The holidays are coming! I personally don’t celebrate but I love how generous people get around this time of the year. If you are doing some last minute shopping and need to get something for the special speculative fiction lover you know, I’ve put together a list of 10 books to choose from to make your job easier. I have picked out books that I think everyone will enjoy, but certain titles may not be universally suitable, in which case I’ve mentioned who might particularly like it. It is divided by age range and mostly contain books that have come out this year. I hope that this helps you to pick out the perfect gift!
Children’s and Middle Grade
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
This is easily the best middle grade book I’ve read this year and possibly of all time. It takes the reader on an epic adventure inspired by the Mahabharata. It explored themes like identity and has a strong focus on friendship. This is the promising first book in a four-book series which kids and adults alike will surely treasure.
Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud*
The concluding novel in this series came out in 2018, so you can get the complete set for a reader who loves magic with a side of ghosts. Although I personally haven’t read it, Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy is one of my favourites and I’m confident that this will be just as amazing. One of my wonderful book blogger friends (Justine @ I Should Read That) and an IRL friend have both loved it and I think it’s going to be the perfect binge-worthy series for a curious young reader.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This is a classic illustrated children’s book that I read this year. I completed it in January but I keep thinking about this book often even now. It’s a cosy, whimsical blend of science fiction and fantasy that will remind both the young and old of important lessons that one tends to forget as one grows up.
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
This book is #OwnVoices and another one inspired by the Mahabharata, which is all the more special if you’ve read the original. It is the first in a trilogy that blurs the line between sci-fi and magic, good and evil, and myth and reality. Not only does it have compelling characters, but unpredictable plot twists and an explosive climax that will leave you asking for more.
The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The series is now complete with the release of Obsidio this year. Set in the future, this follows a group of survivors seeking safety, with a gang of unlikely teenage heroes trying to save the day using their own unique set of skills. It’s got suspense, clever plot twists and told in a quirky format that will definitely appeal to young readers.
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
This short story anthology features some of young adult literature’s greatest Asian writers. All the stories resonated with my soul and made me fall in love with reading all over again. It’s a wonderful introduction to Asian culture, mythology and folklore, features diverse voices from a variety of genres and the perfect gift for any occasion.
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
This intense debut takes you on a journey along with the peasant girl Rin who rises to great power with sheer will and hard work. War, politics and magic are expertly blended together to create the best first book in a series I’ve read in 2018. This is the kind of book that will haunt you long after you’ve turned the last page and get you hooked to an excellent new series. Please check out this list of trigger warnings by the author herself before making any decisions.
The Machineries of Empire series by Yoon Ha Lee*
This is a critically acclaimed and recently concluded adult sci-fi series with a strong focus on military manoeuvring. I haven’t personally read this series but it’s very high on my TBR as it has been garnering praise from all over the bookish SFF community. It features unique world-building, complex characters, a layered plot and will prove to be the best gift for the ardent sci-fi lover or the math genius you know.
How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin
Another short story collection, but this time all are written by the best SFF writer of our time. This is my current read and first introduction to Jemisin. Two stories in and I’m already in love with her masterful prose, her plots and her sheer genius in world-building. This is an excellent introduction to the world of science fiction and fantasy for newcomers who are interested to get a taste of the genre.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
This is a 2017 release but I read it this year, so I decided to include it anyway. It includes certain hand-picked stories from the Norse Mythology told in the quintessential Gaiman way. Not only does the hardcover feature stunning cover art, the audiobook is one of the best I’ve listened to. This is a must-have for any fantasy fan to revisit time and again.
I really hope that the recipient loves whatever you give them! What do you usually give your loved ones for holiday season? What do you receive in turn? Let me know in the comments section below.