You’ve got geeks. We’ve got books for them. Here are my Top Ten Geeky Books to give to your geek this holiday season. (In alphabetical order because…geek.) Read on for a hand-picked book gift guide.
Ancillary Justice. Ann Leckie
What if there was a sentient starship that inhabited all of its conduits and shuttlecrafts and animated corpse drones? And then what if this ship was destroyed except for one drone– cut off from its myriad sensors but with all of its vast knowledge and experience trapped in one drone? And what if that drone wanted revenge?
Yep, it’s a wild ride with amazing world-building.
Armada. Ernest Cline
For your gamer geek:
Zack is bored in high school (we can all relate, right?), wishing he would get swept up in some grand space adventure like in the video games he plays. When he sees a space ship through the school window that is right out of his current game, Zack knows he must be going crazy. But (spoiler (not really)) he’s not. The story is fast-paced and fun with lots of pop culture and science references that will make your geek sense tingle.
(For bonus points, get your geek the audio version. It’s narrated by Wil Wheaton who is spectacular.)
Black Panther #1. Ta-Nehisi Coates
Any comic book geek will enjoy this new era in the Black Panther story, featuring the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates (yes, the National book Award winner) and the illustrations of the brilliant Brian Stelfreeze.
Doomsday Book. Connie Willis
For your geek who likes thick, intricate books:
It’s a pretty standard solo field trip to 14th Century England for 21st Century Oxford student Kivrin, but she soon finds herself trapped in the past by a temporal crisis, in an age of fear and superstition.
This book won both the Nebula Award (for science fiction) and the Edgar Award (for mystery), among others.
The End of Eternity. Isaac Asimov
For the old-school sci-fi geek, a time travel classic by a landmark author.
Lilith’s Brood. Octavia Butler
You know those books that are really conceptual science fiction with aliens and personal struggles and the rebuilding of civilization after an apocalypse that show us what humans are really made of? That’s what this is. This is a landmark trilogy of science fiction that deserves to be up there with Foundation.
Physics of the Impossible. Michio Kaku
For your physics geek:
Faster than light travel is a cool idea, but how likely is it to actually be developed? Is there a way to give it, say, a numerical category for how long it will take scientists to make it really happen? Yup. Esteemed physicist Michio Kaku explains what it will take to bring interstellar travel, teleportation, time travel, and more into our real world.
S. J.J. Abrams
This book is seriously meta. When you pick this up, you are holding a library book called “Ship of Theseus”, with call number and library stamps and all that. As you turn the pages, you see notes written in the margins, written by two different people who have never met but are corresponding on the pages. You find items they’ve left for each other tucked in between the pages—postcards, a newspaper clipping, an (honest to God) map of secret passages drawn on a diner napkin.
The note-leavers set out to explore the mystery of who the true author of “Ship of Theseus” was and how involved he was in a secret society in the early 20th Century. But as they dig deeper, the mystery of the novel spills out into their real lives as the secret society draws near to them.
A Study In Charlotte. Brittany Cavallar
Writing about Sherlock Holmes (especially adapting him into the modern day) is very hard to do well, so instead Brittany Cavallaro expands the Sherlock-verse beautifully. The characters have terrific insight into what would have happened to the two families over the years and how they would participate in our modern world.
The story is told by Jamie Watson—a descendant of the real John Watson—who starts attending a boarding school in current day Connecticut where Charlotte Holmes—a descendant of the real Sherlock Holmes also attends. Not long after Jamie arrives, a fellow student is murdered in the style of a Holmes case, and Charlotte and Jamie must find out who is taunting them and how to keep them from striking again. The entire book is filled with references to the Holmes canon and will leave every reader Sherlocked.
Warcross. Marie Lu
For your tech geek:
Warcross is an online virtual reality (VR) game played by millions around the world. Some people bet on the game illegally, which brings in bounty hunter (and hacker) Anika Chen. But it’s a tough way to make a living, so Anika does a teeny tiny hack to win some quick credits during the Warcross Championships… accidentally placing herself into the game for all the world to see.
She expects to be arrested, but instead the maker of the game hires her to be a spy on the inside of the tournament to deal with a security threat he is trying to uncover—a threat that could bring consequences all over the world. This book blends real world and virtual world and augmented world seamlessly with an engaging storyline and terrific writing.
Please note: The titles above are linked to Goodreads.com so that you can learn about them, see reviews, and add them to your own to-read lists, but if you are considering purchasing copies, I strongly recommend using Indiebound.org. This website channels purchases through local bookstores near you that support local authors, businesses, and communities.
Book gift guide honorable mentions
- Autonomous. Annalee Newitz
- The Age of Miracles. Karen Thompson Walker
- The Disappearing Spoon… Sam Kean
- The Hidden Reality. Brian Greene
About the author
Brian McCann is a librarian and novelist based in Kansas City. In addition, he coordinates a website called Fictional Almanac where a group of librarians celebrate fictional events in real life, and he leads Theta Media, a social media consulting group for performers of all kinds. You can follow him on twitter as @writerbrarian. You can learn more about his published book (Music Theory, about a choir director who can’t sing) and find out what he is reading right now at his website writerbrarian.com.
The geekiest day of Brian’s life was when he attended a science fiction convention to speak on a panel about steampunk literature, then hung out while George R. R. Martin did a live commentary on a Game of Thrones episode, then went to his library school graduation party which had a Doctor Who theme. His geekiest interests include playing Dungeons and Dragons, quoting Pride & Prejudice, and an unhealthy passion for metadata and epistemology.