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



Christmas Is Val McDermid’s Murder

Sphere, 10£

This beautiful Christmas volume includes an eerie series of short stories about crime. The girl who killed Santa, a jealous ghost novelist, and the literary detective duo of Val McDermid, Dr. Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan have dazzling characters. Not to mention his own Sherlock Holmes.

Val McDermid on her “weird” holiday traditions and why she enjoys the mysteries of Christmas

Nancy Campbell’s Fifty Words For Snow

Elliott & Thompson, 12.99 pounds.

In frozen landscapes, a fun compendium that brings together language, culture, and adventure by illustrating the meanings of 50 words for snow from around the world.

At the Island Hotel Christmas by Jenny Colgan

Sphere, 14,99 GBP

This cozy novel follows a brother and sister as they attempt to rebuild a dilapidated hotel with Christmas just around the corner, set on the fictional Scottish island of Mure (Jenny Colgan says she took inspiration from Lewis, Bute, Harris, Orkney, and Shetland).

Murder by Ada Moncrieff Most Festive

Vintage, 7,99 GBP

After a Christmas Eve party, a body lies in the snow outside a country house. Nearby, there’s a rifle and just a single footprint in the snow.

Murder by Ada Moncrieff Most Festive

But is the case as clear as it appears? In this 1930s mystery, amateur detective Hugh Gaveston vows to work out the facts.

At Christmas, the 50 Best Books to Read (Part 2)

Christmas by Carole Matthews for Beginners

Sphere, 14,99 GBP

They say you should never deal with kids or animals, meaning it is not for the faint of heart to make a nativity tableau on a farm. But in this cute Christmas tale, there’s a fun plot! (opening line: “One of the alpacas ate baby Jesus”).


One Through One by Ruth Ware

Secker of Harvill, £ 12.99.

A modern homage to the classic mystery novel by Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None. A quarreling party is trapped after an avalanche in a remote ski chalet in this suspenseful thriller. Fear and fear set in as it becomes apparent that among them is a murderer.

Francine Toon’s Pine

Doubleday, 12,99 GBP

A modern gothic thriller that harkens back to the author’s own Highland childhood, says Francine Toon: “One day I imagined a road leading through a bleak, hilly landscape in Sutherland, and a woman standing by a passing place dressed only in a robe.”


The Roots of Evil by Quintin Jardine

Headline, £20

Edinburgh has no shortage of great literary detectives, and among them is Bob Skinner, a popular character who has graced the pages of Quintin Jardine’s crime novels since 1993. The latest installment in this long-running series – the 32nd if you’re counting – begins on New Year’s Day. Two men lie dead. Both are known to Skinner. A twisted tale of dark secrets and deception begins.


The Savage Silence by Raynor Winn

Michael Joseph, £14.99

In 2018, Raynor Winn wrote The Salt Path, a compelling memoir in which she describes how she and her husband, Moth, hiked a 630-mile stretch of windswept, sea-washed coastline in southwest England. The couple had been evicted from their home and Moth was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease. The Wild Silence reveals what happened next.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Viking, £35

This thick first volume of the President’s memoirs traces Barack Obama’s early political ambitions, the grassroots activism that set him on the path to the White House, and the turning point in 2008 when he was elected President of the United States.

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

It highlights the decision-making processes during his first term, when he passed the Affordable Care Act, tackled Wall Street reform and authorized Operation Neptune’s Spear, which led to the death of Osama bin Laden.

I Am an Island by Tamsin Calidas

Doubleday, £16.99

A harrowingly honest and unforgettable memoir recounting the tumultuous journey as Tamsin Calidas brings a derelict homestead on a Hebridean island – and herself – back to life.

Olive, Mabel and Me by Andrew Cotter

Black & White, £20

Sportscaster Andrew Cotter’s hilarious comments about his dogs Olive and Mabel were a much-needed tonic during the lockdown.

Sports presenter Andrew Cotter with his dogs Olive and Mabel.

The clips went viral and gained a legion of fans around the world. This is a heartwarming and funny


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