This is it, the final post in on three-part blog series on buying the best Christmas book gifts. Part 1 was dedicated to our younger readers: why they deserve to get books for Christmas and a diverse range of reading fun. Part 2 focused on the difficult to buy for, taking you on a tour of every section of Booka in search of the perfect gift. This week, we devote part 3 to the book devourers, the big readers, who can in their own way be quite tricky to buy for too! Read on for some general buying tips for the well-read, and discover some of our bestselling titles for Christmas 2019.
You would think that buying a book for a book lover would be an easy win, but once you start browsing, the questions start to come. Have they already read it? Or do they already own it, but haven’t read it yet? Or will someone else obviously buy it for them? Will they judge me for my choice, especially if I chose something that’s not their thing? Here’s some general tips to get you started, before we move onto some more specific recommendations:
- A new book in a series they have been reading, or from an author they definitely like, is a good idea, but you will want to just check with other friends and family that you haven’t all had the same idea.
- Books that have won or been shortlisted in big literary prizes can be a great choice, critically acclaimed and with lots of buzz. There are plenty of lists online, and competitions to look out for include the Booker Prize, Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Costa Book Award to name a few.
- A sneak peek at their bookshelf or to-read pile will tell you what sort of books they enjoy. Crime thrillers? Historical fiction? Fantasy? Classics? Do they seem to prefer a slim volume or a weighty tome? There is no harm in branching out, but playing it safe has its benefits.
- You could just ask them what great new reads are on their wish list. If they are a big reader, they are sure to have one and will no doubt be more than happy to give you a selection. This isn’t such a great option if you like your gift-giving to be a surprise, but it keeps everyone happy!
- It might sound like a last resort, but a book voucher is actually a really good idea. Not only are you giving them the gift of a book, you are also giving them the gift of choosing a book, which for many book-lovers is one of the most exciting parts. We have both Booka vouchers and national book tokens available to buy in our shop.
Still not sure? Here are 15 diverse bestsellers for the keen reader. We are confident that there will be choices here in abundance (if they haven’t read them already of course!):
- The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Worth the hype. Joint winner of the Booker Prize. They will need to have read The Handmaid’s Tale Chilling dystopian brilliance.
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. Likewise joint winner of the Booker Prize. Twelve intertwining, mostly black, mostly female lives over the course of several decades.
- The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason. Critically acclaimed historical fiction. A medical student from Vienna enlists in WW1, hoping for glory, but finds typhus, PTSD and a haunting mystery.
- Genius and Ink by Virginia Woolf. With a foreword by Ali Smith, this collection of essays on writing by the troubled and brilliant Woolf is an excellent non-fiction possibility for the book lover.
- Blue Moon by Lee Child. Reliably thrilling. Rival gangs, a city in terror, time running out, you know what you are getting with Jack Reacher and at his 23rd outing he shows no signs of slowing down.
- Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris. The sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, this true story will take you to the heart of the camp’s hospital. A challenging but incredibly powerful tale.
- The Confession by Jessie Burton. Another bestseller from this rising star, Hollywood allure, secrets, obsession and disenchantment haunt this mysterious and beautifully written novel.
- Inland by Téa Obreht. Bringing to life the spiritual world of the American West, this is a sweeping and lyrical tale of two individuals fighting for a very different sort of survival.
- How It Was by Janet Ellis. A woman at her husband’s death bed looks back over forty years of marriage, motherhood and the horrific decision she made about her daughter’s happiness.
- A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier. In 1932, Violet is still mourning her fiancé and brother, lost in WW1. A new life falling in with the ‘broderers’ brings danger, excitement and agony.
- Spring by Ali Smith. Her lyrical prose is divisive, but this third part in her Seasonal Quartet balances hope and fear, beauty and suffering masterfully. Summer is due for realise in July 2020.
- The Starless Sea by Eric Morgenstern. Escapist literature at its very best: a series of hidden clues, lost books, memory and a quest for a lost labyrinth that needs protecting at all costs.
- Agent Running in the Field by John Le Carre. The excitement of a cold war thriller with up to the minute politics. Expect thrills, twists and espionage from this master of the genre.
- Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. Historical fiction with exceptional characterisation. A half-drowned and silent girl pulled from the Thames is claimed by three grieving families.
- Lanny by Max Porter. From the author of bestselling Grief is the Thing with Feathers comes this stream of consciousness triumph about a lonely boy stalked by a mythical creature.
We hope that you can find a great potential gift among those varied titles. For further ideas, you could take a look at our very special staff ‘Three to Read’. We asked our well-read staff to recommend three great books they have read this year, and as expected the results were wide-ranging and inspiring. Come and take a look by our main till for our ribbon-wrapped selections.
Finally, we want to thank everyone for their amazingly generous donations to our ‘Buy a Book, Gift a Book’ campaign. For an extra £3.50 added to your shop, you donate half the price of a children’s book, we pay the other half, and you choose whether you would like it to go to your local school, the Oswestry Food Bank, or Hope House Children’s Hospice. It continues to be very successful thanks to the kindness of all our customers and we know that these books will be going to very worthy destinations.
We hope that you have enjoyed this three-part guide to giving books as gifts for Christmas, and hope to see you in Booka soon for book browsing and a welcome visit to our café.