It’s no secret that the dry and boring like to give and receive books. What else is so easy to shop for, easy to wrap, and easy to return than a book? Given that there are thousands upon thousands of books in seemingly every area of human interest, one is bound to find something for your most least interesting relative.
For your dry and boring sports fan, I highly recommend a book about that most boring of sports, baseball. Will Leitch, best known for creating the sports blog Deadspin and then destroying it by daring to leave it in the hands of another, wrote an excellent book on baseball entitled Are We Winning? a book about the drinking habits of Midwesterners. It’s also about Will and his father and how they love to watch baseball while drinking. This is book for the drunk sportsfan who knows more about sports than Peter King, i.e., every single one.
The best books I read this year were for young adults, Scott Westerfeld’s series. Everyone knows that Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination sparked the Great War; what Westerfeld’s books presuppose is … maybe the Duke’s son secretly inherited his father’s titles and lands and worked to stop the great powers from falling into war. Leviathan and its successor, Behemoth, combine elements of historical fiction with speculative fiction and steampunk; they are fun, fast-paced, and have lovely illustrations. While aimed at young people, these are books for all ages, but especially aimed at future SCA members, cosplay fanatics, LARPers, and furries.
While it was short-listed for the Booker and failed to win, I really like the cover for Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey. Isn’t it lovely? Actually, it is a really good book. Fans of historical fiction, Alexis de Tocqueville, and viewing America through the lens of snobby Europeans.
Carey has won the Booker twice before, and this novel is a strong social critique of current European and American culture. Well worth a purchase for the liberals in your family who keep threatening to move to la France but who won’t actually go, or for the conservatives in your family who need another reason to hate it.
Finally, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, and other writers and sword-fighting enthusiasts have created a serial novel that is being delivered online only (for now). Entitled The Mongoliad, the work is set in 1241, a time when Ghengis Khan’s son Ögedei Khan and his hordes threaten to overrun Europe. Subscriptions are available at the six and twelve month and lifetime levels; a free iPad and iPhone application is available through iTunes. The work has multiple viewpoints including, thus far, knights, priests, assassins, peasants, Ögedei himself. It promises to be not simply an exercise in historical fiction, but an experiment in publishing. Stephenson and Bear has said that they will publish the completed novel on paper whenever it is that they complete it, but if the novel succeeds without being printed, it will certainly show that good work will find a large and sustaining audience in the electronic medium.
I want more like this!
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