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Connor Hutchinson, Publicity Executive

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I can’t wait to tackle the 920 pages of Olga Tokarczuk’s ‘masterpiece’ and winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature The Books of Jacob, mainly because it will be Christmas again by the time I finish it.

The book you will be gifting this year

Fitting for the icy winter, I’ll be gifting Lean, Fall, Stand by Jon McGregor – a brilliant novel about an Antarctic research expedition gone wrong. Gripping, emotional and packed with beautiful wordplay, this book has everything and emphasises the importance of human connection.

Your book of the year

Diary of a Film by Niven Govinden has to be my book of the year. A film director is taken on a journey through the streets of an Italian city, learning about secrets, history, the complexities of love and the creative process of making art. I loved it!

Ruth O’Loughlin, Publishing Manager

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

A Little Devil in America, Hanif Abdurraqib
This is a journey through a history of Black performances, from the dance marathons of the 1920s, to Aretha Franklin’s jaw-dropping 1972 performance filmed for the recently released film Amazing Grace, to the art of Mike Tyson’s boxing-ring entrances. This year’s winner of the Gordon Burn Prize, always a mark of quality writing.

The book you will be gifting this year

Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan
Just the perfect winter afternoon read, and it can be read in one sitting. A beautiful, sparsely written, heartbreaking winter tale. Gorgeous.

Your book of the year

Sea State, Tabitha Lasley
This book was originally planned to be about the lives of men who work away from home on oil rigs but became something else entirely. Totally compelling and a wholly unusual work of non-fiction – I loved it.

Rachel Darling, Trade Marketing Co-ordinator

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

O Caledonia, Elspeth Barker
I saw this described in a bookshop staff pick as ‘if Poe or Shirley Jackson had written I Capture The Castle’, and I’m hard-pressed to think of anything I’ve ever wanted to read more.

The book you will be gifting this year

This One Sky Day, Leone Ross
Lush, magical and polyphonic, This One Sky Day is a book I’ve recommended a lot this year, and I think a trip to the beguiling archipelago of Popisho is just the ticket for Christmas gifting.

Your book of the year

The Feast, Margaret Kennedy
One of the best rediscovered novels I’ve ever read. Everything about this glorious book – from its cover and Cornish setting to the delightfully unlikeable characters and brilliant wit of Margaret Kennedy – is perfection.

Katie Hall, Marketing Director

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

Will I read Dune? I’ll probably try. If not, I’m hoping someone gives me Bob Mortimer’s And Away . . . for Christmas.

The book you will be gifting this year

I’ll be giving the gift of Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These. A perfect, short, sad, beautiful novel to help you appreciate your loved ones a bit more this Christmas.

Your book of the year

There aren’t many books I enjoyed more than Klara and the Sun, but Raven Leilani’s Luster stood out as a favourite, and I’m glad I discovered Annie Ernaux this year.

Stephen Page, Executive Chair

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

Tenderness, Alison MacLeod
Christmas is time for an epic, whether a classic or newly published. This year I’m excited to dive into Alison MacLeod’s imagining of D. H. Lawrence’s life and the origins and history of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. It has been garnering superb critical and reader reviews, and her work seems always to be original and inviting.

The book you will be gifting this year

Second Place, Rachel Cusk
Giving a book requires choosing something that is personal to you and likely to be enjoyed by the recipient. I read this brilliant, witty, intelligent new novel from Rachel Cusk, and it is deeply involving, intellectually thrilling and, as ever with Cusk’s work, sharply funny. I can think of many happy recipients!

Your book of the year

The Country of Others, Leïla Slimani
I have felt so well served as a reader these last 12 months, so to choose one book is hard. I considered Burntcoat, Sarah Hall’s vivid new novel, and Sathnam Sanghera’s Empireland, a considered account of the cost of Empire that simmers with anger that emerges through clear argument. I loved Warren Ellis’s completely original account of creating meaning through artefacts, Nina Simone’s Gum. In the end I’ve gone for a wonderful novel, the first of three volumes, telling the story of a French woman, Mathilde, who falls in love and marries a Moroccan soldier at the end of the Second World War. Rich, detailed and psychologically fascinating, it gave me a total experience of a novel. I cannot wait for the next volumes.

Jess Kim, Deputy Marketing Director

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

Outside of a week on a beach somewhere, Christmas is the only time for Big Books, in my opinion (if you can combine the two, even better). So I will either go for the new Ruth Ozeki, which I have had very strong recommendations for, or The Lacuna, which again, I’ve been told countless times, is completely brilliant.

The book you will be gifting this year

Gifting books is a precision art and one I rarely go for, for fear of blundering. A failsafe option though has to be Rachel Roddy’s A–Z of Pasta – it is a delight both to behold and to read, and most importantly, every recipe is delicious. Broccoli with anchovy crumbs orecchiette for everyone.

Your book of the year

Probably a tie between Crying in H Mart and Having and Being Had? I loved Michelle Zauner’s original New Yorker piece and was so excited to read the full book, and with the Eula Biss it was a classic case of being unable to stop mentioning it in conversation for weeks after.

Adaora King, Sales Assistant Intern

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

Smoking Kills, Antoine Laurain, translated by Louise Lalaurie Rogers

This French author excels in humorous, short novels (I’ve previously enjoyed The Red Notebook and Vintage 54), so when a colleague recommended Smoking Kills, I instantly put it on my to-read list. The premise is a man who undergoes hypnotherapy to quit smoking, but it accidentally leads to a new addiction: murder . . .

The book you will be gifting this year

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, translated by Polly Barton

This set of interweaving short stories is in turn funny, spooky, adventurous and bizarre. Matsuda modernises Japanese folktales (that are typically about innocent women being killed and becoming ghouls) and gives the women a voice and often revenge. It’d be a good gift as it’s an easy, quick read.

Your book of the year

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

I’m glad that I picked up this book knowing next to nothing about the plot, as the brilliant twists took me by complete surprise! I enjoyed the growing sinister mysteries and vivid descriptions of rural Poland, but the eccentric, unique narrator made me chuckle at points, too.

Phoebe Williams, Marketing Executive

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I’ll be transporting myself to 1960s New York in Colson Whitehead’s first crime novel, Harlem Shuffle. Whitehead is an author I’m yet to be disappointed by and I’ve been saving this one for the holidays so I can fully immerse myself in his wonderful writing.

The book you will be gifting this year

For my family and I, this time of year is really all about the food. I’ll definitely be gifting actor Stanley Tucci’s joyous new memoir Taste: My Life Through Food to my loved ones this Christmas.

Your book of the year

I defy you not to fall in love with Joe and Finn, the two brothers at the heart of Fíona Scarlett’s debut novel, Boys Don’t Cry. Written as a dual narrative, alternating between the two young Irish boys, it is a beautifully written and emotional read that I haven’t stopped thinking about.

Ruby Bamber, Sales Operations Manager

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I can’t wait to settle myself in somewhere cosy with Laurie Lee’s Village Christmas and pretend I’m from a) The Cotswolds and b) The Olden Days and just let a warm blanket of festive cheer bury me until 2022.

The book you will be gifting this year

I’ll be gifting He Used Thought as a Wife this Christmas. Despite my initial suspicion of Covid-related books, I found this to be (typically) witty, surprisingly moving and a really inventive take on the unique oddness of last year. It’s also exquisitely packaged so barely even in need of wrapping.

Your book of the year

It’s nice to read one’s Book of the Year in May and feel sure nothing will come along to top it, and Beautiful World, Where Are You was everything I needed it to be and far more besides. I will never tire of Sally Rooney’s writing, or her perspicacity, and I already feel bereft to be waiting for her to publish something new.

Leah Thaxton, Children’s Publisher

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

Snow – because I do love a cosy crime novel with a fat slice of stollen or a glass of sherry (when the house is quiet, and the children are out, and the presents are wrapped, and the supper is cooking and . . .)

The book you will be gifting this year

Heartburn by Nora Ephron, the beautiful new Vintage edition, because it’s funny and true and makes everything feel better. She is so clever and simply cannot write a bad sentence. I love Nora Ephron.

Your book of the year

The Devil You Know
, because I can’t stop thinking about it. Working on children’s books all day, I like crime at night, and this book is like a Nordic crime drama that keeps on giving – I keep thinking back to scenes I read; I’ve gifted it on, I’ve referenced it. It’s gripping and helpful and compassionate – and essentially right now, 100% absorbing.

Angus Cargill, Publishing Director

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

Razorblade Tears, S. A. Cosby
I have been looking forward to S. A. Cosby’s follow-up to his brilliant debut, Blacktop Wasteland.

The book you will be gifting this year

Allegorizings, Jan Morris
A lovely final gift for all Jan Morris fans and the perfect gateway drug for anyone yet to discover her classics!

Your book of the year

A Little Devil in America, Hanif Abdurraqib and Piranesi, Susannah Clarke
One non-fiction and one novel – Hanif Abdurraqib’s A Little Devil in America and Susannah Clarke’s Piranesi – the two books that totally wowed me this year. Instant classics.

Hannah Marshall, Senior Marketing Manager

The book you can’t wait to read over Christmas

I find that period between Christmas and New Year is such a good time to curl up on the sofa and catch up on books I’ve been meaning to read all year. This holiday, I fancy reading a couple of thrillers I’ve heard good things about: Magpie by Elizabeth Day and The Push by Ashley Audrain. Both novels sound twisty and compelling and I can’t wait to dive into them!

The book you will be gifting this year

Georgia Pritchett’s My Mess Is a Bit of a Life is one of those rare books that can genuinely make you laugh one minute and cry the next. Told in short, often very funny, vignettes, Georgia’s experience of living with anxiety – sometimes thriving, sometimes not – is incredibly relatable, and I know so many people who will love and appreciate this book as much as I do that I can’t wait to gift it to them this Christmas.

Your book of the year

I loved Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson. This incredibly assured debut novel has a beautiful love story at its heart, and I was emotionally invested in it right from the very start. I’m thrilled that it’s been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award: Caleb Azumah Nelson is massive talent, and I can’t wait to see what he writes next.