Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, edited by Otto Penzler (Head of Zeus, £25)

A thumping doorstop of a book full of festive mysteries from the likes of Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter and Sara Paretsky. Given that it's the best part of 800 pages in length it should keep you entertained well into the New Year.

Past Tense by Lee Child (Bantam Press, £20)

Because sometimes you want to believe there's a hero like Jack Reacher out there who can make everything better, right?


Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami (Harvill Secker, £20)

The cultiest author in the world returns with a new novel. Hurrah.

The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story, edited by Philip Hensher (Allen Lane, £20)

When you're busy wrapping presents and cooking Christmas dinner there's no time to read 600-page epics. This anthology contains stories from the likes of Ali Smith, Sarah Hall, Irvine Welsh, Lucy Caldwell. All our favourite writers, in other words.

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park (Bloomsbury, £8.99)

If there was any justice in the world this slim novel would be on everybody's Christmas list. Northern Ireland's David Park may well be the most underrated writer on these islands. This story of a wintry journey from Belfast to Sunderland via Stranraer is a beautifully crafted meditation on life and its damages. Up there with the best of Bernard MacLaverty.

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (Granta, £12.99)

A teenager joins her parents for a course in "experimental archaeology" re-enacting Iron Age life. Haunting the narrative is the story of a bog girl who was sacrificed within the very same landscapes centuries earlier. A spell-binding tale awaits within this slender novel.

Cassandra Darke by Posy Simmonds (Jonathan Cape, £16.99)

There is no greater holiday gift than a new graphic novel by Posy Simmonds. Set at Christmas, it offers a dark comic vision of contemporary life. And the artwork is exquisite.


Sincerity by Carol Ann Duffy (Picador, £14.99)

Carol Ann Duffy's last collection as poet laureate is full of artfully-expressed anger (about Trump and Grenfell among other things). But there's love in it too. Duffy finds the right words for both.


Library of Ice by Nancy Campbell (Scribner, £14.99)

Once more to the frozen north. The frozen south too. Poet and author Nancy Campbell has travelled to the iciest corners of the world (when she's not in the Bodleian Library in Oxford). Expect glaciers, ice, snow and the Kinross Curling Club.

The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare (Elliott & Thompson, £12.99)

A frosty read full of bitter weather and blue moods as the author takes refuge from depression in the winter landscape and the pages of his diary. The words burn like the first cold day of the year and reading it you can feel your breath freeze in sympathy.

Animal, Exploring the Zoological World (Phaidon, £39.95)

From cave paintings to digital micro-photography, a visual survey of mankind's fascination with the animals we share the planet with.

Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori, illustrated by Lucille Clerc (Laurence King, £17.99)

This arboreal-themed delight takes the reader on a botanical adventure that traverses science, history and culture. Species featured range from familiar beech, horse chestnut and rowan to the exotic and extraordinary: an exploding sandbox tree. The accompanying illustrations are stunning.


Vogue X Music by Editors of American Vogue (Abrams, £50)

The Beatles through the lens of Richard Avedon. Adele captured by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Beyonce as seen by Mario Testino. This trip through American Vogue's photographic archives is full of treasures.

Kate by Mario Sorrenti (Phaidon, £79.95)

In the summer of 1991 the photographer Mario Sorrenti met a model called Kate Moss. A few weeks later they met again at a party and hung out together all night. For the next two years they were inseparable.

Those two years are catalogued in this book. The intimate result is a vision of being young and in love.


Lucian Freud by Martin Gayford, David Dawson and Mark Holborn (Phaidon, £395)

This two-volume slip-cased celebration of the greatest British painter of the 20th century (Francis Bacon may have other ideas about that, of course, but anyone mumbling Peter Howson right now can see me after class) is, at a fiver off £400, very much a luxury item. Still, if there's an artist who deserves high-end treatment it's Freud. This handsome thing does him proper justice.

Andy Warhol "Giant" Size (Phaidon, £29.95)

The life and work of the 20th-century's most influential artist caught between two covers.


You're on an Airplane by Parker Posey (Virago, £18.99)

That's Parker Posey. Star of Dazed and Confused, You've Got Mail, and the third instalment of both the Scream and Blade horror franchises. She's written a book about life and acting. And it's genuinely funny: "Jesus was my first crush. How could he not have been?"

My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen (Blink Publishing, £20)

Singer-songwriter Lily Allen lays bare her life in a controversial and no-holds-barred memoir. Unflinching and raw, it charts her rise to stardom as well as sex, stalkers and self-loathing.


The New Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan (Bloomsbury, £12.99)

The author's 2015 book The Silk Road: A New History of the World has sold more than a million copies in the last three years. Now he returns with a follow-up that looks at how the Silk Roads that connect Europe to China and the Middle East remain very much in place even in this time of Trump and Brexit. One for all armchair politicians.


Mr & Mrs Smith's Presents the World's Sexiest Bedrooms (Thames & Hudson, £29.95)

Planning a New Year getaway? Here is a catalogue of 35 of the world's seductive hotel rooms; Italian palazzos, Australian islands, Parisian spas, four-poster beds, free-standing baths and the finest cotton bedsheets as recommended by travel experts Mr and Mrs Smith (aka James and Tamara Lohan). Hotel porn in other words.

How to Build a Shed by Sally Coulthard (Laurence King, £14.99)

What grown-up doesn't dream of their own little oasis to retreat from the world? This gem of a book tells you how to build one.

The Ten-Minute Gardener: A Month-By-Month Guide To Growing Your Own by Val Bourne (Bantam Press, £9.99)

Not matter what size your garden is – from rambling plots to tiny window boxes – these tried-and-tested tips will help make the most of what little time you can spare to tend it.

How To Raise A Plant (And Make It Love You Back) by Morgan Doane and Erin Harding (Laurence King, £12.99)

Hip house plants are a welcome usurper to the ubiquitous photographs of smashed avocado on toast and the plethora of pugs cluttering up Instagram feeds. This clever book offers top tips for green-fingered success including plant selection and maintenance, DIY projects and styling.

The GCHQ Puzzle Book II (Michael Joseph, £12.99)

Keep the old grey matter from getting flabby over the festive period with this compendium of puzzles that require lateral thinking and ingenuity.


Racing Bicycles: The Illustrated Story of Road-Cycling by Nick Higgins (Laurence King, £12.99)

Throw a leg over the saddle and enjoy a tour of professional road cycling packed with facts and figures, quirky tales and fascinating history as Nick Higgins lends his expert knowledge and sublime illustrations alike to this cracker of a book.


The New Yorker Encyclopaedia of Cartoons (Thames & Hudson, £75)

Two slip-cased bricks of books gather up 10 decades of cartoons from the New Yorker magazine. All the greats – Charles Addams, William Steig and Roz Chast for a start – can be found herein.

Cunk On Everything: The Philomena Cunk Encyclopaedia (Two Roads, £12.99)

A parody encyclopaedia from the star of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe and Moments of Wonder spanning Adam and Eve, Brexit, the Large Hadron Colander [sic], Quorn and zombies.

I'm a Joke and So Are You by Robin Ince (Atlantic Books, £16.99)

This witty and poignant book explores some of life's biggest questions such as the root of anxiety, how to tackle imposter syndrome and ways to overcome grief. Alongside personal insights from Robin Ince, it features interviews with leading comedians, neuroscientists and psychologists.

What Would The Spice Girls Do? by Lauren Bravo (Bantam Press, £8.99)

Fun, fearlessness and feminism were the calling card of 1990s pop quintet The Spice Girls. This punchy book examines the message of Girl Power and how it has shaped a generation.

The Wonderful World of Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris (Michael Joseph, £18.99)

We're big fans of Ladybird Books For Grown-Ups, the tongue-in-cheek series that includes The Hangover, Mid-Life Crisis and The Sickie. This hilarious 224-page tome brings together 337 never-seen-before titles including Mansplaining, Virtue Signalling and The Line Manager.

Herald Diary 2019, No Moos is Good Moos by Ken Smith (Black & White, £9.99)

Save yourself the bother of cutting out all those fiddly daily columns and pasting them into a scrapbook with the annual collection of the daftest stories in Scotland and beyond.


Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty Colour by Valerie Steele (Thames & Hudson, £39.95)

Fashion historian Valerie Steele charts the history of the colour pink in fashion from the 18th century to the present day.

Yves Saint Laurent: Dreams of the Orient by Aurelie Samuel, Madison Cox, Charles and Ange Ginesy (Thames & Hudson, £28)

Absolutely sumptuous exploration of the fashion designer's fascination with Asia.


Scrapers by Zack Smith (Wildfire, £25)

Want to get high? Zack Scott's visual history of mankind's architectural attempts to touch the sky will take you there, stopping off at everywhere from Stonehenge to the Burj Khalifa along the way.


This Book Will Blow Your Mind: Journeys At The Extremes of Science by New Scientist (John Murray, £8.99)

Delve to the furthest reaches of science with real monsters of the deep, an unexplained ecosystem in the clouds and a place where time flows backwards.


Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda, illustrated by Jonny Sun (Headline, £14.99)

A perfect choice for anyone who wants to blow away negativity and avoid getting stuck in the comments section of life.

Queer Eye: Love Yourself, Love Your Life by Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown (Headline, £25)

Who doesn't want to live their best life? The fab five gurus from TV show Queer Eye have penned a practical guide to food and wine, fashion, grooming, home decor and culture. Bonus: includes shots of Jonathan and Antoni in the bath that you never knew you needed until now.


The Pebbles on the Beach: A Spotters Guide by Clarence Ellis (Faber & Faber, £9.99)

A must-have for anyone who loves pottering on the beach. First published in 1954, the recently reissued edition includes a foreword by Mountains of the Mind author Robert Macfarlane. You will spent hours poring over the beautiful, illustrated fold-out guide to pebbles.


A Cat's Guide to the Night Sky by Stuart Atkinson, illustrated by Brendan Kearney (Laurence King, £14.99)

An adorable yet fact-packed introduction to stargazing and astronomy for children and big kids alike.

A Year in Nature by Hazel Maskell, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor (Laurence King, £16.99)

Following a family of foxes through the year as the tiny cubs grow, this gorgeous book opens out into a four-part carousel revealing pop-up scenes of spring, summer, autumn and winter.


Imagine John Yoko (Thames & Hudson, £35)

Compiled and curated by Yoko Ono herself, this is the inside story of the making of John Lennon's 1971 album Imagine. Contributors include David Bailey and Michael Parkinson.

Rock Graphic Originals: Revolutions in Sonic Art from Plate to Print 55-88 by Peter Golding with Barry Miles (Thames & Hudson, £28)

For all you ageing countercultural types out there, a gather-up of gig posters, magazine covers and band visuals from the golden age of rock.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? And 87 Other Serious Answers To Questions In Song by James Ball (Boxtree, £9.99)

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Is there life on Mars? What's the frequency, Kenneth? Author James Ball attempts to answer these and other burning questions with hilarious results.


Christmas: A History by Judith Flanders (Picador, £9.99)

The story of Christmas from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, as told by one of the country's most popular historians.

On This Day in History by Dan Snow (John Murray, £14.99)

Historian Dan Snow brings to life a key event that happened on each day of the year such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney's first meeting (July 6, 1957), Jeanne de Clisson becoming a pirate then declaring war on the King of France (August 2, 1343) and the Great Beer Flood (October 17, 1814).

Around the World in 80 Words by Paul Anthony Jones (Elliott & Thompson, £12.99)

Balaclava, cravat, doolally … Author Paul Anthony Jones discovers the global origins of familiar English words.


Prue: My All-Time Favourite Recipes by Prue Leith (Bluebird, £25)

From simple suppers to dazzling dinner party dishes, lazy leftovers and mouth-watering meat-free meals, Prue Leith shares 100 recipes in her first cookery book for 25 years.

Elizabeth David's Christmas (Michael Joseph, £14.99)

The late food writer Elizabeth David wrote prolifically on Christmas cooking and seasonal recipes throughout her career. This reissued timeless volume contains more than 150 classics including mince pies, stuffing, sauces and desserts alongside practical advice and wry commentary.

Gin Galore: A Journey To The Source Of Scotland's Gin by Sean Murphy (Black and White, £12.99)

Attention gin lovers! This book is an essential companion as you journey through the ever-growing list of Scottish-made gins. It features cocktail recipes and sumptuous serving suggestions as well as the lowdown on the botanicals that give each gin its distinctive flavour.

Seedlip: The Cocktail Book by Ben Branson (Bantam Press, £14.99)

If you are late to the Seedlip party, then hop aboard. All three distilled spirits made by the brand – Spice 94, Garden 108 and Grove 42 – are alcohol-free. Founder Ben Branson has teamed up with some of the world's best bars to create this anthology of 100 cocktail recipes.

Black Sea: Dispatches and Recipes Through Darkness and Light by Caroline Eden (Quadrille, £25)

Caroline Eden travels from Ukraine to Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey's Black Sea region exploring the interconnecting culinary cultures, weaving together recipes – Odessan coleslaw, Potemkin cocktails, sacred onion soup – with remarkable stories from the people she encounters along the way.