bona-fide nerd whose Weird Me explores her Weird Al Yankovic fandom. In The Phantom of Eternia, she presents a compelling story about friendship and singing terrible songs in public that will forever change the way you think about both karaoke and Masters of the Universe.
Buy The Phantom of Eternia
Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction
Tor.com celebrates its tenth anniversary with this anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror from its first ten years as one of the go-to places for speculative fiction shorts. Edited by Irene Gallo and including work from some of speculative fiction’s most exciting writers, such as N.K. Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders, Ken Liu, Kameron Hurley, and Jeff VanderMeer (to mention a very few), this is the kind of present that can be savored over the course of many reading sessions. It’s the perfect gift for the person in your life who is really up on their speculative fiction or for that literary friend you’re trying to get into speculative fiction.
Read Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction
Chilling Adventures in Sorcery
Long before Archie’s current horror renaissance, the publisher originally dipped its toes in the genre with the short-lived 1970s comic Chilling Adventures in Sorcery. For the first two issues, the title was narrated by Sabrina the Teenage Witch and featured spooky stories done in the typical house style. From the third issue onwards, the book was issued through Archie’s Red Circle imprint, Sabrina was jettisoned, and art was handled by the likes of Gray Morrow. This revamped work was just as compelling as the earlier weirdo dark Archie-style stories, and more than holds its own with classic horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and The Witching Hour. With Chilling Adventures of Sabrina once again stirring a cauldron of interest in spooky Archie tales, this book should be an in-demand item this holiday season…even if Halloween is long gone.
Buy Chilling Adventures in Sorcery
A History of Video Games in 64 Objects
We’re getting to a place in the evolution of the video game where its history is valued, which means wonderful potential gifts like this one: A History of Video Games in 64 Objects. Inspired by A History of the World in 100 Objects, this book attempts to chronicle the history of video games so far, from Pong to first-person shooters, as told through the stories of some of the medium’s most important objects.
Each object is paired with an in-depth essay outlining its significance in the history of gaming. Objects featured include: The Oregon Trail, the Atari 2600, and a World of Warcraft server blade. If you’re based in New York City, pair this gift with a visit to the Museum of the Moving Image’s sports video games exhibit. If you’re not in New York City, no pairing needed!
Buy A History of Video Games in 64 Objects
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Volume Three
There’s all different kinds of nerds out there, and the history nerd is a special variety. This third volume of Christmas ghost stories from the Victorian era is the perfect gift for that person in your life who thinks learning and indulging in cultures past is just the coolest thing ever. Apparently, following the success of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Christmas ghost stories became all the rage in Victorian newspapers and magazines. Some of these stories have never been reprinted since… until now. The collection features 20 stories, and will make any holiday gathering just a little bit creepier.
Buy The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Volume Three
The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition by Ursula K. Leguin
We lost Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the greatest speculative fiction writers of all time, this year, but we didn’t lose her stories. Her legacy lives on in the many classics she left behind, including her beloved Earthsea series. Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of A Wizard of Earthsea‘s release, this complete illustrated edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles includes over 50 illustrations done by Charles Vess and selected by Le Guin.
In addition to the main books in the series, The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition includes early short stories, Le Guin’s “Earthsea Revisioned” Oxford lecture, and a new Earthsea story. If that wasn’t enough, the book also includes a foreword by Le Guin herself. This is the perfect gift for fans of Earthsea and Le Guin or for friends who have yet to venture into this magical world.
Buy The Books of Earthsea: The Illustrated Edition by Ursula K. Leguin