Christmas Reading List

All I want for Christmas . . .

From eccentric memoirs and epic novels to beautiful books and powerful poetry. Here’s what we’re reading, recommending and gifting this winter.

Ruby Bamber, Senior Sales Operations Executive

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

I’m going to treat myself to The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver over Christmas. It’s one I haven’t read yet and after visiting the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A earlier this year I am looking forward to transporting myself (spiritually at least) to the warmth of Mexico.

 

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

I’ll be giving a few copies of Crudo as presents as it’s a perfect package, with a beautiful cover and quirky endpapers. Also, at fewer than 200 pages I can give it to people I wouldn’t usually buy books for and be confident they’ll enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

My book of the year is Arbitrary Stupid Goal by Tamara Shopsin. It’s an eccentric memoir about the author’s upbringing in her family’s Greenwich Village cafe in 1980s New York, and it’s an absolute riot. It’s an unconventional, witty and illuminating mosaic of an unusual life.

 

 

Hannah Love, Children’s Publicity Manager

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

I’m off to the depths of Finland for Christmas this year, so in preparation I’m stocking up on all the snowy books I can get my hands on in preparation. I really want to read Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, but it’s a giant of a hardback I can’t fit in my suitcase, so I’ll read that in the run-up. What I will take away with me is Winter Magic, a collection of snowy short stories from some of the best children’s writers around.

 

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

At Christmas, my partner’s family all do a quiz, which is cryptic, riddle-filled and nigh on impossible to complete, even with five of us working on it. The internet is not allowed, only books you have to hand. So I’m getting my partner’s brother Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports by Edward Brooke-Hitching, in the hope that there might be one or two obscure answers hidden within it.

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

I’ve got a list of favourites from a very good year of reading, but I’ll go with The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which well deserves all the excitement it’s generated. Heather Morris has written the life story of Lale Sokolov, pieced together from many conversations. He was the man who tattooed the numbers of every fellow Jew who came through the gates of Auschwitz. It is, of course, a devastating, painful story to read but one also filled with wonder and hope, about a man placed in an impossible situation who used the position he had to try and help everyone around him.

 

 

Kim Lund, Key Account Manager

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

Becoming by Michelle Obama. The situation in the US is so frightening and upsetting that I need to hear a sensible and intelligent voice. Michelle for President!

 

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson, beautifully published by Phaidon. In the vain hope that my British family will bake me some Danish goodies. Somebody else’s turn!

 

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

We That Are Young by Preti Taneja published by gorgeous little indie publisher Galley Beggar Press in Norwich. I don’t know how they managed to snatch this amazing, epic Indian novel from under the nose of the big corporates. It is a tome and a half, but you don’t want it to end. A modern day, Indian King Lear. The best Indian novel since A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.

 

 

Anne Bowman, Head of US Sales

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

Over Christmas, I love to get stuck into a big crime title, and this year’s choice is Lethal White by Robert Galbraith. The books in this series are easy and hugely entertaining for those cold winter nights.

 

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

There are many teens on my Christmas list this year and I am going to be gifting The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Inspired partly by real events, it is the story of Starr Carter, a 16-year-old black girl who witnesses the police shooting of a childhood friend. It is an emotional gut punch of a novel and fully deserving of all the accolades it has received.

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

Sabrina by Nick Dronso was, hands down, my book of the year. Dark, haunting, poignant – what at first appears to be a story of a missing girl is so much more. It is a brilliant meditation on the state of America right now, and will stay with you long after you have finished. Read it.

 

 

Sarah Lough, Children’s Marketing Executive

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

Becoming by Michelle Obama. I cannot wait to read this – I’m planning to listen to it as an audiobook because Michelle has narrated it herself, and it will be perfect while my hands are busy wrapping presents.

 

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar. This completely gorgeous picture book is publishing early next year, but a few lucky members of my family will get an early copy this Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa. This was wonderful and warm and uplifting, despite nearly bringing a tear to my eye on the tube!

 

 

Hayley Sothinathan, Faber Members Manager

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

John Lanchester’s The Wall. In amongst media saturation on Brexit, I’m looking forward to this fictional exploration of youth disillusionment, that gets to the heart of why there is political conflict between different generations.

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

Simon Armitage’s revised edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, with illustrations by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. The beautiful illustrations make this the perfect Christmas present. I’m also hugely looking forward to Simon Armitage’s special reading from the poem on 10 December for Faber Members: https://www.faber.co.uk/blog/event/simon-armitage-reads-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

The Vegetarian. I’m a bit late to the game, but this was a really remarkable read.

 

 

Dave Woodhouse, UK Sales Director

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

Love is Blind by William Boyd. He’s my favourite author, and Any Human Heart is my all-time favourite book. I love a novel that spans an entire lifetime – and I like to put day-to-day issues in perspective by thinking, ‘If this was the novel of my life, this wouldn’t even feature as a sentence . . . ‘. I’ve read almost everything by Boyd and he never fails to entertain and enthral.

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling – I read this back in the summer, and I’ve been recommending it like mad ever since. It offers such a positive perspective on the world we live in, which has seemed to be in such a terrible state in recent years. It should be required reading for all, as it teaches you how to spot the triggers used by public figures and the media to artificially steer your reaction to events. It’s much less harrowing to watch the news since reading this.

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – I was recommended this by someone who knows how much I love Any Human Heart (see above), and it’s another novel spanning a lifetime. The difference with this one is that it’s not only moving but very, very funny – which you honestly wouldn’t get from the dour cover. I genuinely didn’t want to put this down, and was taken aback by the societal changes which can take place in the span of a single lifetime. Like Rosling, it makes you glad to live in the here and now.

 

 

Ruth O’Loughlin, Paperbacks Manager

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

There are two I can’t wait to read over Christmas: Sue Prideaux’s I Am Dynamite! – what better time of year than the Christmas holiday to curl up with a fat biography? And this one is wonderful, with never a dull moment, by all accounts. Sue’s writing is hugely charismatic and this biography of Nietzsche sheds new light on this misunderstood man and colossus of philosophy. Secondly, I’m looking forward to reading The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, from the Man Booker shortlist. I’ve had a copy since the summer and can’t wait for a few quiet days to sit down with it.

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem by Neil Tennant – the footnotes to the lyrics are brilliant, and any fan of the Pet Shop Boys will love this.

 

 

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son by Gordon Burn — I’ve read a few of Gordon Burn’s books, but not this one. We’ll be reissuing his books from next year, and so I was glad for the excuse to read this incredible study of Peter Sutcliffe, the world he grew up and lived in, and how he came to do the appalling things he did. Not very festive, granted, but a book that will stay with you; a virtuoso piece of reportage and a vivid portrait of 1970s/1980s British society, which existed within my lifetime but now feels a million miles away.

 

 

Stephen Page, CEO

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

The Years by Annie Ernaux. I started reading this extraordinary memoir in the summer but other reading crowded in. It’s haunted my imagination ever since, so now I am waiting to return to it in a calmer moment, to fully enjoy its originality and strange cadences. Published in France in 2008, where it was immediately heralded as a masterpiece, it has been brilliantly translated by Alison Strayer and packaged in the beautiful white strand of Fitzcaraldo Editions. Reading it, you experience a collective and personal remembrance, spanning Ernaux’s life from 1940 to 2006.

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan. I’ve been giving this brilliant sequence of poems all year, so see no reason to stop at Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

It’s been a rich year for readers, with so many interesting and gripping new books. So, it’s impossible to choose one favourite. So instead I’m going to choose two novels. Normal People by Sally Rooney and Milkman by Anna Burns, not because of their success but simply for the transporting, affecting experience I had reading each of them.

 

 

Camille Morard, Rights Manager

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

This season I’m plunging with great delight into Kate Tempest’s novel The Bricks that Built the Houses – this has been on my shelf for a while and picking it up now feels like a huge treat right before Christmas. A powerful voice and a bright patchwork of imperfect lives and unforgettable characters – I’ll fall for it in a heartbeat.

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

A few of my friends are most certainly going to get a copy of Elisabeth Foley and Beth Coates’ What Would Boudicca Do? in their Christmas stockings. Because inspiring stories of a bandit Indian lady or a priestess from Mesopotamia in 2000 BC is pretty much all you need to get things started on the right path next year.

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

The book that won my heart this year is The Terrible. The honesty and the poetry in Yrsa Daley-Ward’s coming-of-age memoir is raw and rough – there is something devastating, a rage and a beauty. Her words and her story haunt like a poem or lyrics stuck in your head, and they remain long after you finish reading.

 

 

Angus Cargill, Editorial Director

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

I’m looking forward to reading David Park’s short, intense Travelling in a Strange Land, which I bought recently from one of my favourite bookshops, No Alibis in Belfast.

 

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell’s Art Matters, a clarion call of a book, which can be given to all ages and can be lingered over and enjoyed, as much for its sheer loveliness as for its message.

 

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

Willy Vlautin’s brilliant, bruising, sort-of-a-boxing novel, Don’t Skip Out on Me is a humane, charged and incredibly moving story about the danger of a person slipping through society’s cracks. Important now more than ever, for May’s Britain as much as Trump’s America.

 

 

Lee Brackstone, Editorial Director

The book you can’t wait to read this Christmas

Authors often seem to time their deliveries just as the decorations are going up, the turkey is defrosting and I’m reaching for a Dickens to read. This year I’ll be the privileged first reader of the new novel by Edna O’Brien, Girl (out in September 2019), which will be followed swiftly in January by editorial conversations with the great Irish Dame.

 

 

 

The book you’ll be gifting over the holidays

Last month I finished an unclassifiable, inspiring and beautifully designed book called Red Thread by the classicist Charlotte Higgins. It is about labyrinths, myths, the consequences of our actions, fate, and the complex and symbolic map life presents to us. I will be giving this book to my therapist.

 

 

 

Favourite book you read this year

My favourite music book not published by Faber Social this year is Will Ashon’s mercurial riff on Wu-Tang Clan and America, Chamber Music  (Granta). Stylish, daring and culturally on the money right across the spectrum, my disappointment at not publishing this future classic is mitigated by the fact we will do so in the States on our burgeoning US Faber list.

 

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