Books You Should Buy With Your Holiday Money

Christmas - Heart Book by Ian Johnston (detail)Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Factioners! At this festive time of year whether you celebrate Yule, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or any other December holidays, you may end up facing a dilemma that is known far and wide within the SFF universe: What books should you spend your gift cards on??

Earlier this month we asked our readers to give us one book that everyone should buy. New, old, doesn’t matter. It just had to be an awesome book everyone should own. The list we received is of course not close to complete, but if you are super stuck on what to read next, you couldn’t do better than some of these suggestions.

So here they are broken down by section, but in no particular order.

(Oh! And if you think we missed an important one, which we probably did, feel free to add it in the comments!)

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The Watchers (cover)The Angelus Trilogy by Jon Steele

Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb

The Barbed Coil by J. V. Jones

An almost perfect standalone epic with fascinatingly drawn magic and excellent characters. – Steven Poore

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1) by Katherine Arden

[This] is a great book. – Charles Hewitt

The Complete Chronicles of Conan: Centenary Edition by Robert Ervin Howard

Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark

Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

A Wizard of Earthsea (cover)The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin

[I] always find something new in each re-read. – David Ivor Howells

Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Weird, but awesome. – Matt Webb

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Keys of the Origin (The Scions of Balance, #1) by Melissa A. Joy

It is an epic adventure with interesting characters, and a beautiful mythology. – Selene Kallan

The Lark and The Wren (Bardic Voices #1) by Mercedes Lackey

Legend (cover)Legend (The Drenai Saga #1) by David Gemmell

Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The greatest fantasy novel ever written that isn’t Lord of the Rings. 🙂 – Kenneth Øster

Monstrous Regiment (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett

Most (if not all) Discworld novels are excellent, but out of my three favourites it is the only one that is mostly a standalone. – Helen Walker

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

The Queen’s Poisoner (Kingfountain #1) by Jeff Wheeler

Brilliant book and possibly one of my favourite series too. 🙂 – Kshoni Gunputh

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

A really unique and touching read that was spectacularly well written and had the coolest story! – Rachel McCoy

Small Gods (cover)Small Gods (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett

A standalone Discworld [book] that looks at religion and humanity. Funny and thought provoking. – Matthew Cavanagh

To Ride Hell’s Chasm by Janny Wurts

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones

Especially if you’re an aspiring author. – Peter McLean

The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Baru Cormorant #1) by Seth Dickinson

Watership Down by Richard Adams

One of my favorite books of all time. – Jennie Ivins

Sorcerer to the Crown (cover)

Historical Fantasy

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

[This] book blew my mind. – Amy Jordan Ross

Roma (Rome #1) by Steven Saylor

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1) by Zen Cho

Because it reads like Jane Austen meets fantasy, and simply is a lot of fun! – Julia Kitvaria Sarene


The Invisible Library (cover)The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman

Great for book lovers. – Debbie Phillips

Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel #1) by Josiah Bancroft

Urban Fantasy

The Rook (The Checquy Files #1) by Daniel O’Malley

Because it made me snort and laugh out loud in the subway – perfect to get into a good mood after [stressful] holidays. ? – Julia Kitvaria Sarene


YA Fantasy

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (cover)The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

Not everyone has them. They are short, too, so perfect for a stocking stuffer. – Joe Perry

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V. E. Schwab

Steelheart (The Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

A gorgeous meditation on the magic of storytelling, a fairytale about why we need fairy tales, and a sly deconstruction of storytelling tropes, all wrapped up in DWJ’s masterful storytelling. Luminous and essential. – Jonathan Thornton

The Naming (The Books of Pellinor #1) (The Gift in Australia and the UK) by Alison Croggon

Middle Grade & Children’s Fantasy

Dealing With Dragons (cover)Dealing With Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1) by Patricia C. Wrede

Half Magic (Tales of Magic #1) by Edward Eager

For children or grandchildren – and fun for adults reading to them. – Sanna Hines


God’s Demon by Wayne Barlowe

Misery by Stephen King

After reading it this year I would say it is now my favourite of his novels. – Helen Walker

Science Fiction

Always Coming Home (cover)Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin

[This is an] incredible and beautiful book. – Jonathan Thornton

Dune by Frank Herbert

Because it’s Dune. – Wulf Moon

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

The Forever War (The Forever War #1) by Joe Haldeman

Grass (Arbai #1) by Sheri S. Tepper

Thought provoking portrayal of the human response to an incomprehensibly alien world, and a rattling good story. – Matt Willis

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

History & Mythology

A Short History of Nearly Everything (cover)A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

I know it is not fantasy, but it is just so good! I’ve the audiobook and listen almost every eve before I go to sleep. – G. R. Matthews

The Iliad by Homer

The Odyssey by Homer

The Epic of Gilgamesh


For some ripping good storytelling—and to remind us that humans have been telling fantastical, lyrical, violent, and wise tales from the very beginning. – Carol Klees-Starks

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We hope you found something to add to your to-be-read pile. Let us know in the comments if you have a must read book to add to our list!

Santa's Present by Gavin O'Donnell

Happy Holidays from Fantasy-Faction! And Happy Reading!

Title image by Ian Johnston.


By Jennie Ivins

Jennie is the Editor of Fantasy-Faction. She lives with her math loving husband and their three autistic boys (one set of twins & one singleton). In-between her online life and being a stay-at-home mom, she is writing her first fantasy series. She also enjoys photography, art, cooking, computers, science, history, and anything else shiny that happens across her field of vision. You can find her on Twitter @autumn2may.

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