For nearly forty years, Star Wars has been a cultural phenomenon. I remember receiving Star Wars action figures and playsets as a child, from Jabba the Hutt to the Ewok Village. They were always my absolute favorite gifts. Whether your Star Wars nerd is four or forty, you can’t go wrong with books and merchandise from a galaxy far, far away.
- Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One
- William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set by Ian Doescher (there are also Victorian versions of the prequels, but suffer from poor source material)
- Star Wars Art: Posters
- Ultimate Star Wars by Ryder Windham and Adam Bray
- Star Wars Mad Libs by Roger Price and Leonard Stern
There are several titles being released related to The Force Awakens, and while I have not had an opportunity to personally review them, I have little doubt that they will be amazing. Most of these titles are available for pre-order only as they will not be released until Friday when the movies debuts.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster (will not be released in print until January, but the Kindle edition will be available Friday)
- The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak and Rick Carter
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionaryby Pablo Hidalgo
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross-Sections by Jason Fry and Kemp Remillard
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka and Phil Noto
Again, if your Star Wars nerd isn’t a reader, you can’t go wrong with the soundtrack, action figures, or this sweet clock. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with a calendar. If you’re buying for dad, you can select from a wide array of Star Wars neckties. The possibilities are endless…there is Star Wars–themed merchandise for everything.
Baseball is the one sport whose history is every bit as important as what is happening on the field. The record books are held in reverence, and the heroes of the past loom over the stars of today. With that in mind, here are some fantastic books that the baseball fanatic in your life will love.
- The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes by Gary Cieradkowski – This is at the top of the list for a reason. If you buy no other book for your baseball fan this holiday season, but this one. From the excellent illustrations to the entertaining articles, baseball fans the world over will absolutely love The League of Outsider Baseball. This is the most important and highest recommended book on this list.
- Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk by Doug Wilson – Wilson has made a name for himself with some fantastic baseball biographies; his work on the life of Carlton Fisk is his most recent. Baseball fans will also enjoy Wilson’s The Bird (biography of Mark Fidrych) and Brooks (biography of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson).
- 101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out by Josh Pahigian – A good list of baseball meccas to help you plan your summer vacation.
- Baseball Myths: Debating, Debunking, and Disproving Tales from the Diamond by Bill Deane – A fun read with shorter articles that examine several legendary tales from the diamond. Stories about Derek Jeter, Pete Rose, and Babe Ruth are included.
- Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend by Thom Henninger – Tony Oliva is one of the most popular players in Minnesota history, and Henninger’s look at his life shows why.
Not everyone likes to read. I get that. Well, maybe I don’t get that, but I am aware of that fact at least. So here are some other ideas for the baseball fan on your list.
- OYO Sports Figures and Playsets – This LEGO-like toy is a great gift if you know your fan’s favorite player.
- Super Stadium Baseball Game – Kids (and kids at heart) can have hours of fun with this game.
- The Baseball Card Game by TDC Games – Not as involved as Super Stadium, but a fun way to pass the time.
- Classic Board Game – A great trivia game from the early 1990s, including 100 baseball trading cards.
- Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns – Ten DVDs chronicling the history of the national pastime. Originally aired on PBS in 1994; updated in 2010.
Writing and drawing for comic books is a true art form, and the skills needed to succeed are much different than what a short story writer or novelist might utilize. Here are some books to help those who are exploring their talents in the comic art form.
- Words For Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis
- Creating Graphic Novels by Sarah Beach
- Mastering Comics by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden
- The Art of Comic Book Writing by Mark Kneece
- Foundations in Comic Book Art by John Paul Lowe
- How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema
Most writers who dream of working in comics love to read them as well, so they may also enjoy the books below.
There are innumerable books on the market targeted toward aspiring authors. Some are more worthwhile than others. Here is a short list of some books that writers might find useful.
- Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents
- Editor-Proof Your Writing by Don McNair
- The Writer’s Devotional by Amy Peters
- Fast Fiction by Denise Jaden
- 500 Words You Should Know by Caroline Taggart
While those books can be very beneficial, there are three that are indispensable. Find out if the books listed below are on your friend’s bookshelf, and if not, you have a perfect Christmas gift.
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
- The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
- Roget’s Thesaurus or The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus
Tomorrow: ideas for an aspiring comic book writer and/or artist.
Rock isn’t dead, and here are ten records to prove it. If the rocker in your life likes classic hard rock, there’s a good chance he’ll love some of these albums. They are not all brand new, but there are some hidden gems that even the most grizzled rockers have not heard.
- Bulletboys – Elefanté
- Hollywood Vampires – Hollywood Vampires
- Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
- Lynch Mob – Rebel
- Paul Gilbert & Freddie Nelson – United States
- Rival Sons – Pressure & Time
- Scorpion Child – Scorpion Child
- Scorpions – Return To Forever
- Triggerdaddy – Stereosonic Meltdown
- ZO2 – Ain’t It Beautiful
Of course, if your special rocker is into stuff off the beaten path, check out these bluegrass records that really rock:
And then there are books about music…
There have been several good books published over the past few years about the Cincinnati Reds. If you’re having trouble deciding what to buy for the Reds fan in your life this holiday season, here are a few suggestions:
- Cincinnati Reds Legends by Mike Shannon: If you get no other book, get this one. The artwork is amazing, and it covers the team’s history from the early days through 2014.
- The Hunt for a Reds October by Charles F. Faber and Zacahariah Webb: This book chronicles the 1990 season and profiles the players involved in the last Reds World Championship.
- The Great Eight: The 1975 Cincinnati Reds edited by Mark Armour: Go back 40 years to the Big Red Machine era and revisit the 1975 season and its players.
- Heard But Not Seen by Denny Dressman: This is a short but entertaining book about the 1970 All-Star Game and the infamous Pete Rose/Ray Fosse collision.
- Big Klu: The Baseball Life of Ted Kluszewski by William A. Cook: One of the most popular Reds players of the 1950s was Ted Kluszewski.
- Double No-Hit by James W. Johnson: This book takes an in-depth look at Johnny Vander Meer’s back-to-back no-hitters.
If your Cincinnati Reds fan is not a reader, slap him because books are awesome. And then think about some of the other things you can find that don’t involve too many printed words…
- Funko Pop! Major League Baseball: Mr. Red Vinyl Figure
- “Vintage Baseball” Lightweight Fleece Throw Blanket
- Cincinnati Baseball Heroes playing cards by Hero Decks
- Reds Memories: The Greatest Moments in Cincinnati Reds History DVD
- OYO figures
- 2016 Wall Calendar
I will share some ideas in the coming days for general baseball fans, horror fans, and writers.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful night tonight,
and an even better day tomorrow.
I don’t put a religious emphasis on Christmas. So many elements of what is accepted as the “Christmas story” are misinterpreted, taken out of context, and flat-out wrong. I have tried to teach my children the truth of what the Bible says as opposed to what the world at large believes.
However, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is one of the cutest holiday novels-turned-movies of my generation. Written by Barbara Robinson in 1971, it follows the exploits of the Herdman children, the rottenest kids in town who bully the other kids into letting them be the “stars” of the church’s Christmas pageant.
I would highly recommend reading the book first. We read it a few nights ago, and it took a little over an hour with each of us taking turns reading a chapter out loud. Tonight, I fired up the trusty old YouTube and found the movie. If you don’t have time to read the book, or just prefer to watch instead, here you go…
Purchase The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson before next Christmas and start a tradition of reading it with your family.
Are there stories or movies that your family enjoys together each year?
CC Claus: A Baseball Christmas Story by CC Sabathia with Ray Negron, illustrated by Laura Seeley (2014)
CC Claus: A Baseball Christmas Story
by CC Sabathia with Ray Negron, illustrated by Laura Seeley
A letter for Santa is mistakenly delivered to CC Sabathia, and at the urging of his son Carsten, Sabathia sets out for the North Pole to make sure Santa gets the Christmas request. When they arrive, they find that Santa is behind schedule and is worried that all the toys might not get finished. Sabathia pulls out his telephone and calls George Steinbrenner, who shows up to save the day. Recruiting the help of baseball stars and legends such as Billy Martin, Roberto Clemente, Babe Ruth, Bob Feller and others, the toys are built and ready to go. Unfortunately, Santa is ill and unable to make the global delivery. Sabathia again steps up, and he and Carsten take the toys to their destinations all around the world.
A cute story, illustrated beautifully by Laura Seeley, CC Claus: A Baseball Christmas Story is a great way to introduce youngsters to baseball stars who have passed on. In addition to those already mentioned, Paul Blair, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg, Elston Howard, Catfish Hunter, Tetsuharu Kawakami, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Jackie Mitchell, Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, Satchel Paige, Phil Rizzuto, Jackie Robinson, Willie Stargell, and Ted Williams also appear. In the back of the book, each player is given a small blurb that could kindle the curiosity of a child to learn more about the greats of America’s pastime.