What We’d Buy For… Christmas Gift Guide 2018

Seasons greetings all and welcome to our 2018 Christmas Gift Guide! where we tell you what books we’re giving (and would love to get) in the hope of making such decision-making less painful for the rest of you!

You really can’t go wrong in buying a book for Christmas, so browse and enjoy…


A book I’d give… 

Hold Tight by Jeffrey Boakye
(Influx Press, 9781910312414, p/b, £9.99)

My mate Jake really likes Grime and also books, so Hold Tight would be perfect for him. So perfect, in fact, that he might already own it – but it’s the thought that counts, right? (Yes Jake, it is. It is!) Besides, this new edition has new chapters, a new cover, and a shiny new introduction by author Jeffrey Boakye, so it’s super up-to-date. 

A book I’d like to get myself … 


131 Different Things by Nick Zinner, Zachary Lipez & Stacy Wakefield
(Akashic Books, 9781617756672, h/b, £24.99)

Since I arrived in London this time five years ago, a lot of my friends have been ranting romantics, music obsessives, barflies and bartenders. Poets, essentially – by trade or by temperament. 131 Different Things would be a great gift for any one of them, then… but I’m going to be a brat and request it for myself instead. Featuring photographs by Nick Zinner of the actual Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Zachary Lipez’s novella sends New York bartender Sam on a quest through the Lower East Side as he tries to track down his recently relapsed one true love amidst dive bars and dominatrixes. It also helps that the book is set in 2006 (probably the last year before the iPhone made it much more difficult to genuinely lose track of someone), which means it takes place bang in the middle of my beloved 00s indie/garage rock revival. I’m kind of jealous that I didn’t write this, but I’ll happily receive it instead.


A book I’d give…

9781910566312.jpgThe East End in Colour by David Granick
(Hoxton Mini Press, 9781910566312, h/b, £16.95)

I’m going to get this tribute to the East End for my London-born dad. This collection of images from 1960-1980 captures this area of London in beautiful, warm-toned Kodachrome at a time when black and white was the norm. The perfect gift for anyone, but especially someone who remembers the East End how it was.


No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear
(Soho Press, 9781616959340, p/b, £9.99)

My sister is a huge fan of fictionalised true crime, which is a rather specific genre. Fortunately, No Saints in Kansas fits that description to a bloody t – dramatising the events of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood through the eyes of a local teenager.

A book I’d like to get myself…

About Trees by Katie Holten
(Broken Dimanche Press, 9783943196306, p/b, £24.99)

It might be because I am a recent-ish transplant from the Countryside, but lately I’ve been obsessed with trees. As it’s winter now and I miss the leaves brightening everything up, I’d like someone to get me this ode to all things arboreal, beautifully-produced and packaged by Broken Dimanche Press. Also recently loved by the wonderful Jeff Vandermeer: “Katie Holten’s book About Trees is a beautiful revelation, a calming and wonderful source of comfort and inspiration from the green world all around us. I love it so much.” Sold! Or gifted. Thank you.


A book I’d give…


Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin
(Reel Art Press, 9781909526501, h/b, £49.95)

My father-in-law is a HUGE Led Zeppelin fan so xmas this year is a cinch! The only problem was obfuscating its existence from him for so long. The photography and the stories are so incredible that even those with just a passing interest to the greatest band of all time can’t fail to be impressed by the size and scope of this mega book. This is the first and only illustrated book ever to be produced in full collaboration with the band, celebrating their 50 years with over 300 colour photographs from photographers around the world, and pictures from the band’s private collections along with rare and unseen artwork from the Led Zeppelin archives, and fascinating documents and images from Atlantic Records’ vault.

A book I’d like to get myself…


The Plains by Gerald Murnane; introduction by Ben Lerner
(Text, 9781925355901, h/b, £14.99)

This new edition of Gerald Murnane’s 1982 novel The Plains, with an introduction by Ben Lerner, was published last year but I haven’t gotten around to it before now so I’ll be giving it to myself this xmas to ensure that I finally get to read it! I have heard the most incredible things about this novel and it is a very striking looking edition, a story of families living on the plains – their obsessions with their land, history, culture and mythology – and a man who enters their world. Murnane has been hotly tipped as a future Nobel laureate, so I’m getting in there now so I can brag about being ahead of the curve when he wins.


A book I’d give…

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My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
(Europa Editions, 9781787701748, p/b, £12.99)

Since making its TV debut last month people from around the world have been tuning in to watch the HBO adaptation of My Brilliant Friend – including my mum, who has promptly fallen in love with the show. Only right then that she gets to experience the first of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels as it was originally intended, the literary sensation that took the world by storm, only a few years ago sweeping up millions in a global #FerranteFever that continues to persist today. Set in 1950s Naples, it tells the story of an unbreakable friendship between two girls, the story of a nation, and is a powerful meditation on the nature of friendship.

A book I’d like to get myself…


OTOMO: A Global Tribute to the Mind Behind Akira by Various
(Kodansha Comics, 9781632365224, h/b, £29.99)

It took me all of two hours and five minutes to become a massive fan of Akira, or rather the run-time for the 1988 anime adaptation of Otomo’s amazing manga, which I finally got around to watching this year! Since then I’ve dove into the manga itself and would like nothing more than to receive this beauty of an art book for Christmas. Otomo’s cyberpunk dystopia took Japan by storm when it first debuted, and the film would go on to be responsible for transforming Japanese animation into the global pop phenomenon it is today. Only fitting then that illustrators and comics artists from around the world have come together to pay tribute to his work. Sadly, my family are mostly anime illiterate, so I can look forward to a Star Wars-themed mug this year instead!


A book I’d give…

Sketchtasy by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551527291, p/b, £14.99)

This past summer I was hanging out with some pals and they suggested we start a queer book club. I’ve worked in books for 10+ years but I’ve never been part of a book club, and maybe I’ve been missing out! I love talking about books and drinking wine and eating snacks! So in the spirit of this blog post, I would buy Sketchtasy for all my potential book club members. Firstly because it’s incredibly enjoyable – it’s miss-your-stop-on-the-tube good. Secondly, because it gives us so much to talk about. The voice of its protagonist, Alexa, is razor sharp and glittering and it ricochets around at breakneck speed. Set in Boston in the 90s, the novel deals with some weighty topics such as homophobia, sexual abuse, and the looming AIDS epidemic, each explored with genuine emotion and perspective. The characters are wildly authentic and shimmering; I would like to drink cocktails with all of them. And there are a lot of drugs involved, enough to make your heart flutter. Basically it’s an ideal choice for my as-yet imaginary book club, and an ideal gift for my friends.

A book I’d like to get myself:

Jaime Hernandez: Fantagraphics Studio Edition by Jaime Hernandez
(Fantagraphics, 9781606999967, h/b, £150)

Here is something stupidly beautiful and gratuitous that I would very much like to own. It might cost £150, but it’s literally like stepping inside Jaime Hernandez’s very own studio. It’s gigantic, and it contains 200 pages of raw art at the size it was created. SWOON. Maggie and Hopey are my longest-running literary crushes, and this is just a very very good-looking object that would make the perfect present, should someone I know be reading this who likes me.

New books for the new year! If you enjoyed this write up be sure to check out what we’re looking forward to come 2019.

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