THE EDITING ESSENTIALS BLOG

Last-minute book gifts for Christmas

Christmas book gift ideas for writers and editors
OK, it’s the first week in December and you’re surrounded by smug, organised people who’ve had all their presents bought and wrapped for weeks.
Every year I harbour this idea that I’m going to be super-organised and have everything bought, if not wrapped, by the end of November.
Not once have I managed this. Not. Once.
I often turn to lists of ideas in the hope of finding inspiration. So, in order to spare you the horror of a last-minute desperation dash around the shops, here are some literary suggestions for the budding writer or book lover in your life. And you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your chair (or the mince pie that’s keeping you company) if you want to avoid the crowds!

For aspiring writers

On Writing, by Stephen King
Whether or not you like Stephen King’s novels (I’m a fan), On Writing is recognised as a hugely valuable introduction to the basics of the craft of writing. 
Combining his autobiography with lessons on plot, paragraph structure and dialogue, and assignments for you to work on, you see how his life events and his writing career are inextricably linked.
An essential for any budding fiction writer.
The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Stephen Pinker
A good-humoured guide to good writing and why style still matters, this book is ideal for any lover of the English language who wants to understand more about the art of writing in the 21st century.
Be warned – parts of it are quite challenging. Pinker includes the latest research on cognitive science and linguistics, and if you weren’t taught it at school, then the chapter on syntax deserves careful attention.
   Troublesome Words,  by Bill Bryson
 A wonderfully accessible guide to those thorny word issues that many of us struggle with.
Be aware that you’ll dip into it to find out once and for all whether you should use imply or infer, and find yourself reading page after page of clear and humorous explanations long after you’ve forgotten why you picked it up in the first place!

What shall I read?

When you struggle to find something to read, it helps when someone has thoughtfully written a book giving you plenty of suggestions!
The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies, by Ella Berthoud
If you don’t know what to read next, this book has the perfect answer for every situation, whether you hate your nose (read Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, one of my all-time favourites) or you have writer’s block (read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith).
There are also handy lists of The ten best novels… which cover everything from to make you weep to to read on a train and for going cold turkey (after the excesses of Christmas, perhaps?).

For foodies (and cocktail lovers) who read …

A perfect size for a stocking filler or an easy-to-post gift for someone far away, these books are also a great stand-by for those moments when you need a gift unexpectedly!
Scone with the Wind: Cakes and Bakes with a Literary Twist, by Miss Victoria Sponge

I bought this for my daughter last year and it was a huge hit – the titles are funny and the recipes are actually useful, ranging from classics such as the eponymous Scone with the Wind, to the more adventurous To Kill a Battenburg. It has now gone off to university with her!
Tequila Mockingbird (Rough Cut), by Tim Federle
​This was a big hit with a friend when I gave it to her for her birthday.
There are 65 drink recipes with a literary theme, with notes on the book in question, drinking games and suggestions for bar bites.
Personal favourites are The Last of the Mojitos and The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose!

Send me a letter …

I just love peeking into someone else’s life, and nothing allows you to do that quite like the letters they write.
Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
 A delicious collection of notes and letters from across the centuries, you’ll be hard-pushed to choose a favourite. Mine is from Francis Crick to his 12-year-old son, in which he describes how he has discovered the structure of DNA. The original letter sold for $6 million in 2013!
The reproduction of the original letters alongside the transcript is a treat – you can see how truly varied handwriting is, and how awful it can be!
I hope you found something useful here that appeals to your bookworm! Do you have other suggestions for interesting last-minute book gifts? Let me know in the comments.
​In the interests of being open and honest, this page contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase through them. I only ever feature books that I have read and would recommend myself.

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