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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

‘I don’t think I’ve ever been so utterly captivated by a novel! Completely unforgettable feisty, feminist characters, a Georgian London I can virtually see (and smell), delightful language, sentences I wanted to read out loud and scenes I’ll never forget. Imogen Hermes Gowar is an amazing talent, and this, the bestselling literary debut of 2018, deserves to be beautifully wrapped up under many Christmas trees this season. Give it to anyone who wants to disappear into a mesmeric story and escape the world for a time.’ 

Chosen by Chloe Healy, Marketing Director

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

‘The minute I read the opening scene of Ordinary People by Diana Evans, I was hooked. Her descriptions of south London left me breathless, and with a renewed excitement for the place I grew up. As I went on, that breathlessness continued; the characterisation of the two very normal couples at the heart of the novel is fresh and relatable, and each of their stories is as beautiful as they are sharp. Ordinary People is one to be given to your parents; the ones who need to be reminded that there is real beauty and grit in the questions the mundane sparks in us.’

 Chosen by Candice Carty-Williams, Marketing Manager

21 Lessons for The 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

‘To paraphrase Danny Dyer’s eloquent take on Brexit, no one’s got a clue what’s going on around the world at the moment. Professor Yuval Harari doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century he addresses some of the key issues – technology, politics, education, war, religion – and provides us with some of the questions we should be asking, of ourselves and others. Because, like all great educators, he realises that it’s only in the asking and searching that we begin to discover answers. Give it to an adolescent: their generation is going to spend their entire life in the 21st century; they might want to be prepared.’

Chosen by Joe Pickering, Publicity Director

So Much Life Left Over by Louis de Bernieres

'If you're looking for a transportive read, look no further. You may know him best from his bestselling novel, Captain Corelli's Mandolin - and  So Much Life Left Over is just as good. The book opens in 1920s Sri Lanka, a setting so beautifully drawn you'll be able hear the rustle of mango trees and smell the sweet scent of tea plants in the air. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful novel about how to build a life after war, and how to navigate a marriage in the face of personal trauma and political upheaval. Pro tip: have a box of tissues at the ready and some Ceylon Tea to hand whilst reading!'

Chosen by Mia Quibell-Smith, Press Officer

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

'”It's only poor people end up going to prison.” One of my favourite interviews this year on the VINTAGE podcast was my chat with Rachel Kushner, author of The Mars Room. I was immediately struck by her careful wit and measured authorial eye, that seems to see everything but negates judgement. The book is a look at the life of Romy, a former stripper who is serving two consecutive life sentences for killing her stalker. It’s also a look at the invisible lives of the citizens society has turned their backs on, the structural momentum that complicates the word ‘guilty’ and a sharp criticism of the US prison-industrial complex. Rachel won a spot on the Man Booker Prize shortlist this year, an accolade thoroughly deserved. The book is as tough, empathetic and insightful as its author, once you finish it you’ll want to immediately press it into a friends hands and whisper ‘this’.’

Chosen by Leena Normington, Content Producer

 

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

Bookworm epitomises all that is magical and life-changing about books and reading. Guardian journalist Lucy Mangan – self-confessed and life-long bookworm – delves into the bookshelves and libraries of her childhood and takes us down the rabbit holes and womble burrows of her childhood. It’s gloriously nostalgic and has provoked fierce debate in many households about which are the best books for younger readers; it’s also a timely reminder of the importance of libraries and reading. For bookworms everywhere – and a handy guide for parents wondering what to read with their children.’

Chosen by Rosanna Boscawen, Senior Campaigns Manager

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

‘There’s a reason why myths and legends are still talked about, thousands of years after they were first shared. They give us iconic heroes and villains, and they ask questions that never stop being relevant. Everything Under by Daisy Johnson is a brilliantly observed portrait of family tension, deteriorating mental health and modern rural life, tinged with unsettling English magic. It revisits a Classical myth in a way that feels arrestingly fresh, and invites us to think again about the shifting nature of identity. This is a gift to plunge the reader into a strange new place, perfect for someone who wants to see our everyday world in a very different way.’

 Chosen by Kate Neilan, Marketing Co-ordinator

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

‘As the nights draw in, we feel the need to be immersed. We want something to wander in and wonder at. Haruki Murakami’s latest novel meets these demands and then some. It’s a rich and meandering mediation on life, love and art, replete with lonely spaces and mysterious figures. Once you emerge, time will have passed and the world will seem strangely different. Give it to someone who needs to disconnect.’

Chosen by Will Smith, Senior Creative Manager

The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson

‘The Language of Kindness is eye-opening. An alarmingly powerful, beautiful, vital love letter to the NHS and insider-view into life as a nurse. There’s nothing more universal than caring, and this book encourages us all to learn from the selflessness and kindness of nurses. I read each page as carefully as I could, wanting to absorb this message of such huge importance. Gift it to someone you love – everyone should read this book.

‘It isn’t just Christie Watson’s account of her 20 years as a nurse in the NHS; it’s a rallying cry for everyone to show more humanity to those around them. From mental health wards to intensive care and from paediatrics to A&E, Christie’s urgent and compelling voice shows us the extremes that exist within everyday life and offers up compassion as the salve for some of life’s most painful experiences. Buy it for everyone you know – we could all do with a little more kindness, especially at Christmas.

Chosen by Anna Redman, Publicity Manager, and Sapphire Rees, Publicity Assistant

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

‘Since reading Warlight I’ve not been able to get it out of my head, nor wanted to. Ondaatje, best known perhaps for The English Patient, writes so beautifully, with such depth and dreamlike melancholy – I was completely lost in the life and memories of Nathanial, the central character. The story starts in London in 1945. Nathaniel and his sister are mysteriously abandoned by their parents and left in the care of a dubious friend, through which they fall into an eccentric crew of criminal misfits. All is not as it seems, and Nathanial, as an adult, starts to uncover just exactly what happened to his mother. Intelligence agencies, code breaking, puzzles and mysteries – this book has everything. Give it for anyone that loves a good story. I’ll be giving a copy to my dad.’

Chosen by Hattie Adam-Smith, Brand Director

VINTAGE Christmas reading