Definitive Gift Books Guide For Holiday Season

The best guide to gift books, divided by special needs. There truly is something for everyone here.

Cosy Christmas Reads 

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

This heartwarming but satisfyingly complex family saga is perfect for Christmas. It doesn’t hurt that the hardback is simply gorgeous, with festive end papers. The Birch family is forced to spend a Christmas together after Olivia returns after treating an epidemic abroad and has to stay in quarantine, along with her family. Simmering tensions boil over and every family member’s secrets spill out as Francesca explores the mixed emotions in the lead up to Christmas. This hilarious story has a tender core and if you are a fan of Love Actually, then you’ll love this quintessentially British holiday read.

Classic Ghost Stories: Spooky Tales to Read at Christmas (Vintage Classics)

If, like me, you also think that spooky tales are the best to cuddle up with on cold nights then you need to get this chunky book. This collection comprises spine-chilling tales by the masters of 19th century literature who helped define the horror genre. Collected here are some of the most iconic of these Victorian ghost stories, from Charles Dickens’s “The Signalman” to M.R. James’s “A Warning to the Curious.” It also includes influential horror stories by Rudyard Kipling, Elizabeth Gaskell, Edith Wharton,H G Wells, among others. This is the ultimate gift for anyone who enjoys literature and horror.

Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales by P.D. James

What could be better in December than cosying up to a previously uncollected selection of deliciously wicked mysteries from the “Queen of Crime.” All the six vengeful stories feature a murder but weaves together cleverly crafted plots with pitch perfect execution and great psychological insight about each character’s motives. Fiendishly cunning and compulsively readable, this book has a wintry theme and is slim enough to read in a night or two.

Snazzy Gift Books

Letters to the Lady Upstairs by Marcel Proust, Translated by Lydia Davis

This pretty little hardback makes for a glamorous gift for book snobs. Proust was a prolific letter writer and this book compiles 23 letters he wrote to a harpist, Madame Williams, who lived with her husband in one of the apartments above Proust’s at 102 Boulevard Hausmann in Paris. Translated expertly by acclaimed writer Lydia Davis, these letters give fascinating insight into an unusual friendship. It’s a delightful book which reveals intimate details about Proust’s life while also portraying a charming portrait of friendship, noisy neighbours and Parisian life. An attractive stocking filler, this one!

The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris

No wonder this has been hailed as one of the year’s most beautiful books. The Lost Words is utterly mesmerizing inside and out. All over the country, there are words disappearing from children’s lives. These are the words of the natural world—Dandelion, Otter, Bramble and Acorn, all gone. The rich landscape of wild imagination and wild play is rapidly fading from our children’s minds. With the help of exquisite illustrations by Jackie Morris, Macfarlane methodically restores the missing words in Children’s lexicon with spell-poems. This breathtaking book will reignite the love of language in people of all ages.

Brolliology by Marion Rankine

This pretty little gem of a book is not only pleasing to look at but also packs in a lot of information.  In the spirit of the best literary gift books, Brolliology is a beautifully designed and illustrated tour through literature and history of umbrellas, which have been use by humans for a millennia. This enjoyably umbrella tour through the history of this forgettable everyday object in cinema, books and our daily life. Filled with cool illustrations and fun facts, this lovely book is a surprisingly compelling book on an unusual subject.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (Illustrated Edition)

This timeless masterpiece of detective fiction was adapted this year for the big screen with a star studded cast. This large format illustrated edition of Agatha Christie’s novel features stunning artwork and photography from the 2017 film adaptation. The illustrated edition contains the complete text of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, together with 200 glorious production paintings and sumptuous photos from the new film, directed by Kenneth Branagh. A must-have coffee table book for this year!

Stories by Susan Sontag

Trust me when I tell you that if you are a bibliophile, you need this beautiful hardback in your life. Susan Sontag was an intellectual, film maker, and writer best known for her essays on modern culture. Stories collects all of Sontag’s short fiction for the first time. These superb stories show the sheer versatility of one of this century’s most inquisitive minds. The stories ranges from allegory to parable to autobiography and shows her wrestling with problems about existence and humanity. The stories in this book provoke, questions and inspire in a way that only great writing can. Evocative and fascinating, these stories dwell on the human condition in unique and original ways.

Delectable Cookbooks

The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater

This hefty volume is simply stunning inside and out. Featuring a lavish design and equally beautiful pictures inside, this is a hymn to winter and Christmas. With recipes, decorations, fables and quick fireside suppers, Nigel guides you through the essential preparations for Christmas and the New Year, with everything you need to enjoy the winter months. Featuring over 100 recipes supplemented by personal anecdotes, suggestions and useful tips, this book will be loved by foodies as much as by readers. Besides tempting descriptions of food, Slater writes about the first frost of winter and the excitement of Christmas with infectious joy and charm.

Nadiya’s British Food Adventure by Nadiya Hussain 

Can’t get enough of Bake Off? Then this book, from everyone’s favourite Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, is a must for you. From Cayenne eggs Benedict to soft poached eggs on an English muffin with smoked turkey rashers and cayenne hollandaise sauce, this book is your guide to classic British winter dishes. Containing over 120 mouth-watering recipes with fabulous pictures, this cookbook reads like a novel. Nadiya combines eclectic flavors from her native Bangladesh to the West Indies, Mediterranean, and Yorkshire to whip up scrumptious dishes.

Sabor: Flavours from a Spanish Kitchen by Nieves Barragan Mohacho

This book comes from the renowned Spanish chef who has a Michelin star and is is best known as the former head chef at Barrafina, the world famous tapas restaurant. This compilation of classing Spanish recipes range from hearty dishes like chorizo and potato stew to lighter fare such as seafood skewers and clams in salsa verde. A very personal cookbook from a very particular cook, Sabor is full of delicious flavours and delightful recipes you’ll return to time and again.

Dickensian Christmas

Charles Dickens Vintage Classics

Christmas is incomplete without the mention of Dickens and these six beautifully tailored editions of Dickens’s most beloved books are must-haves for every bookshelf. The first 4,000 copies have black-sprayed edges which gives them the perfect Dickensian feel. The books in this collection includes A Christmas Carol (includes the short stories “The Chimes” and “The Haunted Man”), David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Hard Times, Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities. If you are looking for fancy books to gift, these lavishly designed paperbacks with customised end papers are perfect.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

A story about Dickens set during Christmas. Now what could be a better Christmas gift? This charming novel reimagines the events that led to the creation of A Christmas Carol. Dickens latest book has been a flop, his family is ever-expanding, and relatives near and far hound him for money. His publishers offer him a chance to turn his luck around by writing a Christmas book in just 4 weeks—or face financial ruin. Charles sinks into a depression as a serious bout of writer’s block sets in. He takes to wandering the majestic city of London to seek inspiration. The story combines vivid descriptions about the glittering 19th century London with a rich and poignant story about redemption and family. This book is atmospheric, touching and infused with holiday spirit like the best Dickens.

Priceless Book Bundles

Paul Beatty Reissues

The Sellout was hands down the best novel I have read in recent years so I was very excited when Paul’s publishers Oneworld announced a reissue of all his novels featuring fantastic covers. The novels here include The White Boy Shuffle, Tuff, Slumberland and the Man Booker winning The Sellout. No one writes with such lacerating wit about America’s post-racial delusion and the black American experience as Paul. So if you haven’t read him yet, now is your chance.

Truman Capote Modern Classics

Fan of literary classics? Then these Capote reissues are for you. Nine of Capote’s works are published in Penguin Modern Classics including most recently, a newly discovered collection, The Early Stories. All the new editions feature iconic photographs by  Richard Avedon, with whom Capote worked closely on In Cold Blood. The new volumes feature additional stories and quietly elegant covers. These classics are a must for every bibliophile’s collection.

P.G. Wodehouse Reissues

Wodehouse is often acknowledged as “the best English comic novelist of the century,” so this bundle is guaranteed to make you howl with laughter. Comprising largely of the best Jeeves and Wooster stories, each volume in this series feature three entertaining stories. So you have a medley of Wodehouse delights in which lunacy and comic exuberance reign supreme.

Sign up to get the librarian's one-stop shop for news, book lists, and more with the Check Your Shelf newsletter.
Start your 14-day free trial and enjoy the perks of exclusive podcasts and emails, the New Release Index, and behind-the-scenes access.
VIEW COMMENTS