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Best Christmas Books 2015: Non-fiction

The popularity of non-fiction is on the rise, and when you've seen our pick of the best new releases of 2015 you'll know why! Feast your eyes on these...

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Funny memoirs

Why Not Me? - Mindy Kaling

With 5.6 million Twitter followers and counting, Mindy Kaling is one of pop culture's leading social commentators, as well as being incredibly funny. For those who aren't familiar, she's a comedy writer and creator and star of her own sitcom, The Mindy Project. Her latest book is a collection of essays, musings and hilarious anecdotes on feminism, modern life, celebrity and the problems facing young women today.

Spectacles: a memoir - Sue Perkins

Whether you're a longtime fan of Mel and Sue, or a newly formed admirer of how they deftly present GBBO, this memoir can't fail to entertain. Sue talks us through her life thus far with her sharp and self-deprecating wit. One to read cover to cover during a leisurely lie-in over the Christmas holidays.

Easily Distracted - Steve Coogan

Direct, no-nonsense and very funny, as you'd expect from the Oscar-nominated comedian/actor/writer/producer. Coogan movingly describes his slightly bonkers early childhood in 60s Manchester and his eccentric dad, followed by the rise of Alan Partridge and his subsequent move into film.

Truths, Half Truths & Little White Lies - Nick Frost

Nick Frost is one half of the genius duo that has brought us the iconic Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz. In his candid memoir he takes us through his journey to success, through a shocking childhood blighted by alcoholism and poverty, and a lost adolescence. Best friend and comedy partner Simon Pegg says "If this isn't on your Christmas list, you might as well shoot Santa in the balls." Is that recommendation enough?


The White Road - Edmund de Waal

Bestselling author and ceramicist Edmund de Waal uncovers the story of porcelain, from Chinese mines to German royalty to Britain's Age of Enlightenment. The intimate writing and deep love of his subject makes de Waal a fascinating guide; the quest for 'white gold' has all the disaster, revenge, cruelty and victory of a blockbusting novel.

More classic Bill Bryson observations and humour, as he retraces his footsteps from Notes from a Small Island twenty years on. Get ready for baffling encounters with locals, the delightful eccentricities of small villages and a heartfelt plea to value the unique beauty of the British landscape.

Inspirational women

M Train - Patti Smith

With her continuing iconic status as a singer (she rocked out at Glastonbury earlier this year) Patti Smith's first memoir, Just Kids, proved she's also an inspiring author. With a dreamlike quality she muses over art, people, places, TV detective series (she was a huge fan of Robbie Coltraine's Cracker) and love for and loss of her beloved Fred 'Sonic' Smith.
My Life on the Road - Gloria Steinem

A great feminist icon looks back on fifty years of travels, protests, adventures and the "surrealism in everyday life" that she encountered as she travelled back and forth across the States, giving talks and leading campaigns. An inspirational memoir from this spirited, intelligent freedom fighter.


Norwegian Wood  - Lars Mytting

Predicted to become this year's surprise Christmas bestseller, Lars Mytting's careful guide to chopping, stacking and drying timber, Norwegian Wood (not to be confused with Haruki Murakami's harrowing coming-of-age novel), has charmed and inspired readers worldwide. After selling over 200,000 copies in Norway and Sweden, this fascinating book has already been reprinted four times to keep up with demand in the UK. It's not just a practical guide for keeping wood, but also an insight into Scandinavian culture and a reflection on patience, persistence, and our relationship with nature in a modern world. 

Landmarks - Robert Macfarlane

Award-winning author Robert Macfarlane writes with passion and poetry about the language of our landscape, and how we come to love and know a place through words. Crisscrossing Britain, often referring to writers and poets, he unearths a treasure trove of unusual, magical expressions and the connection between humans and nature. Fascinating, lyrical and a jewel-box of vocabulary that you’ll want to commit to memory. 

Fascinating lives

The vastly talented and famously attractive Ted Hughes left behind more notes and journals than any other major poet. Sir Jonathan Bate spent five years in his archives, uncovering new material. Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, Bate's honest and illuminating book offers for the first time the full story of Hughes's mesmerising, complex life.

"Oh, what a miraculous book this is… Buy it, and let it take you out to sea", said the Observer. In her unusual and beautifully illustrated biography, Blackburn charts the life of John Craske, an extraordinary Norfolk man whose life and imagination are woven together in his beautiful embroidered pictures. An exquisite and atmospheric work of art.

Books of knowledge

The Time Travel HandbookWyllie Acton and Goldblatt

Like any guide book, this tells you what to pack, how to dress and where to eat… only this time you are sailing to Tahiti with Cook, marching on Versailles with revolutionaries, watching the Beatles at Hamburg or celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall. A brilliantly creative wander through history where eighteen definitive moments come vividly to life.

Thing ExplainerRandall Munroe

What parent doesn't need one of these – a book of instant, clear answers on how everything works. Using only diagrams and simple words, this Number One bestselling author tackles household objects and human biology, outer space and nuclear bombs with an all-encompassing simplicity and brilliance. Perfect for everyone, from curious children upwards.

Famous lives

Wildflower - Drew Barrymore

An enjoyably lively collection of memories and stories from the former wild child that range from living on her own at fourteen to motherhood to finding her feet at last. Many lessons learnt and wise words from a free spirit who has already lived a remarkably full life.

My Story - Steven Gerrard

Stevie G's latest autobiography comes at the end of his epic career and spans his time as skipper of Liverpool and England. Footy fans will love to read his first-hand account of defining games with Liverpool (2006 Champion’s League final against AC Milan) as well as the highs and lows of his career with England.


SPQR - Mary Beard

Mary Beard returns to explore the very beginnings of Rome and document its phenomenal rise from small Italian village to sprawling empire from the fascinating perspective of the citizens themselves. Readable and enlightening, Mary Beard's detailed account of Roman history has deservedly received excellent reviews across the board.

Peter Frankopan's splendid study from prehistory to present day is a reassessment of world history, shifting the focus from the west back towards the East. From prehistory to the present day, he looks at the importance of the Silk Roads--an area which sweeps from Eastern Europe right across Central Asia into China and India--and how this area is once again shaping the modern world. This hefty tome is also a book of beauty, and a perfect gift for your favourite historians. 

Liked this? Try these:

10 festive Christmas books

Best books Christmas 2015: Fiction

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Last updated: over 2 years ago