I’ll admit I’m struggling slightly for Man Books this year. And by Man Books, I mean books that the men in my life would like. As you know, every year I buy books for Him Indoors, my Dad and my little sister’s partner and, although my dad reads a lot of my mum’s books when she’s done with them, I do try and get him something he wouldn’t be able to pick up off my mum’s pile. For years his book was the latest Terry Pratchett, but as that option is no longer available to me, I’ve had to me more creative. Him Indoors likes Bill Bryson and I’ve had success with Guy Martin’s books previously, but some of the other autobiographies he’s been given have sat unread on the shelves, and that makes me sad. Little Sister’s partner is a fascinating enigma and I have to pick her brains for ideas every year. But between the three of them it usually gives a good cross section of stuff that I wouldn’t be buying for other people (or myself). But this year is tricky. Very tricky.
So the obvious choice for the Formula One fan in my life would be Jenson Button’s autobiography Life to the Limit, but there are a couple more behind the scenes-y books out this year too – Adrian Newey (legendary car designer) has one out – How to Build a Car – which looks like it’s full of designs and technical details and there’s also Mechanic: The Secret Life of the Pit Lane by former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestly. I’m going to have to go to Foyles and have a flick through them before I can decide which it’ll be.
In other nonfiction terms, Timothy West and Prunella Scales have written a book to accompany their TV series: Our Great Canal Journeys which might make a nice coffee table book for older relatives. There’s a book accompanying Blue Planet II which looks lovely as well and of course there’s David Attenborough’s own memoir Adventures of a Young Naturalist. There are also two space-related books out this Christmas – the patriotic choice is obviously Tim Peake’s Ask an Astronaut, but I’m actually more interested in Scott Kelly’s Endurance – although he didn’t come across as the chattiest of people during his media round promoting this, the reviews I’ve seen have been excellent and I’ve been fascinated by his story for ages. In case you didn’t know, he’s the American astronaut who spent a year in space – his identical twin brother is also an astronaut (now retired, he’s married to former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords) and one of the things the year in space was able to do was compare the differences between the the two men and see what space was doing to him compared to earth.
I found the fiction picks this year really hard, but eventually I’ve come up with a few. I read Anthony Horowitz’s The Word is Murder the other week and I think it would make a great Christmas read – it’s a modern day Sherlock type story, but very, very meta. Perfect for reading in front of the fire on Boxing Day. Although (as previously mentioned) there are no new Pratchetts anymore, there are lovely new hardback editions of his books coming out, if you’ve got someone who hasn’t got them all – the one of Good Omens, which he wrote with Neil Gaiman, is particularly nice – and there’s a TV adaptation coming soon, starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, so now is the time to read it if you haven’t already. Talking of Neil Gaiman, his Norse Mythology would probably be a good choice – I know I want to read it!
So there you go, a stack of book suggestions that veer towards the sciences, technology, sci fi and mystery. If you’re still short of ideas, here’s last year’s post for more ideas – I’ve read Mary Roach’s Grunt since I wrote the post and can now endorse her fully, ditto Ready Player One which has a movie out soon too. And if you’re looking for books about history, cooking and a stack of fiction picks, try my Books for Her post.