What We’d Buy For… Christmas Gift Guide 2019

What do you want for Christmas? Here at Turnaround we’d predictably prefer books, so to ring in the festive season, read what we’re giving (and what we’d really like to get) this year for some wonderful recommendations.


A book I’d give…

An Opinionated Guide to East London / London Architecture / Vegan London by Hoxton Mini Press
(Hoxton Mini Press, 9781910566459 / 9781910566558 / 9781910566565, £9.95 each)

Now in a tidy trilogy, Hoxton Mini Press’s Opinionated Guides are the perfect travel companions for anyone visiting London. I have a vegan friend who visits the city often, and is constantly looking for new places and spaces, so this is perfect for him. But frankly these pocket guides, which collectively collect fifty four of London’s best buildings, over fifty of the best vegan eateries, and a whopping sixty five places to eat, sleep, shop and drink in East London, are a must-have for experienced city folk and visitors alike.

A book I’d like to get…

The Witcher Omnibus by Paul Tobin, Joe Querio, Piotr Kowalksi, Max Bertolini et al (Dark Horse, 9781506713946, £20.99)

Okay, so Henry Cavill in a bathtub is more than anyone can ask for this Christmas, with an entire eight episodes of live-action Witcher content to go with it only being the icing on the cake. Yet still I want more, particularly this lavish new omnibus edition of Dark Horse’s Witcher comics, complete with a match-made-in-heaven cover by none other than Hellboy‘s Mike Mignola. Starring our favourite monster hunter Geralt of Rivia and penned by the Eisner Award-winning Paul Tobin, these are glorious tales of monsters and magic, the perfect fireside read on a cold winter’s evening.


A book I’d give…

The Summer of Dead Birds by Ali Liebegott
(Feminist Press, 9781936932504, £15.99)

A queer gem of a book for a queer gem of a friend? Check.

Exploring the toll of mental illness and grief on romantic partnerships through a lesbian lens, The Summer of Dead Birds may not sound like a nice Christmas gift, but I reckon my fellow queer depressed friend will find it comforting. Or maybe I just think that because I gave them Grief is the Thing With Feathers last year and they loved it. Whatever the final word on my (questionable) gift-buying may be, The Summer of Dead Birds is a cathartic read as much as a depressing one. With Maggie Nelson, Eileen Myles, Michelle Tea and Sam Sax (and me!) all saying it is excellent, I’m sure it’s perfect for my (and your) queer depressed friend.

A book I’d like to get…

Ursula K. Le Guin: The Last Interview & Other Conversations edited by David Streitfeld (Melville House, 9781612197791, £12.99)

You know that feeling when a book articulates something so well it changes the way you think? That’s how I felt when I when I finished The Dispossessed (Orion, latest ed. 2019). Needless to say, Ursula Le Guin very quickly became one of my all-time greatest literary heroes. This book collects 40 years of insights, interviews and conversations with Le Guin, ranging from light-hearted chats about her work style to profound debates over the nature of capitalism. It offers a fascinating insight into Le Guin’s mind, and I would simply love to read it.


A book I’d give…

More Rivals of Sherlock Holmes edited by Nick Rennison
(No Exit Press, 9780857302601, £9.99)

Here’s the thing: my old man doesn’t read. Unless you count motorcycle magazines, I suppose, or the first 13 pages of The Hobbit back in 2001. He doesn’t even read the stuff that I write, which is why I can talk about him here, safe in the knowledge that he will never, ever come across it (Sorry, Dad). But! You know what he has read? Sherlock Holmes. The whole lot! So I think maybe More Rivals of Sherlock Holmes could be the book for him. Or at least a book for him. In this volume, Nick Rennison highlights fifteen under-acknowledged contemporaries of the great detective – which is perfect, because that means my Dad can read them in stages, dipping in and out as he likes.

A book I’d like to get…

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq
(Penguin Canada, 9780143198055, £12.99)

Even though the title makes me feel like I’ve bit into an iced lolly with my front teeth, I really want to get my hands on Split Tooth. Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq’s debut novel is a blend of poetry, prose and contemporary mythology that explores the blurred boundaries between good and evil, real and unreal. Also, as an added bonus, the cover is by Love & Rockets’ Jaime Hernandez, who has also drawn ten illustrations for the book. Lovely, eh?


A book I’d give…

All Good Things: A Treasury of Images to Uplift the Spirits and Reawaken Wonder by Stephen Ellcock
(September Publishing, 9781912836000, £20)

For: my scrapbooking, Instagram-curating, artist friend.

This glorious, captivating compilation is drawn from the many hundreds of images Stephen Ellcock has collected in his curatorial career. Taking its title from the very first encyclopaedia, Omne Bonum (All Good Things), the chapters have such intriguing names as THE FIRMAMENT, THE FACE OF THE WATERS, and THE REALM OF SCIENCE AND THE SENSES. A wealth of imagery is collected into these sections, comprising a true visual journey with moments of serendipity as images from entirely different sources are presented beside each other, reflecting and contrasting. In one spread an illuminated manuscript with an illustration of deer by an unknown artist shares space with a colourful painting of monkeys and foliage from 1910, while in another a relief carving of a cobra from Ancient Egypt reflects the snakes across the page on a painted Iranian tile from the nineteenth century. All Good Things is a monument to the image-making instinct that has obsessed humanity since the very beginning, and a font of inspiration that I think my friend will treasure.

A book I’d like to get…

Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains by Chad Oppenheim, Andrea Gollin et al
(Tra Publishing, 9781732297869, £62.99)

For: Me, who almost became an architect and has an unhealthy obsession with paper stock and special printing methods.

Lair is a fascinating book that seeks to answer the question: Why do bad guys live in good houses? It examines the dwellings of villains from such films as Blade Runner 2049, Star Wars: A New Hope, The Incredibles, and The Spy Who Loved Me through film stills, interviews with the designers involved, and beautifully-rendered architectural drawings. Also included is a series of essays from Chad Oppenheim and others exploring the role of architecture in film and cinematic villainy. I’ve seen this book in person and it’s a sight to behold: oversized, weighty, and printed in silver ink on thick black paper. The effect is villainous, incredible, and extremely covetable.

What books are you asking for this Christmas? Let us know in the comments!

Plus for the ultimate gift for children and adults alike see our Book of the Month, The Nature of Play.

2 thoughts on “What We’d Buy For… Christmas Gift Guide 2019

  1. Oh wow, the Lair book looks amazing. I’ve always wanted to live in one of those cool post modern houses that are in the films. Unfortunately I’ve never become an evil villain or just plain rich. Well, life goals I guess?

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