The best books for Xmas
Nothing better than a good read, so here's our starter for 10 (well 11, but who's counting?) Ready for a peak inside?
Some brilliant ideas for presents and for your own Christmas wish list…
Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, is living out his old age on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London, the Cold War coming back to haunt him. Cue typical le Carré twists, turns and tension.
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, £12.99 hardback (Weidenfeld and Nicholson)
Shortlisted for the Man Booker, this sparse novel follows an oddball teenager living in semi-wild Minnesota, who struggles to find acceptance. Seeking comfort and normality, she befriends the new family in the neighbourhood. But can they be trusted? A gripping and atmospheric read.
Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders’ inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices – living and dead, historical and fictional – Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?
Winter by Ali Smith, £16.99 hardback (Penguin)
We loved Autumn, a beautiful and poignant read. Buy it first, and then settle in to Winter, the second in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet. Themes? The trials, tribulations and sweet consolations of life in the UK now.
Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales by P D James, £10 hardback (Faber)
A new volume of previously uncollected stories, perfect for those long winter evenings when the late, great P D James can get inside your head and plot those clever, twisted tale.
The Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart, £12.99 hardback published by Particular Books
A beautifully presented anthology of poems for the mind and soul, perfect for your thoughtful reader or casual dipper. Stephen Fry writes of this, ‘Here is balm for the soul, fire for the belly, an arm around the lonely shoulder…a matchless compund of hug, tonic and kiss.’ We couldn’t put it better.
How Hard Can It Be? by Alison Pearson, £14.99 hardback published by Borough Press
Kate Reddy is counting the days till she is fifty, but not in a good way…Alison Pearson’s first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, was an international bestseller and a rollicking read which struck a chord with working women everywhere. This latest novel will be especially appreciated by women who’ve become used to being their own last priority.
Lilian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney, £9.99 paperback published by Daunt Books
Lillian is no ordinary 85-year-old. On her arrival to New York in the 1930s she took the city by storm, working her way up from writing copy for Macy’s department store to become the world’s highest paid advertising woman. Now, alone on New Year’s Eve, her usual holiday ritual in ruins, Lillian decides to take a walk. After all, it might be her last chance. Armed with only her mink coat and quick-witted charm, Lillian walks, and begins to reveal the story of her remarkable life.
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, £20 hardback (Penguin)
Fans have waited a long time for what Pullman has described as neither prequel nor sequel to His Dark Materials, but rather the original’s ‘equal’. We meet Lyra as a baby in this first volume, and it’s safe to say that both old friends of the previous trilogy and those new to Pullman’s writing will both be thrilled.
The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst, £20.00 hardback published by Picador
The heart of the novel is the unlikely and tender friendship that develops between two men at Oxford in 1940, a relationship that will colour their lives for decades to come. A great novel from one of our finest writers.
Munich by Robert Harris, £20 hardback (Penguin)
This intelligent what-if thriller is set in 1938, when the future of Europe hangs in the balance and Munich is the theatre of war. History records the notorious meeting of Hitler and Chamberlain and the events that followed. But could war have been averted?