A well-chosen book succinctly inscribed to the recipient is a seasonal winner. The books listed below are vicariously grouped and defined by me, from hard back glories to paper back page-turners.
Lady in the House: Mother-in-Law to Stylish 20 something. These are fashionable tomes to dream into…
Marella Agnelli: The Last Swan ( I love a swan) written by Marella Agnelli and Marella Carracciola Chia. Rizzoli. The eternal chic and extraordinary homes of ‘the last swan’ would be a welcome break from turkey basting, glass of champagne in hand.
Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute, the sub-title says it all: PARTIES EXHIBITIONS PEOPLE. Hamish Bowles is the man to write and ‘curate’ this visual feast, Vogue’s dazzling relationship with the Met really began with Dree Vreeland and rocks out NYC with its annual ball and zeitgeist exhibition still.
Escape: The Heyday of Caribbean Glamour. Hermes Mallea. Rizzoli. This is a win-win: your recipient can either gaze into this enchanted world knowing they have a flight booked (preferably to Roundhill) OR knowing she can eat as much turkey and stuffing as she fancies, safe in the knowledge there is no bikini diet till June.
Valentino: At the Emporer’s Table, written by Valentino and Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley. Assouline. Another win-win. If your recipient is of the competitive sort, this will bat her (and her Christmas décor) firmly into the second league. If she is a true beauty affacionada she can swoon at leisure untrammelled by the green eyed monster.
The Man with Bottle Opener: a.k.a. Connoseiur and Wine Buff. Let him travel from the comfort of his wingback armchair…glass in hand.
Maps: Their untold Stories. Rose Mitchell and Andrew James. publisher: John Reed. Drawn from seven centuries of maps held in the British National Archives these maps chart an extraordinary journey.
A History of the 20th Century in 100 Maps, Tim Byrars and Tom Harper, University Of Chicago Press. Constructing a narrative through the 20th century maze with maps is quite a feat.
Burgundy by the Book, Jasper Morris, Berry Brothers and Rudd. My father believes all roads (after the Channel Tunnel) lead to Burgundy, and who is going to challenge him? not me. Best given with a significant bottle of red, Pomerol meets Gevrey Chambertin.
The Thinker: from angst-ridden teen to fully-fledged Guardian reader. These will give them pause for thought.
Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. Canongate. Guardian columnist Burkeman will get them talking, don’t believe me? “Quietly subversive, beautifully written, persuasive and profound, Oliver Burkeman’s book will make you think – and smile.” Alex Bellos, author of Alex’s Adventures in Numberland…. another clever chap worth a read is also impressed.
Sybille Bedford, Jigsaw, An Unsentimental Education. Eland. Profoundly impressive and beautifully written, Sybille’s coming of age ‘biographical novel’ is essential 20th century reading and will make all teens pause for thought while the rest of us will exhale slowly in wonder. Is everything only what we remember it to be – neither more nor less? Where, then, and when is truth?
For all those Telegraph readers… why not Middle Class Problems, Benjamin Lee. Square Peg. Sold out on Amazon already this Christmas, ergo it must be under a lot of middle class Christmas trees.
Cecil Beaton: Profiles and Portraits, Hugo Vickers. Frances Lincoln. For all Cecil fans and maybe someone dealing with bitching at school or work, they could definitely plot sweet revenge whilst reading Beaton’s profiles, which were as visceral as his portraits were flattering. Cecil’s observations puncture many a celebrity ego… I wonder, what would he make of Kim and Kayne?
Decorator at heart: moi possibly? too aussi?
A Frame for Life: The Designs of Studioisle. Rizzoli. Maybe if I’m good Santa might slip this under the tree, Studio Ilse produces modern interiors we all want to actually live in, they feed the soul and gratify the senses.
Very Novel: Easy reads after too much wine or for light hearted relief from angst-ridden family members
Lamentation. C.J. Sansom. Sit back then lean in as you are consumed by Tudor England and Shardlake. Can’t believe I haven’t read this already….
Twas the night Before Christmas: aka Little Ones
age 3 plus: Have you discovered Little Rabbit? prepare to fall in love with Harry Horse’s tongue in cheek creation, charmingly illustrated. I can read it again and again… which is lucky.
age 8 plus: The Little White Horse by Eliabeth Goudge, Folio books.
The Box of Delights by John Masefield . Children’s classics for a reason, both would also be great as an audio book for journeys.