Welcome to Shelf Care, where I usually review three books related by a theme. These aren’t necessarily the latest releases, but are hopefully books you can’t believe you missed.
This column’s theme: The Best Of Shelf Care: Holiday Gift Guide 2020
While I always think the books I review for Shelf Care worth reading (and trust me, there are way more that I’ve read that would never make the cut) there have always been some that just stood out above the rest. So for this month’s Shelf Care, I’ve gone back through the archives to pick out the books that really stood out. Desert island books that are good for a reread. Pop culture books that enable their readers to weigh in on a conversation, and those books that had such an interesting take on the subject matter that they were able to make unexpected premises interesting. These are the books that I can recommend without thinking about it. So if you’re looking to give something on the literary side this holiday season, see if your recipient matches up with my brutally short summary, and click through for a more thorough review.
So, if your recipient likes:
Science fiction/fantasy mash ups with a healthy dose of smart-assery and pop culture that absolutely shouldn’t work on paper, but do.
Try: Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
Science, taken to ridiculous extremes, and explained at a funny, middle school level.
Neil Gaiman’s dark and creative take on fairy tales, and demonstrating why letting eight year olds talk to genies is a bad idea.
Try: Dreams and Shadows, by C. Robert Cargill
Fast paced dark military fantasy.
Try: The Black Company, by Glen Cook
Douglas Adams, but only if he’d downed five pots of coffee and written all of the Hitchhikers’ books in one go while watching the Eurovision song contest.
Try: Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
70’s rock and over the top games of Dungeons And Dragons.
Try: Kings of the Wyld, by Nicholas Eames
Our robot overlords finding out their problems are just beginning after the last human dies.
Try: Sea of Rust, by C. Robert Cargill
Stand up comedy and Agatha Christie.
Try: Ten Dead Comedians, by Fred Van Lente.
Innovative far future science fiction with great ideas that holds up very well on a re-read.
Try: Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
Feels there’s a reality that’s just outside our own.
Try: Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
Wishes there was something else like Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.
Try: Cooking Dirty, by Jason Sheehan
Relentless science fiction suspense novels that have to be read in one sitting.
Try: Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch
One shot authors who can create believable super heroes.
Try: Devil’s Cape, by Rob Rodgers
The Twilight Zone.
Try: Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang
True crime with a dream team of cold case investigators.
Try: The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases, by Michael Capuzzo
Computers and 80’s nostalgia.
Try: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
The best book Stephen King never wrote.
Try: American Elsewhere, by Robert Jackson Bennett
Wondering what happens after those child detectives and their dog grow up and have to face the one case they never really solved?
Try: Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero
Living in a suspiciously cheap apartment building, where the superintendent is probably Stephen King.
Try: 14, by Peter Clines
Try: Horrorstor, by Grady Hendrix
Action movies, modern technology and the ancient profession of vampire hunting.
Try: Vampire$, by John Steakley
Short, funny stories around a protagonist who may be the greatest wizard of his generation, but just does not care.
Try: A City Dreaming, by Daniel Polansky
So, what other books should be making the rounds this holiday season? Leave your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned for my next column.