Everyone knows a book lover, and while at first you might think “That’s ideal: I can just get them a book for Christmas!” you quickly realise that there’s far, far too much choice for what to buy. With new releases advertised left right and centre, and festive favourites rolled out and put back on display, it can get a bit overwhelming. That said, here’s a few ideas, festive or not, for books to gift this Christmas.
1. Melmoth by Sarah Perry. Perry’s second novel, The Essex Serpent, was massively popular when it was released in 2016, and won Waterstones Book of the Year. Melmoth is inspired by Charles Maturin’s Melmoth The Wanderer, but reimagines this classic work, making the titular character female. This gothic story manages to ask questions of modern day life while still remaining entrenched in a classic, supernatural tale. Melmoth is a must-read for fans of The Essex Serpent, and also fans of the gothic genre.
2. Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak. Zusak’s previous novel, The Book Thief was lauded for its unusual narrative structure (Death itself narrates the book) and emotional depth. Bridge of Clay follows five brothers, living alone, who share an obsession with Homer’s Odyssey. Clay, the protagonist of the novel, accepts their father’s challenge to build a bridge. The book explores family, love, grief and coming of age in a story “told inside out and back to front”, and is a brilliant gift for any fans of The Book Thief. Bridge of Clay would be a great gift for older teenagers as well as adults, despite being primarily marketed as an adult novel.
3. Collected Stories by Grace Paley. This book brings together Paley’s three collections of short stories and presents them all in a single book. Despite being published decades apart, the stories still interweave greatly with one another, painting a picture of New York life in the mid-20th Century. The collection follows a central group of characters living in apartments in New York, and bounces fowards and backwards in time, telling stories of love, loss, grief, family and friendship. She addresses sensitive topics within her work: at least one story tells of a relationship between a man and a much younger girl, so this is not for younger readers, but makes a great read for more mature readers who are fans of short story collections.
4. Dear Boy by Emily Berry. Berry’s first collection was awarded the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and would make an excellent gift for any poetry lovers in your life. Berry’s work is often darkly humourous and witty, and this collection is notable for its shifting of power, creating unexpected twists throughout the collection. The collection is eccentric and confessional, telling stories that are both distorted yet understandable, and is an excellent example of contemporary poetry that would make a brilliant addition to any bookshelf.
Hopefully these suggestions will have given you some excellent gift giving ideas this Christmas, but don’t be afraid to ask your bookworm friends what books are on their to be read list – because I can guarantee their list of ideas will be long enough that you’ll still be able to surprise them with your choice of gift!
~ by Ellie Foulds
~ IMG Sources: Amazon.co.uk, Penguin Random House, The Literateur