Christmas Is Murder by Val McDermid

Sphere, £10

This beautifully festive volume contains a chilling, crime-themed short-story collection. Among the dazzling cast of characters are the girl who killed Santa Claus, a jealous ghost writer and Val McDermid's literary detective duo Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan. Not to forget Sherlock Holmes himself.

READ MORE: Val McDermid on her 'odd' festive traditions and why she loves a Christmas murder mystery

Fifty Words For Snow by Nancy Campbell

Elliott & Thompson, £12.99

A delightful compendium that brings together language, culture and adventure through frozen landscapes as it shares the meanings behind 50 words for snow, gathered from around the globe.

Christmas At The Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan

Sphere, £14.99

Set on the fictional Scottish island of Mure (Jenny Colgan has said she drew inspiration from Lewis, Bute, Harris, Orkney and Shetland), this cosy novel sees a brother and sister attempt to get a rambling, disused hotel back in business as Christmas looms.

Murder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff

Vintage, £7.99

A body lies dead in the snow outside a country manor after a Christmas Eve party. There's a pistol nearby and only one set of footprints in the snow.

The Herald: Murder Most Festive by Ada MoncrieffMurder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff

But is the case as open-and-shut as it appears? Amateur sleuth Hugh Gaveston vows to uncover the truth in this 1930s-era mystery.

READ MORE: The 50 best books to give this Christmas (Part 2)

Christmas For Beginners by Carole Matthews

Sphere, £14.99

They say never work with children or animals, meaning producing a nativity tableau on a farm isn't for the faint-hearted. But it does make for jolly plot device in this charming festive story (opening line: "One of the alpacas has eaten the Baby Jesus").


One By One by Ruth Ware

Harvill Secker, £12.99

A contemporary homage to Agatha Christie's classic murder-mystery And Then There Were None, this twisting thriller finds a fractious group trapped in a remote ski chalet following an avalanche. Fear and paranoia abound when it becomes clear there is a killer in their midst.

Pine by Francine Toon

Doubleday, £12.99

A modern gothic thriller that draws on the author's own Highland childhood, according to Francine Toon: "One day I imagined a road running through a bleak, hilly landscape in Sutherland and a woman appearing, standing in only a dressing gown, by a passing place."


The Roots of Evil by Quintin Jardine

Headline, £20

Edinburgh has no dearth of great literary detectives and among their number is Bob Skinner, a much-beloved character who has been gracing the pages of Quintin Jardine's crime novels since 1993. The latest in this long-running series – the 32nd if you are counting – opens on New Year's Day. Two men lie dead. Both are known to Skinner. Cue a twisting tale of dark secrets and deception.


The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn

Michael Joseph, £14.99

In 2018, Raynor Winn wrote The Salt Path, a mesmerising memoir charting how she and her husband Moth walked a 630-mile stretch of windswept and sea-lashed coastline in south-west England. The couple had been evicted from their home and Moth newly diagnosed with a rare, degenerative illness. The Wild Silence reveals what happened next.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Viking, £35

This hefty first volume of presidential memoirs traces Barack Obama's early political ambitions, the grassroots activism that set his course towards the White House and the watershed moment in 2008 when he was elected President of the United States.

The Herald: Former President of the United States Barack Obama. Picture: Steffi Loos/Getty ImagesFormer President of the United States Barack Obama. Picture: Steffi Loos/Getty Images

It shines a light on the decision-making processes during his first term as he enacted the Affordable Care Act, tackled Wall Street reform and authorised Operation Neptune's Spear, which led to the death of Osama bin Laden.

I Am An Island by Tamsin Calidas

Doubleday, £16.99

A searingly honest and unforgettable memoir that shares the tumultuous journey as Tamsin Calidas nurses a derelict croft on a Hebridean island – and herself – back to life.

Olive, Mabel and Me by Andrew Cotter

Black & White, £20

Sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter's hilarious commentary about his dogs Olive and Mabel was a much-needed tonic during lockdown.

The Herald: Sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter with his dogs Olive and MabelSports broadcaster Andrew Cotter with his dogs Olive and Mabel

The clips went viral, winning a legion of fans around the world. This is a heart-warming and funny read that recounts some of their favourite adventures.


Paradise by Alasdair Gray

Canongate, £14.99

The final part of Alasdair Gray's "prosaically Englished" version of Dante's Divine Comedy will be relished by everyone who admired the artist and author. Beautifully bound in his unique style, his posthumously published vision of heaven would combine wonderfully with the previous volumes on Hell and Purgatory, making a welcome gift for lovers of art, poetry and the late, great Alasdair Gray.

The Herald: The late artist Alasdair Gray. Picture: Colin Mearns/The HeraldThe late artist Alasdair Gray. Picture: Colin Mearns/The Herald

Grimoire by Robin Robertson

Picador, £14.99

Magic and malign forces weave eerily through this slim volume of "New Scottish Folk Tales" by the distinguished poet, whose 2018 verse-novel, The Long Take, was Booker-shortlisted. Here, he deploys Scots, Gaelic and English, distilling the spirit of vanished peoples who spoke freely of the selkies, changelings and shapeshifters that populate these beautiful poems. Evocatively illustrated by the author's brother, Tim Robertson, Grimoire is the perfect fireside companion for winter nights.


The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Canongate, £16.99

An uplifting and poignant novel about parallel lives, overcoming regrets and finding hope that will stay with you long after you close its pages. The feel-good book of 2020.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Fig Tree, £14.99

If Generation X had Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw, then Nina Dean, the early-thirties protagonist in Ghosts, captures the essence of life for millennial women as they struggle to square the circle of dating, friendships, family life, careers and getting older.


Love In Colour by Bolu Babalola

Headline, £16.99

This spellbinding collection of short stories re-imagines folk tales from around the world – Nigerian legends to Greek myths – celebrating romance in its myriad forms.


Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish

Hodder & Stoughton, £20

Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish should be on commission from VisitScotland. This travelogue charts a colourful (and humorous) road trip through the Highlands – by campervan, boat, kayak, motorbikes and tandem bicycle – as the chalk-and-cheese duo explore majestic landscapes, history, poetry, music and warfare.

The Herald: Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish at Cawdor Castle during their Clanlands road trip. Picture: Peter SandgroundSam Heughan and Graham McTavish at Cawdor Castle during their Clanlands road trip. Picture: Peter Sandground


James Martin's Islands To Highlands: 80 Fantastic Recipes From Around The British Isles

Quadrille, £25

Those looking for fresh culinary inspiration after the long months of lockdown will enjoy this collection of recipes garnered from Skye to the Isles of Scilly. There is an eye-popping cornucopia of seafood in what James Martin dubs "Shetland's paella" and lip-smacking, 1920s-style duck and orange with duchess potatoes, a dish he rustled up in the galley kitchen of the Royal Scotsman with Nick Nairn.

The Seafood Shack: Food & Tales From Ullapool by Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick

Kitchen Press, £20

Each day, Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick take whatever catch their fisherman friends bring them and rustle up mouth-watering fare that attracts locals and tourists alike to a tiny catering trailer in Ullapool. In this book, the duo shares their story and delectable recipes.

READ MORE: Outlander star Sam Heughan shares his favourite place in Scotland


A Life On Our Planet by David Attenborough

Ebury, £20

Sir David Attenborough reflects on his incredible career documenting the natural world, while laying bare the stark decline of the environment and loss of biodiversity he has observed first-hand.

A Brush With Birds by Richard Weatherly

Hardie Grant, £30

If you are anything like us, watching the birds in the garden is a favourite pastime. This gorgeous book allows the reader to spread their wings, sharing the artworks and remarkable life of painter Richard Weatherly, who has spent more than 50 years observing species around the world.


Between The Covers: On Sex, Socialising and Survival by Jilly Cooper

Bantam, £14.99

An amusing collection of essays and newspaper columns by the inimitable Jilly Cooper that delves into the doldrums of domesticity, from lamenting the tedium of endless socialising and dinner parties (remember those?) to ruminating on the perils of pet-sitting, middle age and being a second wife.

READ MORE: The 50 best books to give this Christmas (Part 2)


The Art of Tweed by Vixy Rae

Black & White, £14.99

A fascinating foray into the story of tweed – romance, nostalgia, style – by Edinburgh tailor Vixy Rae, tracing its history and heritage, from the looms of Scotland's last-surviving mills and artisan weavers on Harris, to its place in country estates, international catwalks and urban fashion design.

The Herald: Edinburgh tailor Vixy RaeEdinburgh tailor Vixy Rae

Resident Dog (Volume 2) by Nicole England

Hardie Grant, £30

As an architecture and interiors photographer, Nicole England knows better than most how a dog can make a house a home. This magnificent book captures the magic of these four-legged friends against a backdrop of stunning abodes.