Yes, we read more than comic books. Below are just a few of the titles we’d recommend gifting this holiday season.
By the time I had even read a single word of it, Andy Weir’s The Martian had already spent several months under giant heaps of praise and landed a Ridley Scott-directed film adaptation with a Matt Damon-led cast; needless to say, I had very high expectations this book couldn’t possibly hope to meet. Well, it didn’t; The Martian exceeded my expectations; blew my expectations to pieces. I loved this book. Weir crafts this Cast Away-meets-Apollo-13 story with such realism and organic charm that I literally had to remind myself that I was not reading a book about an actual event. With its expert-approved (seriously, real astronauts have commented on this book’s authenticity) science and the immensely human structure of its dialogue, this book somehow manages to perfectly capture whatever it is that makes guys like Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson so damn good at communicating science. I just… you simply must read this book to fully appreciate how well Weir places you on the surface of Mars and inside the affable and sarcastic, blog-like mind of the story’s protagonist Mark Watney. Watney’s not the titular character, however; the secret is that you will be The Martian, by the time you’ve finished this book. – ProFan John
Wheel of Time series
The Wheel of Time is an epic fantasy series that spans across 14 books. Follow along with Rand Al’ Thor as he discovers that he is reincarnated as The Dragon Reborn and is destined to save the world from the Dark One. This is one of the best series I’ve ever read. Anyone even the slightest bit into fantasy will enjoy this series. – ProFan Patti
Coldbrook is a mix of sci-fi and horror that has elements of the Dark Tower series, The Walking Dead, and Stargate. We covered it our first book club podcast selection and it was a good place to start. It offers up a different take on zombie lore, and contains a multiverse aspect that is fascinating. – ProFan Nina
The long-awaited continuation of Greg Rucka’s Jad Bell series, which began with 2012’s Alpha, finally saw publication this July. Bravo finds Bell almost immediately after the events of Alpha, and while everything quickly falls back into familiar and welcome territory, Bravo departs noticeably from the structure of Alpha, and it’s awesome. While Alpha’s constrictive theme park setting saw Rucka expertly construct an environment to almost claustrophobic detail and play out a tense and suspenseful thriller like so much Die Hard but with more character development, Bravo explodes the plot into an expansive arena where Rucka can really stretch his world-building legs. Bravo switches gears into something more akin to Mission: Impossible with even more environments and action, which plays right into what I think makes Rucka’s writing so enjoyable: he world-builds like a motherfucker, and nobody–nobody–writes an action sequence better, so not only are you always keenly aware of where you are, but you’re also able to see every punch, kick, or gunshot in real-time. There’s nothing else like reading a Rucka asskicking. Beyond that, and back to that character development I was talking about, not only does Rucka seem to have an innate ability to write real (as in realistic) people, but Bravo is terrific in how it deifies someone in one breath and then humanizes them in the next; the way Rucka is able to turn that dial so finely is sensational to read. – ProFan John