WHEN it comes to Christmas gift ideas you can rarely go wrong with a book. That's certainly always been our motto anyway.

To that end, we are rather fond (and a tad envious) of the Icelandic tradition of "Jolabokaflod" which translates roughly as "Christmas book flood" and where, as part of the festivities, people exchange books on Christmas Eve to enjoy snuggled in front of the fire with hot chocolate. Could we get something similar going in Scotland?

Here are some of the titles and tomes we'd love to find wrapped beneath the tree or stuffed in our stockings come December 25.

MEMOIR

Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life by Alan Cumming

Canongate, £18.99

Hollywood glitz, candour and jaw-dropping anecdotes abound as actor Alan Cumming chronicles the highs and lows of his life, laid bare through punchy chapters with titles such as "emergency", "lucky", "domesticity", "debauchery", "discovery", "agony", "insanity" and "sanctuary". Sample quote: "My Hogmanay didn't start well: I woke up in the Nazi hotel in Budapest". A raw, poignant and entertaining read.

HeraldScotland: Alan Cumming has written a memoir Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life Alan Cumming has written a memoir Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life

Dog Days: A Year with Olive & Mabel by Andrew Cotter

Black & White Publishing, £20

Sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter returns with a new memoir about life with his chalk-and-cheese labradors, Olive and Mabel, sharing a hilarious Samuel Pepys-inspired diary of their antics.

THRILLERS/SUSPENSE

To The Lake by Yana Vagner

Swift Press, £12.99

Anya and her husband Sergey flee their home as a deadly flu epidemic sweeps Moscow. Their goal: to reach a remote lake in the far north of Russia. This perilous odyssey is compounded by food and fuel shortages, freezing temperatures and having to shepherd a chaotic clutch of friends and family to safety. A galloping thriller that you will want to devour in one sitting.

READ MORE: The 50 best books to give this Christmas: Teddy Jamieson on food, fiction, football and fashion 

The Jealousy Man by Jo Nesbo

Harvill Secker, £20

The first-ever collection of short stories from the king of Scandi crime, Jo Nesbo – creator of the Harry Hole detective series – contains twisting tales of mysterious strangers on planes, a near-future dystopia, a psychologist who happens to be an assassin and a tangled love triangle.

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny

Pan Macmillan, £20

This suspenseful debut novel by former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton – co-written with Louise Penny, author of the Armand Gamache murder mysteries – is a shrewdly written political thriller, jam-packed with insider expertise.

HeraldScotland: Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton have co-written the thriller State of TerrorLouise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton have co-written the thriller State of Terror

The Missing Hours by Julia Dahl

Faber, £12.99

Hailing from a famous, wealthy family, on paper Claudia Castro has a charmed life. But then, after a drunken night out, she wakes bleeding and alone in her university dorm. Something bad has happened, but her memory is a black hole. A mobile phone video surfaces to fill in the blanks. Then Claudia disappears. A searing, contemporary twist on the classic revenge and redemption story.

COSY MYSTERY

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

Viking, £18.99

This much-anticipated sequel to Richard Osman's debut, The Thursday Murder Club, has become one of the fastest-selling novels since records began. And rightly so. It is sublime. The Man Who Died Twice follows the adventures of four OAP sleuths as they seek to solve their latest mystery involving stolen diamonds, a violent mobster and a growing body count.

HeraldScotland: Richard Osman has written the bestselling novel The Man Who Died Twice Richard Osman has written the bestselling novel The Man Who Died Twice

Twelve Motives for Murder by Fiona Sherlock

Hodder Studio, £8.99

Picture the scene: Christmas Day 1953 at Lake Como. Merriment. Brewing tensions. A dead body in the study. A perfect festive read for armchair detectives with a murder mystery told through interviews with a dozen sleekit suspects. But who is the killer?

POETRY

Safety in Numbers by Roger McGough

Viking, £9.99

This slim volume is a joy, packed with wry observation, vim and wit that deftly captures the spirit of these strange times we inhabit. Journeying through topical subjects, from rising oceans and adultery in lockdown to seaside staycations and an ode to Laura Kuenssberg, poet Roger McGough has a keen eye for the magical moments within the mundanities of modern life.

READ MORE: Christmas recipes: Jeni Iannetta from Bad Girl Bakery shares her favourite festive treats

MUSIC

The Book of Sea Shanties by Nathan Evans

Welbeck, £12.99

An Airdrie postie singing sea shanties may seem an unlikely combination, but Nathan Evans scored a record deal and hit single for doing exactly that. Evans went viral worldwide after performing his rendition of the 19th-century New Zealand whaling song, Wellerman, on the social media platform TikTok. This illustrated book shares more than 35 sea shanties and the tales behind them.

HeraldScotland: The Book of Sea Shanties by Nathan EvansThe Book of Sea Shanties by Nathan Evans

ART/PHOTOGRAPHY

Magritte: A Life by Alex Danchev

Profile Books, £30

Clouds, pipes, bowler hats, umbrellas and green apples: the thought-provoking works of Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte continue to fascinate. The late Alex Danchev – who died as he was finishing this biography – offers enthralling insight into the man behind the easel.

HeraldScotland: Author and photographer Tamsin CalidasAuthor and photographer Tamsin Calidas

A Wilder Voice by Tamsin Calidas

Hanbury Press, £38 (published December 1)

This hand-bound, limited-edition book – only 300 copies – brings together a collection of new photographs by Tamsin Calidas, author of the best-selling memoir I Am An Island, chronicling her love of nature and the rugged, wild beauty of the Hebridean landscapes she calls home.

READ MORE: The 50 best books to give this Christmas: Teddy Jamieson on food, fiction, football and fashion 

SHOWBIZ/COFFEE TABLE BOOKS

Renegades: Born in the USA by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen

Viking, £35

You can practically feel the charisma leap off the pages of this hefty tome as long-time friends, former US president Barack Obama and rock superstar Bruce Springsteen, share their conversations on life, music, identity and the evolution of the American Dream.

HeraldScotland: Renegades: Born in the USA by Barack Obama and Bruce SpringsteenRenegades: Born in the USA by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen

Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: The Story of Schitt's Creek by Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy

Trapeze, £25

A glossy compendium celebrating all things Schitt's Creek, complete with script extracts, behind-the-scenes photographs and memorabilia, including the fabulous Cafe Tropical menu. The best part: illustrated catalogues detailing David's legendary knits and Moira's beloved wig collection.

HeraldScotland: A behind-the-scenes glimpse of the cast of the hit TV show Schitt's Creek A behind-the-scenes glimpse of the cast of the hit TV show Schitt's Creek

TRAVEL

The Clanlands Almanac: Seasonal Stories from Scotland by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish

Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99

Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish have penned an enthralling and amusing guide to the Scottish calendar weaving together traditions and contemporary events. Each chapter outlines key dates in the cultural calendar, alongside a suggested adventure, dram, castle and historical battle of the month.

HeraldScotland: Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish have co-written The Clanlands Almanac: Seasonal Stories from Scotland. Picture: Peter SandgroundOutlander stars Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish have co-written The Clanlands Almanac: Seasonal Stories from Scotland. Picture: Peter Sandground

ANIMAL LOVERS

On Cats: An Anthology – Introduced by Margaret Atwood

Notting Hill Editions, £14.99

In the words of prominent writers, including Dame Muriel Spark, Caitlin Moran, Mary Gaitskill, John Keats and Lynne Truss, this anthology attempts to capture the essence of cats in all their mysterious, mistrusted and much-loved glory. There is a companion volume, On Dogs: An Anthology, with the two books available together as a beautiful gift set.

Magnum Dogs

Thames and Hudson, £16.99

If you feel gloomy with the state of the world, flicking through a few pages of this gorgeous book of dog-themed photography is just the tonic.

READ MORE: Christmas recipes: Bake Off winner Peter Sawkins on his favourite time of year

CRIME/POLICE PROCEDURALS

Afraid of the Shadows: An Anthology of Crime Stories

Independent Publisher, £6.99

This brilliant charity anthology, compiled by author Victoria Selman, boasts some of the biggest names in crime fiction – Peter James, MW Craven and TM Logan et al – with a collection of spooky short stories guaranteed to keep you reading long into the night.

The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves

Pan Macmillan, £20

Fans of the Shetland and Vera Stanhope novels will enjoy Ann Cleeves's Two Rivers murder mystery crime series. Set in North Devon and featuring Detective Inspector Matthew Venn, this second instalment, The Heron's Cry is another belter, centring on a murder in a rural artists' community. The first book, The Long Call, was recently adapted as an ITV drama.

HeraldScotland: Crime author Ann CleevesCrime author Ann Cleeves

Nowhere to Run by James Oswald

Wildfire, £18.99

The intrepid Detective Constable Constance Fairchild returns and even while on compassionate leave in rural Wales finds little opportunity for respite. A chance meeting with a young Ukrainian woman leads to a murky world of drug smuggling and human trafficking.

FIRESIDE READS

A Toast to the Old Stones by Denzil Meyrick

Polygon, £9.99

Set in the same fictitious Kintyre town as the enduringly popular DCI Jim Daley novels, this second instalment in the A Tale from Kinloch series is no gritty crime thriller, but rather a cosy yarn that delves into a bygone era of superstitions and whisky-smuggling shenanigans. A superb page turner packed with humour.

HeraldScotland: A Toast to the Old Stones by Denzil MeyrickA Toast to the Old Stones by Denzil Meyrick

A Woman Made of Snow by Elisabeth Gifford

Corvus, £14.99

A century-long family mystery stretching from the wilds of Scotland to the Arctic circle lies at the heart of this mesmerising novel, with stories of a missing bride and an unidentified body found in castle grounds only serving to stoke the intrigue.

NATURE

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2022 by Lia Leendertz

Gaia, £12.99

Lia Leendertz's classic almanac never fails to delight, variously covering stargazing, gardening, tide timelines, seasonal rituals, nature, folklore and biscuit recipes.

HeraldScotland: The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2022 by Lia LeendertzThe Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2022 by Lia Leendertz

STOCKING FILLERS

The Kilted Coaches by Stephen Clarke and Rab Shields

Luath Press, £14.99

Exactly what it says on the tin: a feel-good book of life mantras, exercise tips and bite-sized advice from kilt-wearing fitness gurus.

READ MORE: The 50 best books to give this Christmas: Teddy Jamieson on food, fiction, football and fashion 

30 Days of Creativity by Johanna Basford

Ebury, £12.99

Escape into a soothing world created by the hand of self-dubbed ink evangelist Johanna Basford with this colouring book designed to help spark creativity and find some daily moments of calm.