It’s that time of year, Christmas present shopping
has hit last minute panic mode is in it’s final throes and I’d like to remind you all that books and bookish related paraphernalia make great presents and are easily available without venturing into a department store. The fractured elbow has slowed my progress somewhat – this should have been with you a week or more ago – sorry. But here are some suggestions from me.
Books for Him
My other half has just devoured the new Guy Martin book Worms to Catch in about 3 days (very fast for him). I mentioned him last year, but he keeps turning out very readable books for the petrolhead in your life. I don’t think you can go wrong with A Kim Jong-Il Production (a BotW pick a few months back) because as far as narrative non-fiction goes it’s just so bonkers it’s hard to believe it’s true. I keep hearing Mary Roach recommended places – and they sound like they might be perfect books for men (although I’m still hoping one might end up in my stocking) Grunt – all about how science and war and people collide – or Stiff – about what happens to human cadavers (as long as the recipient isn’t squeamish like me) seem to be the top picks.
For Fiction, I read The Murdstone Trilogy (actually just one book) by Mal Peet earlier this year – about a writer whose sensitive YA novels about troubled teens stop selling and who ends up writing fantasy – it’s a dark and funny look at fantasy tropes with some horror thrown in too. If he’s read Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones or the like there’s probably something here for him.For my last pick, I’m suggesting Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, another book that I haven’t read yet, but have heard great things about. It’s set in the future where natural resources are scarce and people escape into immersive video games like OASIS. Then one player stumbles upon the first clue to a series of Easter Eggs which could lead him to a fortune. I have the audiobook of this waiting on my phone for just as soon as I finish The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore – which is good, but very, very gory and long – only 20 hours of that to go!
Books for Her
Lets start with the fiction. It feels like a long time ago that I read Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible (April) but I’ve lent it on since then and had nothing but good feedback, so I’m going to recommend it again. I can’t remember why it wasn’t BotW at the time (maybe because I was half expecting to be reviewing it for Novelicious) but it is definitely one of my favourite books of the year, and hands down my favourite Pride and Prejudice retelling. I reviewed Lucy Dillon’s All I Ever Wanted over on Novelicious the other week, and that would also make a really good pick – it’s sort of Christmassy (it starts at Christmas) but it’s not all tinsel and mistletoe, it’s a great wintery read to give to someone who wants to spend Boxing Day (or longer) curled up on the sofa with a book in front of a roaring fire if you have one. Helen Ellis’s collection of short stories American Housewife (a previous Book of the Week) would also make a nice stocking filler if you have a woman with a dark sense of humour in your life (get a taste of what I mean here).
And now some non-fiction. I’ve already mentioned The Best of Dear Coquette (which you should totally buy as a present for yourself at least!), but if you’re buying for someone who was a teenager in the mid 90s or later, As If! an oral history of the making of the movie Clueless might be perfect. Clueless was one of the films that I watched on heavy rotation as a teenager (it came out just before I started secondary school so we had it on video at various slumber parties) and it still stands up today. As If! is a fun look behind the scenes and a reminder of how different and big the film was at the time
Books for Children
For little children, I love Jon Klassen (I’ve mentioned this before) and this Christmas sees his third book about hats – We Found a Hat follows on from I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat which have been big hits among the children I buy for.
I really enjoyed the first two books in Katherine Woodfine’s Sinclair’s Mysteries and both The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth should be fairly easy to get hold of if you’ve got a middle-grade (upper half of primary school) reader to buy for. Robin Stevens’ Wells and Wong books got a mention last year, but the series has grown since then and I think it’s a great choice for a girl (or boy) who has done St Clares or Mallory Towers and some Famous Five/Five Find-outers and wants more. They do contain death though
Other Bookish Gifts
In my post about presents for me last year, I said that I wanted a Literary Review subscription – I got one (thanks Little Sis!) and have just bought myself another two years worth. I’ve enjoyed reading it, found books I want to read that I wouldn’t otherwise and used their reviews it to weed out books I don’t want to read/can wait to turn up in the secondhand shops.
I can’t believe how much I’ve talked about Fahrenheit Press already, but I’m going to do it again now – sorry! I bought myself their subscription earlier on this year – and it’s given me a string of Books of the Week and so much good stuff. I’ve just renewed it for another year and if you have a crime reader in your life this might be just the gift for them. 2016 has had reissues of 90s crime series, new thrillers about all sorts of things, the Danny Bird series and James Bond and Stephanie Plum’s lovechild and more. They’re so good I feel like I’ve done nothing but talk about them all year. And that’s before I write my Books of the Year post! Details here.
I got myself a Vanity Fair subscription this year which I’m still enjoying – and magazines are a gift that keeps giving through the year – I’ve bought Good Food, Gardener’s World and others at various points. Condé Nast keep emailing me to tell me that if I buy the wrong magazine for me giftee then I can change it for free too and so that’s practically a win win!
So there you have it, some gift suggestions from me. And if you need any more ideas, all my suggestions from last year still stand – gifts for him, her and kids. Coming next: What I want for Christmas…