What we'd like to read - Christmas 2019

Opinion - Books Friday, 29th November 2019

The BookBrunch team reveal what they hope to find in their Christmas stockings

Set Me on Fire: A Poem for Every Feeling by Ella Risbridger (Doubleday) I love Risbridger's commentaries on poems she posts on social media. Her choices are always interesting, beautiful, and unexpected.

The Lost Ones by Anita Frank (HQ) Set in 1917 in a country mansion with a tragic history, this book sounds deliciously creepy. I love reading ghost stories in winter.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Vintage) This novel was recently named one of the Foyles books of the year: a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read, it is about survival and compassion.

American Fire by Monica Hesse (Liveright) Hesse is a reporter who covered the trial of a man who pled guilty to 67 counts of arson in Accomack, Virginia, and this book uncovers the twisted love story behind the crimes.

Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett (Simon & Schuster) I have read all of this author's contemporary YA romances, but this historical fantasy involves occult magic and a journey through the Carpathian Mountains. I already know that I'll love it.

My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay (Canongate)
While I'm not very familiar with his work as a poet (what I've heard I've loved), I've seen some brilliant and heart-breaking reviews of Lemn Sissay's memoir of being raised in the British care system and the path to finding his biological mother.

The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate) I will read anything Hilary Mantel writes - anything. So whoever signs me up to the last instalment of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy (out in March) will be on my Christmas card list for ever.

Square Haunting by Francesca Wade (Faber) Ella Griffiths at Faber mentioned this book (due in January) to me recently. Bloomsbury holds an enduring appeal for book lovers, and this story by White Review editor Francesca Wade follows five women who lived and worked on Mecklenburgh Square in the interwar period - among them writers Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) and Dorothy L Sayers.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton) Shamefully I haven't read anything by Bernardine Evaristo, so that needs to be remedied asap!

The Brothers York by Thomas Penn (Allen Lane) The Winter King, Penn's previous history, of Henry VII, hit that strong narrative, strong evidence sweetspot that so many historians struggle to find. Now he is venturing further back, into the Wars of the Roses.

Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner (Hodder) The Quest for Queen Mary earlier this year alerted me to the comic potential of the royal family, and Glenconner's stint as a long-time lady in waiting to Princess Anne will have provided plenty of material. She was sensational on Graham Norton.

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris (Hutchinson) I saw him speak at Frankfurt on this novel about an imagined future, and I was hooked.

The Rapture by Claire McGlasson (Faber) This caught my eye when I wrote the a story about the rights deal two years ago. Dark goings on in a suburban cult bracing themselves for the Second Coming, based on real events in Bedford in the 1920s.

Tiny Castles by Dixe Wills (AA) I saw this beside a till in Waterstones - great fun, perfect for the tiniest room.

The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells (Allen Lane) Something cheery to end on: the terrible reality of global warming, coming soon to a planet near you.

From the Oven to the Table by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley) I don't buy many cookbooks, preferring to keep my cooking simpler than the majority of modern recipes allow; but this one suits my taste.

The Border by Don Winslow (HarperCollins) The paperback will be out soon, but I'd be delighted if someone saved me from waiting to read the third part of Winslow's superb trilogy about Mexican cartels.

Who Dares Wins by Dominic Sandbrook (Allen Lane) Once I've raced through Winslow's 700 pages, I can tackle Sandbrook's 900-page history of the period when I began my working life.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton) I was delighted that this won the Booker this year, and can't wait to get my teeth into it.

One More Croissant for the Road by Felicity Cloake (Mudlark) I love her "How to make the perfect..." column in the Guardian, and this combines a cycling tour of France and great French food - need I say more?

Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem (Bloomsbury) I discovered the author on Twitter, where she reports her latest finds on the muddy banks of the Thames, and am intrigued that she has written a book about her explorations.

The Easternmost House by Juliet Blaxland (Sandstone) The coast line of East Anglia, a region I love, is steadily being eroded - and here is the story of someone who lives in the easternmost house in England, with the sea now only 25 paces away...

The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes (Cape)
I am a Julian Barnes fan, and his book set in Paris' Belle Epoque seems to promise an evocation of better times, based on an intriguing true story.

Reef Life by Callum Roberts (Profile) I have heard a lot about both Callum Roberts and this book. I discovered scuba diving around 20 years ago, and the importance of protecting the oceans, seas and reefs has only become more evident in the relatively short time since. Callum Roberts is one of the leading voices telling us what needs to be done.

Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing (HarperCollins) I am a big fan of cookbooks, and went through much pain when we downsized a few years ago and my prized collection required dramatic culling. Still, always room for one more at Christmas, and Marcus Wareing has been a favourite of mine since an incredible meal at Petrus with his then publisher - many, many years ago!

The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate) Well, who can wait until 5 March next year? A long shot, but if you don't ask...

Fraffly Well Spoken by Afferbeck Lauder (Wolfe) My rather battered and very old (1968) copy of this book, subtitled "How To Speak the Language of London's West End", needs replacing. It aptly describes itself as a "A moffler swirk of grey chooma", and captures and teaches the lingo quite brilliantly. A loo book ahead of its time - and now available for the price of a tea at Claridge's on AbeBooks. I was always suspicious that the author's name was a fabricated version of "alphabetical order", along the lines he did best.

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