• Natasha Hart

21 of the Best Books for Gifts: Christmas 2020

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Is it too early to be thinking about Christmas presents?

I think with the year we’ve had we all need something to look forward to, and what better than Christmas, and all the wonderful presents we can buy our loved ones.

There’s nothing better than giving/receiving books, especially at Christmas. When most of us have a little bit more free time than usual, there’s no better way to spend a cold December evening than reading your new favourite book.

I’ll set the scene: Christmas carols in the background, a roaring fire nearby, a hot chocolate with toasted marshmallows in, and of course, an amazing book.

That’s why we thought we’d share 21 books we think would make great Christmas presents this year. Some for children, some fiction and some non-fiction.

Hopefully, you’ll find the perfect gift below for a loved one, but also maybe a few to add to your own Christmas wish list, perhaps?

Remember, you can still order books from The Book Nook whilst we’re in lockdown! Check out our blog post, How to Order Books During Lockdown 2.0 for more information.

Children's Top Picks

These are our top picks for great books to buy children of all ages this year. If you’d like some more suggestions, check out our extensive list over on our bookshop.org page, for both lovely children's picture books, plus some more suggestions for older kids (KS2).

1. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

What Christmas would be complete without this classic fantasy series? Return to Narnia this Christmas.

2. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

This book is perfect for all the kids out there that love a good gothic horror thriller.

It’s Christmas, but 11-year old Will can’t shake the feeling that something bad is going to happen, something sinister. When he wakes-up in a different world on Midwinter Day, Will knows somethings up, and it’s got something to do with The Darkness.

3. The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane & Jackie Morris

Another collection of beautiful poems and illustrations to brighten-up any Christmas stocking. Made to be read out-loud, why not perform some of these amazing poems in front of your family this Christmas? Definitely a book to be treasured.

4. Dogger’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes

Everyone loves Dogger, and what better book to receive than Dogger’s Christmas? I know I’d be super happy to have this in my stocking, and I’m 27! Is that weird? I don’t care, Dogger is the best.

5. The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Mould

If you want to read the best heart-warming story this Christmas, look no further than Matt Haig’s The Girl Who Saved Christmas. The perfect magical Christmas book for any child’s bookshelf.

6. Paddington and the Christmas Surprise by Michael Bond

The most beloved bear is back in this lovely festive picture book. Join Paddington as he discovers what makes Christmas so special, and let him bring some festive joy to under your tree this year.

7. Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis

The winner of the V&A’s Best Illustrated Book 2017, Pick a Pine Tree is the wholesome tale of every kid’s best day: when you pick your Christmas tree for the year. It’s a beautifully illustrated book, that’s sure to get everybody excited on the run-up to Christmas.

Fiction Top Picks

These are our favourite fiction books that we think would make great gifts this year. If you’d like some more suggestions, check out our extensive list over on our bookshop.org page. There’re some great ideas for adults and teens, so check them out and let us know your favourite!

8. Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley

From the acclaimed author of The Loney, comes this new, haunting tale of loss and isolation, and what truly happens when all hope is loss.

The most awful thing imaginable has happened: Richard and Juliette’s 5-year-old son has died. And now they’re stuck, trapped in their house ‘Starve Acre’, with the silent rooms and memories of what was, and what could have been.

Hope and horror become entwined this winter.

9. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Have you ever had one of those weekends when plans just flop and it turns into a nightmare game of “When-will-this-end” and “can-we-trust-these-strangers-that-have-just-turned-up-on-our-doorstep?” Yeah….me neither. For Amanda and Clay, that becomes reality when two strangers arrive to their holiday home in a panic, claiming its theirs, in the midst of a power-cut. Can they be trusted? Are they safe? Will they survive the night? Alam’s novel delves deep into the modern-day idiosyncrasies of our lives, and how we’re never quite safe, like, really safe. It’s a haunting read for Christmas.

10. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

For any lovers of dystopian literature out there (think Orwell or Huxley) then I highly recommend you read this, this Christmas. The Memory Police is an allegory, a lullaby, a surreal experience where you don’t ask questions, you just read and ingest and ponder. It’s is a murky submersion into one of those slow-burn nightmares. You know the sort, where you don’t realise it’s a nightmare until the very end. You can read more about what we thought about the memory police in our blogpost, What We’ve Loved Reading: September.

11. The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated by Michele Hutchinson

The winner of The International Booker Prize 2020, this is a must-read for any translation fiction fans. We enter the lives of a strict, religious family through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl, Jas. But when an accident occurs, she falls into the world of fantasy, a world that may darken them all. There’s a raw, wild, cold beauty to Rijneveld’s story, one that shouldn’t be missed this winter.

12. The Darkness – Hidden Iceland by Ragnar Jonasson, translated by Victoria Cribb

Another translated fiction book, but one that’ll send a shiver down your spine this Christmas.

A body is discovered off the coast of Iceland. With only days before she retires, Reykjavik Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir must prove that this wasn’t a suicide like everyone thinks. There’s a murderer on the loose, and she has only hours to catch them.

Soon to be a major TV series, you need to read the book before you watch the series – it’s just better that way.

13. A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I think this has to be THE perfect book to get an older member of your family. It’s a book about an old man with attitude; he just hates everyone. He hates joggers, he hates his neighbours, he hates shop assistants. He would most likely hate you too, if he could. But, that’s the thing, there’s something special about Ove and as you read, as you delve deeper into his life, his story, you realise there’s more behind the man than meets the eye.

A book that shows how important love and community are, and in these trying times, what could be better this Christmas?

14. Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

It’s winter in the tourist town between North and South Korea. In an old, decrepit guest house, a French cartoonist arrives, determined to capture the beauty in the desolate landscape. The receptionist of the guest house accompanies the artist as they visit the ‘authentic’ Korea – a land of snowy mountaintops and waterfalls, whilst she tries to persuade him to see her Korea, the land of neon-lights and fish markets, and her.

15. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

This is a gothic, dark academia set amongst the mysterious Yale University's secret societies. We meet Alex Stern, a 20-year-old drop-out, a drug-user, a girl who survived a horrific murder. Not your average Yale student, that's for sure. But there's something that makes Alex special, something that sets her apart from everyone else: she can see the dead.

16. A Christmas to Remember by Anton Du Beke

Anton Du Beke takes us on a magical Christmas adventure to London, in 1938, to The Buckingham Hotel. Here, Nancy and the man she loves, dancer Raymond de Guise, fear of the war casts a shadow over their lives. When shocking news is announced, Nancy knows life will never be the same again.

17. The Gritterman by Orlando Weeks

See winter and Christmas through the eyes of The Gritterman this year. Whilst the rest of the world sleeps away the cold, he’s out gritting the paths, pavements, and roads. It’s the enchanting tale of the stoic, unsung hero, one that 100% needs to be read this year.

Non-Fiction Top Picks

What better time of year to learn something new, or spend time on your wellbeing? These are our top picks for non-fiction books for thought-provoking Christmas gifts. If you’d like some more suggestions, check out our extensive list over on our bookshop.org page, and check out some more of our favourite mindfulness and wellbeing books.

18. The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age by Claudia Hammond

This is definitely something we can all work on this year. After stressing ourselves out whilst on furlough, thinking we have to learn a new language or start our own successful business, sometimes we just need to appreciate the art of rest, of relaxing, of recuperation.

If you’re interested in self-care, and want to read more on it, why not check out our book club specifically focused on reading wellbeing books? It’s called Eunoia and we’d love for you to check it out if you’re interest in finding out more.

19. The Anxiety Journal by Corinne Sweet, illustrated by Marcia Mihotich

The perfect stocking-filler for those that have felt their anxiety heighten, especially during this year. With beautiful illustrations and Sweet’s CBT encouragements, The Anxiety Journal will be there to hold your hand through any stress, anxiety or worry you may be feeling.

20. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

Ever wondered how the male gaze shapes your identity? How ideas and concepts you’ve been taught since you could talk are wrong? How your whole outlook on other women, and even yourself, is shaped by our patriarchal society? This is a thought-provoking first leap into feminism for those wanting to learn something new this Christmas.

21. Lunar Living by Kirsty Gallagher

Gallagher has some fascinating theories on how the lunar cycles can help us with our self-care, and how they can generally affect our everyday life. It could help you realise why you need certain things on certain days, or why you feel like you do. If you’ve been feeling more in-tune with nature this year, and want to improve your sleep, mental health, relationships and more, give this book a read.

What do you think of our list? Let us know on our Facebook page which ones you’d love to receive as a gift, and maybe a Christmas elf will see it and send one your way.

Remember, you can order any of the books above from The Book Nook, or by clicking on any of the books above. Check out our blog post How to Order Books During Lockdown 2.0 for more information on how you can order with us, and don't forget you can also email us, too, at info@booknookshop.co.uk. You can also call us on 01920 467 597.

Fingers crossed Santa brings you what you wish for this year. Keep your eyes peeled for more Christmas content coming your way this December.

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