FIVE GREAT BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS GIFTS
DECEMBER STORIES 1 Ian Sansom (No Alibis Press, £9.99)
Billed as ‘an antidote to the festive season’, Northern Irish writer Sansom offers a delicious selection of short stories, vignettes, meditations, poems and even the occasional recipe, all connected to the Christmas holiday, even if that connection is tangential. There are 31 helpings here, one for every day of the month, but far from tinsel and mince pies this collection ranges across The Clash, Mumsnet and terrible Christmas verse. A highly agreeable companion to the festive season, Sansom even sports impressively Santa-esque whiskers.
THE ART OF THE CITY: ROME, FLORENCE, VENICE Georg Simmel, trans. Will Stone (Pushkin Press, £12)
No longer the household name he perhaps should be, Georg Simmel was a Berlin-born writer and philosopher whose life spanned the late 19th and early
20th century, much of it spent travelling the continent giving lectures to packed houses. These three wonderful portraits of three of the continent’s most culturally rich cities are presented along with his essay The Metropolis And The Life Of The Spirit in an excellent translation by Will Stone, whose introduction prefaces this beautifully produced book from Pushkin Press.
(Faber & Faber, £10.99)
It’s five years this year since the death of Heaney and here his family realise an ambition the poet would never fulfil: a collection of his work that ranges across his entire output. There have been previous anthologies but never one as thorough as this, containing some of his best-known works as well as some that even keen Heaney readers might not have encountered before. A rich and thought-provoking exercise in the stillness and contemplation that Heaney brought to the world.
PEBBLES ON THE BEACH Clarence Ellis (Faber & Faber, £9.99)
A walk on the beach is, for anyone near the coast, a tremendous way of blowing away the Christmas cobwebs. Faber’s reissue of this charming guide first published during the 1950s is a cosy yet fascinating read, part geology, part guidebook, part history of the stones that make up our first line of defence against the sea. Reissued in a gorgeous paperback edition with an appreciative new introduction by Robert Macfarlane. SILENCE IN THE AGE OF NOISE Erling Kagge (Penguin, £8.99) Silence is usually something we don’t get much of at Christmas. The cacophony of Brexit discussion also makes a bit of peace and quiet a distinctly appealing prospect, and it’s something endorsed by Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge in this thought-provoking, immersive exploration of the power of silence. Kagge once spent 50 days crossing Antarctica with a broken radio, and presents profound insights on the benefit of silence, where to find it and how it can benefit our senses of ourselves and the world.