Is there a better gift to find in your Christmas stocking than a book? At Oxford University Press, we don’t think there is. Here is a list of the books that we’d love to receive on Christmas morning (loved ones, take note!).
Although she’s been popular for decades, I hope to find more of Joan Didion’s books shining under the tree this year. I’m currently reading The Magical Year of Thinking – about losing family unexpectedly – and I think every writer and reader hopes to go through life and tragedy as glamorously as Joan has, with a drink in hand.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
I’ve become a big fan of Liane Moriarty. Her books are an easy read and the stories are always thrilling. Once you pick up one of her books, it’s very hard to put it down.
Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley
After reading and enjoying his first award-winning novel, The Loney, which has been described as ‘A brilliantly unsettling and atmospheric debut full of unnerving horror’, I’m keen to read his next book, Devil’s Day. I love stories that are full of mystery and a little scary.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
In keeping with my love of scary stories, this book seems like something I would enjoy. The story goes: Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge. With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. For inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a 200-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…
There’s no better present than the one you gift yourself, so today I ordered a copy of Sleeping with the Lights On; The Unsettling Story of Horror. But it would be hilarious if someone passively aggressively gifted me a copy of Holy Sh*t. If ever I’m told that I swear too much, I would then be able to justify my potty mouth/redirect the conversation to the etymology of the swear word.
I am keen to read anything and everything by Ali Smith. I’ve read two of her novels so far, and have embarked on a project to read everything she’s published. Poignant character studies, experimental aspects, puns, and political observations – my idea of perfect holiday reading.
I’m keen to read The Penguin Classics Book by Henry Eliot. It’s such a recognisable book series and I think it will be fascinating finding out more about it!
In my letter to Father Christmas, I’ve requested Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver and Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby. I can read anything by Barbara Kingsolver over and over again – wonderful characters, interesting themes, beautiful prose and settings. I read musician Holly Throsby’s first novel, Goodwood, a few years ago and really enjoyed it – an unsolved mystery and teenage rite of passage story set in a small country town. I’m hoping the next one is just as good.
There has been a lot of hype about Normal People by Sally Rooney, so I’d love to see what all the fuss is about. There are also a few books by Australian authors that I’ve been meaning to read, including The Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins and Pulse Points by Jennifer Down, so it would be lovely to find one of them in my Christmas stocking. I usually prefer fiction, but I’m interested in reading Jamie Susskind’s Future Politics to learn about the impact of technology on politics and society – very much an issue of our time.
Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson – 12 short stories and 12 recipes for the 12 days of Christmas. The stories are clever and intriguing, perfect for the season. It’s available in a gorgeous cloth bound edition with illustrations. Last year I borrowed it from the library but this year I am hoping for a copy of my own.
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I was listening to an interview recently where the interviewee named this as her all time favourite book. I was reminded that I somehow missed it earlier in the 2000s. I’ve consistently heard people say how good it is so I’ve added it to my wish list and pledged to read it this Christmas/summer holidays.