The Children’s Book Review | April 16, 2019
Erik Slader and Ben Thompson are the co-authors behind the Epic Fails series, a hilarious look at some of history’s most legendary failures—perfect for history buffs, non-fiction fans, and reluctant readers. Both Ben and Erik have given us a peek at the books on their bookshelves … and we think their selections are ‘on-brand’ (we totally stole your words, Erik) and, well …, epic!
Erik Slader’s Selfie with The Wright Brothers: Nose Diving into History (Epic Fails: Book 1)
When I was first asked to take a picture of my bookshelves, I was in the middle of a move so all my books were packed up! So when I finally had the chance to piece my collection back together, I was so excited for the opportunity to share my collection! It took a number of failed attempts before I finally got a halfway decent selfie in front of the bookshelves, which I suppose is kind of ‘on-brand’ as the author of a book series called “EPIC FAILS”.
Erik Slader’s Shelfie
If you look at my book shelves, the first thing you might notice is that I’m a massive nerd: everything from superhero graphic novels to books on the physics of Star Trek. In fact, a good fourth of shelf space is dedicated to DC and Marvel, while nearly half of my collection is either science fiction or books related to outer space and what’s left over is a random assortment of books on history, science, mythology, writing, and art. The second thing you might notice is that I need more book shelves.
Some of my all-time favorite books are featured here: Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park”, Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One”, Douglas Adams’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, and Grant Morrison’s “Super Gods”, as are some of my absolute favorite comics: Mark Waid’s “Superman: Birthright”, Kevin Smith’s “Daredevil: Guardian Devil” and Jason Aaron’s “Thor: God of Thunder” to name a few. I’ve also got a few personal selections, including copies of my co-author’s books (Ben Thompson) from before we started working together, there’s a copy of “The Crow”, signed by James O’Barr when I got to interview him for Movement Magazine, which essentially started my writing career, and a lot of the books I used for research when writing my books.
I feel like a part of my soul is reflected in the books I have displayed here. To me, books are important and as convenient as e-books and audio books are, nothing quite comes close to the tangible experience of a physical book in your hands.
Ben Thompson’s Selfie
If anyone ever browsed my bookshelves without knowing that I write history books for a living, they’d probably think I was some diabolical madman with delusions of becoming the next great James Bond villain. Because, even though I do have lots of cool stuff that I love, my shelves are basically just row after row of dusty books about long-forgotten wars, ultra-dense and boring encyclopedias of ancient battles, and photo books depicting all manner of tanks, aircraft, guns and military equipment, occasionally sprinkled with a bizarre sci-fi novel or an unsealed package for a card game called Sparkle Kitty. I have a massive three-book encyclopedia set that reads GROUND WARFARE down the spine, and it’s set up next to a book that contains all the little comic books that came with He-Man action figures in the 80s. You’d think I was a nutcase.
And who knows, maybe I am. All I know is that my Amazon order history has probably landed me on the watch list of every major government agency in the United States, but, hey, at least it’s not boring, right?
Ben Thompson’s Shelfies
Because all the books I write non-fiction, I need to have a lot of reference material available that I can access quickly and easily. I’ve found that the best way to do that is to just get these big sets of encyclopedias that are packed full of tons of cool information, then organize my shelves by time period so I can access the information I need really easily. One entire bookcase is just books about Vikings. Another one is all the American Revolution. Sure, it can be kind of hard to keep things organized, which is how a tourist’s guide to London and the Official Game Guide to Skyrim ended up on my World War II shelf, but you more or less get the idea. Plus, like sometimes I don’t have the exact number of books I need to fill up a shelf without leaving a bunch of empty shelves, which is why Dracula and Genghis Khan are on the same shelf as my Portuguese-English Dictionary and the first thirty issues of Jim Lee’s X-Men comic book run. Wolverine and Vlad the Impaler, together at last. (It makes sense in my head, at least.)
But, as much as I love 800-page books with titles like World War I Aircraft of the Western Front 1917-18 and The Cambridge Guide to Samurai Helmets in the Osaka Region during the Meiji Restoration, I can kinda get why that’s probably not most peoples’ jam, so I’m including in a bonus shelf here that’s a bit more fun. This one is the big shelf of books from friends of mine or people I know – everything on there is signed, and a lot of it is pretty limited-edition stuff, like where the author got a couple advance copies from their publishers and gave me one. For this shelf, I highly recommend Christopher Farnsworth’s vampire spy novel Blood Oath, and, on the other end of the spectrum, my friend Thom Zahler does a comic book called Love & Capes which is like a romantic comedy with superheroes. If you want to just go weird, the Adventures of Dr. McNinja is pretty incredible and hilarious, and my good friend Brian Snoddy does lots of amazing illustrations for many of the new Dungeons & Dragons books they’re releasing. Check them all out, they’re great people and amazing writers and artists!
“The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving Into History”, “The Race to Space: Countdown to Liftoff”, and “Not-So-Great Presidents: Commanders in Chief” are available now, wherever books are sold. “The Age of Exploration: Totally Getting Lost” hits shelves on April 16th, 2019!
The Age of Exploration: Totally Getting Lost (Epic Fails: Book 4)
Publisher’s Synopsis: In the fourth installment of the Epic Fails series from authors Erik Slader and Ben Thompson and illustrator Tim Foley, The Age of Exploration: Totally Getting Lost introduces readers to an international cast of trailblazers and details every mutiny, wrong turn, and undiscovered city of gold.
Christopher Columbus is one of the most famous explorers of all time, but he was neither the first nor last adventurer to ever stumble upon a great discovery. From the Silk Road of Asia to the icy shores of Antarctica, our knowledge of the world today is in large part due to several intrepid pioneers, risking life and limb for the sake of exploration. After all, setting off into the dark unknown requires an enormous amount of bravery. But every explorer quickly learns that courage and curiosity aren’t enough to save you if you can’t read a map or trespass on somebody else’s land!
Ages 8-11 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | April 16, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1250150547
About the Authors
Erik Slader is the creator of “Epik Fails of History” a blog (and podcast) about the most epic fails…of history. With Ben Thompson, Erik is the coauthor of the Epic Fails book series, including The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving Into History and Race to Space: Countdown to Liftoff.
Ben Thompson is the author of over a dozen books on various awesome historical subjects including the Guts & Glory series, and has appeared on television programs for the History Channel, Discovery, and the American Heroes Channel. He has written for Cracked, Fangoria, Soldier of Fortune, and The American Mustache Institute, currently owns four swords (if you count a letter opener shaped like Glamdring the Foe-Hammer), and can occasionally beat the Star Wars Trilogy arcade game with a single quarter.
Discover more books like The Epic Fails series, written by Erik Slader and Ben Thompson, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with History and Non-Fiction; and be sure to follow along with our Selfie and a Shelfie series.