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The best books to buy as Christmas presents this year

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The best books to buy as Christmas presents this year

Books to give as Christmas presents

What to give at Christmas? Give the gift of a great read with this pick of the best books that make for Christmas presents, as chosen by our editors, writers and contributors.

Whether you’re looking for a stylish book for mum or something practical for dad, fiction for a friend or a literary adventure for children – find your festive inspiration here with our guide to the best books to buy as Christmas presents this year.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World (Hardback) zoom The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World (Hardback) Jonathan Freedland

The Escape Artist by Jonathan Freedland

The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World

Both a thrilling story of escape and fortitude and a profoundly important contribution to Holocaust literature, Freedland’s expertly crafted account of two Jewish inmates who broke out of Auschwitz and alerted the world to the horrors practiced there is an instant classic of World War II writing.

Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2022


Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Smart, funny, joyous and powerful, Garmus’ 60s set debut featuring an unconventional female scientist with a quiet game-plan to change the world has won the hearts and minds of our booksellers and is undoubtedly one of 2022’s most gloriously enjoyable debuts.

The No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller
Observer’s “Ten Debut Novelists of 2022”
BBC Between the Covers Book Club pick
Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2022


Otherlands: A World in the Making by Dr Thomas Halliday

Otherlands by Dr Thomas Halliday

A World in the Making

From Ice Age Alaska to the birthplace of humanity, palaeobiologist Halliday takes readers on a dazzling tour of deep time to view astounding ancient landscapes from all seven continents. This is the past as we’ve never seen it before.

A Sunday Times bestseller
Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction


The Story of Art without Men by Katy Hessel

The Story of Art without Men by Katy Hessel

A paean to many artists and various art forms often overlooked or dismissed, this exciting revisionist history of art turns the limelight on female creativity and how it has shaped and enriched our world.

The instant Sunday Times bestseller
Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2022


Babel by R.F. Kuang

Babel by R.F. Kuang

One of the leading lights in the visceral grimdark fantasy genre, Kuang’s stunningly wrought novel is a compulsive dystopia about the power of language and the evils of authoritarianism, represented by the looming titular tower of translation.

#1 New York Times bestseller
#2 Sunday Times bestseller
Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2022


The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

O’Farrell paints as evocative a picture of Renaissance Italy as she did of Shakespearean England in the former Waterstones Book of the Year Hamnet, as Cosimo de’ Medici’s third daughter learns to navigate an opaque Florentine court and an enigmatic new husband.

From the No. 1 bestselling author of Hamnet
Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2022


The Golden Mole by Katherine Rundell

The Golden Mole by Katherine Rundell

In this passionately persuasive and sharply funny book bursting with breathtaking illustrations and exquisite text, Katherine Rundell highlights the extraordinary abilities and stories associated with a range of remarkable creatures in all too real danger of dying out.

Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2022


Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

Now the basis of a hit Netflix show, Oseman’s pioneering queer graphic novel series has become a modern classic of YA literature and this first volume introduces the beautifully realised couple of Nick and Charlie and their journey towards love and self-discovery.

Million-copy bestseller
Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2022


Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman

Thirteen-year-old Skandar Smith has only ever wanted to be a unicorn rider. To be one of the lucky few selected to hatch a unicorn. To bond with it for life, to train together and race for glory, to be a hero. Experience a magical world full of courageous heroes and warrior unicorns in the first instalment of Steadman’s exhilarating series, as young Skandar takes to the skies to battle a deadly enemy.

A major new hit fantasy series
Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2022


Undoctored by Adam Kay

Undoctored

The Story of a Medic Who Ran out of Patients

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, horrifying and humbling, the medic and author of the mega-selling This is Going to Hurt reflects on what happened after he left the NHS frontline in this characteristically sardonic and laugh-out-loud follow-up destined to become a modern classic.

#1 Sunday Times Bestseller


Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo

Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo

Glory is an energy burst, an exhilarating joyride. It is a scintillating allegory of anthropomorphic uprising with echoes of Animal Farm, the second novel from the author of We Need New Names incisively captures the destructive cycle of corrupting power and relentless tyranny.

Shortlisted for The Booker Prize 2022


The Trees by Percival Everett

The Trees by Percival Everett

The Trees is a page-turner that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi that carries echoes of harrowing events from 65 years prior. Everett’s powerful novel combines a page-turning detective narrative with a searing critique of racism and police violence. It is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance.

Shortlisted for The Booker Prize 2022


The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Mordantly witty and utterly unique, Karunatilaka’s maverick novel dissects the painful truths of a brutal and dark chapter in Sri Lanka’s recent history through the titular protagonist’s afterlife quest to find out who murdered him. Ten years after his prizewinning novel Chinaman established him as one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors, Karunatilaka is back with a rip-roaring epic.

Winner of The Booker Prize 2022


Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Set in a small Irish town during the weeks leading up to Christmas and following a coal and timber merchant confronted by the past, this magnetic tale of determination and quiet heroism from the internationally bestselling author of FosterAntarctica and Walk The Blue Fields is as hopeful as it is haunting.

Shortlisted for The Booker Prize 2022
Winner of the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction
Winner of The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year


Treacle Walker by Alan Garner

Treacle Walker by Alan Garner

A young boy strikes up an unlikely friendship with an enigmatic, wandering healer in Garner’s gorgeously crafted novel that blends myth and folklore with a moving tale about memory and things that give meaning to life. It is vivid storytelling that illuminates an introspective young mind trying to make sense of everything around him.

Shortlisted for The Booker Prize 2022
A Guardian Best Fiction Book of 2021


Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

The Pulitzer Prize-winning, Booker-longlisted, bestselling author returns to her beloved heroine Lucy Barton in a luminous novel. Here, a chance encounter reunites newly widowed Lucy Barton with her first husband in a stunningly intricate portrait of love, loss and the family secrets that can erupt and bewilder us at any point in life.

Shortlisted for The Booker Prize 2022
A Top 10 Sunday Times Bestseller


The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini

The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini

Alethea Lopez is about to turn 40. Fashionable, feisty and fiercely independent, she manages a downtown boutique, but behind closed doors, she’s covering up bruises from her abusive partner and seeking solace in an affair with her boss. A page-turning plot with a blazing feminist message at its heart, this powerfully unique Trinidad-set novel follows sees Alethea start her journey out of a cycle of violence into a new, freer future.

Shortlisted for The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022


The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

This dazzlingly inventive novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Night Watchman combines a deliciously witty ghost story set in a Minneapolis bookshop – haunted by its most annoying customer – with a powerful meditation on the reality of the global pandemic and the collateral damage of systemic racism.

Shortlisted for The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022


Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful. So why is everything broken? Why is Martha – on the edge of 40 – friendless, practically jobless, and so often sad? Tackling the issue of long-term mental illness with wit and candour, Mason’s remarkable novel takes a rounded, empathetic look at the condition through the experiences of a middle-aged woman who has struggled to find contentment in her adult life.

Shortlisted for The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022


The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

As everyday objects start talking to fourteen-year-old Benny in the wake of a family bereavement, he seeks refuge in a library populated by unforgettable characters in this breathtakingly original and compassionate novel from the author of A Tale for the Time Being. This is classic Ruth Ozeki – bold, humane and heartbreaking.

Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022


The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Mining questions of belonging, identity and trauma, the author of The Architect’s Apprentice delivers a multi-layered, bittersweet tale of star-crossed love on the divided island of Cyprus and the legacy of secrecy and pain that gets handed down to future generations. This is a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature and renewal.

Shortlisted for The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2021


Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Mapping the lives of a fearless 1950s female aviator who vanished and the modern-day Hollywood actress who plays her on the screen decades later, Great Circle tells an expansive tale of passion and ambition. It is a soaring, breathtakingly ambitious novel from the author of the award-winning Seating Arrangements.

Shortlisted for The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022
Shortlisted for The Booker Prize 2021
A New #York Times and Times Bestseller
Time Magazine Book of the Year


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