Still looking for the perfect gift for the bookworm in your life? Or maybe you are selecting which books will accompany your holiday travels? The book lovers at Ultimate Library have put forward their favourite, slightly unusual festive reads (you won’t find A Christmas Carol on this list!). Here’s our list of the best books to give at Christmas.

Best books Christmas - a winter book

Winter Book by Tove Jansson

Jansson is maybe best known as the creator and illustrator of the Moomins, her adult fiction has more recently been translated into English and the short stories gathered in the Winter Book are crystalline gems. In the words of Ali Smith this book is “written with such a lightness of touch that it seems miraculous, these stories are a further exploration of Tove Jansson’s heart-warming genius.” Just when you feel too cold to go on reading of Finnish winters, you can fall into Jansson’s Summer Book for an elegiac account of childhood, nature and growing old.



Best books Christmas - Hercule Poirot's Christmas

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie (Audiobook)

For those who like to listen to their books, indulge in audio book this Christmas. They’re the perfect companion for present wrapping. Sometimes you just need the comfort of one of the all-time masters of mystery, so why not combine a classic convoluted plot by Christie with an atmospheric Christmas setting. When Simeon Lee invites his three children home for Christmas, no one expects that he will end the night violently murdered in his locked office. The only detective up to the task of unravelling this mystery is the inimitable Hercule Poirot.


Best books to give at Christmas - A childs christmas

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

This treasured prose poem, steeped in nostalgia and memory, was originally written for the BBC before it was published after Thomas’s death at 39.  Thomas revisits Christmas’s of his youth, celebrated in Swansea with the wide-eyed perspective of his young self. Timeless, full of detail and the comfort of traditions, A Child’s Christmas in Wales is the perfect book to read before bed on Christmas Eve.






Best books to give at Christmas - on grand strategy

On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis

In this collection of essays that cover Herodotus, Machiavelli, Elizabeth I, Tolstoy, Lincoln and FDR , the pre-eminent Cold War Historian and Pulitzer Prize winner, examines the art of leadership. At a time of year when we generally take stock of our lives and look to the year ahead, this book is a lively masterclass in political and military strategy written in an economical prose style, showcasing Gaddis’ deep knowledge of history. 


Best books to give at Christmas - the wolves of willoughby

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aitken

Originally published in 1962, Wolves has become a beloved classic of children’s literature. Set in an alternative England of the early 19th century, two plucky girls must thwart the villainy of their governess, Miss Slighcarp, and their teacher Mrs. Brisket. The action takes place in perpetually snowy landscapes, accompanied by the haunting howls of packs of wolves terrorising the forests.


Best books to give at Christmas - the merry spinster

 The Merry Spinster by Daniel Mallory Ortberg 

These daring and radically queer retellings of classic folk tales, constructed with a spirited puzzle-box intelligence, will fascinate and terrify you. Ortberg returns former Disney favourites to their subversive and bloodthirsty origins – as whimsical as they are sinister and most definitely NOT for children.




Best books to give at Christmas - ICE

Ice by Anna Kavan

A surreal and chilling plunge into the icy darkness of the human mind and heart as The Warden and Narrator search desolate landscapes, beset by slow-creeping apocalypse, for an elusive girl. Hallucinatory and innovative, “Ice” is a force of nature, suffused with deathly beauty.




Best books to give at Christmas - harry Potter

Harry Potter: The Collection by J K Rowling 

Christmas has a way of bringing out your sense of wonder and childlike joy. Returning to Hogwarts with Harry, Ron, and Hermione can inspire the similar nostalgia. Combine Christmas and Harry Potter and you will feel all the feels. Each book in the series is punctuated with a Hogwarts Christmas celebration complete with handknit sweaters, Bertie Bott’s Everyflavour Beans and a feast in the Great Hall. Let’s be honest; like comfort food on a hangover, Harry Potter at Christmas is always a good idea.