Today in The 2023 PopCult Gift Guide we are going to switch things up a bit. Instead of waiting until Saturday to do our Flashback Picks, we’re doing them Friday.

Saturday we’ll have more Merchants of Cool.  Today being Black Friday, means our readership is going to be down anyway, and your PopCulteer got out for a bit today to enjoy some Record Store Day and Holiday Season festivities, and it just seems easier to run the Flashback picks a day early.

So here are some book recommendations that you may remember from previous years.

It’s okay, they’re still good books, and you might find them even cheaper now.

Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome
by Garth Marenghi
Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 9781529399400

If you know of Garth Marenghi, then you’re excited that this book is out. Allegedly the alter-ego of Matthew Holness, Marenghi has unleashed his dark imagination onto the printed page. Let’s look at the publisher’s synopsis…

Dare you crack open the TerrorTome? (Mind the spine)

When horror writer Nick Steen gets sucked into a cursed typewriter by the terrifying Type-Face, Dark Lord of the Prolix, the hellish visions inside his head are unleashed for real. Forced to fight his escaping imagination – now leaking out of his own brain – Nick must defend the town of Stalkford from his own fictional horrors, including avascular-necrosis-obsessed serial killer Nelson Strain and Nick’s dreaded throppleganger, the Dark Third.

Can he and Roz, his frequently incorrect female editor, hunt down these incarnate denizens of Nick’s rampaging imaginata before they destroy Stalkford, outer Stalkford and possibly slightly further?

From the twisted genius of horror master Garth Marenghi – Frighternerman, Darkscribe, Doomsage (plus Man-Shee) – come three dark tales from his long-lost multi-volume epic: TerrorTome.

Can a brain leak?
(Yes, it can)

Recommended for fans of horror infused with a healthy dose of absurd humor, and also for fans of Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place. Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome can most easily be ordered in the United States from Amazon.

Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created “Sunday in the Park with George”
by James Lapine
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0374200091
$40 (heavily discounted at many online retailers, including Amazon)

Stephen Sondheim fans will want a gift like this to remember the legendary Broadway composer that we lost two years ago. With his final musical now running in New York City, it’s cool to go back and revisit one of his most beloved works.

By all accounts this is a spectacular book, a fascinating insight into the creation of one of the most memorable musicals of the 1980s.  There were some issues with early printings, but reportedly those have been resolved.

This is an important book about an important work of theatre, written by Sondheim’s collaborator, James Lapine. Let’s go to the publisher’s blurb…

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the iconic musical Sunday in the Park with George

Putting It Together chronicles the two-year odyssey of creating the iconic Broadway musical Sunday in the Park with George. In 1982, James Lapine, at the beginning of his career as a playwright and director, met Stephen Sondheim, nineteen years his senior and already a legendary Broadway composer and lyricist. Shortly thereafter, the two decided to write a musical inspired by Georges Seurat’s nineteenth-century painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Through conversations between Lapine and Sondheim, as well as most of the production team, and with a treasure trove of personal photographs, sketches, script notes, and sheet music, the two Broadway icons lift the curtain on their beloved musical. Putting It Together is a deeply personal remembrance of their collaboration and friend – ship and the highs and lows of that journey, one that resulted in the beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning classic.

This book is a no-brainer gift idea for any fan of Sondheim or musical theatre.

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business
by Mel Brooks
Ballantine Books
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593159118
$29.99 (heavily discounted at Amazon, and available in Paperback and Audio versions)

Despite the comedic debacle that was “History of the World Part Two,” this is still a great book and a worthwhile read for any student of comedy.

It’s Mel Brook’s autobiography, telling his entire life story including his amazing career writing for Sid Ceasar, co-creating the TV show Get Smart, and his incredible run as a movie director of comedy classics like The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and so many more. We also get details on his side gig producing serious movies like David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, The Fly and Frances, and then find out about his Broadway Musicals that adapted his hit movies.

Let’s check out the publisher’s blurb…

For anyone who loves American comedy, the long wait is over. Here are the never-before-told, behind-the-scenes anecdotes and remembrances from a master storyteller, filmmaker, and creator of all things funny.

All About Me! charts Mel Brooks’s meteoric rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to the recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Whether serving in the United States Army in World War II, or during his burgeoning career as a teenage comedian in the Catskills, Mel was always mining his experiences for material, always looking for the perfect joke. His iconic career began with Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, where he was part of the greatest writers’ room in history, which included Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart. After co-creating both the mega-hit 2000 Year Old Man comedy albums and the classic television series Get Smart, Brooks’s stellar film career took off. He would go on to write, direct, and star in The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, and Spaceballs, as well as produce groundbreaking and eclectic films, including The Elephant Man, The Fly, and My Favorite Year. Brooks then went on to conquer Broadway with his record-breaking, Tony-winning musical, The Producers.

All About Me! offers fans insight into the inspiration behind the ideas for his outstanding collection of boundary-breaking work, and offers details about the many close friendships and collaborations Brooks had, including those with Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Gene Wilder, Madeleine Kahn, Alfred Hitchcock, and the great love of his life, Anne Bancroft.

Filled with tales of struggle, achievement, and camaraderie (and dozens of photographs), readers will gain a more personal and deeper understanding of the incredible body of work behind one of the most accomplished and beloved entertainers in history.

This book is obviously recommended for any fan of Brooks’ work, and should be required reading for anyone with an interest in comedy. Available from any bookseller, but discounted at Amazon.