Here we go again, it’s the Christmas gift suggestion post marathon. I’m starting with books for her, then there’ll be books for him, books for kids and what *I* want for Christmas. And this is separate from books set at Christmas – newly published and not so new – I have recommendations for that coming soon too. And I’ve even got myself in gear this year, so this first batch are coming to you earlier than usual – and at a point when Foyles are doing 20 percent off everything for Black Friday, which is really useful for the stuff that’s not on a big release (and thus not discounted by Amazon.
Rarely a Christmas goes by without me buying someone a cook book. This year, my pick is The Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer, which bought for my sister for her birthday after seeing some of the recipes on a weekly cooking email that I get. I’ve cooked a recipe from it* (and want a copy myself) and Little Sister has given it a glowing review too based on the recipes she’s tried.
I pretty much always buy my mum a big old biography of a historical figure for Christmas – she tends to prefer stuff from the Georgians onward – tending towards women, royalty and society figures. In that vein this year I’ve been eying up Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking by Deborah Cadbury (which I actually have an e-proof of still waiting be be read as part of the Noirville backlog) and Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown, but if you’re buying for someone who likes Tudor history, Elizabeth’s Rival: The Tumultuous Tale of Lettice Knollys by Nicola Tallis also looks quite good and although I need to have a look at it in a shop before I’ll buy it for anyone, Lettice is someone who has popped up in Philippa Gregory novels so that could make a nice choice if you have a Gregory reader to buy for.
If you want to do current affairs, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s What Happened seems like a bit of an obvious choice, so how about White House photographer Pete Souza’s Obama: An Intimate Portrait which would look great on a coffee table. Depending on how woke the person is that you’re buying for, you might also want to consider Ta-Nehisi Coates’s We Were Eight Years In Power, which is waiting for me on my bookshelf at the moment after I read Between the World and me earlier in the year.
To lighter things now, and Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively looks like it would make a lovely pick for the gardner in your life – it’s billed as a memoir of her life in gardens as well as a look at gardens in literature. Both of my parents are gardners, but I’ve put this in here because I know that my mum likes Lively’s adult books (I’ve read some of her children’s novels but none of her adult stuff). I read Sweetpea Slight’s Get Me the Urgent Biscuits a few weeks back, and whilst it’s not quite as satisfying as I wanted it to be, if you have a theatre geek in your life, the story of life as an assistant to a theatrical impresario in the 1980s and 90s is still fascinating. There’s also The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983 – 1992 telling the story of Tina Brown’s time as the editor of the legendary magazine (I wouldn’t mind this myself to be honest, but I’ve got so many things on my own list I decided to be generous and include this here!).
In fiction, I’ve added Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler to my list of books to give based on what I’ve read so far. I always worked in retail when I was younger, not hospitality or catering, but having read this I feel like I may have missed out. Although as I’m terribly clumsy I would have been a terrible waitress! You may remember be going mad over Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers earlier this year – and as I love Rich People Problems books I think that would make a great gift, as would The Wangs vs The World by Jade Chang (although I didn’t love it as much as some others have). There’s also a second book out now in the Dandie Dinmont murder mystery series – I enjoyed the first one earlier this year and if it’s anything like the first one Resort to Murder would make a great stocking stuffer: a lady journalist in 1950s Devon solves mysteries that she comes across during the course of her reporting duties.
And it was a BotW a few weeks ago, but To Bed With Grand Music would make a great Christmas book for anyone who needs to sit and spend a few hours with a fascinatingly awful woman in wartime Britain to take them away from whatever chaos they’re living with.
So, there you have it. Part One of my Christmas book suggestions for this year. Part Two will follow tomorrow, but in the meantime you can always check out last year’s post – as well as last year’s suggestions for books that I wanted to receive.
*The recipe we tried was this one – it was excellent, as were the leftovers.