Christmas 2021 books: Bob Mortimer, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Annie Leibovitz and more

There is, like Morrissey before he became persona non grata, once sung, more in life than in books, you know. But, as he always added, not much more.

This is especially true at Christmas when a good book can save you the misery of another pair of socks under the Christmas tree. And you don’t really need that 15th Toblerone bar, do you?

So give as you want to receive and buy something that will last for your loved ones. Literally.

Here are our suggestions for books that would adorn any Christmas day, from fiction to food writing and trendy football.


The Fall of Sarah Moss

Picador, £ 13.99

Yes, it’s a containment novel. But this thin book overcomes any qualms on the subject thanks to the liveliness of the writing and the depth of the feelings that it exploits. The Fell tells the story of Alice breaking the Covid quarantine and walking on a hill and the consequences of that simple decision. A perfect remedy for Boxing Day blues.

Judas 62 by Charles Cumming

HarperCollins, £ 14.99

You don’t have to be the new John Le Carré to write a good spy novel. And Scottish-born author Charles Cumming knows how to write a good spy novel. Judas 62, his follow-up to Box 88, jumps between Soviet Russia in the 1990s and Dubai in 2020.

READ MORE: The 50 Best Books To Give This Christmas: Susan Swarbrick On Thrillers, Crime And The Coffee Table Tomes

The Haunting Season, Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights by various authors

Sphere, £ 12.99

This collection of eight original stories from contemporary authors offers a new twist to familiar spooky pleasures. Bookended by Bridget Collins, a chess-themed haunted house, A Study in Black and White and Elizabeth Macneal’s Monster, a delirious Neo-Victorian take on fossils, death and sexuality, this is a perfect read for a winter night. Optional spark plug.

White pages and other stories by Bernard MacLaverty

Cap Jonathan, £ 14.99


Can we just accept that Bernard MacLaverty is one of the greats now? In this latest collection of short stories, the Glasgow-based North Irish writer reminds us of his reach and power.


The Woman Head by Clare Finney & Lizzy Seabrook

Hoxton mini press, £ 28


Part cookbook and call to arms, Clare Finney’s interviews with 31 women in the UK food industry discuss the gender imbalance in the industry and the difference between being a chef and being a cook. Photographer Lizzy Seabrook adds tantalizing visuals.

A Cheesemaker’s Compendium of British and Irish Cheeses by Ned Palmer

Profile Books, £ 14.99


It is a very dangerous book. Read cheesemaker Ned Palmer’s descriptions of the 158 British cheeses there and you’ll want to buy them all. Lanarkshire’s Corra Linn (“a mellow, melt-in-the-mouth texture with hints of honeycomb and caramel”) sounds particularly good. Claire Littlejohn’s illustrations are also very tasty.


And far from Bob Mortimer

Gallery books, £ 20


Bob Mortimer further cements his status as a national treasure with this memoir full of funny lines, surreal images and an Alan Bennett-style line of regret translated into a Middlesborough childhood. He traces his rise to comic glory through a childhood marked by the death of his father. And then there’s the story of his heart surgery in 2015. You’ll like it even more at the end (if that’s even possible).

Revolving plates: music, men, motherhood and me by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Crown, £ 16.99


Not quite what you might expect. Yes, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s autobiography is full of joie de vivre, children and sparkling balls. But it also deals with preeclampsia, the sexism of the music business, issues of sexual consent, and the horror of controlling relationships. As a result, you encourage her all the harder when things start to go right.

READ MORE: From the archive: Sophie Ellis-Bextor speaks with The Herald Magazine


The World By Color by James Fox

Allen Lane, £ 25

Taking everything (in alphabetical order) from Aboriginal Australians to Zoroastrianism, James Bond and JMW Turner, James Fox’s tale of color and how we think about it is a vast investigation of artistic, scientific and historical history. cultural.

Ask a Historian by Greg Jenner

W&N, £ 16.99

Greg Jenner’s new book sees him answering questions posed to him by members of the public. Questions such as: “Who invented mathematics? “” Why do Greek statues have small penises? And “Did Anne Boleyn have three nipples” (she didn’t). The result is a lot of fun.

Greek myths of Charlotte Higgins

Cap Jonathan, £ 20


Starting with Athena, Charlotte Higgins puts women at the forefront in this latest account of Greek myths. A beautifully crafted book, with accompanying designs by Chris Ofili giving it an added sparkle.

The Book of Modern Classics of the Penguin by Henry Eliot

Private books, £ 30

Showcasing all titles published under the legend Penguin Modern Classics between 1961 and the present day, this entertaining big book is the perfect gift for the bibliophile in your life. Go through this and your reading list for 2022 will be well and truly sorted.


Architecture by Barnabas Calder

Pelican, £ 20

“This book is about how fossil fuels made the world a much better place for humans”, is how Barnabas Calder begins this provocative and illuminating tale of architectural history “from prehistoric times to emergency climate “. Calder is the perfect guide around some of humanity’s most significant accomplishments, but never shies away from asking tough questions.

Living by the Ocean by Phaidon Editors

Phaidon, £ 29.95


Pornographic property mostly from remote locations. To be fair, there are a few Scottish properties in Living by the Ocean (the Tinhouse on Skye and the Clifftop House in Portpatrick), but you might prefer to dream of living in an ocean house in the Maldives fit for a James villain. Jump .

READ MORE: Christmas 2021 books: Richard Osman, Schitt’s Creek, Barack Obama and more

Chatsworth, Arcadia Now by John-Paul Stonard

Private books, £ 50

Say what you like about the British upper classes (and there is a lot to say), but they knew how to build a house. Chatsworth, Arcadia Now is a brick from a book devoted to the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devon in Derbyshire. A study of the house and its contents, photographer Victoria Hely-Hutchinson’s images take into account its broad perspectives and small details, often adorned with jewels, while art historian John-Paul Stonard puts everything in context


Annie Leibovitz’s Wonderland

Phaidon, £ 69.95


A collection of fashion photographs by Leibovitz, this magnificent compilation is exactly what you would expect from his work: lavish dream visions, often extravagantly staged, with a secondary order of privileged access to the wealthy, powerful and to the beautiful. Here is Katy Perry dressed in the 10s in Paris and Lady Gaga wearing nothing but a pair of high heels and Gucci glasses. Luxury pornography, maybe, but you can’t deny the glamor of it.


Captivate! Fashion photography from the 90s by Claudia Schiffer

Prestel, £ 49.99


Color, excess, fame, exclamation points. Claudia Schiffer offers her insider perspective on the fashion industry in the 1990s and the rise of modeling. Top notch eye candy.

NUNO: Visionary Japanese Textiles edited by Naomi Pollock

Thames and Hudson, £ 50


Do you remember those tactile books you bought for your children? As you scrolled through the pages of NUNO, you would sort of wish that this was the adult equivalent. Still, images are a decent substitute in this gorgeous catalog from innovative Japanese textile studio NUNO.

Vogue Paris 100 years by Sylvie Lecallier

Thames and Hudson, £ 45


Celebration of the centenary of the French edition of the fashion magazine with photographs Man Ray and Mario Testino, appearances by Catherine Deneuve and Audrey Hepburn and fashion brands like Chanel and Dior.


The Howling Sky by Charles Foster

Petit Toller, £ 15


Behind one of the year’s covers (courtesy artist Jonathan Pomroy), Charles Foster recounts his obsession with swifts. They fly and soar through the pages of this little book, nature’s gift for the eyes and the heart.

The Art of Wild Swimming: Scotland by Anna Deacon and Vicky Allan

Black and white edition, £ 14.99


Herald Magazine wild swimmer Vicky Allan joins photographer Anna Deacon in celebrating the great leap into the great outdoors. Both a directory of the best places to swim in Scotland and an evocative hymn to the pleasures they offer.

British Boutique Hotels by Gina Jackson

Hoxton mini press, £ 20


Travel blogger Gina Jackson’s recommendations for the best hotels in the country, from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall, will get you straight to Tripadviser.


An Editor’s Burial, Journalism from The New Yorker edited by David Brendel

Pushkin Press, £ 10.99

“Inspirations for The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson,” he proclaims on the cover, but you don’t have to love that creme brulee from a movie to enjoy this collection of journalism from New Yorker magazine, featuring featured some of the leading journalists associated with the publication writing primarily about France.


The Golden Treasury of Scottish Verse edited by Kathleen Jamie, Don Paterson and Peter Mackay

Canongate, £ 30


Boasting some 500 pages (and over 1,000 years) of Scottish poetry, this compilation should keep you busy in the New Year. It starts with James Hogg and ends with Allan Ramsey and between everyone from Lord Byron to Mary, the Queen of Scots makes an appearance. A glory of one thing.

READ MORE: The 50 Best Books To Give This Christmas: Susan Swarbrick On Thrillers, Crime And The Coffee Table Tomes


The Immortals of Arrigo Sacchi

Backpage Press, £ 9.99


One for the hipster football in your life. Arrigo Sacchi’s own account of his time at the helm of the legendary Milan team in the late 1980s and of the players who played under him, including Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard.

About Joey J. Hott

Check Also

3 recommendations for non-fiction reading : NPR

DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST: You could be swimming in salt water this summer or in chlorinated …