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The best sci-fi books to gift this holiday

Trapped in a reading slump or looking to explore a new genre? These are the best books (both fiction and non-fiction) for readers who love science, technology, and all things related to it.
Written by Min Shin, Associate Editor
Never Let Me Go | By Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go book
Never Let Me Go
By Kazuo Ishiguro
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Red Rising | By Pierce Brown
Red Rising book
Red Rising
By Pierce Brown
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Severance | By Ling Ma
Severance book
Severance
By Ling Ma
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The Handmaid's Tale | By Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale
By Margaret Atwood
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When You Reach Me | By Rebecca Stead
When You Reach Me book
When You Reach Me
By Rebecca Stead
View now View at Amazon
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are | By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Everybody Lies book
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
View now View at Amazon
National Geographic Photo Basics | By Joel Sartore
National Geographic Photo Basics
National Geographic Photo Basics
By Joel Sartore
View now View at Amazon
Thinking, Fast and Slow | By Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Thinking, Fast and Slow
By Daniel Kahneman
View now View at Amazon
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind | By Yuval Noah Harari
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
By Yuval Noah Harari
View now View at Amazon
Show more (4 items)

The holidays are approaching quickly, and you might be looking forward to catching up on some reading. You might also be looking for books to gift the techie or science bookworm in your life. From science nonfiction to post-apocalyptic science fiction, we've got you covered. (If you're looking to take books on the go, you can also the best Black Friday Kindle deals right now.)

Also: The best Black Friday deals: Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and more

We've rounded up the best books for someone who has always been curious about all topics surrounding tech, science, or the future. If you're looking for more gift ideas, check out our gift guides for best tech gifts, best holiday tech gifts under $50, and best Black Friday deals under $30.

Best sci-fi books (fiction)

Never Let Me Go centers around the lives of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy and the relationships they form at a mysterious English boarding school called Hailsham. The students live a very sheltered life for a special reason, and it is only when Kathy ventures into the outside world with her friends that she begins to realize the truth. The sci-fi mystery unravels beautifully, and is well worth a read. 

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If you're looking to escape into a new world, Red Rising takes place in the future where people are organized into a social hierarchy based on color -- Reds being the lowest class and Golds the top class. Darrow and the rest of the Reds work under the surface of Mars, mining helium-3 all day in the hopes of terraforming the planet. 

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However, Darrow soon learns the shocking truth that humanity already reached the surface of the planet a long time ago. Driven by vengeance and justice, Darrow sets out to infiltrate the ranks all the way up to Gold and take down his enemies. 

Candace Chen is trying to survive a post-apocalyptic US. The world has been shut down by a mysterious fever that turns people into zombie-like figures. Candace joins a group of survivors led by a former IT worker called Bob, who tells the group he will take them to the Facility, where it is supposedly safe. 

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Though it was published before the Covid-19 pandemic, Severance has several echoes of those early days of lockdowns. It's eerie and interesting, and worth your time if you're into post-apocalyptic fiction.

I first read The Handmaid's Tale in high school, but it's become one of those books I still think about to this day. The story follows Offred, a Handmaid in a place called the Republic of Gilead. During a time of declining births, Offred and other women have lost their basic rights and are only valued for their ability to reproduce.

The book shifts back to Offred's memories from the past before the world around her changed, and it remains an extremely compelling read. If you've already read The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood also published a sequel called The Testaments. 

This book is for a younger audience, so if you're looking to gift your kid who loves to read or a child who's fascinated by time travel, this is a great option. 

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The story is about sixth-grader Miranda who begins to receive messages from somebody who can seemingly predict events that will happen in the future -- including somebody's death. 

Best science and technology books (non-fiction)

Your internet history is the portal to your deepest thoughts, biases, and beliefs. Everybody Lies answers questions such as "Do parents secretly favor boy children over girls?" and "Do violent films affect the crime rate?" Stephens-Davidowitz uses data that researchers have collated from people's Google search results to answer these questions. 

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This book for the reader who is curious about how the world works and the dichotomy between the appearance versus reality of what people say and what they actually think or believe. 

If you have a passion for photography but don't know where to start, National Geographic has a simple guide to the basics. Whether you're using your digital camera or your smartphone, Joel Sartore breaks it down for you in short lessons. 

Also: The best cameras for beginners: Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, and more, compared

"Photography has been a passion of mine since a young age; however, it wasn't until college that I decided to take a class to actually polish my skills," ZDNET's Sabrina Ortiz said. "It was there that my professor introduced me to this book that has all of the photography basics, and I still reference it before I do a shoot." 

The book describes two types of thought, System 1 and System 2. The first system is described as one's impulsive and immediate thoughts, while the second system is described as slower, more deliberate thinking. 

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman walks the reader through a series of experiments explaining what causes each system of thought to be activated. This is a great choice for someone who wants to get into psychology without jumping into hard science. 

This book has been sitting on my shelf, ready to be read during the holidays. Sapiens incorporates history and science to explain how at least six different species of humans a hundred thousand years ago became one species -- homo sapiens -- and the different "revolutions" that led humans to where they are today.

Which is the right book for you?

Still stuck on which book is right for you? You should narrow down what type of genre you're looking for as well as your other interests or the interests of the person who is receiving the book. For instance, it wouldn't make sense to gift your friend with National Geographic Photo Basics if they have no interest in photography. Check out which book suits your interests. 

Choose this book...If you want or are...
Never Let Me GoA coming-of-age novel that follows the lives of children who grow up at a boarding school. If you love reading science fiction without things becoming too "sciencey" this is a great option. 
Red RisingA book with vivid world-building that takes place on a different planet. This book will transport you to a different planet. 
SeveranceA book that follows life before and after an infection that affects the whole world. If you're interested in post-apocalyptic fiction or live in New York City, this book might draw you in. 
The Handmaid's TaleA book you can also watch as a show. First released in 2017 on Hulu, The Handmaid's Tale is also available to watch on other streaming platforms such as Apple TV, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video.
When You Reach MeA book you can gift for your kid or another child. This is a great read for the elementary or middle school grade levels.
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really AreA book that reveals people's innermost thoughts through their Google search results. Its findings will keep you hooked until the end.
National Geographic Photo BasicsA book that teaches you basic photography skills. If you're looking to start a new hobby or need a quick refresher on how to take great photos, this one's for you.
Thinking, Fast and SlowA book that explains our judgment process in decision-making. If you're also interested in psychology, this book goes through a series of experiments that led to the psychologist's findings.
Sapiens: A Brief History of HumankindA book that incorporates a historical aspect to the science of how humans came to be. If you want to go back in time and examine the defining events of human history, this book explains it for you.
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