Top books for Christmas

Undated Book Cover Handout of The Litigators by John Grisham, published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced �19.99. Available now. See PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photos/Hodder & Stoughton. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews.
Undated Book Cover Handout of The Litigators by John Grisham, published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced �19.99. Available now. See PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photos/Hodder & Stoughton. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews.

A great selection to for the perfect stocking fillers

New non-fiction

Work! Consume! Die! by Frankie Boyle

Anybody who saw Frankie Boyle’s controversial sketch show Tramadol Nights would be forgiven for disregarding him as nothing more than a shock merchant.

It comes as a surprise then, after reading Work! Consume! Die!, to find he appears to have something of a social conscience.In chapters prefaced by quotes from famous writers and philosophers, the comedian rails against the state of the nation, lamenting the unfairness of modern society, corrupt politicians and the cult of celebrity. In between there are snatches from a bizarre novel in which a destitute Boyle tries to claw back his career while avoiding a serial killer whose victims are always minor celebrities.

If this sounds a bit heavy, don’t worry - it’s still crammed with jokes in the worst possible taste.

Given a context, however, the gags have more focus and power than was apparent among the scattergun nihilism of his TV series.

Crap Days Out by Gareth Rubin & Jon Parker

This quintessential guide to “Why you should have stayed at home and watched telly” is full to the brim with belly laughs.

Freelance Journalists Gareth Rubin and Jon Parker describe The Globe Theatre as ‘Shakespeare Disney’, the Blackpool Illuminations as like inviting your friends round to see you flick the switch in your bathroom, and kissing the Blarney Stone in Cork as slightly less hygienic than drinking from a sewer

Dripping with sarcasm, hilarious one-liners, as well as charming anecdotes, the pair deliver an alternative guide to Britain that makes you fully appreciate the eccentricities of our beautiful country.

Conjuring up memories of childhoods spent in rubbish museums, it will also give parents plenty of ideas of how to punish their horrible children come the summer holidays. Anyone fancy The Quilt Museum?

New fiction

Landfall by Helen Gordon

Granta magazine’s former associate editor Helen Gordon makes her first foray

Gordon makes her first foray into the literary world with Landfall, a novel about a thirty-something journalist in the throes of an existential crisis.

When Londoner Alice Robinson is forced to leave her job at a trendy arts magazine, she decides to take up her parents’ offer to house-sit their home in darkest suburbia.

This leads Alice to confront her past and question her present life choices.Although the theme of “What am I doing with my life?” is one to which many of us may relate, Landfall is a wholly unsatisfying read. Philosophical themes jar with fluffy storylines, while characterisation and narrative is so lacking in description that the reader is often left wondering what has actually happened. Conversely, Gordon sometimes slips into long musings that are confusing and lack significance.

Ultimately, Landfall reinforces how difficult novel-writing truly is.

The Litigators by John Grisham

John Grisham has often been dubbed the master of the legal thriller - and on this showing, his title is secure.

The Litigators is Grisham at his very best; fast-paced, funny and packed with living and breathing characters that you’d just love to share an after-court beer with.

In a seedy part of downtown Chicago, Oscar and Wally, partners in the ‘boutique’ law firm of Finley & Figg, are out chasing ambulances and scrabbling to earn a fast buck.Meanwhile, across the city, Harvard law graduate David Zinc is about to send his career path into a dramatic downward spiral by quitting his job with one of the country’s biggest legal names. By chance, the threesome meet - and combine their dubious skills to fight a pharmaceutical giant.

Set aside a weekend for this one, because you won’t want to put it down!

It’s A Man’s World by Polly Courtney

Polly Courtney has ended her relationship with publishers HarperCollins, as she has deemed the marketing of her sixth novel as “condescending and fluffy”.

She is angry that the inference of the cover, which shows a woman with a pair of shapely legs - and the suggestive tagline, “But it takes a woman to run it” - is that of ‘chick-lit’ fiction.

She maintains that the cover will not compel one to read the story of Alexis Harris, a young, clever managing director, charged with changing the fortunes of lads’ magazine ‘Banter’, and the office politics that follow. Courtney may be right to draw to this conclusion; however after reading the book, the misleading cover is not the main problem. It’s a disappointing read, and not a great addition to the conversation on modern feminism it courts to be part of.

Hopefully, Courtney’s next novel, self-published, will be of greater substance. Both book and cover.