Here at The Willoughby Book Club, we absolutely love selecting books for our subscribers, and at this time of year, we enjoy channelling our expertise into choosing books that will be perfect presents for our nearest and dearest. After all, what would Christmas be without a book or two under the tree? With their power to transport us to different worlds and ignite our imaginations, they are timeless gifts which can create magical moments of connection between us all. By sharing books during the festive period, we hope to inspire joy, spark meaningful conversations, and build upon a love for reading that extends far beyond the holiday season.
Curious about our selections? Read on and find out about the titles we've chosen for our friends and family this Christmas. You might discover one or two to add to your own list!
I’ve been a big fan of Jon Klassen ever since picking up both ‘I Want My Hat Back’ and ‘The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse’ several years ago for my wee nephew. I love his style of illustration, the colour palettes he uses and of course, his wicked and offbeat sense of humour.
Klassen’s new Christmas picture book with Mac Barnett is a funny, charming book, showcasing Barnett’s own funny bones, as Santa contemplates just how he will manage to fit down the chimney. Head first? Feet first? It’s sweet, it’s funny, and I can’t wait to pass on the Klassen torch to other little ones in my life to enjoy.
I really appreciate thoughtfully-considered, beautifully put together children’s non-fiction books. The bigger the better! Think Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane’s wildly popular ‘The Lost Words’ or ‘Maps’ by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski.
The Royal Botanic Gardens publish several titles, all exploring different aspects of the natural world. Fungarium, however, is my favourite! The large reference book contains colourful, hand-drawn illustrations and descriptions of the many fungi that can be found in nature. As someone with an amateur interest in the world of fungi and mushrooms, my aim is to pass this on to an impressionable member of my family so I have someone to discuss the topic with. Clever?
Every year, I buy my closes friends books for Christmas Eve and this year is no exception. Their literary preferences vary somewhat, but after almost a lifetime of knowing them, I think I’ve got their tastes pegged. One friend in particular will love this one.
Pachico has the potential to be a favourite author of mine. The Anthill, her 2020 novel, was easily my favourite book in the year I read it. Her latest novel, Jungle House, has been described as Never Let Me go meets Lord of the Flies- colour me intrigued. Set in an futuristic, AI-driven world, the protagonist Lena lives in the jungle with her ‘mother’, but outside the rebels are starting to fight back against the society created for them.
It’s a perfect blend of literary and sci-fi and I have my fingers crossed that my friend joins me in my little Julianne Pachico fan club.
Having loved Sara’s stand up and her non-fiction titles, Animal and Sex, Power, Money, I’m very confident that Weirdo will provide a warm and hilarious reading experience for the gift recipient I have in mind. It’s the perfect book for a reader who enjoys witty and relatable characters, as well as astute social observations. One review described it as: ‘…if Adrian Mole wrote The Bell Jar.’ What more do we need?
This beautiful, cloth-bound poetry collection is ideal for beautiful book buyers and poetry lovers alike- my sibling being exactly the target audience. Conceived from the idea that one can be ‘prescribed’ just the right poem for the right moment, Sieghart’s third, wonderfully-curated collection will provide you with a few literary lines for any emotional ailment. Feeling a little blue? There’s a poem for that! Want to feel hopeful when you’ve ran out of ideas? There’s another for that one, too!
I have a copy of the first Poetry Pharmacy collection and I frequently return to its pages, gaining nourishment and poetic inspiration when I need it most. For any lover of poetry, it would make a fine stocking-filler.
First on my list of Christmas purchases is Prophet Song by Paul Lynch, the winner of this year's Booker Prize. This story follows a scientist following the disappearance of her husband by the newly formed Irish secret police, and her efforts to hold her family together in the face of tyranny. I have a few recipients in mind for this book, but I also really want to read it myself, so this is a selfish addition to the shopping basket in the hopes that I'll be able to borrow it back!
I treated myself to 2023's Almanac, and it has lived on my table all year, helping me pretend that I don't actually live in the middle of a big city and am somewhat connected to nature and the seasons.
From tide tables and states of the moon, to seasonal recipes, this is a lovely book to dip in and out of throughout the year. It is divided by month, so there's always something timely to enjoy. This would make a lovely stocking filler for a nature-loving friend.
This is the perfect book for a friend who loves cooking... and reading. My copy is extremely well-loved, and is as much on my bedside table as it is in the kitchen. It's great for inspiration when you find yourself in a rut, or facing a glut of something, as well as being a lovely read if you want to feel re-inspired by food and cooking. It also makes a great gift for someone who loves cooking, but who might have some of the big name titles already, or for when you are not sure of their tastes. This year there's been a follow up title published this year too: The Flavour Thesaurus: More Flavours, Plant-led Pairings and Ideas for Cooks which is on my wish list. I'd be so happy to receive this because I have had so much use out of the first.
This is going to be a gift for someone I know who is a shoreline wanderer, pebble collector and rook pool gazer...
This looks as though it'll be a fascinating glimpse into a world we only partially see, and perhaps don't consider as much as we should, and is another book that I'll be giving, but very temped to keep for myself! I've really enjoyed Adam Nicholson's writing before, so this will definitely be added to my never ending TBR list.
This is the perfect way to introduce a new generation of readers to the world of The Moomins! This book introduces key Moominland characters, and includes a recipe from Moominmama, a tiny book from Little My and others. And really, who doesn't love a book with little pockets, and tiny letters? As part of the Jolly Pocket Postman generation I've always held 'pockety' books in particularly high regard, and this one is sure to be treasured for years.
I'll be buying Mad Honey for my mum, becasue she's enjoyed Jodi Picoult before, and she absolutely loves a great twisty plot that will keep her guessing until the end. If you're a person who likes a book that will make you stay up just to read one more chapter, you might enjoy this one too.
'When the body of an eighteen year old girl is found at home, only two people know the truth. One of them is dead. The other is your son.' Who wouldn't get hooked with a teaser like that?
'All books, no matter their binding, will fall to dust. The stories they carry may last longer. They might outlive the paper, the library, even the language in which they were first written.
The greatest story can reach the stars . . .'
I've had my eye on this book for my brother who really loves well written and engaging fantasy. He loves a series, and this is part one of a trilogy, so he'll be kept well entertained for three books. This also looks like the kind of book I'd also enjoy: dark and immersive, with spiralling interconnected plots and many layers.
I'll be treating the young reader in my life to a copy of The Science of Being Angry, a lovely story about what makes a family.
Eleven year old Joey is angry all the time, and doesn't know why. She has two loving mums and a supportive older sister, yet she lashes out all the time.
There are so many great books available for this age group, but this one looks as though it'll have that amazing empathetic insight into the brain of a young person, how it feels to feel down, and how it feels to be young that make reading such an amazing and potentially transformative activity.
One of my brothers is a huge horror fan and when I read the synopsis for Kingfisher's 2023 release, I knew I'd have to add this one to the shopping list! Described as the perfect addition to the Southern Gothic genre, exploring the deep, dark secrets of a family home. Think vultures circling, jars of teeth, mothers jumping and sterile white walls. It's creepy, it's atmospheric and I know my brother will love it!
This genre-crossing YA debut contains several things I love in a book: magic, romance, a pacy plotline, and fun characters!
Alice Sun attends an elite Beijing boarding school and is pretty much an outcast. But when she is mysteriously bestowed with the magical power of invisibility, she uses it to her advantage- with drastic consequences for her and her schoolmates.
I can't wait to gift this book to myself this Christmas and I hope to pass it on to my friends with similar tastes for future bookish discussions.
I get so excited when I can gift bookish things to the people in my life, especially a book I know they’re going to love! This year, I’ve got a few books on my Christmas shopping list for some of my family and friends and I’m already looking forward to hearing what they think.
For my brother, I’m gifting him the new novella by Patrick Rothfuss, The Narrow Road Between Desires, which is the new additional to The Kingkiller Chronicles. I’m slightly cheating here, as I know he’ll enjoy this because he actually introduced me to the series and his pristine copies of the books. Follow Bast, the most charming fae in the Kingkiller universe as he schemes, sneaks in and out of trouble, yet follows his heart when it goes against his better judgement.
My dad loves a good whodunnit, he has shelves full of very well-thumbed murder mysteries, detective novels and the odd thriller. I’m thinking of getting him The Murder Game by Tom Hindle. A 1920’s themed murder mystery party gets scarily realistic when one of the guests is found dead. With no way to escape the country house in the small seaside town of Hamlet Wick, the other guest of trapped with a killer in their midst. The perfect book to settle down with after a big Christmas dinner!
I’m gifting my mum The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. She enjoys all types of stories, but recently has been wanting to read more South Asian authors and I think this would be the perfect book for her.
After a very lengthy conversation about Babel by R.F. Kuang and dark academia novels in general, A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid, is right up my friend’s street! I just know they’re going to love it and I can ask to borrow it too (ulterior motive, I know!).