This Christmas we’ve decided to make your present buying a lot less stressful by asking the 4th Estate team to hand-pick books for all your relatives. Hopefully this will mean less umming and ahhing in the bookshop, and more oohing and ahhing on Christmas Day…
So it turns out that you and your new father-in-law have become great friends. A mutual love of his progeny and your spouse probably helps. But at Christmas, the dread still creeps in – not at the prospect of spending time with him, but because you’ve no idea what to get him. Enter our Christmas buying guide!
Page-turning political intrigue is just the ticket for your father-in-law, who is vociferous to say the least on the government of the day. Andrew Marr is a name that he knows because of his interest in history, so he’ll be more than willing to crack the spine – but this present will deliver an unexpected surprise in the form of a romp of a story. Double win.
Whether your father-in-law loves modern art, or ‘has a thing or two to say about it’, he won’t fail to be moved by Jonathan Gibbs’ debut novel. Set in the world of modern art, with a backdrop of the ‘Young British Artists’, searing satire abounds – laced heavily with heart. Randall is about friendship – outrageous boozy parties friendships, annual reunion friendships, tell-it-like-it-is friendships – and the complexities around how friendships age.
How brief can the history of humankind be? The epic promise of Sapiens lies in the epoch it covers, as well as in the way it asks big questions about what we thought we knew about being human. When he’s finished reading it, you can tell him that it was recommended by Russell Brand in the annual Reading Agency lecture, and then enjoy his reaction.
Your father-in-law probably has surprising taste. He loves being recommended music and films by his adult children – you must have heard that Kraftwerk album in the car a hundred times. So taking a punt on Consumed by David Cronenberg sends the perfect message: you’re cool enough to read this; you’re not past it yet. Also serves as a great emergency present when your spouse panics, on Christmas Eve, about not having been shopping yet.
There’s a certain generation who all seem to have experienced some part of the African continent in their youth. Every Day Is For The Thief is an account of one man’s return to his native Nigeria – a Nigeria superficially changed, but whose heart continues to draw in those seeking the edge of danger. Cole muses on what it is to return, and on the effort to resist the lure of the homeland.
MR DARWIN’S GARDENER by Kristina Carlson (Periene)
Periene’s mission to provide literature for those fatigued by cinema is laudable. So too is their practice of theming the triumvirate of books they publish each year. Part of the ‘Turning Point’ series, Mr Darwin’s Gardener interrogates the nature of faith through the needs of a grief-stricken widow, the gardener of Charles Darwin.
Words by Bianca Winter.
Left to right: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (Hodder & Stoughton), Land Rover: The Story of the Car That Conquered the World by Ben Fogle (William Collins), A Life in Questions by Jeremy Paxman (William Collins)
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