Top five books for Christmas
Fancy giving your loved one a brilliant read this Christmas or better still build a bedside stack just for yourself?
The Holt Bookshop have shared with us their top five reads for Chrismas 2020, so get snug on the sofa, fill up that mug of hot choc and delve into one of these.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell £20
Winner of the 2020 Women’s prize for fiction, Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; a flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.
An Atlas of Extinct Countries by Gideon Defoe £12.99
Prisoners of Geography meets Bill Bryson: a funny, fascinating, beautifully illustrated – and timely – history of countries that, for myriad and often ludicrous reasons, no longer exist. Sometimes it’s murder, sometimes it’s by accident, and sometimes it’s because they were so ludicrous they didn’t deserve to exist in the first place. Occasionally they explode violently. A few slip away almost unnoticed.
Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain, £18.99
Islands of Mercy is a novel that ignites the senses, written by Norfolk-based award winning novelist Rose Tremain. She was ‘The Angel of the Baths’, the one woman whose touch everybody yearned for. Yet she would do more.
She was certain of that. In the city of Bath, in the year 1865, an extraordinary young woman renowned for her nursing skills is convinced that some other destiny will one day show itself to her. But when she finds herself torn between a dangerous affair with a female lover and the promise of a conventional marriage to an apparently respectable doctor, her desires begin to lead her towards a future she had never imagined.
Jack by Marilynne Robinson £18.99
Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the American National Humanities Medal, returns to the world of Gilead with Jack, the final in one of the great works of contemporary American fiction. A New York Times bestseller, Jack tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the loved and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, a drunkard and a ne’er-do-well. In segregated St. Louis sometime after World War II, Jack falls in love with Della Miles, an African-American high school teacher, also a preacher’s child, with a discriminating mind, a generous spirit and an independent will. Their fraught, beautiful story is one of Robinson’s greatest achievements.
The Fire of Joy by Clive James £20
Clive James read, learned and recited poetry aloud for most of his life. In this book, completed before just before his death, he offers a selection of his favourite poems and a personal commentary on each. In the last months of his life, his vision impaired by surgery and unable to read, Clive James explored the treasure-house of his mind: the poems he knew best, so good that he didn’t just remember them, he found them impossible to forget. The Fire of Joy is the record of this final journey of recollection and celebration.