Follow us on

2015 - Holiday Gift Guide - Part IV - Music, Books, and More

December 20th, 2015


The final installment of the Holiday Gift Guide focuses on music, books, and of course items I missed in the first three installments.

For those who loved What If?...
Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe - Buy from Amazon: Hardcover or Kindle
Description: This is an encyclopedia of sorts. Randall Munroe of explains a number of things, but using only the ten hundred most common words. (The first thing I learned from this book was that thousand isn't among the thousand most common words.)
Pros: Randall Munroe has a talent for creating fun ways to explain entertaining interesting concepts.
Cons: I'm not sure this will have the same staying power as What If? did. I think this book is too much gimmick and not enough substance.

For those who feel they are a little weird...
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day - Buy from Amazon: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, and Audio
Description: Felicia Day wrote a memoir about her internet fame, living with anxiety, etc. She also reads the audio book format and she's the second best choice to do so.
Pros: The book's reviews are amazing and if you are reading this on the internet, there's a good chance either you or someone you know is in the target audience here. Felicia Day doesn't like being called Queen of the Internet, but there are very few others who could legitimately claim that title.
Cons: Part of me thinks it would have been better if her brother, Ryon Day, had read the audiobook version.

For those who love space and don't mind the wait...
Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA by Amy Shira Teitel - Buy from Amazon: Hardcover, Kindle, or Audio
Description: Amy Shira Teitel of Vintage Space YouTube channel talks about the Space race predating NASA.
Pros: There are not a lot of reviews on Goodreads for reasons that will become obvious shortly, but the ones there are overwhelmingly positive. I'm not surprised, since Amy Shira Teitel's YouTube channel is constantly engaging.
Cons: While it has been released in the U.K., it doesn't come out here till January 12th, which explains the lack of reviews. You can get a signed hardcover from her official site, which should arrive sooner.

For those who thought it sold out...
25 by Adele - Buy from Amazon: CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Description: Adele's third studio album. It was released on November 20th to critical and commercial success.
Pros: Overall reviews, including a five-star review in Rolling Stones have been very good and the film broke records for sales. The film sold so many CDs that there's talk this could encourage people to buy physical media again, as opposed to digital downloads.
Cons: The film broke records for sales, which means there is a good chance the person you are buying for has it already.

For those who like their metal kawaii...
Babymetal - Self-Titled Debut - Buy from Amazon: CD
Description: Babymetal was founded in 2010 as a way to combine J-Pop with Metal. However, instead of just relying on a gimmick to get curious people to listen to their songs or watch their videos online, the band has some serious talent behind them. (They are like the Monkees in that regard.)
Pros: The album has earned a lot of Praise, including a 4.5-star out of five-star review from Rolling Stone Japan and even won awards in Japan and elsewhere. The North American release of their debut CD includes two bonus tracks. Also worth getting are the bands two concert Blu-rays.
Cons: Some people will look at you funny for liking this band.
Notes: Their second album comes out in April. I hope that includes a North American release around the same time.

For those who though the previous Box Set wasn't enough...
The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection - Buy from Amazon: DVD
Description: A massive 22-disc collection of episodes from The Carol Burnett Show, most of which are from the earlier seasons, which have not been see on TV in ages.
Pros: This 22-disc set includes many, many classic skits, while there are hours of extras as well.
Cons: It costs $200, which is not an insignificant amount.

For those who are fans of Studio Ghibli...
When Marnie Was There - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack
Description: An orphan girl moves in with relatives in the country to help with her asthma. There she meets an equally lonely girl, who lives in a large mansion near the shore. This new girl has an air of mystery around her.
Pros: Studio Ghibli has a track record similar to Pixar when it comes to the quality of their films. This one is an excellent example of their Slice-of-Life films. There are not a ton of extras, but enough to be a selling point.
Cons: Studio Ghibli's Slice-of-Life films are not as popular as their Fantasy Epic films.
Notes: The Cat Returns is also worth buying on Blu-ray.

For those who like animated stories, but don't have a lot of time...
Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack
Description: A dozen short films, most of which have appeared in front of Disney cartoons during recent years.
Pros: There isn't a bad short among the group, while several earned critical praise and a couple of them even earned Oscar glory.
Cons: Many of these have been released on Blu-ray recently, so there's a lot of double-dips. That said, if you are a fan of shorts, then it is nice to have a good collection.

That's finally it. The Holiday Gift Guide is done for the year. There was a lot of massive hits for the First-Run Releases, but a slim selection of TV on DVD releases, but way, way, way too many limited releases. There should be something for everyone on one of these lists.


Filed under: Carol Burnett, Kiernan Shipka, Hailee Steinfeld, Felicia Day