The Neo Com Group’s Holiday Book Buying Guide

I’ve been reading a lot of books this year and I figured I’d take a moment to recommend some for those who’d love to give the gift of literacy this holiday season.

This is how it’ll work.  For each title below, just know that I recommend it.  But if you are looking for more specific qualities that might apply more directly to someone on your list, I’ll give a summary for each, and include a couple of keywords that applies to each book, then I will rank each keyword on a scale of 1-5.  1 being weak, 5 being strong.  

Make sense?

Swell, by Corwin Ericson

Summary: A lazy 20-something gets wrapped into a capitalist competition between two competing factions - both trying to win over a couple of drug-smuggling Koreans for some international trade.  For more, see my review, a few posts below.

This book is for: People who like literary fiction. People looking for an escape. People looking to admire the use of language by a master of said craft.  People who like stories of the sea, and who like to laugh while reading said tales.


Humorous: 5

Creativity: 5

Salty sea dog tales of the sea: 5

Buy Swell at Indiebound

Buy Swell at Amazon

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

Summary: A dying woman’s cancer cells are taken from her body in the 1950’s, and go on to revolutionize the course of world health for the better, unbeknownst to her family.  

This book is for: People who like to feel smart, without having to expend too much energy into being such. People with a strong interest in the human condition. Caring, thoughtful people.  People willing to be sucked in and spit out by the proverbial good book.


Non-fiction: 5

Spent ten years writing it: 5

Feel smart for reading a book with science: 5

Buy Henrietta Lacks at Indiebound

Buy Henrietta Lacks at Amazon

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Brand New Cherry Flavor, by Todd Grimson

Summary: When a Hollywood producer takes advantage of a young wanna-be-starlet, she hires the leader of a zombie biker gang to enact revenge.

This book is for: People who like to have their imagination stretched like silly putty. People who like a strong female heroine whose decisions make you squirm in your chair. People who enjoy a literary tale, but don’t mind a little horror and gore.


Literary: 5

Strong female lead: 5

WTF quotient: 5

Buy Brand New Cherry Flavor at Indiebound

Buy Brand New Cherry Flavor at Amazon

*** FULL DISCLOSURE *** I work to promote this title

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Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings from the World of Independent Music, edited by Ron Trembath

Summary: A collection of essays written by young musicians who share their experiences of making it, or not making it, in the music industry.

This book is for: The indie musician on your list. The prospective indie musician on your list. The person who’d feel good knowing you contributed funds to fight cystic fibrosis.


Indie: 5

Gritty: 5

Raising $$$ to fight cystic fibrosis in America and in Europe: 5

Buy Children of Mercy at Amazon

*** FULL DISCLOSURE *** I contributed an essay to this project

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Shards, by Ismet Prcic

Summary: A fantastic novel centered around the Bosnian War that weaves excerpts from a supposed personal journal, with letters home, as well as a personally narrated tale of life during and after war.

This book is for: People interested in the Bosnian War. People looking to read something fun, funny, creative and different. People who like to wonder if the author is writing about his own personal experiences under the guise of a fictional tale.  


Favorite book of the year: 5

Ability to inspire future writers: 5

Gift giving appeal: 5

Buy Shards at Indiebound

Buy Shards at Amazon

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Zombie Economics, by Rick Emerson and Lisa Desjardins

Summary: A perfect personal finance guide for high school, college kids or that ‘special’ financially inept friend.  The book combines a fun zombie story with practical financial advice, including worksheets that’ll help the reader to get back on financial track.

This book is for: The financially brain-dead. High school juniors/seniors. College kids. That friend who stays up all night playing World of Warcraft. 



Basic Financial Advice: 5

Palatable for those not typically willing to accept financial advice: 5

Buy Zombie Economics at Indiebound

Buy Zombie Economics at Amazon

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Fools Rush In, by Bill Carter

Summary: The inspiring story of a grief stricken wanderer who finds himself in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.  Discover what happens when a young man with $200 and an idea decides to contact U2 to try to help end the Bosnian War.

This book is for: People with an interest in history. People with wanderlust. The humanitarian on your list. Anyone who you want to treat to an amazing, inspiring read.


Inspirational: 5

Not a 2011 title: 5

Best book I’ve ever read: 6

Buy Fools Rush In at Indiebound

Buy Fools Rush In at Amazon

*** FULL DISCLOSURE *** I work to promote this title