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Article  •  4 November 2020


Gifting suggestions from our authors

Make this year the year you get your Christmas list ticked off early with a little help from your favourite authors.

Our authors have Christmas all wrapped up. Take their lead and spoil your loved ones with some fantastic festive season reads. For more gift-giving ideas click here.

The Yield by Tara June Winch
I love to gift the book The Yield by Tara June Finch. It is a compelling book about identity, connection with the land and the beauty of language. – Anita Vandyke, author of A Zero Waste Family

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
This book really helped me to learn how to be more present, to ditch my anxious mindset, and to stop listening to the unhelpful thoughts that pop into my head. It also helped me to learn how to grow my business and to keep my edge while being content with what I already have. For me, that’s the ultimate goal. Learning those things felt like turning the lights on after years of being in the dark, so it’s information that needs to be shared. – Bec Brown, author of You've Got This

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
I don’t tend to gift any of my favourite books because the choice is too personal. If I read a book that I thoroughly enjoy, I might recommend/suggest it in the way that anyone might propose a book for book club. Always with the caveat that it might not be to everyone’s taste.

If pushed, though, the books I tend to favour (though not exclusively) involve an interweaving of fact and fiction with a strong root in history.

Kate Forsyth’s book Bitter Greens works on every level.

Meticulously researched from primary sources, this exquisite novel takes us from Italy in the early sixteenth century to the decadent French court of the seventeenth century. It is beautifully written, a masterclass in storytelling with a terrific reworking of the fairy tale Persinette by Charlotte Rose de la Force (better known as the reworked Rapunzel (Brothers Grimm). Rich, historical escapism doesn’t come better than this. – Roxane Dhand, author of The Orphan of Good Hope

Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery
Apart from my own books? I am always gifting cookery books. I have two favourites: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, so people can learn how to make ice cream from the best; and Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery, because if you’re a new baker you don’t need any others. It will teach you so much of what you need to know about baking, whether it's cakes, tarts, pies or biscuits. – Fiona McIntosh, author of The Champagne War

David Sedaris, Possum Magic by Mem Fox, and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
I love introducing people to the comic writing of David Sedaris ('Here, read this, you’ll laugh so much!'). I love giving friends with little kids Possum Magic, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas ('It’s so very Australian, look at those beautiful illustrations!'). Currently, I am pressing The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton on book-loving and writer friends. ('Please, read this, it’s incredible, like a masterclass in writing and structure. It's a book that constantly changes, no wonder it’s a classic!'). – Monica McInerney, author of The Godmothers

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The Princess Bride by William Goldman, because it’s full of romance and adventure, and it’s hilarious. I loved it as a kid. – Charlotte McConaghy, author of The Last Migration

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
Hard to say. I have many favourite authors and books. I suppose the most influential for me is The Lord of the Rings, which I escape into whenever the world and the people in it start to bring me down.

I am currently reading The Hobbit to my grandchildren on Zoom, which I’m enjoying immensely having just reread 'Rings' for the twelfth time in the hope of it restoring my faith in human nature – which it most often manages to do. But there are so many awful men in the world today I’m not sure it’s worked for me this time. Trump, Putin, Xi, Kim Jong-un, Bolsonaro, Johnson. God help us all. – John Wood, author of How I Clawed My Way to the Middle

The Peregrine by J A Baker
I’d gift any aspiring writer The Peregrine by J A Baker and urge them not to try anything he did, or they will live a life of failure. – James Rebanks, author of English Pastoral

Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos by Dennis Overbye
It’s about the century-long search by cosmologists, astronomers and physicists to answer the biggest question of them all: how the universe began and how it will end. It’s a beautiful book that explains the science and takes you inside some of the most complex and far-fetched theories. But it’s told so poignantly and stylishly you soon forget this is a book about science. I failed high school maths so if I can grasp some of the concepts, anyone can. But what the book really does best is bring to life – with all their strengths and weaknesses – the people who have devoted their careers to pursuing the answers to a riddle we may never solve. I try to read it every couple of years. It staggers me how a handful of members of our species – and we have only been around for a few hundred thousand years – have already worked out that the universe began 13.8 billion years ago.

And I can't even solve a Rubik's cube. – Garry Linnell, author of Moonlite

Gifting is so tricky because it absolutely depends on the person. I also think it’s damning with faint praise to pick books that are ‘safe bets’ (lots of excellent books are ‘safe bets’ but it implies a somewhat ambivalent review). But, pretending I haven’t just picked someone in the secret santa and am rocking up to Xmas morning with a bag of books, I’ll go with: for Dad, something Aussie-set and pacey so Jane Harper’s The Dry; for Mum, the most expensive hardback, full colour photography book in the shop (only half kidding) OR something literary but accessible like Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites; for my brother, something I’m really into at that moment, right now it would be Stuart Turton’s The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle; for my sister, something clever and fun, like Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project. Family Christmas, sorted. – Benjamin Stevenson, author of Either Side of Midnight

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