Life

Books: The best reads to give this Christmas

From cookbooks autobiographies, Hannah Stephenson picks out some of this year's top releases...

A book is the perfect gift for Christmas...
By Hannah Stephenson, PA

STUCK buying a gift for loved ones this Christmas? A book always fits the bill, whether the recipient is interested in cookery, crafts, history or health.

There are nail-biting thrillers, family dramas and feelgood romances, as well as a plethora of hobby guides and autobiographies.

These books will probably make friends or family retreat to a cosy corner for a quiet hour between the festivities this year…

FOR THE COOK…

After the excesses of Christmas, Real Life Recipes from top chef Tom Kerridge (Bloomsbury Absolute, £26) is the perfect palate cleanser. Kerridge runs us through stress-free dishes like smoky beef and bean pie, pork pot roast and cheddar sausage rolls, as well as being more than aware of the cost-of-living crisis.

He offers recipes using a lot of basics that you probably already have in your kitchen, including ‘pantry spaghetti' or ‘fridge raid soup'.

FOR THE HISTORIAN…

Banging the drum for the unsung heroines of history, from the Women's Prize founder Kate Mosse comes Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries (Mantle, £20), a brilliant account of the lives of nearly 1,000 women who deserve to be better known.

It's great for dipping in and out of, as it's split into 10 sections covering a different aspect of achievement – from warrior queens to the trailblazing women at the Bar, female inventors and scientists, philanthropists and conservationists, authors and campaigners.

FOR THE CRAFTER…

Anyone who loves the TV show will enjoy the tie-in book, The Repair Shop: Life In The Barn (Kyle Books, £22), where resident experts explain their love for their craft and offer personal stories about their favourite repairs.

And if you fancy actually doing a craft, dive into Tom Daley's debut knitting and crochet book Made With Love (HQ, £28), where the Olympic diver demonstrates how to make everything from gift items to chic homeware and woolly accessories.

FOR THE THRILLER-SEEKER…

Jack Reacher fans have a treat in store with Lee Child's latest novel No Plan B (Bantam Press, £22) which he has co-written with his younger brother, Andrew. It begins with an apparent suicide when a woman throws herself in front of a bus – but one witness saw the truth, and that person is Jack Reacher.

FOR THE LAUGHTER LOVER…

Yes, Christmas is a magical time for children, but frazzled parents may want to pick up a copy of Parenting Hell (Blink, £20), accompanying the hugely successful podcast by comedians Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe, who offer humour and comfort in knowing you are not alone when facing life's dilemmas with little ones.

FOR THE ROMANTIC…

This may involve you buying two books if your loved one hasn't read the first, It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover's New York Times bestselling novel charting the story of Lily and her first love Atlas, who walks back into her life and threatens her relationship with neurosurgeon Ryle.

Fast forward six years and in It Starts With Us (Simon & Schuster UK, £14.99), we find Lily and her now ex-husband Ryle co-parenting in a steady routine, when she again bumps into Atlas and embraces a second chance at true love – while trying to manage her jealous ex-husband.

This one, however, tells Atlas' side of the story. It's already way up the bestseller list and anyone who loves romantic fiction will be hooked.

FOR THE PETROLHEAD…

If your partner yearns to go for a drive rather than socialise with the relatives, they may enjoy a boost of high fuelled entertainment with James May's latest offering, Carbolics (Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99), where in 80 essays he gives his quirky take on cars, motorbikes, trucks – and explains why the bicycle might be the best invention of all.

FOR THE CELEBRITY FAN…

Autumn is always awash with celebrity autobiographies, and this year is no different, with offerings from everyone from Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse and Mel C to Gabby Logan, Nick Grimshaw and Hugh Bonneville.

But if you have to buy just one really good celebrity read, a good bet is actor Richard E Grant's A Pocketful Of Happiness (Gallery UK, £20), charting his life from Swaziland to his move to the UK to pursue an acting career. Along the way, he met his wife, dialect coach Joan Washington, who died in 2021.

Before she passed away, she told him to seek a pocketful of happiness in each day, a mantra he now lives by.

FOR THE WELLBEING WANNABE…

We're all looking for ways to feel better, and as we approach the New Year, someone who receives a copy of Just One Thing (Short Books, £16.99) by Dr Michael Mosley might be a step closer to getting that feelgood factor.

Based on the eponymous BBC podcast, Mosley is on a mission to find things you can introduce into your routine which will have a significant impact on your mental and physical health.

It could be as simple as having more houseplants to boost your mood, or singing to give yourself a natural high. He even suggests eating chocolate can help your heart, which will be a comforting thought when you're tucking into the Celebrations at Christmas…

FOR THE FASHION FOLLOWER…

The Crown In Vogue by Robin Muir and Josephine Ross (Conran Octopus, £30) is a chunky coffee table tome and ‘special royal salute' to the late Queen and the royal family, with photographs from the pages of Vogue throughout the late monarch's 70-year reign.

It features beautiful pictures of everyone from the Queen to Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon, Princess Anne and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, plus the younger royals who continue to grace its pages, along with anecdotes explaining the settings.

FOR THE PET LOVER…

As with so much of her writing, author Dawn O'Porter's latest novel Cat Lady (HarperCollins, £18.99) is right on trend. It's about a woman whose devotion to her cat takes centre stage when her life is falling apart – there's an errant husband whose ex-wife is constantly popping round, a toxic work environment, and some welcome solace in a pet bereavement group.

FOR THE SPORTS FANATIC…

Again, there are plenty of memoirs to be had, from Sue Barker's Calling The Shots (Ebury Spotlight, £20), to Micah Richards' The Game (HarperCollins, £22), in which the former Manchester City star and now TV pundit goes behind the scenes of football.

But if the person you're buying for is an all-round sports fan, you may be better off bagging BBC Sports Report (Bloomsbury Sport, £20) by Pat Murphy, a reporter on the show since 1981.

It's a compilation of 75 years on air of BBC Sports Report – the longest-running radio sports programme in the world – and the remarkable events that have shaped sport and society as a whole.