December 09, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide

by Jude Feldman

Winter has well and truly come to San Francisco, which means that we're now hitting a (for the City) quite chilly 42 degrees at night.  Definitely the perfect time for curling up with hot cocoa and a good book, and for picking up some great books for holiday gifts.  We here present our usual Opinionated Gift Guide to help you out.  However, we're always happy to make custom suggestions for you or anyone in your life.  We'll even wrap 'em for you!  (A special note to those of you purchasing presents: we're happy to gift wrap upon request, although our typical caveats apply: first, if we're busy, you may have to wait a bit to have things wrapped, and, second, some staff members are MUCH better than others at it.  It is possible that your package may resemble a brightly wrapped Lovecraft-ian, batrachian, rugose, Thing of No Human Shape.  For some customers, this is not a problem . . ."better than I can do!," they say. However, if you are concerned about our, ahem, abilities, we're also happy to just hand you the gift wrap, scissors and tape.)

Let's start with some awesome signed books.  We have signed copies of brand-new ARCANUM UNBOUNDED and ELANTRIS, THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION by Brandon Sanderson, BABYLON'S ASHES by James S.A. Corey, FEEDBACK by Mira Grant, pretty much everything including all three of the VELVETEEN books by Seanan McGuire, GHOST TALKERS by Mary Robinette Kowal, most of the Sandman Slim books by Richard Kadrey, a handful of signed Dan Wells titles including the just-released EXREME MAKEOVER, BLOOD MIRROR by Brent Weeks, IMPRUDENCE by Gail Carriger, SNOWED by Maria Alexander, A BLADE OF BLACK STEEL by Alex Marshall, and so many, many more.

If your gift-ee just has to have the newest and the latest, check out the anthology CYBER WORLD edited by Jason Heller and Joshua Viola (which is SO cyberpunk that it comes with a soundtrack CD!), a gorgeous boxed set of the entire DARK TOWER series by Stephen King as well as the in-joke children's book CHARLIE THE CHOO CHOO by Beryl Evans, PIRATE UTOPIA by Bruce Sterling, SLIPPING (a collection of short works) by Lauren Beukes, NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR edited by Ellen Datlow, THE FAMILY PLOT by Cherie Priest, INVISIBLE PLANETS (a collection of fascinating Chinese science fiction in translation) edited by Ken Liu, and an absolutely stunning brick of a book: SELECTED SHORT FICTION OF URSULA K LE GUIN: THE FOUND AND THE LOST AND THE REAL AND THE UNREAL.

"To H.P. Lovecraft, with all my conflicted feelings," reads the dedication of Victor LaValle's amazing novella THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM.  It almost has a "Robert Johnson deal with the Devil at the crossroads" feel, but it's steeped in Lovecraft and just wonderful.  Additional great unconventional new takes on Lovecraft are LOVECRAFT COUNTRY by Matt Ruff, CARTER AND LOVECRAFT by Johnathan L. Howard, REANIMATORS by Pete Rawlick,  I AM PROVIDENCE by Nick Mamatas (takes place at a Lovecraft convention and is narrated by the hated murder victim), HARRISON SQUARED by Daryl Gregory, and DREAM-QUEST OF VELLITT BOE by Kij Johnson.  (Another great title that's coming out next spring and deserves a mention is WINTER TIDE, by Ruthanna Emrys.)

Some other excellent new books we're recommending are THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT by Seth Dickinson (just out in trade paperback), the lovely and haunting new novel SUMMERLONG by Peter S. Beagle, THE OBELISK GATE (the follow-up to the Hugo-winning FIFTH SEASON) by N.K. Jemisin, EVERYTHING UNDER THE MOON (an unconventional, ultra-noir werewolf-crime novel,) and THE ARRIVAL, which is the movie-tie-in-cover version of STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS by Ted Chiang.

Not brand-new but still well worth a look is JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER by Jodi Taylor, the first in a series about time-traveling historians who dislike the term "time travel" -- they simply "investigate historical events in contemporary time"!  The series is like a mash-up of Connie Willis, Kage Baker, and Becky Chambers, and is thoroughly addictive.

Some great mysteries that may be of interest to you are the bleak, brilliant and noir THE LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley, the utterly quirky CLAIRE DE WITT AND THE CITY OF THE DEAD by Sara Gran, or one of my all-time favorites, THE CORONER'S LUNCH by Colin Cotterill.   If you'd like something lighter, check out the Charles Lenox mysteries (about a Victorian gentleman detective in London) by Charles Finch, or the delightful Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley: our twelve-year-old protagonist is a brilliant chemist and would-be poisoner who solves mysteries in the 1950's English countryside.

For the George R.R. Martin fan in your life, we've got a gorgeous illustrated hardcover of the GAME OF THRONES 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION as well as the stunningly beautiful (but lesser-known) map set that came out a few years back, THE LANDS OF ICE AND FIRE.

One of my very favorite new releases is REJECTED PRINCESSES by Jason Porath.  This is the book version of the wonderful website that's "[p]art art project, part standup routine, part book report, this site imagines what if we made animated musicals about the women of history and myth who refused to behave.  Rejected Princesses is not for kids.  Unless your kid is awesome."  This book makes a fantastic companion volume to HER HIGHNESS BUILDS ROBOTS, which is an empowering princess coloring book.

We have 2017 calendars galore, with something for everyone, including Astronomy, Alice in Wonderland, Dragons, Fairy Houses, Hyperboyle and a Half, Dr. Suess, Tolkien, and dozens of others!

As usual, we wish you a Gorey Christmas with a plethora of Edward Gorey-themed items.  From the classic Gashlycrumb Tinies to the Bibliophile With Cats Puzzle, to the massive collection AMPHIGOREY, we have a little bit of Gorey to suit anyone.  My personal favorite is the "Fruitcake" holiday card that shows the solemn ritual of everyone gathering after dark to throw their fruitcakes into a hole in the ice!

Classics that never go out of style are hardcovers of DUNE, GOOD OMENS, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, NEUROMANCER and THE HOBBIT.  Less traditional, not in hardcover, but just as classic -- SLEIGHT OF HAND (wonderful short stories from Peter S. Beagle), MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M.R. Carey, LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S.A. Corey, and THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET by Becky Chambers.

Two local artists have graced us with one-of-a-kind gifts: we've got some lovely steampunk-influenced jewelry from Oakland's Fire Selkie creations, and gift boxes, hair clips, pins, and hand-made cards from San Francisco's Fly By Night Gifts!

As always, we're happy to make personalized recommendations and practice our Psychic Bookseller Skills when you're stumped.  If you just can't decide, we also offer gift certificates in any amount.

Happy holidays to all.  We fervently wish you a safe, peaceful, and bright 2017.

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