If you’re anything like me, books tend to be your go-to presents for any and all Christmas related emergencies. My debit card basically turns into a book voucher this time of year, and I fill up my loyalty cards way too quickly. Plus, books are super easy to wrap, which is a decisive factor for me.
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If you’re in a hurry though, it can be hard to find what you need for that one extremely difficult person you have to buy for. We’ve got your backs though; here’s a selection of books – some of them new and some a bit older – that will inspire your hunting and help you find the perfect present for that elusive and difficult recipient!
The ‘Oh God, I pulled out my boss’ name for the Secret Santa’ gift
1. The Story of Brexit – Ladybird Books It is safe to say that a lot of industry types will probably be sick of Brexit by now, and this book promises to spend equal time tearing apart both sides of the argument, so it doesn’t even matter which team your boss is on. If there’s one thing everyone loves, it is taking the mickey out of the hellscape in which we have found ourselves.
2. Work Like a Woman: a Manifesto for Change – Mary Portas Mary Portas’ manifesto is all about being a woman in what is still very much a man’s world. She’s all about rewriting the rules of business, and looking at how things still need to change. Portas always talks a lot of sense, whatever her subject, and this is her specialist subject. Any woman, man, or person existing in business/participating in capitalism should read this book.
3. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari Harari is the author of two very popular books, Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, which would also make excellent presents for anyone who hasn’t read them. 21 Lessons is a smaller book, with shorter chapters on all kinds of issues, from AI to fake news. For bonus points, read it too and you can impress your boss with better kettle chat in the New Year!
– Where’s The Unicorn? – Sophie Schrey: Like Where’s Wally but with unicorns, for the boss who needs to occasionally switch off and chill out. – Five at the Office Christmas Party – Bruno Vincent: For the boss who might need a gentle reminder that office parties have rules for a goddamn reason.
Your friend’s kid who you only see at special events but you want them to like you – little ones, middle ones and big ones
1. You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger – Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman Cleveland-Peck and Tazzyman are responsible for an earlier picture book called You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus, which is exactly as much of a riot as the title would suggest. If you know that your giftee hasn’t read that one, I’d recommend it, but You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger is newer and shiny, and looks just as good as the first one. Tazzyman’s scribbly style is very appealing, and kids love Cleveland-Peck’s clever rhymes.
2. Magical Myths and Legends – Michael Morpurgo Morpurgo is basically the king of literature for kids between the ages of about 6 and 10, and he’s been busy collecting and re imagining all kinds of stories – from Hercules to Mulan to Sir Gawaine. Kids love myths and legends, and the book looks great too with some gorgeous drawings helping to tell the stories.
3. Bookshop Girl – Chloe Coles Chloe Coles has worked in bookshops most of her life, and that passion seeps through onto the pages of her first hilarious YA novel. If you know that your giftee likes books, this is absolutely the ideal present, and if they just like YA, it’s also a pretty safe bet.
4. The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness This book is a little bit older than a lot of them on the list, but it is such a great read, I recommend it to literally everyone. It is a sort of satirical take on the traditional YA novel, following the ‘normal kids’ who exist on the periphery of the adventures that the indie kids are busy having. It’s a YA book for those kids who spend all their time telling people that they don’t like YA books.
That friend who has never knowingly read a book but wants to start
1. Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig Honestly, I could have recommended any of Matt Haig’s work for someone who is just getting into reading. His fiction and his non-fiction books are always easy to read and very compelling, whatever his subject. Notes on a Nervous Planet – a personal examination of how to feel happy in this anxiety inducing world we live in – is the kind of book that leaves you pondering long after you’ve finished it.
2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman Eleanor Oliphant is one of the most interesting narrators I’ve come across in a long time; hilarious, prickly and unexpectedly tragic. Honeyman’s prose is deceptively simple, but the story drags you in and would be great for a sceptical reader, not least because it shows you exactly what a brilliant book looks like.
3. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith Say what you want about JK Rowling, but writing a story that zips along at a quick pace has never been something that she has a problem with. Writing as Galbraith, her first Cormoron Strike detective story is a pacy adventure from start to finish, and it doesn’t linger long enough for a new reader to get bored with it. Best of all, once you’ve got your friend hooked on reading, there are three more of these novels that you can buy them for the next three years.
– The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion: A very funny and warm story that’s easy to pick up and get your teeth into. – The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins: These were super popular for a reason, and if you have a reluctant reader, sometimes following the crowd with a classic is best.
New reads for the one who has read literally everything
1. Fox 8 – George Saunders This is Saunders’ first title to be released since his wildly popular and universally acclaimed Lincoln in the Bardo, and there’s a good chance that many of the serious bookworms in your life read that last one and would be very pleased to receive this one. The hardcover design also looks fabulous, important for any reader.
2. Bridge of Clay – Markus Zusak Zusak was responsible for the phenomenally successful novel, The Book Thief, which was published way back in 2005. A whole thirteen years later, Bridge of Clay is his next book, and it has been getting fairly good reviews. Your bookworm will be pleased to see Zusak’s name on a cover once more, and they’ll be just as eager as I am to make their own assessment of the book he has been working on for over a decade.
3. The Next Person You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Abolm In 2003, Abolm burst onto the scene with the super popular The Five People You Meet in Heaven, a life affirming and gentle novel about the power of small and everyday things. He’s back, fifteen years later, with this sequel which follows a new character from the first book. Any book person who has come across the first one will definitely want to get their hands on the sequel.
– Cunk on Everything: The Encyclopedia Philomena – Philomena Cunk: I doubt that they will have ready anything quite like Philomena Cunk’s “unique” view on well, everything! – Fire and Blood – George RR Martin: If they’ve read every other Westerosi based word he’s written, they won’t want to miss these ones either.
The mum and dad you are tired of buying chocolate and socks for
1. Becoming – Michelle Obama If you’ve been living under a rock, you might not know that Michelle Obama has published her autobiography just in time for Christmas. It has become the bestselling book of the year in the US already, and there are stacks and stacks of them in every shop here in the UK. Even my dad, who isn’t much of a reader, is interested in what Michelle has to say.
2. The Sealwoman’s Gift – Sally Magnusson This is one of those books that seems pretty unassuming when you pick it up. I was mostly attracted by the cover, if I am honest, but then it becomes one of those books that you just can’t put down. It is completely compelling and beautifully written. I don’t want to stereotype by saying that your mum will probably love this book, but your mum will probably love this book. Dads who are fans of historical fiction will be all over it too.
3. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton This is Turton’s debut novel, and bookish types have been going mad for it since it was released earlier this year. It’s been shortlisted for a ton of awards and people love it. It is a high concept murder mystery where the victim dies over and over again, and the only way to break the cycle is to find the killer. If your parents like thrillers and mysteries, this is the must have of 2018.