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Five books that make lovely gifts
The Well Read Christmas gift guide (part one).
My family and I have a tradition whereby every time we buy each other a book, we inscribe the inside cover with a little note. Some, like my first copy of Jane Eyre, simply say things such as: ‘To Anna, Happy Christmas (2011), Love from Grandma and Grandad’. Others, such as the books my boyfriend and I bought each other in the early years of dating, have longer, thoughtful notes. Unsurprisingly, no matter whose handwriting it is inside, these are the books that I treasure the most.
Even without that personal touch, I always think books make excellent presents. Not just because they’re easy to wrap (although that helps), but because I firmly believe that there’s a book out there for everyone – even those who are incredibly tricky to buy for (cough cough, most of the men in my life).
Now I know it might be still a little too early to say the C-word – it is still November after all – but I’m trying to be organised this year and get my Christmas gifts sorted before I arrive into panic mode. So, here are a selection of books I’ll be buying for my friends and family, and I hope that you’ll find someone who might enjoy them too.
If not, this is just part one of my literary gift guide, and if you scroll down to the end of this newsletter you will find a way to receive some more tailored recommendations. Happy gifting!
Five books to gift this Christmas
The Literary Almanac by Francesca Beauman
Sometimes you feel as though a book has been written specifically for you and this is one of those for me. The Literary Almanac is a gorgeously illustrated month-by-month reading guide which takes inspiration from the weather, the holidays or even just the feel in the air to suggest what to read at that time.
As both a genuinely useful guide for someone who’s always looking to add to their To Read Pile and a beautifully written celebration of books and literature, I know my copy is going to live on my bedside table for a long time.
Gift it to: the serious bibliophile.
Omelette by Jessie Ware
I never miss an episode of the singer Jessie Ware’s food podcast, Table Manners, which she co-hosts with her brilliant mother Lennie, so I knew I would devour her memoir which came out earlier this year.
It’s essentially the story of Ware’s life told through the lens of her food memories – ft. spag bol, white bread, and plenty of the eponymous omelettes made by her mum. There are countless people I want to buy this short-but-sweet book for.
Gift it to: foodies and fans of easy-to-read, joyful memoirs.
Silverview by John le Carré
The final novel from one of the best-ever espionage writers was posthumously published last month, and I think it will make an excellent gift for anyone who’d enjoy being gripped by a book during those Twixmas days spent on the sofa.
Silverview centres around Julian, who has swapped his high stress life in the City for a more tranquil one running a bookshop in a small seaside town. When it becomes clear that a mysterious regular browser – who describes himself as ‘one of life’s odd-job men’ – knows a lot more about Julian and his family than he’d like, the simple life he’d craved begins to unravel.
Gift it to: fans of spy and thriller novels, and anyone who’s already exhausted the rest of le Carré’s back catalogue.
Misfits by Michaela Coel
If anyone on your To-Buy-For list would agree that I May Destroy You was one of 2020’s best TV programmes, then they’ll certainly enjoy the creator and star Michaela Coel’s first book.
Misfits follows her path from growing up in Tower Hamlets in London to making it in TV and becoming the multiple-award winning writer and actor that she is today. It’s about resilience and overcoming obstacles, embracing what makes us unique and the importance of truth. It’s a short, small book, but I doubt there’s a stocking filler out there more powerful.
Gift it to: fans of inspiring memoirs and anyone in a creative industry.
These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
This collection of personal essays from the Women’s Prize for Fiction author of many wonderful novels (including The Dutch House and Bel Canto) is like a warm hug in literary form.
Throughout, Patchett muses on love, friendship, family, grief, writing and clearing out homes, and although I thought it might not be possible, the contents of this book are really as gorgeous as its cover.
Gift it to: anyone who likes essay collections from wise women like Joan Didion or Zadie Smith.
If you’re still looking for a book to gift someone, then fill in this Google form here, telling me a little bit about the person and their tastes, and I’ll come back to you with some specific suggestions. There’s no cost or catch – I just really like the idea of spreading the book love as far and wide as possible.