ABC’s Gift Ideas: Science, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Self-Published Books, Spanish Fiction

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. 🙂

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Science, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Self-Published Books (on ABC’s Espresso Book Machine) and Spanish Fiction, as picked out by section buyers Tom, Tiemen, JeroenW, Joe and Steven. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.


What a Wonderful World : One Man’s Attempt to Explain the Big Stuff – Marcus Chown

In What a Wonderful World, Marcus Chown, bestselling author of Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You and the Solar System app, uses his vast scientific knowledge and deep understanding of extremely complex processes to answer simple questions about the workings of our everyday lives. Lucid, witty and hugely entertaining, it explains the basics of our essential existence, stopping along the way to show us why the Atlantic is widening by a thumbs’ length each year, how money permits trade to time travel, why the crucial advantage humans had over Neanderthals was sewing and why we are all living in a giant hologram.

Ebook available here.

50 Philosophy of Science Ideas You Really Need to Know – Gareth Southwell

Science first began as a branch of philosophy, but it has since grown up and moved out of the family home, and its successes have put its parent in the shade. Thanks to scientific knowledge we have walked on the Moon, cured once-fatal illnesses, and even identified the very building blocks of life and the universe. But it is these very successes that underline the need for philosophy.

In straightforward and accessible terms, 50 Philosophy of Science Ideas You Really Need to Know explains the key philosophical questions that continue to lie at the heart of the nature and practice of science today.  The ideas explored include: Appearance and reality; Knowledge; Anti-realism; Metaphysics; Science and gender; Phenomenology and science.

Ebook available here.

Learning from Leonardo: Decoding the Notebooks of a Genius – Fritjof Capra

Leonardo da Vinci was a brilliant artist, scientist, engineer, mathematician, architect, inventor, and even musician—the archetypal Renaissance man. But he was also a profoundly modern man.

Capra describes seven defining characteristics of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius and includes a list of over forty discoveries he made that weren’t rediscovered until centuries later. Capra follows the organizational scheme Leonardo himself intended to use if he ever published his notebooks. So in a sense, this is Leonardo’s science as he himself would have presented it.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Lives of Tao – Wesley Chu

Tiemen: A very funny and geeky bildungsroman. Roen Tan is an underachieving slob who unwittingely becomes involved with a centuries old secret war between aliens on earth. Now he is forced to train to become a secret agent. Oh, and there is an alien living in his body now.

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…

The Republic of Thieves – Scott Lynch

Tiemen: The wait is over! After the huge succes of The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, finally the long awaited part three is here. Ocean’s Eleven meets Fantasy continues in A Republic of Thieves. Intrigue, action and, yes, even a little bit of romance all mixed together makes for a very entertaining novel.

After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins called the Bonds Magi. It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke’s own long lost love. Sabetha is Locke’s childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke’s life and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds Sabetha has just one goal: to destroy Locke for ever.

Ebook available here.

Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie

Tiemen: This is a very interesting and peculiar book. Why? The protagonist is a spaceship.

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

Ebook available here.

Saga Volume 1 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Tiemen: It’s a Graphic Novel but I just couldn’t resist including it. This is a fantastic space opera. And with fantastic I mean it’s the kind of story David Bowie on LSD would create. Mix in a bit of Whedonesque humor and you’ve got a book that everyone in the house will line up for to read.

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults. This specially priced volume collects the first arc of the smash hit series The Onion A.V. Club calls ‘the emotional epic Hollywood wishes it could make.’

The Ender Quartet Set: Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind – Orson Scott Card

JeroenW: This year we’ll finally be able to see Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game on the silver screen. For those who can’t get enough of Ender’s world, there’s this box set, which contains Ender’s Game and its three direct sequels. So why not spend this holiday season in space?

This boxed set contains Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind.

Ender’s Game:

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut-young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long..

Ebooks available for each separate book:  Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide and Children of the Mind.

Wool, Shift and Dust – Hugh Howey

JeroenW: Or why not spend your holidays underground? Hugh Howey’s trilogy about underground silo’s is finally finished, and plans are being made to make this into a movie, so why not beat the unavoidable hype and bury yourself in the world of Wool?

Wool:  In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies. To live, you must follow the rules. But some don’t. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside. Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.

Shift:  In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platform that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate. In the same year, the CBS network re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event. At almost the same moment in humanity’s broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened. This is the sequel to the New York Times bestselling WOOL series.

Dust:  In a time when secrets and lies are the foundations of life, someone has discovered the truth. And they are going to tell. Jules knows what her predecessors created. She knows they are the reason life has to be lived in this way. And she won’t stand for it. But Jules no longer has supporters. And there is far more to fear than the toxic world beyond her walls. A poison is growing from within Silo 18. One that cannot be stopped. Unless Silo 1 step in.

Ebooks available for each separate book: Wool, Shift and Dust.

The Wit & Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister – George R. R. Martin

JeroenW: Friends and family of Game of Thrones fans sure don’t have an easy time of it. Another gift season, and still no part six. Luckily there’s The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister, everyone’s favorite Halfman. Chock-full of his dry wit and fully illustrated, this is the perfect gift for those needing another dose of A Song of Ice and Fire.

‘My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer, and I have my mind . . . and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.’

The jealous masses of the Seven Kingdoms may call him Halfman, but none have ever accused Tyrion Lannister of being a halfwit. His golden tongue has saved his skin slightly more often than it has landed him in mortal peril. Now, this special illustrated volume preserves his most essential knowledge for future generations, featuring time-tested guidance on varied subjects.

Game of Thrones: Lands of Ice and Fire (maps)

Joe: A wonderful way to follow your favorite characters as they wander unwittingly towards their death. 🙂 Also a handy way to find the characters when the next book is published.

George R. R. Martin’s beloved A Song of Ice and Fire series is bursting with a variety and richness of landscapes, from bitter tundra to arid wasteland and everything in between, that provide a sense of scale unrivaled in contemporary fantasy. Now this dazzling set of maps, featuring original artwork from illustrator and cartographer Jonathan Roberts, transforms Martin’s epic saga into a world as fully realized as the one around us. The centerpiece of this gorgeous collection is the complete map of the known world, joining the lands of the Seven Kingdoms and the lands across the Narrow Sea for the first time in series history. Never before has the entire scope of Martin’s universe been so exhaustively and fascinatingly depicted.

A Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set (Song of Ice and Fire Series): A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast of Crows and A Dance with Dragons – George R. R. Martin

Joe: Trade-sized editions of the first five books in the series – a great gift for that special diehard fan.

For the first time, all five novels in the epic fantasy series that inspired HBO’s Game of Thrones are together in one boxed set. An immersive entertainment experience unlike any other, A Song of Ice and Fire has earned George R. R. Martin–dubbed ‘the American Tolkien’ by ‘Time’ magazine–international acclaim and millions of loyal readers.

Ebooks available for each separate book: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast of Crows and A Dance with Dragons.  Or, if you want to go hardcore, there’s also a 5-book, 5232 ‘page’ ebook available here.

Self-Published Books

All of these books are published on our Espresso Book Machines.  Have a potential bestseller of your own you want to self-publish?  Then click here for our self-publishing FAQ or mail (Amsterdam) or (The Hague).

White Phosphorus – Laser 3.14

ABC Amsterdam hosted a festive launch of Laser 3.14’s first book of poetry earlier this month, where you could see the book being printed before your eyes.  That special 100-copy first edition is all but sold out, but a second print run is being worked on!

Street Artist Laser 3.14’s wordcraft can be seen sprayed on renovations all across Amsterdam. He’s now taking his body of poetry, built up over more than 10 years, and publishing a selection in ‘White Phosphorous.’

Laser 3.14: ‘I see society changing every day – and not always for the better. Now’s the time to call out the truth before it’s too late.’

Redefining Growth: A Collection of Stories on Shifting Values – PICNIC

The book that was created in one day thanks to 22 insanely creative people and one PICNIC.  You have no less than 14 covers to choose from!

Our world is built on the paradigm of economic growth that has long been regarded as the most effective means to lift people out of poverty and to ensure prosperity and opportunity for all. But as we approach a global population of 7 billion we must acknowledge that the world of today is facing significant social and environmental challenges. And we must consider the role our continuous quest for growth.

Yet how do we move beyond the mantra of growth when it is at the heart of our value and belief systems that have formed our personal and professional ambitions and that guide our decisions and thus our behavior?

We need to redefine the growth paradigm and explore new foundations of our economy, our society and our personal lives.

This book was designed and made in one day by 20 participants of The Book Fab Lab on Sept the 19th 2013.

My Father’s Husband – Elloise Bennett

Our most recent self-published novel.

How do you deal with the discovery that your father is gay? How do you deal with the challenges of marriage and relationships? Where do you turn as an adult when the world just doesn’t make sense any more and is overwhelming?

Celia Booker learns that no matter how successful we are, we sometimes need a father-figure. As she travels thousands of miles to gain clarity on her crumbling marriage, she discovers guidance from an unusual source which teachers her about love, acceptance and forgiveness.

From Bagdad to Paris: 1897 – Alexander Svoboda

For those who want to take a trip through time and space, but don’t want to face the bitter December cold by leaving their house.

Journal of a journey to Europe by land via Damascus and Beirut.

A Human Document: Exploring Academic Writing in the Humanities – Ken Monteith

A fun piece of non-fiction with articles like ‘Being Human on the Verge of the Post-Human’, ‘Bitter Irony in Jane Austen’s Language’ and ‘Fear of Technology and Race: The Borg’.

This publication is the result of work performed during the Autumn semester of 2012 as part of a course designed for Masters Students in the Humanities attending the University of Amsterdam.

Spanish Fiction

Spanish books?  Why yes!  Our US supplier is able to ship over quite a variety of Spanish literature.  At ABC The Hague you’ll be able to find a separate section for them, even.

El Héroe discreto – Mario Vargas Llosa

El héroe discreto simultaneously recounts the life of two very different men. Felicito Yanaque is a small-business owner from Piura who is being blackmailed. Ismael Carrera is a successful businessman from Lima who is plotting a shocking reprisal after his two good-for-nothing sons tried to have him killed. Past the men’s differences shines one common trait: both are quiet rebels trying to take charge of their own destinies.

In this humorously melodramatic account, which takes place in the booming Peru of today, Piura and Lima become imagined territories inhabited by many of Vargas Llosa’s beloved characters.

Las Enamorientos – Javier Marías

Cada mañana María Dolz contempla en una cafetería a una pareja a la que no conoce de nada, cuya felicidad intuye y acaso envidia. Este ritual la ayuda a empezar la jornada, hasta que un día se entera de la muerte del hombre a manos de un enajenado. Más tarde, una relación imprevista, quizá imprudente, acerca a María a los pormenores del suceso. El embriagador estado de enamoramiento y las acciones que desencadena, positivas o viles, generosas o egoístas, la impunidad, la presencia casi permanente de los muertos en nuestras vidas, la memoria, la imposibilidad de conocer cabalmente la verdad son algunos de los temas por los que discurre, firme y sinuosa, una de las mejores novelas de su autor.

Amor – Isabel Allende

Atrévete a amar.

Si hay alguien capaz de describir con maestría, personalidad y humor la naturaleza caprichosa del amor, es Isabel Allende. Esta recopilación de escenas de amor, seleccionadas de entre sus libros, es una invitación a sumergirse en la lectura, soñar y sonreír. La gran narradora chilena escribe abiertamente, haciendo un guiño a sus lectores, sobre sus experiencias en el sexo y el amor.