I am the person who gives everybody they possibly can a book for Christmas. My immediate family all get a book AND a “normal” Christmas present. I buy young relatives books as often as I can. I even gift myself a Christmas book. So I thought that I would give you suggestions for presents – on top of a post about Christmas-themed books. This is the first of four post which I hope cover all eventualities. Most of the links are to Amazon – because quite a few of the books mentioned across the various posts are in their 3 for £10 promotion, thus saving you money to use
to buy yourself books on other things.
Men can be tricky to buy for – or at least I find them hard. I often end up buying biographies of sportsmen. The Boy in my life is a massive petrol head – he devoured motorbike Guy Martin’s Autobiography this last weekend, which had been sitting on the shelf since last Christmas and is out now in paperback. He’s said he’d quite like Martin’s hardback, When You Dead, You Dead. Also on his Christmas list this year is ex-F1 driver turned World Endurance Champion Mark Webber’s book Aussie Grit. The annual Jeremy Clarkson book will have been a fixture on many people’s Christmas lists for years, but if you fancy a change, The Boy really wants And On That Bombshell – a behind the scenes look at Top Gear, written by Top Gear’s script editor Richard Porter, who I’ve been following on Twitter for years without knowing what his day job was!
Away from the motorsports books he’s a big Bill Bryson fan – so The Road to Little Dribbling may also turn up in his stocking. One of his favourite books this year has already featured here as a Book of the Week – but A Year of Living Danishly is so good that I think it deserves another mention – particularly as Hygge starts in January and moving to a new country is often one of those things that gets mentioned in New Year’s Resolutions.
On the history front, I haven’t read Trumbo (yet) but it’s just been turned into a film and the McCarthy era is fascinating – particularly in the movie industry. I’ve also had quite a good hit-rate with Ben MacIntyre – my dad loved Operation Mincemeat, and Agent Zigzag and Double Cross have also gone down well with him and several other men of various ages that I buy for. His latest is A Spy Among Friends, about Kim Philby, which I haven’t read – but which may well end up in someone’s stocking this year.
My Boy has got hooked (like me) on Janet Evanovich this year, so I’ve been on the lookout for pacey and fun thrillers for him. It’s tricky as it very often ends up with me buying books for me! I’m going to try and turn him onto the Fox and O’Hare series next – The Heist is the first one, The Scam is the latest. They’re basically Ocean’s 11 or White Collar but as a book. She’s an FBI agent, he’s a fraudster – but they have to work together to catch con-men.
On the straight-up thriller front, The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen is a twisty thriller – you can check out my review for Novelicious here, equally The Devil You Know is dark, creepy and tense, although I wasn’t keen on the ending (again reviewed on Novelicious) Crime-wise, Ben Aaranovich is one of my new obsessions (I’m trying hard to ration myself and read slowly) Rivers of London is the first, Foxglove Summer the latest.
I’ve already mentioned The British Library Crime Classics series in the BotW post on Silent Night, but it bears repeating that there some really good titles in this attractive looking series which would make good gifts for an Agatha Christie fan looking for Golden Age Crime. And as the series is bring stuff back into print that’s been out of circulation for a long time, there’s much less risk that they’ll have read them already! On top of the ones I’ve already mentioned, try The Z Murders and Murder Underground. Speaking of Golden Age crime, Sophie Hannah’s Poirot continuation The Monogram Murders might also be worth a look.
This is breaking my own rule about not mentioning stuff I’ve read for Novelicious before the review goes up there, but I’ve just finished reading TV historian Neil Oliver’s first novel Master of Shadows, and without preempting my review there too much, it is basically the novel version of one of those historical epic movies. Set in the fifteenth century. it follows a young man as he flees Scotland, becomes a mercenary and ends up entangled in the fall of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire. It was too gruesome for me, but if you have a Game of Thrones fan in your life, this could be a great choice for them.
My Boy has also expressed an interest in Timur Vermes’ Look Who’s Back, which has been sitting in my Library book bag for ages. In case you’ve missed it, this was a massive best seller in Germany – and tells the story of what happened when Adolf Hitler wakes up in 2011 Berlin. It’s already been made into a movie in Germany and Radio 4 have dramatised it over here. It’s meant to be laugh-out loud funny, but disturbing.
And finally, I’m not big on scary, but The Boy has film director David Cronenberg’s debut novel on his to-read pile. I don’t like recommending books that I haven’t read (or that people around me haven’t read) but Consumed has a good review average on both Amazon and Goodreads and pull quotes from Stephen King and JJ Abrams, so strikes me as a fairly good punt in a genre I’m really not very fluent in.
If you want to give bookish gifts that aren’t actually books, then may I point you in the direction of American company Out of Print. They do the most gorgeous clothes with book covers printed on them and for each purchase they donate a book to a community in need. I’ve gifted their t-shirts to several men at various points – including The Boy, who loves them and stares wistfully at their website every time he sees me looking at it, but tells me he has enough clothes. The tees are soft, the print isn’t crunchy (if you know what I mean) and they wash well and hold their shape. If you’re in the UK I think we’ve already missed the cheap shipping international deadline, although they say you can upgrade, but TruffleShuffle stock a few styles, as do Amazon.
So there you are, hopefully I’ve recommended something for most tastes or situations – or at least provided a jumping off point. Coming next: Books for Her.