Christmas Gift Guide 2023: Books For Film Fans

Books Gift Guide 2023

by Sophie Butcher, James White |
Updated on

Is there anything better than a brand new book at Christmas time? One stuffed in your stocking, wrapped delicately with a bow, ready for you to curl up in a chair and dive into once the turkey’s done and the festive telly is on? Well, whether it’s a gift for yourself or the movie-lover in your life that you’re after, Empire can help. We’ve curated a selection of the biggest, best, most fascinating film-related books for you to pile under your tree this year, covering everything from anime anthologies to fantasy favourites, spy-related retrospectives and comic-book collectables. Take a look at our book gift guide below, and prepare to tick at least one loved one off your list.

MCU: The Reign Of Marvel Studios – Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzalez, and Gavin Edwards

Empire Gift Guide – MCU The Reign Of Marvel Studios

For over 15 years, the MCU has ruled Hollywood, changing the shape of moviemaking in its own image. This extensive recounting of that astonishing journey speaks to tons of the people that made it happening – offering film fans an unparalleled dive into the process of building one of the most successful franchises of all time. Superhero fan or not, this is a compelling must-read.

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The Last Action Heroes – Nick de Semlyen

Empire Gift Guide – The Last Action Heroes

Was there any era of action cinema more ludicrously pumped up than the ‘80s? It’s the time when Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, Van Damme, Seagal – and many more muscle-men recognisable by surname alone – ruled the screen, brawling with countless goons on screen, and feuding among each other behind the scenes. This is a ripping romp through those defining years, penned by none other than… *squints* Empire editor Nick de Semlyen! (Sure, we’re biased, but it’s very good.)

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Star Wars Timelines

Empire Gift Guide – Star Wars Timelines

Trying to place every official moment in the Star Wars canon in order is, frankly, a bonkers undertaking. But here it is: the official, Lucasfilm-sanctioned guide to everything that’s happened (so far) in the galaxy far, far away. And we’re not just talking the Skywalker Saga, or The Mandalorian, or the animated series – this also includes The High Republic novels, and even earlier days of the Star Wars galaxy. An essential guide to the canon.

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe: An Official Timeline

Empire Gift Guide – MCU An Official Timeline

Also a bonkers undertaking: placing every event in the MCU in time order. That might be easy for the first handful of films, but come Phase 4, with all the Disney+ series in the mix too, it gets far more complex. Thankfully, the work has been done for you – this comprehensive book covers everything created by Marvel Studios, all laid out in chronological order. Finally, that Spider-Man: Homecoming ‘8 Years Later’ blunder is being cleared up once and for all.

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Film Korea: The Ghibliotheque Guide – Jake Cunningham and Michael Leader

Empire Gift Guide – Film Korea

For years now, the good people at the Ghibliotheque podcast have been spreading the word about anime classics. For their latest tome, they turn their attention to the bounty that is Korean cinema – not just looking at international smashes like Parasite, Oldboy and Train To Busan, but stellar discoveries like House Of Hummingbird and Moving On. An inviting read, sure to add many movies to your watchlist.

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Every Man For Himself And God Against All – Werner Herzog

Empire Gift Guide – Werner Herzog Memoir

Few filmmakers are quite as fearless as the legendary Werner Herzog. Whether you love his documentaries, are in thrall to his feature films, or simply saw him demanding to see ‘the baby’ in The Mandalorian, his memoir is a none-more-Herzogian treat. Either buy a hardback copy and read it in your best Herzog inner monologue, or get the audiobook – actually read by Herzog himself.

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The Red Shoes: BFI Film Classics – Pamela Hutchinson

Empire Gift Guide – BFI Guide The Red Shoes

The films of Powell and Pressburger continue to hold their power – and this guide to their ballet-based classic coincides with the BFI’s expansive season bringing their films back to the big screen. Across 100-plus pages, this paperback delves into the making of the film, and unpicks its thematic resonances.

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Lady Bird – A24 Screenplay Book

Empire Gift Guide – Lady Bird Screenplay

For the A24 fan in your life, these script books are a beautiful gift – featuring screenplays presented in clothbound hardback tomes, packed with images and insights from the making of modern classics. In the year of Barbie, looking back at Greta Gerwig’s beautiful Lady Bird is a strong choice – but you’ll also find the likes of Moonlight, The Witch, Midsommar and Minari in the same range.

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The Worlds Of Dune – Tom Huddleston

Empire Gift Guide – Worlds Of Dune

Still cut up by Dune Part Two moving to 2024? Well, allow this to tide you over – a deep dive into the real-world inspirations behind Frank Herbert’s sand-strewn universe, from Arrakis and Caladan, to Giedi Prime. Might turn your eyes blue by the time you reach the final page.

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Star Wars: The High Republic Character Encyclopaedia

Empire Gift Guide – Star Wars High Republic Character Encyclopaedia

If you’re a Star Wars fan who’s been reading The High Republic novels (and those who haven’t really should dive in – get Light Of The Jedi to start the journey), chances are you’re dying to, well, see what the characters actually look like. Well, wonder no more. This character encyclopedia features a comprehensive rundown of the myriad Jedi – and nasty Nihil – who inhabit the galaxy centuries before The Phantom Menace.

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The Path To Paradise: A Francis Ford Coppola Story – Sam Wasson

Empire Gift Guide – The Path To Paradise

He’s the filmmaker behind some of the greatest movies of all time – The Godfather, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now to name but three. But how much do you know about the man behind the movies? This fresh telling of his story digs into the mind that brought us seminal films and visionary ideas.

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Out There Screaming: An Anthology Of New Black Horror

Empire Gift Guide – Out There Screaming

Love Get Out, Us, and Nope? This collection of horror stories should float your boat – it’s edited by Jordan Peele himself, collating terrifying tales from an array of voices, sure to keep you reading deep into the night. Under the covers, with a torch, obviously.

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Dune: Messiah – Frank Herbert – The Folio Society

Empire Gift Guide – Dune Messiah – Folio Society

If Denis Villeneuve gets his way, his Dune Part Two will be capped off by a third film covering Frank Herbert’s Dune: Messiah. All the more reason, then, to pick up this beautiful Folio Society edition of the sequel book, continuing Paul Atreides’ journey and expanding the Dune-iverse further outwards. It’s cloth-bound, with metallic elements and stunning colour illustrations.

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Dungeons & Dragons - Planescape: Adventures In The Multiverse

If you, like us, took the plunge into pen and paper D&D after this year's Honor Among Thieves, or are simply looking for a way to spice up your D&D sessions, then look no further than this glorious return to the Planescape (which many will remember from cult video game Planescape Torment). D&D at its most batshit and original, this takes adventures far beyond traditional fantasy dungeon crawls and into interconnected realities populated by everything from scheming archdevils and talking skulls to miniature giant space hamsters. Boo would most definitely approve.

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