December 09, 2019

Holiday Gift Guide

by Jude Feldman

Welcome to December!  We've finally gotten our winter weather -- as a life-long, drought-hardened Californian, I have a superstitious aversion to _ever_ complaining about the rain -- and this is the perfect time to curl up with a good book yourself, or gift one to someone dear to you.  Personally this year has been a very difficult one, and I will be glad to see the back of it -- but that means it's even more important to celebrate the good things we have and the friends and family we love; hatch, and feather, as Becky Chambers would say.

Those of you who have been around a while know that I always do an opinionated and rambling gift guide for December, and this year is no exception.  I am excited to call your attention to just a few of the myriad cool and unexpected things we have in the store.  However, if you don't see something appropriate here, 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 glad 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 vaguely 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.)  Now, onward!

First, so many marvelous signed books!  Charlie Jane Anders, Gail Carriger, Becky Chambers, Richard Kadrey, Seanan McGuire, Christopher Moore, Annalee Newitz, Rudy Rucker, and Brent Weeks were all here recently, and we have lots of their signed stock for your gifting pleasure.  Additionally, we have signed copies of the exceptional short-story collection FULL THROTTLE by Joe Hill and A LITTLE HATRED by Joe Abercrombie (one of my favorite grim-dark fantasies of the last year, although truthfully not as dark as most of his earlier work). Lastly, we should shortly have copies of the absolutely stunning special signed leatherbound edition of Brandon Sanderson's WARBREAKER with tons of never-before-seen artwork.

You'd like a classic, you say?  No problem there -- there's a gorgeous new deluxe version of DUNE by Frank Herbert with the edges of the text block dyed a vivid blue, illustrated end papers and maps; two different lovely versions of THE PRINCESS BRIDE; an illustrated GOOD OMENS, and various hardcover classics like THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS by Ursula K. Le Guin, NEUROMANCER by William Gibson, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert Heinlein, a new-to-us UK tenth anniversary (!) hardcover edition of THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss, and many other fancy selections.  Speaking of tenth anniversary editions (!), we also have the new hardcover ROSEMARY AND RUE anniversary edition by Seanan McGuire, and the illustrated anniversary edition of SOULLESS by Gail Carriger.

Some of the staff's recent favorites are THE WANDERERS by Chuck Wendig, (an unusual and amazing story about an apocalyptic, mysterious phenomenon); THE SOL MAJESTIC by Ferrett Steinmetz, (a touching and tremendously sweet novel for the science-fiction-loving foodie in your life); THE IMAGINARY CORPSE by Tyler Hayes, (the very best book about a cuddly triceratops detective who solves crimes in a land of sort-of imaginary friends I've ever read, which is NOT damning with faint praise!), Sarah Kuhn's absolutely adorable Heroine Trilogy (starring some marvelous Asian-American superheroines in San Francisco) and REJOICE, A KNIFE TO THE HEART by Steven Erikson, (sort of like the most extraordinary, most intelligent take on "The Day the Earth Stood Still" you can possibly imagine).

Some unexpected treasures for those folks who have read everything: IRONTOWN BLUES by John Varley; IN OTHER LANDS by Sarah Rees Brennan; HANNAH GREEN AND HER UNFEASIBLY MUNDANE EXISTENCE by Michael Marshall Smith, WINTER TIDE by Ruthann Emrys (this, along with Matt Ruff's LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM by Victor La Valle, and CARTER AND LOVECRAFT are my favorite recent extremely-unconventional takes on Lovecraft), and the Axiom Trilogy (THE WRONG STARS; THE DREAMING STARS; and THE FORBIDDEN STARS) by Tim Pratt, (my pick for fans of Becky Chambers).

Creepy choices to keep you up at night: THE TWISTED ONES by T. Kingfisher, BEDFELLOW by Jeremy C. Shipp, THE FIFTH HOUSE OF THE HEART by Ben Tripp, SOMEONE LIKE ME by M.R. Carey, and PEACEABLE KINGDOM by Jack Ketchum.

Absolutely kick-ass anthologies: A PEOPLE'S FUTURE OF THE UNITED STATES edited by John Joseph Adams and Victor La Valle; Hugo-award-winning WORLDS SEEN IN PASSING edited by Irene Gallo; THE MYTHIC DREAM edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe; REDISCOVERY: SCIENCE FICTION BY WOMEN (1958 TO 1963) edited by Gideon Marcus; and LOST TRANSMISSIONS: THE SECRET HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY edited by Desirina Boskovich.

For the mystery lover in your life: THE CORONER'S LUNCH by Colin Cotterill (Alan and I both LOVE this series!); the Charles Lenox mysteries by Charles Finch that begin with A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH; SECONDHAND SPIRITS, which begins Juliet Blackwell's sweetly cozy just-a-bit-paranormal series; classic DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS by Walter Mosley; Barbara Hambly's excellent Benjamin January mysteries, which begin with A FREE MAN OF COLOR (you will fall in love with her characters); the suffocatingly dark LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley; and Christopher Fowler's Peculiar Crimes mysteries, a series of funny, wonderful impossible-crime books starring two elderly detectives in London.

Not brand-new but great and absolutely worth another look: PASSING STRANGE by Ellen Klages; SWORDSPOINT by Ellen Kushner; PANDEMONIUM by Daryl Gregory; WOMEN UP TO NO GOOD by Pat Murphy; ZOO CITY by Lauren Beukes; THE STEEL REMAINS by Richard Morgan.

Not genre at all but we love 'em anyway: DIARY OF A BOOKSELLER by Shaun Bythell (side-splittingly hilarious; Alan and I both heartily recommend this one), THE YELLOW-LIGHTED BOOKSHOP by Lewis Buzbee (absolutely charming & perfect for any Bay Area book lover), THE SECRET HISTORIAN by Justin Spring (you will be stunned when you learn about the life of Samuel Steward, the most famous professor, Oakland tattoo artist, Kinsey test-subject, and sexual renegade you've never heard of), and CAPTIVE OF THE LABYRINTH by Mary Jo Ignoffo, (the captivating true story of Sarah Winchester, heiress to the rifle fortune who was falsely accused of madness, and architect of the famous Winchester House in San Jose).

Other fun stuff: we just got in Nathan Pyle's adorable book of cartoons STRANGE PLANET (our bestselling hardcover last month!).  We have creepy key tags for places like The Bates Motel, The Hotel California, The Overlook Hotel from THE SHINING, The Hotel Cortez from "American Horror Story", Cyberdyne Systems, and many others.  New to us and oh-so-cool are little enamel pins for book lovers from Rather Keen <>: they say things like "The Book Was Better", "Sorry, I'm Booked", "I Like Big Books". . . and some that are "Star Wars"-inspired -- "One With the Force", "Fly Casual", and "I Have a Bad Feeling About This".  We've recently gotten a new selection of fantastic blank journals, too -- everything from Cthuluhu to antique map images to beautiful Tiffany glass to The Unicorn Tapestry to pulp movie covers like "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" <> to clever ones that say things on the covers like "Strange Ideas and Impure Thoughts", "I Regret Nothing", "Creative Ramblings of a Restless Mind", and many more.

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.

Here's wishing you a happy, hopeful, and peaceful holiday season, and all the best for next year.

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