Holiday Season 2017 Book Gift Guide

I’ve been asked about books from 2017 that would be good gifts for the coming holiday season. I drafted it and realized that they were all published last year or even the year before. First, it’s because my to-read pile is still out of control. But mostly, it’s because the year has been draining. Most of the good things I remember happening in 2017, happened in 2016. Remember how in 2016, we thought the political climate couldn’t get any worse? Anyway, the holiday season is upon us. If you’re overwhelmed like me, you probably missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday too. I hope these four recommendations for heart-warming books help you. Here goes.

The Dead Ladies Project by Jessa Crispin (2015).

Part literary criticism, part travel memoir, this book will delight lovers of both genre. The author sieves her life down to two suitcases and leaves the U.S. for Europe in search of expats from different times and places. In her quest, she stays in Berlin, Trieste, Sarajevo, Galway, Lausanne… among other cities. I’ve written about it more last September.

The Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua (2015).

Comics lovers, computer geeks and Victorian England fanatics. If the person you’re shopping for ticks two out of these three boxes, you got a hit. That book is funny and endearing. In an alternative-history pocket universe where Charles Babbage completes his analytical engine, we get to follow him and Ada Lovelace in their funny adventures. Sydney Padua re-drew her entire webcomic corpus for publication on paper and a tremendous webcomic became an absolutely lovely book.

La Ville des Mystères by Julien Hirt (2016)

For the French speaker and Fantasy fan in your life, Julien Hirt’s first novel La Ville des Mystères (2016) is a good choice. It is a steampunk fantasy novel in which a teenager is sucked into a world of mystery and adventure. It’s a thrilling journey through a compelling world. The second part has yet to come out and I can’t wait to find out what happens to the protagonist and her friends.

Vacation: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman (2017)

One of the major good things that happened this year happened recently. John Hodgman, successful author, podcaster and minor television personality, published a new book entitled Vacation: True Stories from Painful Beaches. In it, he chronicles his realization that he is a middle aged man and a mortal. Various life circumstances change the background of his life and his book from Massachusetts (where “Dawson’s Creek” is supposed to take place) to Maine where the landscape is uncaring and the beaches covered with razor sharp rocks (where “Murder, She Wrote” is supposed to take place). It’s hilarious and sweet.