Canongaters’ Festive Reading Recommendations

6 December 2022

This year we asked some of our Canongate colleagues what one book they’re looking forward to reading during their festive holidays and what one book they look forward to gifting. Here is what they had to say (and you can find all their recommendations here on

Sasha Cox, Senior Sales Manager:

Book I look forward to reading:The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell. I absolutely adored Hamnet and can’t wait to be swept into the world of Renaissance Italy and the troubled court of a Florentine duke.”

Book I look forward to gifting: “The book which I will be gifting this Christmas is Don’t Ask the Dragon by Lemn Sissay and Greg Stobbs. My partner’s parents have two Ukrainian families staying with them, and I think this will be a wonderful book for the children to read and enjoy as they try to navigate a new country after months of distress and unease.”

Charlie Tooke, Senior Rights Manager:

Book I look forward to reading:Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel. I’ve wanted to dip into more of her work since she passed away, so I started this a few weeks ago and can’t wait to get into it properly over Christmas – it’s funny, spooky and full of humanity, and unlike Wolf Hall you don’t need a flowchart of characters next to you to keep track.”

Book I look forward to gifting:Babel by R.F. Kuang. This was my post-Frankfurt treat and it was SO good – amazing world, brilliant characters, and, though it looks like a doorstopper, so easy to read. Plus, for someone working in rights, a book all about translation is a nerd’s paradise.”

Melissa Tombere, Editorial Assistant:

Book I look forward to reading: “I am excited to read R.F. Kuang’s new novel Babel. Nothing screams cosy Christmas read like dark academia and it’s a book that has been on my to-read list for a while.”

Book I look forward to gifting:Poetry Unbound by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Poetry tends to be hit or miss with people and quite difficult to get your head around but in this anthology, Pádraig collates a bunch of poems and offers a commentary on why these poems matter to him. It’s perceptive, illuminating and the perfect gateway into poetry.”

Anna Frame, Publicity Director:

Book I look forward to reading: “The book I’m most looking forward to reading over the holidays is Clare Chambers’ Small Pleasures. I have had it sitting on my shelf almost since it was first published – yet somehow, despite its brief extent and endless rave reviews – have never found quite the right moment to pick it up. I plan to correct that over Christmas, ideally with a glass of wine in hand.”

Book I look forward to gifting:Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver is one of my books of the year, and one I intend to give to several friends. The way in which Kingsolver has moved Dickens’ classic into the opioid crisis of a divided modern America is utterly masterful, with each of the familiar original characters brilliantly translated into this new setting. I’m confident it will delight both Dickens-lovers and readers of modern fiction alike.”

Jamie Norman, Senior Marketing Executive:

Book I look forward to reading: “Following the Netflix series, I'm looking forward most to reading The Sandman graphic novels – I used to read a lot of Gaiman when I was younger, but it's totally passed me by and is very up my street.”

Book I look forward to gifting: “I'm looking forward to gifting Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin over the holidays. I love the nostalgia and the glimpse into the incredibly fast-moving world of games development, and it's a pitch-perfect story about love (whilst not being a love story itself), between three fraught and fully realised characters.”

Rali Chorbadzhiyska, Editorial Assistant:

Book I look forward to reading: “No better way to prepare myself for the new Emily Henry than by reading Book Lovers over the holidays. I have been saving it for a while and am excited to see how it compares to Beach Read and You and Me on Vacation (although the options are between excellent and excellent).”

Book I look forward to gifting: “I’d love to gift a book I’ve worked on this year and it breaks my heart to pick just one! So instead of choosing between The Foghorn Echoes by Danny Ramadan, Losing the Plot by Derek Owusu or The Fugitives by Jamal Mahjoub to name the latest, I will have to copy Mel and say Poetry Unbound by Pádraig Ó Tuama – a brilliant companion for poetry lovers and novices that you can dip in and out of and can read throughout the year.”