Holiday Shopping List: Recommend A Book

TIS THE SEASON something something reindeer.

So, Mister Scalzi does this very nice thing at his blog where he says hey come by and tell us about your book, and then you do, and good times. I am not quite as nice.

Hence, here’s how this works:

You can recommend one book.

This book can be a novel or a comic or a short story or whatever.

Traditional, self-published, whatever.

The rub is:

You cannot recommend your own book.

Nope. Can’t do it. Don’t do it.

*smacks your hand*

You will recommend someone else’s book that you loved.

Not your own. Someone else’s. Get it? Got it? Good.

One recommendation, please. One book only. Now let’s hear ’em.


  • Glad to see someone else mentioned The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (Natasha Pulley), because it frees me up to recommend The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster (Scott Wilbanks). Time travel/magic realism-type stuff, with wonderful characters!

  • HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger. She was famously paid a reported $5 million advance to write this book back in 2009 after the success of THE ASTRONAUT’S WIFE which was made into a 1999 movie starring Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron.
    The novel’s title is inspired by “The Tyger”, a poem by the English poet William Blake, which begins “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright / In the forests of the night, / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”.

    A novel that admittedly received mixed reviews but that manages to mix the elements of identical twin lead characters, a story set in and around a cemetery and a plot involving an inheritence and a clause in a will stating what must be done to receive the inheritence successfully enough to sustain interest most of the way through. And for me that’s saying something since I’m normally a non-fiction (biographies, true crime, sports, military history) reader.

  • I would have to go with some old-school science fiction, written decades ago but with a message about the anti-science crowd that resonates today. “Lord of Light” by Roger Zelazny is still one of my favorite love stories. Yeah, there are wars, adventure, intrigue and stuff, and Sam is an awesome character and all, but for me it’s all about Yama.

    “The spoon came alive with spoon-ness” is enough to make me teary, every time. I know grown men who get sniffly about that scene.

  • Carsten Stroud’s Niceville (now a trilogy) – horror crime drama with historical overlay? There are these bursts of description that will make your head explode – usually simultaneously horrible (in content) and dazzling (in execution.)

  • “A Field of Darkness” by Cornelia Read. First of a series of novels starring my all-time favorite literary protagonist, Madeline Dare. Having read three out of four books of hers, it’s clear to me that Madeline’s the kind of character that, no matter what setting you place her in, her mere presence makes the story worth following, however mundane late-70’s to mid-80’s New England happens to be.

    • Uriel, thanks for your reminder of Cornelia Read. I thoroughly enjoyed all her novels featuring Madeline Dare. I would (this doesn’t count) recommend all her titles (starting with “Crazy School,” but I don’t want to blow my own recommendation. Those who don’t know Cornelia, check her out. An original voice

  • Late jumping in, and first I want to say how much I love these book recommendation blogs. This year I’ve enjoyed so many new writers I hadn’t known about. Great to be adding new favorites to my list. For now I’m wholeheartedly recommending a book many of you will know about since it’s had a lot of buzz by winning the Pulitzer as well as being a finalist for The National Book Award. But don’t let the label “literary” scare you away from a magnificent story, powerfully told.

    “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr.

    This novel does for the literature of World War II what “Saving Private Ryan” did for the movies about World War II–it challenges our assumptions and changes the dimensions of our thinking. But the real reason for reading this novel is that it’s an exciting, suspenseful tale with outstanding characters.

  • The Wicked and the Divine. 12 gods from different pantheons get incarnated as teenagers, and within 2 years they’ll all be dead. It’s about fandom and identity and loyalty and it’s PHENOMENAL.

  • Ghost in the Blue Dress by R.A. Slone. You can read more on her website but the gist of it is a teenage girl is haunted by a small ghost who is making her life chaotic and her mother doesn’t believe her, but her kindly old neighbor woman does. The girl’s father passed away not terribly long ago and the neighbor helps her cope. No one is safe from the ghost. The mother decides they’re going to move, and the ghost follows them, much to the daughter’s dismay.

    I started reading the book while my mom was at a dentist appointment and I finished it in a few days. I did a more detailed review of her book on my blog.

  • Oversight by Charlie Fletcher – A small group of humans police Victorian London from a race of creatures who would use ordinary people as playthings and slaves. These creatures live away from Cities in the darkness of the countryside due to a weakness when around iron and running water.

    It’s so good! Great for dark wintery evenings. I sucked this one down like lemonade and can’t wait to get book 2 for Xmas. (I believe the author narrates the audio book and he has a wonderful deep tombre that I think would perfectly suit this story).

    Fans of Harry Potter who are looking for something a little more adult and dark would love this I think. It’s magical in a horse and carriage, foggy London streets kind of way.

  • Only one? I had two books I read and really loved this year, but I’ll pick the latest: The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers. It’s a love letter to books and literary-geekdom. It also has pictures and the main character is a dinosaur.

  • Yesterday’s Gone: Season One. It is by Sean Platt and David Wright.

    I’m on the third of six books btw. This SHIT is cray cray good. When the blurb says “‘The Stand’ meets ‘Lost'”, they aren’t fucking kidding. It reads like really well crafted television. Each chapter has a different person’s perspective and the whole book is in cliff hanger episodic chunks.

    I have lost sleep because of this book. Just check out the link… it won’t hurt. THE FIRST ONE IS FREE. I want the world to know.

  • One of my faves: “Under the Covers and between the Sheets: Facts and Trivia about the World’s Greatest Books” – non-fiction and hugely entertaining; from weird jobs, crazy anecdotes and surprising coincidence, these trivia are great and really memorable!

  • I have just finished reading ‘Tickling the English’ by the Irish comedian Dara o’ Briain. Half road-trip of his last comedy tour of the UK, half affectionate commentary on the quirks of the English as a nation, it’s a very funny book that makes you think without going too Freudian about it all – and you don’t even have to be a fan of his stand-up comedy to enjoy it. (Although he’s well worth checking out if you’ve never seen him – I recommend starting with his ‘video games’ routine, which is easily found on YouTube.)

  • Hey, fyi: a good book for people who don’t usually read fantasy, like my parents, who are really big on John Grisham and historical texts, American Gods is a good gift. I gave it to mom n dad last year and they’ve actually read and enjoyed it. That story just has undeniable power. The hard back edition is really nice, and complete with new edits from the author.

  • If you need to take out some holiday frustrations I recommend DRAW WITH A VENGEANCE, an adult doodle book that allows you to draw the object of your aversion (read: terrible boss, unfaithful lover, nagging relative) in less-than-savory situations. It’s oddly satisfying to see my poorly-drawn ex skydiving with no parachute. The back cover reads: “Don’t do bad things to bad people. Draw bad things–and let karma handle the rest.” What makes the book even more fun is the fact that the author, under the pseudonym “Helen Wrath” is actually a children’s librarian.

    • Since it’s still not possible to order karma and have it delivered like flowers, this book seems an excellent substitute.

  • Picking only one seems impossible! I just read two awesome books in three days (even though I’m supposed to be writing). I would have to say Stacey Marie Brown’s City of Embers (Collector Series) which is free on Amazon right now! Her third book in the series released on the 9th and was a complete nail-biter, I finished it in one seriously long reading session! Good thing I’m an insomniac. It involves a hot Viking fae, a bad ass collector of said fae, and a cute little sprite monkey with an addiction to all things honey. It’s hilarious, full of action, and some hotness on the side.

  • I have one book He didn’t say it had to be new so I suggest “Dog Days” a urban Fantasy book by John Levitt. Well done, interesting world, cool hero and Lou his not quite dog

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