HILARY Mantel’s Booker Prize-winners Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies are so absorbing that it doesn’t matter if you are lying on a beach or reclining in a ski lodge: you will immediately be plunged into the mud and blood and love and lust of the court of Henry VIII, and the mind of his remarkable (in Mantel’s hands) adviser Thomas Cromwell. If you’ve been waiting to read these superbly written pageturners, here’s your chance. Weird title but outstanding book: Laurent Binet’s HHhH, a novel about the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich, and about an author writing a book about the Czech partisans who carried out the daring hit. Probably the best novel I read this year. Ben Elton’s Two Brothers, about ‘‘ twins’’ (one is adopted) growing up in Germany as Hitler comes to power (a popular setting!), is a long and mostly cracking read perfect for the holidays. I’d also press it on the teenage reader in your life. Thinking of younger readers reminds us that JK Rowling published her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, a book you could knock over in the holidays and so have an informed opinion on the merits of her prose.