Christmas Books 2020: Barack Obama, Val McDermid, David Attenborough and extra

Sphere, £ 10

This beautifully festive volume contains a terrifying collection of crime-themed short stories. The colorful characters include the girl who killed Santa Claus, a jealous ghostwriter and the literary detective duo Dr. Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan from Val McDermid. Not to forget Sherlock Holmes himself.

CONTINUE READING: Val McDermid on her “weird” festive traditions and why she loves a Christmas murder secret

Fifty Words for Snow by Nancy Campbell

Elliott & Thompson, £ 12.99

A delightful compendium that brings together language, culture and adventure through frozen landscapes and shares the meaning of 50 words for snow from around the world.

Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan

Sphere, £ 14.99

This cozy novel is set on the fictional Scottish island of Mure (Jenny Colgan has said she was inspired by Lewis, Bute, Harris, Orkney and the Shetland Islands). In this leisurely novel, brother and sister try to get a sprawling, disused hotel back into operation for Christmas.

Most festive murder of Ada Moncrieff

Vintage, £ 7.99

A body lies dead in the snow in front of an estate after a Christmas Eve party. There’s a gun nearby and only one set of footprints in the snow.

Most festive murder of Ada Moncrieff

But is the case as open and closed as it seems? Amateur lover Hugh Gaveston vows to reveal the truth in this 1930s mystery.

CONTINUE READING: The 50 Best Books for Christmas (Part 2)

Christmas for Beginners by Carole Matthews

Sphere, £ 14.99

They say never work with children or animals, which means making a crib tablet on a farm is not for the faint of heart. But it’s a fun plot tool in this enchanting festive story (opening line: “One of the alpacas ate the baby Jesus”).


One by one from Ruth Ware

Harvill Secker, £ 12.99

This contemporary thriller pays homage to Agatha Christie’s classic crime thriller, And Then There Were None. He finds a fragile group trapped in a remote ski chalet after an avalanche. Fear and paranoia abound when it becomes clear that there is a murderer in their midst.

Pine from Francine Toon

Doubleday, £ 12.99

A modern gothic thriller that, according to Francine Toon, is based on the author’s childhood in the highlands: “One day I imagined a road leading through a desolate, hilly landscape in Sutherland and a woman who was only in a dressing gown shows up at a passing place. ”


The Roots of Evil by Quintin Jardine

Heading, £ 20

There is no shortage of great literary detectives in Edinburgh, and among them is Bob Skinner, a popular character who has graced the pages of Quintin Jardine’s detective novels since 1993. The latest in this long-running series – the 32nd if you count – opens on New Years Day. Two men are dead. Both are known to Skinner. Cue a twisted story of dark secrets and deception.


The wild silence of Raynor Winn

Michael Joseph, £ 14.99

In 2018 Raynor Winn wrote The Salt Path, a fascinating treatise on how she and her husband Moth walked 630 miles of windswept and sea-whipped coastline in south-west England. The couple had been evicted from their home and Moth was newly diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease. The wild silence reveals what happened next.

A promised land of Barack Obama

Vikings, £ 35

This voluminous first volume of presidential memoirs shows Barack Obama’s early political ambitions, the grassroots activism that set the course for the White House, and the turning point in 2008 when he was elected President of the United States.

HeraldScotland: Former United States President Barack Obama.  Image: Steffi Loos / Getty ImagesFormer President of the United States Barack Obama. Image: Steffi Loos / Getty Images

It sheds light on the decision-making process during his first term as he passed the Affordable Care Act, tackled Wall Street reform, and approved Operation Neptune’s Spear that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

I am an island of Tamsin Calidas

Doubleday, £ 16.99

A searing, sincere, and unforgettable memory that shares the turbulent journey as Tamsin Calidas brings an abandoned farm on a Hebridean island – and himself – back to life.

Olive, Mabel and I by Andrew Cotter

Black & White, £ 20

Sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter’s hilarious comment about his dogs Olive and Mabel was a much-needed tonic during the lockdown.

HeraldScotland: Sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter with his dogs Olive and MabelSports broadcaster Andrew Cotter with his dogs Olive and Mabel

The clips went viral and gained a legion of fans around the world. This is heartwarming and fun read that tells some of their favorite adventures.


Paradise by Alasdair Gray

Canongate, £ 14.99

The final part of Alasdair Gray’s “prosaic English” version of Dante’s Divine Comedy is enjoyed by all who admired the artist and writer. His posthumously published vision of heaven, beautifully bound in his unique style, combines wonderfully with the previous volumes on Hell and Purgatory and is a welcome gift for lovers of art, poetry and the late, great Alasdair Gray.

HeraldScotland: The late artist Alasdair Gray.  Image: Colin Mearns / The HeraldThe late artist Alasdair Gray. Image: Colin Mearns / The Herald

Grimoire by Robin Robertson

Picador, £ 14.99

Magical and malevolent forces eerily weave through this sliver of “New Scottish Folk Tales” by the respected poet whose 2018 Booker shortlisted verse novel The Long Take. Here he uses Scots, Gaelic, and English and distills the spirit of vanished peoples who spoke freely of the selkies, changelings, and shapeshifters who populate these beautiful poems. Impressively illustrated by the author’s brother Tim Robertson, Grimoire is the perfect companion by the fireplace for winter nights.


Matt Haig’s Midnight Library

Canongate, £ 16.99

An uplifting and poignant novel about living parallel, overcoming regrets and finding hope that will stay with you long after the pages close. The feel-good book from 2020.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Fig tree, £ 14.99

If Generation X had Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw, then Nina Dean, the protagonist of the early 1930s in Ghosts, captures the essence of life for millennial women as they strive to break the circle of dating, friendships, family life, careers and Close getting older.


Love in color from Bolu Babalola

Heading: £ 16.99

This fascinating collection of short stories re-introduces folk tales from around the world – Nigerian legends to Greek myths – and celebrates romance in its innumerable forms.


Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish

Hodder & Stoughton, £ 20

Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish were supposed to be on VisitScotland’s behalf. This travelogue shows a colorful (and humorous) road trip through the Highlands – by RV, boat, kayak, motorcycle and tandem bike – as the chalk and cheese duo explores majestic landscapes, history, poetry, music and warfare.

HeraldScotland: Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish at Cawdor Castle during their Clanlands road trip.  Image: Peter SandgroundSam Heughan and Graham McTavish at Cawdor Castle during their Clanlands road trip. Image: Peter Sandground


James Martin’s Islands to the Highlands: 80 Fantastic Recipes from the British Isles

Quadrille, £ 25

Those looking for fresh culinary inspiration after the long months of lockdown will enjoy this collection of recipes gathered from Skye to the Isles of Scilly. In what James Martin calls Shetland’s paella and 1920s-style lip-smacking duck and orange with duchess potatoes, there’s a stunning cornucopia of seafood, a dish he rustled with Nick Nairn in the Royal Scotsman’s pantry.

The Seafood Shack: Food & Stories from Ullapool by Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick

Kitchen press, £ 20

Every day, Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick take whatever their fishing friends bring them and enjoy delicious dishes that draw locals and tourists alike to a tiny catering trailer in Ullapool. In this book, the duo shares their story and delicious recipes.

CONTINUE READING: Outlander star Sam Heughan shares his favorite spot in Scotland


A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough

Ebury, £ 20

Sir David Attenborough reflects on his incredible career in documenting the natural world as he exposes the severe environmental degradation and biodiversity loss that he has observed firsthand.

A brush with birds by Richard Weatherly

Hardie Grant, £ 30

If you are like us, bird watching in the garden is a popular pastime. This beautiful book allows the reader to spread their wings and share the artwork and remarkable life of the painter Richard Weatherly, who spent more than 50 years observing species around the world.


Between the Cover Pages: On Sex, Sociability, and Survival by Jilly Cooper

Bantam, £ 14.99

An amusing collection of essays and newspaper columns by the inimitable Jilly Cooper, on the doldrums of domesticity, from lamenting the boredom of endless socializing and dinner parties (remember these?) To pondering the dangers of looking after pets, of the Middle Ages and being a second wife.

CONTINUE READING: The 50 Best Books for Christmas (Part 2)


The Art of Tweed by Vixy Rae

Black & White, £ 14.99

A fascinating foray into the history of tweed – romance, nostalgia, style – by Edinburgh tailor Vixy Rae, who traces its history and legacy from the looms of Scotland’s last surviving mills and artisan weavers on Harris to its place on international estates Catwalks and urban fashion design.

HeraldScotland: Tailor Vixy Rae from EdinburghEdinburgh tailor Vixy Rae

Resident Dog (Volume 2) by Nicole England

Hardie Grant, £ 30

As an architecture and interior designer, Nicole England knows better than most how a dog can turn a house into a home. This great book captures the magic of these four-legged friends against the backdrop of breathtaking whereabouts.

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