It’s Wednesday! Time for another Top Five Wednesday post! This week the topic is “Books to Give _____ as Gifts.” I’m filling in the blank with my husband. I feel pretty safe doing this because 1) I’m not actually getting him any books for Christmas, and 2) should I decide to change my mind about that, he probably won’t read this blog post anyway.
Doing a top five list on books I would buy for my husband may seem incredibly specific. But, this list would also work for any incredibly difficult people to buy for on your shopping list. Particularly, ones that prefer to read only non-fiction or hard sci-fi. If the person you’re trying to find the perfect book for is really into learning new things and following their curiosity, but prefers all the world-building in the novels they read to be grounded in reality, this list may give you some gift-giving ideas.
And, as an added bonus for anyone who knows my husband and is inclined to buy him a present for Christmas, you are free to take any of these ideas. I know he’s particularly difficult to buy things for. So, consider this my gift to you. You’re welcome. 🙂
To give you a sense of my husband’s taste in books, most recently, he read and enjoyed the first two books in the Expanse series (Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War), as well as Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill. He also reads a lot of non-fiction, but I’m keeping this list focused on sci-fi novels that I think he would enjoy, based on ones I know he’s read and liked (recent and past), plus his favorite sci-fi authors (like Neal Stephenson).
Here are my selections for the top five books I think my husband (or anyone who loves hard sci-fi) would enjoy:
- Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers — Technically, this is the third book in a series of loosely connected books. I’ve read the first two in this series, and I think my husband would enjoy both of those books (the second maybe more than the first). But, I already have those books. So, I’d recommend this one for him, especially because I’ve heard this one is slightly different and possibly the best, yet. One of the things I love about these books is how they wrestle with tough questions and meaty themes, but are ultimately optimistic about humanity. He really likes meaty themes, and sometimes he could use a dose of optimism in light of the state of “general world suck.”
- Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice — I love finding new takes (especially from under-represented authors) on “the same old” sci-fi and fantasy novels. In this case, a crumbling post-apocalyptic society. My husband is a fan of post-apocalyptic books, especially when they have plausible apocalypses and deal with the gritty reality of survival. For example, he really liked The Dog Stars and also The Water Knife. This one sounds like another that he would enjoy.
- Walkaway by Cory Doctorow — My husband has read, and really enjoyed, several other books by Cory Doctorow, and I’ve been hearing that this one, Cory’s latest, is maybe his best yet. This is another spin on the post-apocalyptic novel, but likely to be unique because Cory Doctorow is kind of known for spending a lot of time thinking about the intersection between the future of technology and society. And since he knows a thing or two about technology, and the culture surrounding technology, he usually comes up with some pretty plausible stuff.
- I Still Dream by James Smythe — I found this on The Guardian’s best of 2018 list. Their lists have, in the past, been a good source for finding books that my husband might like. This one is about artificial intelligence, which is something I know he’s interested in. I also got a lot of Diamond Age (by Neal Stephenson) vibes from the blurb. It may be because of the young and brilliant, female protagonist. I’m not sure how available this book is in the U.S., but I think there is a high probability that he would like it.
- Gnomon by Nick Harkaway — I wonder if this one isn’t a little too “on the nose” to be a hit with my husband, but I’m including it anyway because it’s got all the markers of being a book he would really enjoy. It sounds like it’s kind of a 1984 -type story of government surveillance, but the blurb also reminds me of The Circle (another book my husband liked), and it appears to maybe have a sort of code for the reader to uncover along with the main character. So, while it appears to have a lot of themes that I feel are maybe getting a bit overdone at this point, I think it has unique enough aspects to be something he’d find interesting.
If you have other suggestions that you think he might like, let me know in the comments. I’d love to know what else might be a good choice, just in case I do decide to buy him a book or two for Christmas. 🙂