Your bedside table might be stacked with new releases, but how do you pick the right literary gift for your loved one? This Christmas, delight the bookworms in your life with Team Stylist’s favourite reading material.
When it comes to the printed page, 2019 has brought a bumper crop of thrillers, dystopias, memoirs and poetry to our bookshelves. We’ve had big-name blockbusters, breakout debuts and mind-boggling biographies that have been the talk of every office kitchen in the country (Louis Theroux, we’re looking at you).
But even as our own to-read list grows ever longer, buying books for other people remains a tricky business. We know very well which reads we want to curl up with over the festive period, but if you’ve ever exclaimed “You’re going to LOVE it!” to a friend – only to be met with an evasive look when you ask if they’ve finished that novel you bought them – you’ll know that matching book to reader is a fine art.
So, how do you go about finding the perfect literary gift? Do you take a punt and pick something from the bestseller lists in the Sunday papers? Take inspiration from the photogenic book flatlays on your Instagram feed? Or brave the Christmas crowds at Waterstones and grab the nearest 2-for-1 memoir?
Dear reader, you do none. Instead, you peruse this round-up of books that make great presents, as chosen by the Stylist team – from cosy, atmospheric novels to inspiring poetry collections. Whether you’re shopping for a feminist friend, a recipe-loving relative or a young niece or nephew, you’ll be able to find something for them here. Read on…
The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes
Chosen by: Francesca Brown, books editor
“The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes is a genuinely entertaining book that’s a perfect gift for people who need some escape from the everyday and just want to be absorbed in a really cracking story. Set in rural America in the 1930s, it’s got a band of feisty characters who are funny and sweet with contemporary resonances to boot.”
Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman
Chosen by: Shannon Peter, beauty director
“Alison Roman’s recipes have the power to break the internet. The cookies! The stew! The dip! So much so, that I’ve wheeled out her first book (Dining In) every Sunday lunch, midweek meal and dinner party ever since I got it.
“This one, Nothing Fancy, is even better, full of (actually) easy and unfathomably delicious recipes with plenty of welcome shortcuts. Buy it for a friend, and then invite yourself round to taste its produce.”
There Are Girls Like Lions: Poems About Being A Woman
Chosen by: Megan Murray, digital writer
“One of the most aesthetically pleasing books I’ve laid eyes on in 2019, There Are Girls Like Lions: Poems About Being A Woman has a message as beautiful as its cover. This collection of feminist poetry talks about the strength and resilience of being a woman, while the clashing pink and red illustrations are a must for an interior magpie’s coffee table.”
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Chosen by: Ava Welsing-Kitcher, junior beauty writer
“Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams is a must for everyone, but especially for black girls – young or otherwise. Seeing the titular character navigate self-worth, family stress, and useless men in such a heartbreaking but hilarious way reminds us how to stay afloat in a world that hasn’t exactly been a support system. I want all my friends and cousins to own it.”
Little Box of Books subscription
Chosen by: Tom Gormer, photography and specials director
“A box of books for my niece and nephew that help them understand the world and their place in it is THE BEST Christmas gift. PLUS it’s a subscription, so not only is it the gift that keeps on giving, it also gets delivered so I don’t have to lug it home on the train.”
The Seven Or Eight Deaths Of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
Chosen by: Gemma Crisp, deputy editor
“I picked this up mainly for the excellent cover but soon found myself engrossed in the story of Mariastella Fortuna, born into grinding poverty in 1920s Calabria. Determined to buck her parents’ expectations by never getting married, Stella’s life takes an unexpected turn when her father forces the family to emigrate to the US.
“Grames bundles nascent feminism, sibling rivalry, inherent sexism, near-death experiences and crippling family expectations into a thoroughly enjoyable read. It’s ideal for that person in your life who enjoys a time-hopping, continent-crossing tale of a woman who knows her own mind.”
Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life And Strange Times On Television by Louis Theroux
Chosen by: Lucy Partington, beauty editor
“For anyone who is (or maybe even isn’t) a fan of Mr Theroux, Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life And Strange Times On Television is completely captivating. It’s a real nosy insight into his life, the way his documentaries are created and includes his very real, honest and raw thoughts about some of his most controversial subjects.
“It makes for a truly fascinating (and actually quite funny) read – I finished it in three days.”
Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser Akner
Chosen by: Hannah Keegan, features writer
“Taffy Brodesser Akner is known for profiling celebrities like Bradley Cooper and Gwyneth Paltrow for The New York Times. Her first novel, Fleishman Is In Trouble, tells the story of a man using dating apps to get through his divorce. It’s perfect for someone who loves a darkly comic story and great writing.”
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Chosen by: Kayleigh Dray, digital editor
“The Testaments is an ideal book to buy for any of the women in your life, but particularly those who – to quote a famous Christmas movie – are feeling gloomy with the state of the world.
“Because, while the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport proves that love actually is all around, this sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale reminds us that hope can be found in the darkest of places, too. Better still, Margaret Atwood’s powerful story inspires us to keep striving for change. Merry bloody Christmas to that!”
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Chosen by: Amy Davies-Adams, production editor
“I’m not normally one for autobiographies, but Michelle Obama’s Becoming changed that for me. As well as being a fascinating insight into life on the campaign trail and, eventually, in the White House, it’s also one of the most incredibly inspiring books I’ve read – whether you’re looking to make a career U-turn, network with authenticity or prioritise self-care.
“I read it in the summer and still think about it a lot, though I’m yet to set my alarm for that 4.45am gym session a la Michelle.”
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Images: Courtesy of publishers
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.
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