The best books to give as presents this Christmas

From the highbrow award-winners to brushing up on 2017's biggest films, here's what every kind of book lover wants this year

The best books to give as presents this Christmas


Christmas and reading go together like mistletoe and wine, an inescapable combo that comes around every year. Reading is a singular passion, time spent with stories and yourself, without distractions. It’s something you know that you really should try and do more during the year, with many New Year’s resolutions revolving around book targets for the year.

But instead of beating yourself up about it before you inevitably sit down and watch Mrs Brown’s Boys on Christmas Day, here are a few stocking fillers to pass on to the nearest and dearest in your life, or even to treat yourself with as you indulge your best intentions. Here's Newstalk’s guide to the best books to give as presents this year…

The Award-Winners

The Lyrics: 1961-2012 by Bob Dylan

The surprise winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature was singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, and this collection of his lyrics showcases how he has “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The searing satire on slavery in modern Los Angeles saw the Man Booker Prize awarded to an American writer for the first time in the award’s history.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Nguyen’s novel is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal that centres around its duplicitous narrator, a communist double agent after the fall of Saigon.

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

The Indian writer claimed the €100,000 prize gifted by the City of Dublin’s International Dublin Literary Award earlier this year for his supreme storytelling of a family in Delhi in the late 70s.

Irish Books

The Glass Shore, edited by Sinead Gleeson

After the success of The Long Gaze Back, Gleeson once again returns to Irish female writers, this time amassing a collection of short stories from 25 authors from the North of Ireland.

Holding by Graham Norton

Irish comics are known the world over for their skills as raconteurs, so it’s no surprise that Norton’s debut has been so well received.

Asking for It by Louise O’Neill

The second novel from the Irish writer was an immediate bestseller when it debuted, an unflinching account of the aftermath of a sexual assault that raises difficult questions about rape culture.

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

The new queen of the Irish thriller, Nugent’s second book is a dark and twisted tale of a well-to-do family’s dealings with a drug-addicted prostitute in 1980s Ireland.

An Affair with my Mother by Caitriona Palmer

A moving piece of non-fiction, Palmer tells her own life story of how she reconnects with the birth mother who put her up for adoption, but who insists that their new relationship remains a secret.

Before the Movie Comes Out

The Gunslinger - The Dark Tower Part 1 by Stephen King

What began as a short story almost four decades ago is about to become a major movie franchise starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Stephen Spielberg is the perfect director to tackle Cline’s futuristic novel that deals with a teenager’s attempts to complete a quest in a virtual reality world based entirely on 80s pop culture.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

The master of Nordic Noir will see his bestselling detective Harry Hole played by Irishman Michael Fassbender, as he investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around a snowman in Oslo.

The Breadwinner

Based on Canadian writer Deborah Ellis’s novel of the same name, this story of a young Afghan girl defying the Taliban will be turned into a new animated film by Cartoon Saloon, the Irish studio behind The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea.

The Knife of Never Letting Go

Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy recently signed up Daisy Ridley to star in the franchise, a lo-fi sci-fi epic set on a planet where a failed colony of men can hear each other’s thoughts at all time, and where all the women have passed away…

For the Foodie

ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge by Bronte Aurell

2016 was the year when the Nordic nations’ love of cosiness became a cultural notion we all wanted to embrace.

The Brother Hubbard Cookbook by Garret FitzGerald

The popular Dublin café, launched in the middle of the recession and now branching out across the city, sees its first collection of recipes gathered together.

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas by Jamie Oliver

Always reliable to provide recipes that promise to be mouthwatering, Oliver’s take on the perfect Christmas is a gift for years to come.

The World of the Happy Pear by David and Stephen Flynn

The Irish brothers’ second book, a collection of healthy eating and alternative cooking recipes, is a must-have for anyone whose New Year’s resolution is about eating more vegetables and less meat.

New Larousse Gastronomique

First published in 1938, this encyclopaedic collection of recipes presents the history of food, eating, and restaurants, cooking terms, techniques, and guides to buying, storing, and using ingredients.

For the Kids

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Canadian heroine may have first appeared in 1908, but her branch of feminism reads perfectly in 2016. Plus Amybeth McNulty, an Irish-Canadian actress, was recently cast as Anne Shirley, the plucky orphan with a penchant for the dramatic, in Netflix’s new adaptation.

One by Sarah Crossan

The award-winning YA book written in dreamlike free verse tells the story of Grace and Tippi, two conjoined twins who must face fresh challenges after defying the odds for 16 years.

The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson

A charming children’s book about a barn owl named Plop who’s afraid of the dark is the perfect tonic to send little ones off to the land of nod who might also share Plop’s problems.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling

The collection of fairy tales that young wizards and witches grow up with in the world of Harry Potter will inevitably make it to the screen at some point.

The Legend Begins - Darkmouth #1 by Shane Hegarty

The Irish journalist turned writer brings a tongue-in-cheekiness to his series of monster-fighting novels about Finn, the last remaining Legend Hunter, who’s rubbish at the job.

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