The 50 Best books for Christmas
From last-minute stocking fillers to weighty tomes to curl up by the fire with, Sophie Morris has great gift ideas for the literature lovers in your life
Friday 14 December 2012
Marianne Levy - The author of ‘Ellie May Would Like To Be Taken Seriously For A Change’. mariannelevy.com
Jonathan Ruppin - Foyles web editor. foyles.co.uk
Kate Skipper - Waterstones buying manager. waterstones.com
“The ghost of Angela Carter drifts through this outstanding debut novel, my book of the year, which recasts language,” says Jonathan.
Fig Tree, £12.99
“Otsuka combines many perspectives into one mesmerising voice as she follows Japanese picture brides,” says Jonathan.
Harvill Secker, £16.99
“A true story of two Czech parachutists sent on a mission by London to assassinate the head of the Gestapo. The standout novel of the year for me,” says Kate.
“The book may look like a doorstopper but Mantel writes with absorbing pace, and you will find yourself at the end all too soon,” says Kate.
“The picaresque story of a North Korean spy obliged to take on the persona of a military national hero,” explains Jonathan.
“For anyone needing a dose of sunshine on a gloomy grey winter’s day, this is the book for you,” says Kate. “An evocative debut novel.”
“This shocking novel set in the Afghan conflict is about an American unit preventing a woman from honouring her dead brother,” says Jonathan.
“Burns’ insightful, menacing edge, is reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro, who creates a similar dialogue in ‘Nocturnes’, says Jonathan.”
“Rebus is back and brings with him a seamlessly crafted whodunit,” says Kate. “This is a treat of a novel.”
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £12.99
“This collection tackles the essence of modern Jewishness with empathy,” says Jonathan.
Profile Books, £16.99
“This homage to the map is an excellent read,” says Kate. “Entertaining stories and anecdotes examine the importance of maps to our world.”
Fourth Estate, £14.99
“This is a joyous celebration of a 2000-year-old invention that genuinely changed our world,” says Jonathan. “Topics include tea bags, cigarette papers and banknotes.”
John Murray, £25
“A superb biography of the adventurous travel writer and war hero, draws on years of interviews and complete access to his archives,” says Kate.
“A beautiful gift edition of not only all of Dickens’ Christmas novels but also his festive stories, written for the special seasonal editions of his periodicals,” says Kate.
Yale University Press, £25
“These previously unpublished diaries give an intimate account of the acting legend’s tempestuous career and private life,” says Kate.
“An insight into the almost magical quality of using statistics,” Kate says.
“Byrne touches on the evolution of the mixtape and the swapping of MP3s, along with quirky titbits from his Talking Heads days,” says Jonathan.
Chatto & Windus, £20
“Alan Root combines tales of filming hippos underwater with reflections on the beauty of the African savannah,” says Jonathan.
Harvill Secker, £20
“Any young firebrand will be inspired by this shocking indictment of the fatal flaws in America’s use of the death penalty,” says Jonathan.
“Jackson’s diary format record puts the birth of Modernism in context with fascinating little details,”explains Jonathan.”
Nosy Crow, £6.99
“Properly funny,” says Marianne, of Catherine Wilkins’ hilarious tale of childhood friendship.
Hot Key Books, £5.99
Prepare to be spooked by this “darkly delicious London ghost story” says Marianne. A chilling tale set in a Victorian-era funeral parlour.
“Curious young minds will revel in this romp through the history of civilization,” says Marianne.
Simon and Schuster, £6.99
“This will soon become a bedtime favourite,” predicts Marianne. “Boynton’s book is a real pleasure to read out aloud.”
Faber and Faber, £5.99
“He’s a cat burglar on a mission… young readers will adore Atticus Grammaticus Cattypus Claw,” says Marianne.
“A snappy slice of noir,” says Marianne. “American novelist Snicket returns with a new series, and he is better than ever.”
A new arrival threatens to make a terrible situation even worse for Jill, whose dad has died. “A marvellous, heartrending read for tortured teens,” says Marianne.
“Gorgeously beautiful illustrations and a lovely story,” says Marianne. Jeffers’ books include The Great Paper Caper, and are contemporary classics.
Hot Key Books, £7.99
Jepp is an itinerant dwarf who travels around Europe. “Marsh’s elegant historical fiction has a moving message,” says Marianne.
“Boys and girls will be transported by this Bronze Age adventure,” says Marianne. Gods and Warriors is the first instalment of a five-book series.
Ettes Publishing, £4.99
Something to keep the little ones quiet on Boxing Day: Popagami is an incredibly fun book of illustrated animal origami sheets.
Faber and Faber, £9.99
“An amalgamation of the best facts from QI’s first ten years,” says Kate.
“An informative and witty guide to grammar by two editorial supremos,” says Kate.
Chronicle Books, £9.99
“This hilarious comic tale charts the pitfalls of Darth Vader’s attempts to raise a young Luke Skywalker,”explains Kate.
Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99
“The must-have present for any student in your life,” says Kate.
“The graphic novel has come of age and is now being used to attract a new audience to all manner of heavyweight topics,” says Jonathan.
“These charming, insightful profiles of America will intrigue fans of David Foster Wallace’s essays,” says Jonathan.
“The perfect choice for anyone wanting to drop a hint about ill-considered Christmas presents,” says Jonathan.
Peirene Press, £10
“This is based on the life of artist and calligrapher Bada Shinren, who was forced to flee when the Ming Dynasty was toppled,” says Jonathan.
You don’t need to be single to find this collection of incisive haikus hilarious.
April Bloomfield is the chef who showed New Yorkers how we Brits roll with her infamous gastropub The Spotted Pig, along with the Breslin and the John Dory.
If you can’t make it to one of his restaurants in the capital and wouldn’t know where to start in Italy, cook Norman’s Venetian snackettes at home from the first Polpo cookbook.
This new edition, with foreword by Gilbert, brings together traditional recipes and their wonderful histories.
Never over-complicate a meal again with Hugh’s brilliant lesson in what makes a decent dish. An exercise in how to match flavours and eat well.
Every Grain of Rice makes the cooking Dunlop found in southern China, where fresh vegetables are more common than unhealthy fried dishes, attractive and almost easy.
Squeeze those final drops of Olympic fever out of 2012 with this glossy production.
“Lenticular technology allows you to watch eight beautiful animals race through motion pictures simply by turning the pages,” says Kate.
This beautiful new edition comes in green and gold, with enchanting images by Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka.
Jonathan Cape, £30
Much more than a book – this graphic novel about the inhabitants of a Chicago apartment block comes in the form of 14 illustrated books.
Penguin Classics, £20
A mesmerising production of this classic tale for new and old fans.
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