Holiday Geek Gift Guide 2020: Books, eBooks, and AudioBooks
By Empress Eve
Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 at 5:37 pm
It’s truly been one helluva year. Our lives have been turned upside down because of a global pandemic and most things we felt were “normal” are not anymore. Thankfully, the act of gift-giving remains the same. And as I always say, a book is a fantastic gift to give and receive. Reading books and listening to audiobooks helped get a lot of people through some frightening times this year, and will continue to do so in the coming months. So why not gift some books to your friends and family to provide some comfort and entertainment while we wait for “normal” to return? This year saw a lot of great releases, including lots of attractive reissues of works from the great J.R.R. Tolkien; plenty of new adventures for Star Trek, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and The Dresden Files; biographies from the world of heavy metal; some scary, yet fun Yuletide tales; and much much more.
Check out here below our Holiday Geek Gift Guide 2020 for Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks for our favorite holiday gift picks for the readers in your life.
Recommendations by Empress Eve
The History of Middle-earth By J.R.R. Tolkien
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Hardcover
If there’s a Tolkien fan in your life, this new special collector’s edition boxed set is the way to go. It contains Tolkien’s Middle-earth tales — The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion — collected together in a 3-volume hardcover set housed in a slipcase. That’s over 5,000 pages of Middle-earth goodness!
Unfinished Tales: Illustrated Edition By J.R.R. Tolkien; illustrated by Alan Lee, John Howe, Ted Nasmith
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Hardcover
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the original release of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth, which is a collection of tales and information starting from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring, as well as provides more details events from The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings For this anniversary, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has released a new illustrated hardcover edition. The new hardcover edition contains beautiful, full-color artwork from Tolkien’s most frequent and popular illustrators, Alan Lee, John Howe, and Ted Nasmith. This edition was edited by Christopher Tolkien, the esteemed author’s son and heir to the world of Middle-earth, who provides an introduction, commentary, index, and maps. Another nice touch with this new offering is that it comes with a ribbon bookmark sewn into it.
The Hobbit Sketchbook By Alan Lee
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Hardcover
Sixty years after its original publication, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was released in a special illustrated edition, with artwork by Alan Lee. Now, Lee’s beautiful pencil drawings and watercolor paintings for that edition are included in this large hardcover book, The Hobbit Sketchbook, along with dozens of new paintings and drawings that explore Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Along with the images, Lee describes his ideas and processes behind the artwork and how he bought Tolkien’s vision to life. Lee’s artistic representations were so accurate, that director Peter Jackson got the illustrator to work on his big-screen adaptations of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Lee went on to receive an Academy Award nomination Best Art Direction for each of the three films, and won the award for the final film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King!).
Letters From Father Christmas, Centenary Edition By J.R.R Tolkien (Introduction by Baillie Tolkien)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Hardcover
Our final Tolkien recommendation for the season is a deeply sentimental one: Letters From Father Christmas, a collection of letters that the author created each year for his young children as if they were from Father Christmas (that’s Santa Claus for us here in the States). Each letter contained sketches or colored drawings along with a note or lengthy story describing the wondrous life at the North Pole with the reindeer, polar bears, and even goblins! This Centenary Edition marks the 100th anniversary of the first letter the author gave to to his eldest child in 1920, and includes an introduction from his daughter-in-law Baillie Tolkien, who edited the book. There’s also a personal note by Tolkien himself that’s reproduced here for the first time ever. This gorgeous, oversized hardcover includes a ribbon bookmark sewn into it and contains images of the handwritten letters, drawings, and envelopes, along with typeset versions for easy reading. This is wholeheartedly a treasure to behold for Tolkien fans and lovers of the Christmas season.
The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season 1) By Phil Szostak; Foreword by Doug Chiang
Publisher: Abrams Books Hardcover
I think we can all agree that The Mandalorian television series on Disney+ is the best thing to come out of the Star Wars universe is a while. It is absolutely fantastic. Not only does it showcase the routine, yet dangerous adventures of the bounty hunter Din Djarin, who lives by the Mandalorian creed, but it also introduced the world to The Child (known informally to many as “Baby Yoda”}, who’s captured all of our hearts. As with any Star Wars installment, whether on the big or small screen, fans want to know more about it. And that’s especially true with this new show, currently in its second season. That brings us to The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season 1), a new oversized, full-color hardcover official companion book from Abrams Books. This hefty tome contains tons of gorgeous concept art; character, creature, costume, and vehicle designs; and behind-the-scenes details that fans have been thirsting for. If you’re looking for a gift for a Star Wars fan, they will 100% love this!
Rust in Peace The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece
By Dave Mustaine; Foreword by Slash
Publisher: Hachette Books Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
Megadeth founder and frontman Dave Mustaine chronicles the making of the band’s 1990 album Rust in Peace, a thrash metal masterpiece.
The legendary metal god himself Rob Halford of Judas Priest offers up his first memoir, where he talks about his five decades in the music business, his struggles, coming out in the 1990s, and much more.
Sherlock Holmes and the Beast of the Stapletons By James Lovegrove
Publisher: Titan Books Hardcover | Kindle
This new hardcover from Titan Books is a sequel to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original story Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles. In it, author James Lovegrove creates a tale set back at Baskerville Hall, where it appears that the dreaded creature has returned, and it’s up to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to stop it.
Author Andrew Shaffer, who reimagined Barack Obama and Joe Biden as a crimefighting duo in his Obama Biden Mystery series, delves into the chaotic world of office Secret Santa gift exchanges. While these holiday gift parties are always unpredictable, they don’t turn into the stuff of horror movies, which is what happens in Secret Santa, the new horror-comedy set in the 1980s that’s being touted as “The Office meets The Shining.”
Elf: The Classic Illustrated Storybook Pop Classics Book 10
By Kim Smith
Publisher: Quirk Books Hardcover | Kindle
Illustrator Kim Smith offers up another entry in the Quick Books Pop Classics series, this time an adaptation of the 2003 Will Ferrell holiday favorite film Elf. A great gift for young kids, as well as adults who love the film (and I know plenty!).
Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope Star Trek: Picard Book 1
By Una McCormack
Publisher: Star Trek/Pocket Books Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
The CBS All-Access series Star Trek: Picard brought back fan-favorite Jean-Luc Picard out of retirement and into a most dangerous situation. Fans of the show will want to check out this companion novel, The Last Best Hope, which delve’s further into Picard’s years leading up to his retirement.
Star Trek: The Higher Frontier Star Trek: The Original Series
By Christopher L. Bennett
Publisher: Star Trek/Pocket Books Paperback | Kindle | Audiobook
Set during the Star Trek: The Original Series timeline after the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek: The Higher Frontier sees James T. Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise on a second 5-year mission to explore new worlds in this tale of hatred, destruction, and betrayal in the far reaches of space. Those who enjoy reading books from the expanded Star Trek/em> universe will love this story, that includes some guest characters from the original television series and even picks from events that happened in Star Trek: The Animated Series. (My full review of the book is here.) Lots to love with this one, so gift it to the Trekker in your life.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel By Grady Hendrix
Publisher: Quirk Books Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
Quirk Books always puts out books that end up on my year-end favorites list, and Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is one of those. I put this one on pretty much every type of recommendation list I’ve made this year, so of course, it’s making it into the Holiday Gift Guide. (Read my full review of the book here.) And, the hardcover edition is beautifully done, making it a great-looking gift. You can pair this with Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism — I highly recommend the paperback edition because its cover is so rad — which is set in the same small town as the new book. Throwback horror tales at its finest.
Chaos Walking Movie Tie-in Edition of Book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go
By Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick Press Paperback | Kindle | Audiobook
Though The Knife of Never Letting Go was released back in 2008, Book 1 of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking YA series, is getting a big-screen adaptation come January 2021. So Candlewick Press has just released the movie tie-in edition paperback for the upcoming scifi film, which stars Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. This will made a good gift for movie-goers who like reading the book before they see the film. It’s also a great YA scifi story for readers who enjoy that genre.
One of the greatest comic book series of all time, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman has been adapted into audiobook format, with a full cast original recording featuring the voices of James McAvoy, Michael Sheen, Riz Ahmed, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis, and more. Now available via Audible or on CD, this nearly 11-hour first installment of The Sandman is narrated appropriately by Gaiman himself and is a must-have for his fans as well as for those who want a different way to experience Morpheus, Death, and the rest of the Endless. The CD also comes with a booklet outlining the cast, characters, and episodes, and features the original cover art by Dave McKean, along with 3 exclusive Sandman stickers.
Director Denis Villeneuve is bringing Frank Herbert’s Dune back to the big screen and from the trailers, it already looks like it will be amazing. Lots of people enjoying reading the novel before seeing its film adaptation, and thanks to the pandemic audiences are going to have almost a year to read this novel before its theatrical debut. The original novel is a classic scifi epic and launched a massive literary franchise, so why not gift this to someone and get them started? Even people who’ve already read the book might enjoy having a copy of some of these other edition. (I couldn’t resist getting for myself the trade paperback edition for its gorgeous cover after having only the smaller mass market paperback edition all these years.)
From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back Star Wars series, Anthology
Publisher: Del Rey Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
This year marks the 40 anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, the direct sequel to the original Star Wars. In honor of this occasion, Del Rey has released a second anthology in their From a Certain Point of View series focused on scenes from Empire. I reviewed the first in this line and thoroughly enjoyed all the tales. It is really just a perspective change on scenes from the film, but it definitely makes a difference. Remember the adage that no one is the villain in their own story. Loads of stories here that will warm the hearts of any Star Wars fan this chilly season. A bonus on this one is a thrilling audiobook narrated by several talented voice actors.
Peace Talks (Dresden Files Book 16) By Jim Butcher
Publisher: Ace Books Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
This long awaited addition to the bestselling The Dresden Files series was worth the wait. Tensions build throughout the novel as wizard Harry Dresden is put into ridiculously difficult positions that are meant to break him down. But our hero, who is still wearing the Winter Knight mantle on top of his enormous amounts of power, is no one’s fool. He knows what he has to do and is cunning enough to see it through to the end. Best of all, this is just one of two books that released this year so you will make a fan doubly happy if you get them both.
An alternative title to this could have been Backlash, in my opinion. Not since he single-handedly tried to take on the Red Court of Vampires has Harry Dresden seen such opposition to his actions. But in this book, the enemy of my enemy is my ally has never been more important or tangible. And as cliche as it sounds, the twist at the end is a huge alteration to the world as he knows it. This is one for the history books in any incarnation of our universe. A must read but definitely read the prequel first. remember, this was a single massive story until it was split in half.
Ready Player Two By Ernest Cline
Publisher: Ballantine Books Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
The sequel is sure to be as big of a hit and anyone that loved that first stellar book, Ready Player One, is sure to need this in their life. It is out the week of Thanksgiving and is on my to be read list for this coming week! He is also a local author here in central Texas from what I hear.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) By Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
Coriolanus Snow (future president) is a young, poor, and ambitious mentor of the 10th annual Hunger Games, but his tribute is a measly female from District 12. Is he clever enough to get her to win, and gain himself riches and glory? Suzanne Collins gives us the exciting prequel to the famous trilogy. The only thing left wanting is for the novel to continue longer. Here’s hoping we get more “Snow” next winter!
The Insurrection (The Initiation #3) By Chris Babu
Publisher: Permuted Press Hardcover | Kindle
The final book of The Initiation Trilogy finds Dresden still in a fight for his life, despite having survived the Initiation and the Expedition. This time he needs allies to take down The Bureau and free his people from poverty and death. Babu’s dystopian world has a unique twist on familiar tropes, and the bravery of Dresden and his friends will have you on the edge of your page!
Read about a different pandemic with Percivious: Insomnia. In the first book in the trilogy, nobody can sleep and insomnia is sweeping the world. The drug that had done so well in test trials, stopped working. There is a race for a real cure, and lines are crossed. This novel hooks you from the beginning and you won’t be able to close your eyes until it is finished.
MONSTRE: Volume One By Duncan Swan
Publisher: Super Hoot Publishing Paperback | Kindle
A research facility experiment gone horribly wrong. What starts as a familiar tale spins into unfamiliar territory. What got out was a black cold cloud of darkness enveloping the world. IN the darkness there is no communication, only madness. This explosive story is one of horror, but also of survival. You won’t be disappointed you picked this one up.
Echoes of Darkness: Book Two in the Echoes Trilogy By Cheryl Campbell
Publisher: Sonar Press Paperback | Kindle
The war for Earth between the alien Echo Wardens, who want nothing more than to exterminate all humans, and the partnership between humans and their Echo allies continues to rage on. Dani, a unique Echo ally who regens (ability to die and come back to life at a younger age) to a 10-year-olf girl with few memories, still grows to lead offensive missions to take back their cities. Her sights are set on reclaiming Boston, despite a past that is but a fragment of a horrible memory. Book Two in the Echoes Trilogy exceeds expectations. Dani is the hero we should all strive to be – fearless, quick to think on her feet, a technology prodigy, loyal, persistent, and the first to put herself in danger before others. Her complex relationships with others create a compelling web, and I cannot wait for Book 3!
I’ve been rereading a lot of Stephen King during quarantine, gaining comfort from some old familiar stories. My quick picks are to reread (or read) one or more of these: