Giving the gift of reading is easy, and for book lovers, much appreciated. By no means an exhaustive list, Aine Toner has collated some options for the reader in your life
An exceptional Cold War thriller from the dark heart of the Space Race, by astronaut and New York Times bestselling author Chris Hadfield, The Apollo Murders (Quercus, £20) is a ruddy good read.
Now in this 40th year of writing, Philip Davison has released his ninth novel, Quiet City (Ely’s Arch, £13.99). Being properly damned brings its own joy: that’s what Richard Meadows is thinking on his way to the city dump to retrieve his wife’s favourite chair, which he had ceremoniously dumped earlier. And that’s where he meets an old flame, Virginia Coates.
Declan O’Rourke’s The Pawnbroker’s Reward (Gill Books, £19.99) is a meticulously researched novel, showing readers the famine as it happened through the lens of a single town, Macroom, and its environs. A defining moment in Irish history, a defining work for O’Rourke.
Long before Charles Dickens and Henry James popularised the tradition, the shadowy nights of winter have been a time for people to gather together by the flicker of candlelight and experience the intoxicating thrill of a ghost story. Now, eight authors including Bridget Collins, Andrew Michael Hurley and Laura Purcell, bring the sinister and macabre to light in The Haunting Season (Sphere, £14.99).
Speaking of short stories, It Rose Up: A Selection of Lost Irish Fantasy Stories (Tramp Press, £12), edited and introduced by Jack Fennell, should be on someone’s to read list. With strange combinations of occultism, electricity, magic and playfully biblical archetypes, the darkly funny stories in this book illuminate a side of Irish literary history that is often overlooked.
Expect masterful storytelling in Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway (Cornerstone, £20), a journey through 1950s America that bursts with life and characters you’ll find difficult to forget.
A blockbuster read, Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie (Bloomsbury, £14.99) is the story of a mother’s quest to find her children against all odds, set against the epic backdrop of the sinking of the Titanic.
Historical fiction lovers will appreciate Georgette Heyer’s The Black Moth (Cornerstone, £12.99). Seven years ago, Jack Carstares, the Earl of Wyncham, sacrificed his honour for his brother and has been in exile ever since. Returning to England, Jack pretends to be a gentleman named Sir Anthony Ferndale but makes his living in a most ungentlemanly fashion…
If you know someone who loves a loss and love novel, opt for The Stranding by Kate Sawyer (Coronet, £14.99). This is a heart-breaking read about a woman who hides from the end of the world in the belly of a whale.
Gift a warm and fuzzy feeling with Winter at Cliff’s End Cottage by Sheila Norton (Piatkus, £8.99, out December 9). Cliff’s End Cottage is a local landmark. Perched on the South Devon coast, its garden has begun slowly toppling into the sea, yet the elderly and infamously stubborn owner Stella refuses to leave her home.
Laura Kay’s The Split (Quercus, £20) is a brilliant, heart-warming and intensely funny rom com of love, heartache, friendship and family, underpinned by a queer narrative.
From the author of the number one global bestseller The Silent Patient comes Alex Michaelides’ new bestseller The Maidens (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £14.99); a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession.
In Tapestries of Life (HarperCollins, £14.99), bestselling author Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson explains how closely we are all connected with the natural world, highlighting our indelible link with nature’s finely knit system and our everyday lives.
Co-authored by Colin Butfield and Jonnie Hughes, Earthshot: How to Save Our Planet (John Murray, £20), the definitive book of The Earthshot Prize shows how, by working together, we can solve Earth’s greatest challenges.
Know an aspiring stargazer? Experienced astronomer? They’ll love Night Sky Almanac 2022 by Storm Dunlop and Wil Tirion (Collins, £9.99). This beautifully packaged book provides a month-by-month account of the celestial events for the coming year.
Award-winning comedian, presenter and actress Katherine Ryan’s The Audacity (Blink Publishing, £20) offers personal stories and hilarious her take on life. From ex-Hooters waitress to comedy megastar, expect frank and funny stories with imaginatively titled chapters.
Newly widowed and faced with a deadly brain tumour, Rachel Gotto was given just two years to live. She wanted more… and this, Flying on the Inside: A Memoir of Trauma and Recovery (Little A, £8.99) details her long and painful recovery from the brink.
From Titus Andronicus with the RSC to media magnate Logan Roy in HBO’s Succession, Brian Cox has made his name as an actor of unparalleled distinction and versatility. We know him on screen, but few know of his extraordinary rags-to-riches life story. Now we can in his autobiography Putting the Rabbit in the Hat (Quercus, £20).
Renegades: Born In The USA by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen (Viking, £35) contains handwritten lyric sheets from The Boss and annotated speeches from the former President, both offering insight into their development as men. One to keep.
Ramal Ali — Olympic boxer, activist, model — details 10 fights, bouts inside and outside the ring, that have shaped her rise to date. Not Without A Fight (Cornerstone, £16.99) is packed with honesty, powering the reader to become their own champion.
In a timely portrait, Jennifer Otter Bickerdike’s Being Britney (Nine Eight Books, £20) looks at the performer behind the product and society that created — and failed — the singer. The question remains: who is the real Britney?
Marian Keyes called it ‘a rare and beautiful book,’ and Séamas O’Reilly’s Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? (Fleet, £16.99) is exactly that, the story of a boy growing up in a family bonded by loss, love and mockery, set against the backdrop of Northern Ireland in the 1990s.
Written with the help of Mark Manson, Will by Will Smith (Cornerstone, £20) is a story of how one man mastered his emotions and is written in a way that can help everyone to do the same. Not what you’d expect but all the better for it.
In Love Of My Life: The Life and Loves of Freddie Mercury (Coronet, £20), Lesley-Ann Jones explores the Queen frontman’s romantic encounters and reveals why none of his love interests ever perfected the art of being Freddie’s life partner.
Winnie-the-Pooh: Once There Was a Bear by Jane Riordan (Farshore, £14.99) is the enchanting new prequel to mark the 95th anniversary of the much-loved classic about the little bear who loves honey. Beautifully illustrated by Mark Burgess, this is one to buy and keep forever.
Tabitha Plimtock and the Edge of the World by Erika McGann (O’Brien Press, £7.99) is beautifully illustrated by Phillip Cullen and tells the tale of a young woman who is willing to do what it takes to keep the people she loves safe.
This year, the Christmasaurus is on a mission to track down children who have found themselves on the Naughty List to help them turn naughty to nice in Tom Fletcher’s The Christmasaurus and the Naughty List (Puffin, £12.99). Perhaps some things aren’t quite what they appear…
Lucy Strange’s Sister Of The Lost Marsh (Chicken House, £7.99) follows six motherless sisters who live on a farm on the edge of the Lost Marsh, a place steeped in mystery, superstitions and folklore. Their father is obsessed with one such superstition — The Curse of the Six Daughters — and it is his belief in this curse that leads to the disappearance of eldest daughter Grace.
It’s difficult not to shiver when reading Lily: A Tale Of Revenge by Rose Tremain (Chatto & Windus, £16.99), a fearsome picture of Victorian London. Lily’s life seems destined for misery: she’s abandoned to the Foundling Hospital as a baby and after a brief happy spell at a country farm, spends most of her childhood at the wicked hands of the nurses, later to lead a lonely existence as a wig maker.
Michael Morpurgo’s latest offering, Carnival Of The Animals (HarperCollins Children’s Books, £14.99) is a collection of children’s poems inspired by 19th-century composer Camille Saint-Saëns’ musical suite of the same name, celebrating nature and the magnificent animals who share our planet.
Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell gently nudges younger readers towards the magic of the library in Little Bo Peep’s Library Book (Hachette Children’s Group, £6.99). The shepherdess goes on an educational journey as she is led through a library by a collection of fellow nursery rhyme characters.
A feminist retelling of the famous Greek myth of the woman with a head of snakes, Medusa by Jessie Burton (Bloomsbury YA, £14.99) explores the story of the girl beyond her monstrous reputation and is written in beautifully lyrical language by The Miniaturist author.
You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M McManus (Penguin, £7.99) is described as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off plus murder. Ivy, Mateo and Cal used to be close but now have little in common. For old time’s sake they skip school together, but when the trio spot Brian ‘Boney’ Mahoney ditching class too, they follow him.
YA readers will love the fantastic They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (Simon & Schuster, £12.99) which details two young strangers who discover they have less than 24 hours to live. So, they embark of a lifetime of adventure within the confines of one day.
The Little Book of Bridgerton (Bonnier, £9.99) is perfect if you can’t stop thinking about the Duke or were already a fan of Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels. If you need help on how to swoon in style — or know someone who does — this is full of quizzes and activities as the world of Bridgerton is laid bare.
If someone could do with a good laugh, opt for I Strongly Believe in Incredible Things by Rob Auton (HarperCollins, £14.99), a selection of, well, the world’s most incredible things according to the award-winning writer, comedian, artist and podcaster.
The ultimate reading list for book lovers everywhere, The Literary Almanac by Francesca Beauman (Quercus, £25) is an expertly curated selection of books that will take you through the calendar year.
Dubbed a celebration of finding beauty and hope in the ordinary, A Cloud Where the Birds Rise: A Book about Love and Belonging by Michael Harding (Hachette Ireland, £16.99) is filled with quotes and observations from a much-loved memoirist, accompanied with illustrations from Jacob Stack.
Would you rather have a conversation with an elephant or a dolphin? That’s one of the questions posed in Richard Herring’s Would You Rather? (Sphere, £9.99). A boredom buster whether you’re six or 60.
Confronting Leviathan: A History Of Ideas by David Runciman (Profile Books, £20) explores the idea of government — what the ‘modern state’ is, how it works and where it came from. Conceived originally for his Talking Politics podcast, these essays have a conversational tone addressing the big questions without getting lost in footnotes.
Do they know it’s Christmas? They will if handed The Official Christmas No.1 Singles Book by Michael Mulligan (Nine Eight Publishing, £12.99). As the 70th festive chart topper of all time is about to be unveiled this Christmas, meet the first-ever official guide to every Christmas No. 1 between 1952 and 2020… and an affectionate look at an obsession.
The New Frontier: Reflection from the Irish Border, edited by James Conor Patterson (New Island, £19.99) is the only major anthology of its kind to mark the partition of Northern Ireland. Twenty-eight contributors, emerging and established, generate new conversations around the border.
Extracts from Being Irish: New Views on Irish Identity Today edited by Marie-Claire Logue (The Liffey Press, £17.95) have appeared in this paper. For anyone wanting to look at who else is involved, we recommend this. The collection takes a fresh look at Irishness, 21 years after Paddy Logue compiled the original edition of Being Irish to better understand the recent changes Ireland had undergone.