When in doubt give books or comics! There’s something out there for all readers, no matter their age or preferred genre. Plus they’re easy to wrap. Here are some suggestions from our Books Editor, Christa Seeley, and our Reviews Editor, Kayleigh Hearn.
1. Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks by Brad Dukes
Excited for the return of Twin Peaks in 2016? A fan of our Twin Peaks episode recaps? Then Reflections is the gift for you. Brad Dukes assembles a comprehensive history of the cult classic tv show’s rise and fall, featuring candid interviews with co-creator Mark Frost, actors Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee, and many more. Reflections also includes behind-the-scenes photos and insider info, like the happy accident that created Killer BOB, and what made the Log Lady stop taking her log on airplanes. As the Little Man from Another Place would say, the book is “full of secrets.”
2. The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
Whether you’re a long-time Wonder Woman fan, a new follower, or simply a history buff The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a downright fascinating read. Created in 1941, Wonder Woman has never been out of print, and is easily the most iconic female superhero of all time. Historian, Jill Lepore delves into the history of her origin and the man who created her. A man who was undoubtedly shaped by first wave feminism and the suffragette movement. This book is as much about the history of feminism as it is about Wonder Woman comics and Lepore’s clever and engaging prose make the 432 pages fly by.
3. The Time Traveler’s Almanac by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer
From The Time Machine to Doctor Who, people have always loved time travel stories. But good time travel stories can often be hard to come by. The Time Traveler’s Almanac helps fans get their fix by compiling the best of the best stories from the past century. Featuring work by Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R. R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, and H. G. Wells, The Time Traveler’s Almanac is the definitive guide to this fantastic subgenre.
4. I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short
This felt like the year of the comedic memoir. But if you’re having trouble choosing just one for the biography lover on your list, I’ll point you towards I Must Say by comedy legend Martin Short. His career has stretched across decades, taking him from Second City, to Saturday Night Live, to Hollywood and I imagine most comedic actors today would list him as an idol. I’ll also recommend, however, that you specifically give the audiobook version. It’s narrated by Martin Short himself, which means it’s also narrated by some of his classic characters Ed Grimley, Nathan Thurm, and Jiminy Glick. It’s funny and wise and guaranteed to put a smile on your loved one’s face.
5. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Every year there are a few books that really stand out. That feel universally adored. This year Station Eleven is one of those books. The novel follows a group of travelling actors, who are putting on Shakespeare productions as the world crumbles around them. A pandemic has broken out twenty years earlier, and it’s only a matter of time before civilization collapses completely. It’s a novel written in stunning prose and is a beautiful story of love, relationships and memory. It’s the kind of profound and moving read fiction lovers will devour.
6. The Martian by Andy Weir
If you couldn’t tear your eyes away from the launch of Orion or you can’t wait for Chris Hadfield’s next tweet, then you need The Martian by Andy Weir. It’s the story of astronaut Mark Watney, who was lucky enough to be one of the first men to walk on Mars. But he’s also unlucky enough to be the first man stranded there. He’s millions of miles from Earth, with no way back, but nevertheless he’s determined to survive. He’s intelligent and resourceful with a sense of humour but will that be enough? It’s a gripping book that’s part MacGyver and part Gravity. It will keep you on the edge of your seat as each new obstacle arises, make you laugh, and best of all feed your passion for space and science.
1. Saga Deluxe Hardcover by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga’s first deluxe hardcover collects issues 1-18 of the hit science fiction series from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Narrated by Hazel, the newborn daughter of star-crossed lovers Alana and Marko, Saga is full of alien bounty hunters, robot royalty, ghostly babysitters, and, oh yeah — sex. Lots and lots of sex. Fiona Staples’s art has never looked more beautiful than in the deluxe hardcover format, and the new edition includes the fantastic extra “How We Make a Saga,” which details Vaughan and Staples’s creative process from an idea, to a script, to a fully drawn and colored comic book.
2. The Complete ElfQuest Vol. 1 by Wendy Pini and Richard Pini
The original ElfQuest series, known as “The First Quest,” is collected into a single volume for the first time in this massive omnibus. Created by Wendy and Richard Pini, ElfQuest is an indie classic, and one of the best fantasy comics ever published. Featuring memorable characters such as the warrior chief Cutter, passionate healer Leetah, and the stargazing Skywise, ElfQuest is the story of Cutter’s journey across the alien “World of Two Moons” to save and unite all elvenkind from the threats of humans, trolls, and the most sinister elf of all: Winnowill. If you or a friend have never read ElfQuest before, this is where to start. And if you’re hooked, Dark Horse has the ElfQuest Gallery Edition available as well.
3. Alias MAX Omnibus by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos
It’s official! Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones! But who is Jessica Jones?. A foul-mouthed, hard-living ex-superhero, Jessica Jones now works as a private investigator, but in the Marvel Universe it’s hard to stay away from the superhero world for very long. And not only is Jessica Jones a rising star in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Alias also features future stars Luke Cage, Captain Marvel (back when she was the original Ms. Marvel), and Ant-Man in major supporting roles. Before Jessica’s Netflix original series premieres, discover with her original comic book series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos.
4. Ms. Marvel Volume 1 by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Kamala Khan has taken the Marvel Universe (and the comics world) by storm. She’s just an ordinary girl in New Jersey, but she soon finds herself in possession of amazing, new shape-shifting abilities. She is a brave and relatable heroine that easily appeals to fans of all ages, as she struggles to understand her new powers, keep her strict parents happy and protect the people around her. G Willow Wilson has written a funny, intelligent, New York Times bestselling book and this first volume is a great introduction (especially for young readers) into the wide world of superhero comics.
5. Lazarus Book One by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
Pretty much any comic by Greg Rucka would make a great gift for the comic fan in your life, but his latest project, Lazarus, is particularly impressive. This new series draws you into a world where our current national borders have no meaning. There is no more government, only territory run by different families. The story follows Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus/bodyguard of the the Carlyle family and it’s a dark and gritty dystopian series that will impress new and old comic fans like. This hardcover edition collects the first nine issues. You may be tempted to pick up the slightly cheaper trade paperbacks but then you would miss out on the extra world-building content. The amount of detail that was put into the history, politics and economics is just as absorbing as the comic itself.
6. The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple
The week this book was released I went into my local comic book shop and had almost every single member of the staff enthusiastically recommend it to me. And they were all right. This book can be violent, and difficult and frustrating but it can also be magical, surreal and just plain extraordinary. It’s the story of a gang of children who call themselves the Wrenchies as they try and navigate a post-apocalypse world. It may sound like a story you’ve read before, but it somehow manages to be something completely different. If you’re buying for the kind of comic reader who values discussions and multiple readings, than look no further.
And if the person you’re buying for has already read and loved The Wrenchies, check out Dalrymple’s short indie comics set in the same universe.