Books: Christmas gifts, from Jamie Oliver's fast food to a new Corrie novel
If your idea of Christmas heaven is a new book to get lost in, here are some stocking-filler suggestions to suit all tastes
BOOKS are time-honoured Christmas gifts and there are plenty of new offerings to choose from, which would make lovely presents for a family member or friend – or just a well-deserved treat for yourself. Here are some of this year's big-sellers, as well as a clutch of inspirational and festive reads to get stuck into:
1. Origin by Dan Brown (Bantam, £20)
The bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code brings us a new Robert Langdon novel, in which the Harvard professor of symbology attends the Guggenheim Museum in Spain for a presentation by a tech magnate who promises to reveal the secret to life and the universe – which he claims will make all the world's religions redundant. But when he's shot by an assassin during the presentation, Langdon finds himself on the run with the museum's director in a game of cat and mouse. Riveting escapism when you want to switch off from the Christmas TV reruns.
2. Munich by Robert Harris (Hutchinson, £20)
From the bestselling author of Fatherland comes this cracker of a story set in the weeks and months prior to the 1938 Munich Agreement. Two fictional protagonists, former Oxford University friends – the first now one of Neville Chamberlain's private secretaries, and the other a German diplomat and secret member of the anti-Hitler resistance – meet again as they try to persuade Chamberlain not to sign the agreement, and stop the Fuhrer from starting a war.
3. Queen in 3-D by Brian May (The London Stereoscopic Company, £50)
This visually-amazing 3-D-llustrated book casts light on the band from the perspective of May, its founder and lead guitarist. It features never-before-seen pictures of the band from his own personal archive, many of which were taken on stereoscopic cameras during the height of the band's fame. May also shows different sides of Freddie Mercury in this intimate view of the band. He narrates the stories behind each photograph, drawing fans deeper into the image, time and space.
Classic Christmas gifts
4. Guinness World Records Amazing Animals 2018 (Guinness publishing, £9.99)
Whether it's a selfie-taking monkey, a skateboarding dog, the longest fur on a rabbit or the highest jump by a llama, the world can't get enough of crazy animal stories – and this new offering from Guinness World Records has collated all of the best ones in one bumper book for the first time ever. A must for animal lovers young and old.
5. Private Eye Annual 2017 (Private Eye Productions, £9.99)
Celebrating its 21st anniversary, this year's Private Eye Annual showcases the very best of the magazine's unique blend of wit and humour, not to mention the most absurd, ridiculous and farcical stories of the year. It presents a round-up of ridiculous and comical takes on news, plus an array of sketches, cartoons and photo-bubbles. The perfect satirical stocking-filler.
6. Me. You. A Diary by Dawn French (Michael Joseph, £20)
Actress, comedian and writer Dawn French, who celebrated her 60th birthday this year, shares her thoughts and the words of wisdom she's learned over the decades in her new book, a part-memoir featuring all aspects of life – good and bad. What's lovely about this diary is that it also leaves space for readers to add their own entries, snaps and pictures.
7. Christmas On Coronation Street by Maggie Sullivan (HarperCollins, £12.99)
An ideal stocking-filler with a difference for Weatherfield fans. This first in a series of nostalgic novels, it's set in 1939 and sees the return of the Street's most iconic characters, including Elsie Tanner, Ena Sharples and Annie Walker. There will be two more novels coming up in 2018.
8. Only Fools And Stories by David Jason (Century, £20)
Following on from his first successful autobiography, My Life, David Jason returns to tell the tales of the characters from his career – from Del Boy and Granville, to Pop Larkin and Frost. His story goes behind the scenes with an honest, charming and entertaining reflection on some of Britain's best-loved acts. Only Fools And Horses was the most watched show on Netflix on Christmas Day last year – but this memoir proves just as entertaining.
9. The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater (Fourth Estate, £26)
The famous cook treats us to this warming and stylish book, which will make you adore every aspect of winter. Written as a diary starting in September, Slater explores legends, folk tales, myths and memoir, as well as everything you need to survive the winter blues. Of course, this book wouldn't be complete without his recipes, from quick fireside suppers to winter baking and marmalade-making.
10. 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food by Jamie Oliver (Michael Joseph, £26)
Another clever book from Jamie Oliver, once again aimed at people with little time for cooking. So he chooses five ingredients per recipe – which include Thai red chicken soup, quick steak stir-fry and 'So easy' fish curry – for maximum flavour and minimum fuss. The ingredients aren't all store cupboard staples, but it's a novel format for time-hungry diners.
11. Bad Dad by David Walliams (HarperCollins, £12.99)
The award-winning writer and comedian is now a force to be reckoned with when it comes to his massively successful children's books. This one is about a boy named Frank, whose dad is thrown into prison for driving the getaway car in a bank robbery. Frank hatches a daring plan to break his father out for the night, so they can put the stolen money back. But will the evil crime boss Mr Big stop them? It's sure to get the kids away from screens for at least part of the festive season.
12. La Belle Sauvage: The Book Of Dust Volume One by Philip Pullman (Penguin Random House Children's and David Fickling Books, £20)
It's been 17 years since Philip Pullman's final book from the His Dark Materials series. Set in Oxford, this new story, from the Book Of Dust series, centres on 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead, who lives with his parents at The Trout Inn pub. The story follows his curious adventure to discover a baby named Lyra who desperately needs his help. It's frightening at times, but is coupled with lessons of friendship and hope. A must-read for both children and adults – it will leave you eager for volume two.
13. Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand (Hodder, £20)
This is the courageous and moving story of former England and Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand's sudden and tragic loss of his wife Rebecca to cancer. His book shares the journey of meeting, marrying and losing Rebecca, the family's grief – as well as advice and support, in the hope he can inspire others struggling with grief too. If you missed the TV documentary earlier in the year, this is definitely one which will give you food for thought.