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My holiday reading list

'Tis the season to be bookish. We all have "to read" lists as long as our arms, so here is an attempt to narrow mine down to five picks that I would love to receive for the holidays. Merry reading!

    Mooncop

    The lunar colony is slowly winding down, like a small town circumvented by a new super highway. As our hero, the Mooncop, makes his daily rounds, his beat grows ever smaller, the population dwindles. A young girl runs away, a dog breaks off his leash, an automaton wanders off from the Museum of the Moon. Each day that the Mooncop goes to work, life gets a little quieter and a little lonelier.As in Goliath, Tom Gauld’s retelling of the Bible story, the focus in Gauld's science fiction is personal—no big explosions or grand reveals, just the incremental dissolution of an abandoned project and a person’s slow awakening to his own uselessness. Depicted in the distinctive, matter-of-fact style of his beloved Guardian strips, Mooncop is equal parts funny and melancholy. Gauld captures essential truths about humanity, making this a story of the past, present, and future, all in one.

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    Redshirts

    Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It's a prestige posting, and Andrew is even more delighted when he's assigned to the ship's Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn't be better ...although there are a few strange things going on: (1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces (2) the ship's captain, the chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these encounters (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed. Suddenly it's less surprising how much energy is expended below decks on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned an Away Mission. Andrew's fate may have been sealed ...until he stumbles on a piece of information that changes everything ...and offers him and his fellow redshirts a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives

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    The Man in the High Castle

    It is 1962 and the Second World War has been over for seventeen years: people have now had a chance to adjust to the new order. But it's not been easy. The Mediterranean has been drained to make farmland, the population of Africa has virtually been wiped out and America has been divided between the Nazis and the Japanese. In the neutral buffer zone that divides the two superpowers lives the man in the high castle, the author of an underground bestseller, a work of fiction that offers an alternative theory of world history in which the Axis powers didn't win the war. The novel is a rallying cry for all those who dream of overthrowing the occupiers. But could it be more than that? Subtle, complex and beautifully characterized, The Man in the High Castle remains the finest alternative world novel ever written, and a work of profundity and significance.

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    The Abstinence Teacher

    A sharp, funny and beautifully observed satire about the disturbing influence of the Christian right so from one of America's most cherished authors. Ruth Ramsey went too far. She hadn't noticed the changing climate. A Sex Ed teacher "championing" oral sex!? Not now, not in this America! Cherished by her high school pupils as someone who'd tell it straight, after one innocent classroom indiscretion Ruth suddenly finds the curriculum she has taught for nigh on 15 years worryingly out of vogue. It seems these days the kids no longer need teaching; they need telling. As the scandal flares up and attracts the unwelcome eye of the local evangelical Church, the appeasing high-school principal forces her into advocating a pro-abstinence agenda in the classroom that is at odds with all conventional wisdom. Jaded though she is by her recent divorce and fruitless search for a new love, she is not yet ready to kneel at the altar of sophistry -- if common sense is to be sacrificed to Puritanism, she won't let it pass without a fight.On the other hand, it is a syllabus change which Tim Mason, recovering addict, local football coach, and recent convert to the same plaintiff Church, should consider a victory. But his new found faith is constantly put to the test by the temptations of his former wayward life, forcing him into grand, defensive statements of purpose. When he makes the gesture of leading his football team in prayer after a hard-fought victory, in which Ruth's daughter Maggie starred, he manages not only to incur the wrathful attention of her mother, but to cement his position as the star evangelist of his church -- an office he is none too sure about occupying. 'The Abstinence Teacher' is a cutting portrayal of modern America and the influence of the Christian right from the acclaimed, bestselling author of 'Election' and 'Little Children'. Scathing, witty and brilliantly observed, it will doubtless confirm Perrotta's standing as one of the finest chroniclers of American life.

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    The Humans

    It's hardest to belong when you're closest to home...One wet Friday evening, Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University solves the world's greatest mathematical riddle. Then he disappears. When he is found walking naked along the motorway, Professor Martin seems different. Besides the lack of clothes, he now finds normal life pointless. His loving wife and teenage son seem repulsive to him. In fact, he hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton. And he's a dog. Can a bit of Debussy and Emily Dickinson keep him from murder? Can the species which invented cheap white wine and peanut butter sandwiches be all that bad? And what is the warm feeling he gets when he looks into his wife's eyes?

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    Book lover, movie buff. Marketing copywriter for Bookwitty. A cat-person, a dog-person, and a person-person.

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