The Whitefox team recommend the books to gift this Christmas

By   Hannah Bickerton 5 min read

Silvia Crompton – Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

For me the perfect Christmas book is one you can imagine reading in front of a roaring fire in a Victorian library – something totally engrossing and slightly eerie. I’d like to recommend Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, which from the first few lines draws you into a strange and unsettling world of labyrinths and shadows whose only occupant, Piranesi, spends his days trying to understand where he is, why he’s there, and who’s started scrawling mysterious messages on the floor . . . A page-turner for dark wintry nights!

 

Jess King – Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

If you’re looking to cosy up by the fire and lose yourself in the nostalgia of student days, this is the book for you. As they navigate the highs and lows of life at university, Murakami’s characters are confronted with the harsh realities of growing up, including first loves and losses, loneliness and mental health struggles. References to the uplifting popular music scene of the 1960s offer moments of respite from the poignant, often melancholic, narrative, and descriptions of the contrasting urban and rural landscapes of Japan make this an especially alluring pick for those in search of a little armchair travel.

 

Hannah Bickerton – Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

My recommendation is Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. It’s beautifully written and printed, so great for a gift. The story is set in a remote Irish town over the Christmas period – it’s quite poignant but has such a thoughtful ending. I’m gifting it to one of my best friends who absolutely loves reading and is going to Ireland with her two year old over Christmas (you can read this book in under two hours).

 

Julia Koppitz – Fatherland by Burkhard Bilger

Fatherland by Burkhard Bilger is astonishing and incredibly immersive – Bilger, a staff writer for the New Yorker, writes with exquisite skill and grace. He was born to German immigrants who came to the United States just after the Second World War, and the book follows his search for the lost truth about his family. His grandfather, who trained as a teacher, became a Nazi who was involved in the occupation of an Alsatian town during the War, yet also saved families from deportation to concentration camps. Through Bilger’s research and sensitive exploration of German history broadly, and his own family’s history and complicity specifically, a more complex picture of his grandfather, and of a nation coming to terms with its collective responsibility and guilt, emerges.

 

Hannah Tatem – Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens

Blanca is a queer teenage ghost who died in a monastery in Mallorca in the 1400s. After centuries of haunting monks, Blanca falls in love with writer George Sand during her stay in Valldemossa with her lover, composer Frédéric Chopin, two children and a homesick maid. A lyrically written, genre-bending sapphic love story – what could be more delicious than that?

 

Caroline McArthur – Mad About the Boys by Lizzie Webb

This Christmas, in memory of the many mornings my mum followed ‘Mad Lizzie’s routines on TV-am, I’ll be giving her a copy of Lizzie Webb’s brilliant memoir Mad About the Boys. Not only are there plenty of stories about her time as the fitness queen of breakfast TV, Lizzie also talks about the incredible work she’s done over the years to help vulnerable children and adult offenders transform their lives. She’s a powerhouse and it’s a fantastic and inspiring read.

 

John Bond – Answered Prayers by Duncan Hamilton

I have bought four copies of Duncan Hamilton’s book Answered Prayers already and I’ve really only just begun. He is a genius sportswriter who has already won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award three times previously. Inexplicably, he hasn’t even been shortlisted this year, for possibly his best book detailing the historical, social and cultural context of the England 1966 Football World Cup tournament. It is a beautifully written, rather mournful examination of the country in the mid-1960s, looking forward from a decade of enormous change but also backwards, with England playing West Germany in the final and a stadium full of memories a mere twenty years or so after the end of the Second World War.

 

Rosie Pearce – Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin

Beautiful and heart-breaking in equal measure, Wandering Souls may not be an obvious festive choice, yet the characters that won’t leave you and the powerful depiction of immigration in Thatcher’s Britain make this a narrative that begs to be shared. The book follows three Vietnamese siblings who receive asylum in a cold and unwelcoming Britain, after losing half their family on the treacherous journey. Not only must they overcome their grief, but they must find their way and build new lives in a country that feels so far from home. A poignant story of love, loss, adversity and resilience.

 

Chris Wold – Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

There’s a very small list of books that I recommend to almost anyone as an amazing read and Golden Hill is consistently in this tight three- or four-book group. Set in 1746 in the tiny town of New York (an English and Dutch town), at the very southern tip of Manhattan Island, a stranger arrives from England with a promissory note for £1000 (a huge sum at the time). This is more currency than actually available on the whole of the island at the time, and is this unknown person legit? That has to be checked, which means letters to England, via ship, then answered and returned. In the meantime, this potential fraud/potential wealthy mystery man has to remain in New York, hosted by the people of this small New World town with various levels of acceptance, interest, romance and hostility. A great twist at the end will reframe everything.

 

Sarah Rouse – Free by Lea Ypi

Lea Ypi’s Free is a stirring and superbly told memoir; one that recounts Ypi’s coming of age in Albania during the collapse of communism. I recommend this to all my politically inclined friends – and who wouldn’t want to immediately devour a book that opens with the line: ‘I never asked myself about the meaning of freedom until the day I hugged Stalin’?

 

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.