Books are, in my humble opinion, far and away the best way to show your love – and most especially at Christmas, when even the busiest among us has time to settle down with blanket and bestseller, hot chocolate in hand. Here’s a few of the books my loved ones will find under their respective trees this Christmas…
For Your Bestie: Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
The ladies of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast have written the book about friendship we have all been waiting for. Refreshing, honest, thoroughly researched and utterly celebratory, Big Friendship looks at what it means to be in a committed, platonic relationship with another person and the joys and difficulties that come with that. Strung together around the narrative of their own friendship – its inception, development, how they almost lost each other and how they went about rebuilding – Big Friendship is about the family we choose, and how we can keep choosing them, no matter what the years throw our way.
The Big Non Fiction: She Said by Jodie Kantor and Megan Twohey
In this remarkable work – which reads more like a thriller than a piece of journalism – New York Times reporters Jodie Kantor and Megan Twohey narrate their experience of breaking the Harvey Weinstein story, and the following explosion of the #MeToo movement into the cultural conciousness. This book takes you behind the scenes into the nitty gritty of reporting – finding sources, confirming stories and the continuing work of convincing people to come forward, despite the personal cost. If you’ve watched the movie Spotlight, it’s a lot like that.
For The Reader: Truly Devious, The Vanishing Stair and The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
There is nothing more delicious than devouring an entire series in the liminal time between Christmas and New Year’s, and this YA mystery series has it all: remote boarding school full of genius teenagers, romance, a years-old murder mystery that suddenly intrudes on the present day when a student is found dead under mysterious and confounding circumstances. The addictive and immersive world of the Ellingham Academy is the perfect post-Christmas literary escape.
The Mum Read: The Familiars by Stacey Halls
The 17-year-old mistress of Gawthorpe Hall is pregnant for the fourth time. With three miscarriages already behind her, when Fleetwood Shuttleworth discovers a letter hidden by her husband Richard – himself desperate for an heir to his family fortune – from her doctor declaring her unfit to survive childbirth, she becomes desperate. Then she meets Alice Gray, a mysterious young midwife whose ancient knowledge of herbs and potions promises to help Fleetwood survive her pregnancy and provide the heir her husband demands. Then the witchcraft accusers come to town, and everything goes to hell. This deeply atmospheric, creepy, emotive book weaves a rich and enveloping tale that is just the right balance of female empowerment and spooky witchy vibes.
The Young’un: Asha & The Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan
The magical middle grade read tells the story of Asha and her journey across the Himalayas to track down her missing father. Immersed in the culture of India, unflinching in its portrayal of family difficulties and how children respond to them and filled with adventure and peril, you’ll fall in love with Asha and her best friend Jeevan on their journey to save Asha’s family from the debt collectors who would take everything from them.
The ‘Tough Year’ Read: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Vivian’s life opens up when she moves to New York. This tale of love, heartbreak, finding your passion, utterly fucking up – like, fucking up so badly it feels like there is no way back – finding that way back and becoming the person you were supposed to be all along, is the inspirational, comforting, everything is going to be okay-ist book I have read all year. It also has sexy showgirls, theatre, costumes, glamour and lots and lots of sex. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote this book while navigating the loss of her wife, and it doing so she created the book we all need as a friend to guide us through hard times.
The Everybody MUST Read: I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
This seminal work on Black British Motherhood is like nothing you’ve ever read before. Part memoir, part socio-political journalism, Candice extrapolates her own experiences into the wider narrative of racial divides in Britain. From mummy blogger representation to utterly heartbreaking health disparities experienced by Black Mothers, this book offers revolutionary insight into the real Britain so often ignored by the headlines. Compelling, emotive and revealing in every sense of the word, whether you’re a mother or not, whether you want to be or not, this book has something to teach you about life.