17 last-minute gift ideas for book lovers

We might turn our noses up when we find a book in our Christmas stocking but in reality, books ca...

13.57 15 Dec 2014

Share this article

17 last-minute gift ideas for...

17 last-minute gift ideas for book lovers


13.57 15 Dec 2014

Share this article

We might turn our noses up when we find a book in our Christmas stocking but in reality, books can make the most wonderful gifts.

However, it can be very difficult to buy a book for someone else.

So how should we go about choosing a good book and what are the top picks for Christmas this year?


Bob Johnstone is the owner of Gutter Books, an independent bookshop in Templebar and Dalkey, joined Pat Kenny in studio this morning to talk about which books would make good Christmas presents and he provided us with this amazing list to make sure you have everyone covered.


‘Academy Street’ by Mary Costello

Best novel I read this year and recent winner of Irish Book Awards ‘Novel of the Year’ and overall ‘Book of the Year’. The story of Tess who leaves Ireland in the 1960s for a new life in New York surrounded by strangers. Simple yet powerful writing at its best.

‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ by Richard Flanagan

A Man Booker Prize winner that’s actually a wonderful read! Based on his own father’s experiences, it tells of a prisoner of war working on the ‘Burma Death Railway’ during World War II. Everyone I know who has read it has loved it.

‘Us’ by David Nicholls

From the author of bestseller ‘One Day’, a story of a middle-aged man who realises that his plans to slowly relax into retirement and a contented home life with his wife is not going to plan. Funny but also very moving it’s a story about not taking things for granted.

‘The House Where it Happened’ by Martina Devlin

There’s a wealth of Irish-published fiction available. This new novel from journalist Martina Devlin is published by Poolbeg and is based on the true story of the last conviction for witchcraft in Ireland. In 1711, in a remote corner of Antrim, eight women from the Ulster-Scots community were accused of being witches by a pretty young newcomer. Great writing and an amazing story

Pick up a classic – any classic!

I read a Charles Dickens novel every Christmas to get me in the spirit – this year I’m racing through ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ and loving every minute of it. Don’t be scared of the classics – the reasons why they’ve been around so long is because they’re really good stories!


‘H is for Hawk’ by Helen MacDonald

winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction this is a stunning book about Helen MacDonald’s determination to become a falconer following the death of her father. It’s a spiritual journey for her as she weaves in the trials of training a hawk with dealing with her grief. Ultimately uplifting about the power of life, this has to be one of the best books of the year.

‘The Happy Pear’ by David & Stephen Flynn.

The big (yet little) cookbook for Christmas 2014! The Happy Pear twins have made a huge success of their Wicklow shop and cafe and their first cookbook is flying off the shelves. Healthy yet exciting and tasty recipes such as sweet potato falafel and pumpkin and parsley pesto, make it a great addition to any cook’s shelf!

‘The Marshmallow Test: Understanding Self-control and How To Master It’ by Dr Walter Mischel

A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behaviour later in life? This is a really interesting book about self-control – and how too much of it can be as harmful as too little!

‘Vivid Faces’ by R.F. Foster

"Vivid Faces" surveys the lives and beliefs of the people who made the Irish Revolution: linked together by youth, radicalism, subversive activities, enthusiasm and love. R. F. Foster is one of our most eminent historians and this is a great book for history lovers that examines the revolutionary years from a unique perspective.

‘Yes Please’ by Amy Poehler

A comedian best known for her ‘Parks and Recreation’ sitcom and Oscars hosting duties alongside Tina Fey, in this highly anticipated first book, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much). A great pick for anyone looking for a good laugh.

Lovely Gifts

‘It’s the Little Things’ by Francis Brennan

Prize-winning hotelier and star of ‘At Your Service’ on TV, this little gift book focuses on how attending to the little things in life can bring us happiness. From good manners to putting the toilet roll the right way around, this is a great little book full of personal stories and great advice.

‘Dancehall Days’ by Michael O'Reilly

A beautiful coffee table book on the showband era in Ireland – from The Royal Showband to Phil Lynott, this is a great collection of photographs which will bring back a flood of memories to anyone who experienced it.

‘You Are Here’ by Commander Chris Hadfield

A collection of photographs taken from the space station by Ireland’s favourite astronaut Chris Hadfield. This is a beautiful gift book which reminds you want an amazing and stunning planet we live on.

‘Hidden City : Adventures and Explorations in Dublin’ by Karl Whitney

another little hardback, exploring the lesser seen side to our capital city. From sewers to invisible skyscrapers there’s some great stories here about Dublin that will surprise even the most knowing of Dublinites!


‘Beyond the Stars’ edited by Sarah Webb

12 wintry tales of wonder, from the funny to the ghostly written by some of the most outstanding  contemporary Irish children's writers including Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle, Derek Landy and John Boyne and accompanied by illustrations from the likes of PJ Lynch, Chris Haughton and Niamh Sharkey. All profits from the book will go to Fighting Words.

‘Shhh... We Have a Plan’ by Chris Haughton

a great new picturebook by the bestselling Irish author & illustrator of ‘A Bit Lost’ and ‘Oh No George’ – full of his distinctive colourful drawings and madcap humour. Four friends (three big, one little) are going to catch a beautiful bird, but things don’t go exactly as they intended...

‘Moone Boy’ by Chris O’Dowd and Nick V. Murphy

A great book for fans of the Wimpy Kid series, this new book from Irish actor Chris O’Dowd with screenwriter Nick Vincent Murphy takes their popular TV series and turns it into a very funny book for kids. Martin Moone is eleven and completely fed up with being the only boy in a family of girls so he invents an imaginary friend (IF for short) to help him out. But what if your imaginary friendship doesn’t quite work out?

You can listen to Bob's interview with Pat here:

Share this article

Most Popular