As promised, some book recommendations for Christmas. Nice and late for those of you who are about to start panic-buying! None of these are actually “Christmas themed”, but I would tend to steer clear of those novelty, seasonal releases anyway. Some of them are good (I particularly like one that sits in my downstairs loo called Awkward Family Photos) but most of them end up in the “Car Boot Sale Box”. (Come on, we all have one of those, don’t we? I’ve had one for ten years and have never, in that time, attended a car boot sale.) Anyway, watch the video for a bit of book-related chit-chat if you have a spare moment, otherwise all of my suggestions are listed below. Lots of them are available in the larger supermarkets as well as at bookstores, so quite helpful if you’re stuck and need to get last-minute pressies with your grocery shopping, and if you’re not daring to leave the house then Amazon are taking orders until tomorrow night with delivery in time for Christmas Day. Check the guaranteed dates and times before you order, though…
Sali Hughes’ Pretty Honest could well be my book of the year. It’s just a treasure trove of beauty know-how with properly helpful tips and inspirational quotes and guidance. Everything from the perfect red lip to the cringe-free bikini wax, it’s money well spent – stockpile for every female friend and relative! £12.50 here. Jamie Oliver’s latest cookery offering, Comfort Food, brings colourful photography and mouthwatering recipes to the table. I love Jamie’s books because they show food that I actually want to cook and eat – he makes it all look easy, and if not easy then at least so enticing that you’re prepared to give it a go. Comfort Food is £12.50 here. My last non-fiction suggestion would be Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes, which is a purse-friendly £7 at the moment. Kerridge just makes me smile with his jolly and enthusiastic manner and this book is stuffed full of recipes that look quite showy but that aren’t too complicated. Find it here.
Books for Men
Or for women, of course, but I’ve said men specifically here because so many of us find it difficult to buy good things for male relatives and friends and these are a pretty safe bet. The Son by Philip Meyer came very highly recommended by my Dad and then I read it and could see why; it’s like an epic Wild West film in book form. Loads of gore, loads of history (think Texas Rangers, Comanche Indians) and little bits of rough and ready “love” (sex in teepees). I seem to have dumbed it down with that description – it’s very high-brow and literary, in actual fact, not at all an easy read. Find it online here. We all know about the Robert Galbraith books, I think? JK Rowling writing under a pseudonym? The Cuckoo’s Calling is the first of these books (there are set to be seven in total I think) and it’s a brilliant whodunnit with an unlikely hero. Nice, easy reading in front of the fire with a glass of brandy – you can find it online here. Finally in this category, Lamentation by CJ Sansom is just excellent. Sansom writes what can only be described as Tudor detective novels. A lawyer, Shardlake, goes about solving various murders and crimes and mysteries and teaches us a bit about English history along the way, I love anything set in the Tudor era and so am blatantly biased, but his Shardlake books are all pageturners with an incredible attention to historic detail. Lamentation is the newest in the series and you can find that here.
I’ve missed out a category here – the Booker Prize picks – but if you want to know about those then have a watch of the video. The books are also listed and linked below the video screen, too. But now to my own personal favourites – I’ve started with a teen/young adult pick because everything else here is distinctly adult. The Fault in Our Stars is a novel I thought I’d hate but it’s so brilliantly written and so moving. I only started it so that I could write about it for this post and thought I’d give it a chapter or two, but I’m halfway through and only started it yesterday afternoon. A great choice for any age group but it’s definitely suitable for teens (older) and young adults. Find it here.
Possibly my best read of the recent few months has been Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, one of the most talented novelists of my generation, I think. She writes about life in Nigeria and I find her words both eye-opening and life-changing, if that doesn’t sound too mad. Take a look at the description of Americanah here – it is so worth reading if you’re looking for intelligent and thought-provoking literature. Finally, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – again, a bit of suspense and mystery within a historical setting. I’m not embarrassed to admit that parts of this novel scared the life out of me, but only because I was home alone. Ahem. Find it online here. (NB: I don’t know why The Book Thief is in this photograph, it was supposed to be The Fault in Our Stars, but it is supposed to be excellent, so there’s a bonus suggestion for you!)
Booker Prize Books:
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
Us by David Nicholls
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
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