Christmas Reading List

We asked Faber staff what they’ll be reading and gifting this Christmas, as well as their books of the year.

Rachel Darling, Trade Marketing Coordinator

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I love re-reading and have managed quite a few old favourites this year. Over xmas I’m planning on The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch – hardly festive, but I think I’ll enjoy it all the more because of that!

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

Anyone I know who hasn’t already been strongly encouraged to read Lanny will be getting the dazzling new Waterstones’ edition.

 

 

 

 

Your book of the year

I have to go for Ducks, Newburyport. Phenomenal and flooring, I’ve never read anything like it before and I’m sure I never will again.

 

 

 

Sarah Lough, Children’s Marketing Manager

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I am excited to read Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay. I’m planning to listen to the audiobook as his delivery is brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

This year I will be gifting Santa’s New Beard, a wonderful picture book about the elves’ scramble to make a new beard for Santa when he shaves his off by accident!

 

 

 

 

Your book of the year

My book of the year is The Iron Man by Ted Hughes, illustrated by Chris Mould. I was lucky enough to work on this book this year and it has been such a joy to work on this stunning edition of a hugely adored classic.

 

Joey Connolly, Head of Faber Academy

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

If I can possibly source a copy I’m really excited about Danez Smith’s Homie. Their last book, Don’t Call Us Dead, was devastating.

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

Danielle McLaughlin’s quietly enormous short story collection Dinosaurs on Other Planets. She’ll get better-known after winning The Sunday Times short story prize, but still might be new to some. Plus the cover looks snowy, so it’s seasonal.

 

 

 

 

Your book of the year

I don’t think I can avoid saying Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School. I’m furious and scandalised someone can turn out to be so brilliant as a poet and a novelist at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Page, CEO

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

There are so many. Julia Copus’ new selection of the poems of Charlotte Mew is one, Laura Cummings’ memoir On Chapel Sands another, but then there’s always the draw of Great Expectations. Maybe there’ll be time for all!

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner. Lerner’s third novel is, as you would expect, highly intelligent and thought-provoking, witty and elusive. It speaks to the origins of the anger that fuels our toxic politics, and those of the United States, and so has a richness and urgency. It’s also a beautiful object courtesy of Granta’s gorgeous edition.

 

 

 

Your book of the year

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky. A startlingly brilliant, tragic, funny, exuberant work of poetry that reads like a classic straight out of the heart of 20th Century literature, yet is wholly original in form and tone. Simply literature at its most exhilarating.

 

 

 

Ruth O’Loughlin, Paperbacks Manager

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes. A tour of Belle Epoque Paris, this sounds like the perfect book of decadence to curl up with over Christmas — the reviews have been excellent.

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

Don’t Look at Me Like That by Diana Athill. Granta have just reissued in paperback with a gorgeous new cover designed by Luke Bird. It’s a story of passion and frustration in the 1950s as Meg Bailey, an illustrator in her twenties, tries to navigate love, life and friendship in a bohemian shared house in 1950s London.

 

 

 

Your book of the year

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Beautifully written and heartbreaking – the miscarriage of justice is overwhelming in this novel based on a real-life reform school in 1960s Florida. But also Square Haunting by Francesca Wade – out in January, an inspiring, moving and endlessly interesting study of the lives of five women in one London square between the wars.

Connor Hutchinson, Publicity Assistant

 

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk. I’m a bit late to the party with this one but I recently read Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead and was amazed by Tokarczuk’s writing. It’s an exciting time for translated fiction at the moment and I’m looking forward to seeing why so many people loved Flights.

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

Mask Off by JJ Bola. I’ll be recommending/gifting this to everyone for its importance to the conversation surrounding masculinity and the #MeToo movement. Bola raises issues using touching anecdotes and startling statistics – some that will make you realise how prevalent these problems are today. This is a book I think everyone should read.

 

 

 

Your book of the year

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky. I’m not the most prolific poetry reader but this book is special. Kaminsky creates a powerful narrative that brims with emotion and tragedy, forming a collection unlike anything I’ve seen before. This is one to revisit – to enjoy over and over again – and may be my book of the year next year, why not.

 

 

Katie Hall, Marketing Director

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I’ve got an unrealistically long list of books I’d like to read over Christmas but I’m tempted to park them all and read Ducks, Newburyport. If that doesn’t happen I’ll read the new Jenny Offill, the new Maggie O’Farrell, Jia Tolentino‘s essays and the first book in the Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen.

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

I’ll be giving copies of Lizzie Stewart’s graphic novel, Walking Distance, for Christmas because it is beautiful and super-smart, and I can think of loads of women in my life who will love it too.

 

 

 

 

 

Your book of the year

This is hard! But Cassandra at the Wedding might be the book I’ve enjoyed the most, recommended the most and will remember for the longest time. Daunt Books have done a fantastic job of re-publishing this gem.

 

 

Louisa Joyner, Publishing Director

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

Motherwell, by Deborah Orr – I’ve got a proof squirrelled away to be shared only with my Mum.

 

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

I’ve bought my nephew Tales from the Caribbean after a newfound love of Anansi – a Puffin classic – he’s not yet on social media so it’s not a spoiler.

 

 

 

 

 

Your book of the year

I wouldn’t usually pick something I’ve published but truly it’s Nathan Filer’s The Heartland/This Book Will Change Your Mind about Mental Health. There’s not much real generosity of spirit in the world at the moment, nor is there much good listening, and Nathan manages both whilst dismantling all my preconceptions about mental health. It’s mind-blowing and important.

Alexa von Hirshberg, Head of Faber Social

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I’ve been hearing a lot about This Is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill so I’ll be reading that as well as Square Haunting by Francesca Wade and a bunch of the excellent Music Matters series from the University of Texas Press.

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

Rebecca Solnit’s Whose Story Is This?, the gorgeous Waterstones edition of Max Porter’s Lanny and a few choice selections from Rough Trade Books’ ace little pamphlets series

 

 

 

 

Your book of the year

Jon Savage’s This Searing Light, The Sun and Everything Else. I’m obviously biased but because I am new to running the music list at Faber I feel I’m allowed. I can hand-on-heart say it’s one of the best books about Joy Division and 70’s Manchester I’ve read. It is oral history at its finest and only Savage could have orchestrated it so masterfully. A must-read for anyone interested in the band, the north, great pop writing and compelling social history.

Ruby Bamber, Senior Sales and Commercial Operations Executive

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I’ve asked for Leanne Shapton’s Guestbook which I have been lusting after since the beginning of the year. The unusual content and structure are greatly intriguing and I’m looking forward to having some time to pore over its handsome pages.

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

I’ll be gifting Faces by Vita Sackville-West. Noble portraits of handsome dogs! The history of dog breeds! Witty explanations of how Afghan Hounds differ from Bedlington Terriers! And all housed within a covetable orange book you can fit in your pocket. Who wouldn’t want a copy?

 

 

 

 

Your book of the year

My Book of the Year is Being Various, edited by Lucy Caldwell. In a year when I’ve read, almost exclusively, short story collections or personal essays I’m still reeling from the impact of this one. The selection of writers and the quality of the stories (in turns funny, moving, angry, prescient) are peerless.

Angus Cargill, Editorial Director

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I’m looking forward to reading Elton John’s Me, for some holiday filth, and Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room.

 

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

The novel I’ll be gifting and recommending is Ben Markovits’s Christmas in Austin – four grown up siblings return to their parents’ house for the Christmas week, and arguments ensue. An immersive, perceptive and very moving novel, seasonal too!

 

 

 

Your book of the year

My two favourite (non-Faber) reads of the year were Elizabeth Strout’s Olive, Again and Angie Thomas’s On the Come Up. Both books had a lot to live up to, in Olive Kitteridge and The Hate U Give, and they both nailed it.

John Grindrod, Senior Marketing Manager

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into Peter Hennessy’s Winds of Change: Britain in the Early Sixties after really enjoying his previous books. It’s such a fascinating period with so many parallels to today.

 

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

Car Park Life by Gareth E Rees – a very funny exploration of strange goings – on in the hinterland of retail parks, perfect for the urban rambler – or incorrigible eccentric – in your life.

 

 

 

 

Your book of the year

Walter Gropius by Fiona MacCarthy. This account of the pioneering Bauhaus architect’s life goes behind the clean lines and big history to reveal tales of domestic trauma, artistic struggle and complex personalities which really bring the age of modernism to life.

Josh Smith, Publicist

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

Immensely looking forward to the return of Olive Kitteridge in Olive, Again and Evie Wyld’s new novel, The Bass Rock.

 

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky. A breathtaking and irrepressible collection, full of marvel and also pain. It’s a transformative experience (even better if you can hear the author read himself). How could it not be wished on everyone?

 

 

 

 

Your book of the year

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner. A novel brimming with Lerner’s trademark wit and psychological acuity, but to higher levels here. An incisive family portrait that also looks at the abuse of language and how cycles of masculinity perpetuate and foster. A masterfully constructed and urgent read. I’m quite in awe of it.

 

 

 

 

Niriksha Bharadia, Marketing Manager

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I’ve only heard good things about Ocean Vuong’s debut novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and I’m such a big Ta-Nehisi Coates fan so cannot wait to read his first fiction book The Water Dancer.

 

 

 

 

The book you will be gifting over the holidays

My family love Dishoom so I’ll be gifting copies of their gorgeous new cookbook this year. Growing up in North London meant frequent trips to the Hampstead Ponds so a few of my friends will be receiving At the Pond by Daunt Books. Finally, I’ve been pressing The Red Word into everyone’s hands, a thrilling campus novel set in the 90s, feminist activists try to expose frat culture – think modern day The Secret History.

 

 

 

Your book of the year

Colson Whitehead’s devastating novel, The Nickel Boys, about a reform school in the 60s stayed with me for a long time and Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino is one of the smartest essay collections about the internet and popular culture – and it includes a chapter on the decade’s best scams!

 

 

 

 

Browse our 2019 Christmas Gift Guide here.

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