10 books that should be on your winter reading list

Best winter reads for Christmas 2020

Best winter reads for Christmas 2020 - Credit: Archant

Nothing beats curling up with a good book during the colder months, so we’ve gathered 10 great reads for the Christmas holidays

• How Animals Saved My Life: Being the Supervet by Professor Noel Fitzpatrick (£20, published in hardback by Trapeze on October 29)

If the number one Sunday Times bestseller, Listening to Animals, was about Professor Noel Fitzpatrick’s path to becoming The Supervet, then How Animals Saved My Life is about what it’s like to actually be The Supervet. In this new inspiring memoir, the world-renowned, Surrey-based veterinary surgeon shares the often funny and highly-moving stories of the animals he’s treated over the last three decades, and the ‘animal people’ he has met along the way. Noel reflects on the valuable lessons of integrity, care, love and hope that they have taught him, lessons that have sustained him through the highs and lows of a profession where lives are at stake.

As he explores exactly what makes us connect with animals so deeply, we meet Peanut (the world’s first cat with two front biotic limbs), Murphy (the Golden Retriever who suffered from a terrible accident), Brody (the Terminator dog with a metal endoskeleton), and of course his beloved companions, Ricochet the Maine Coon and Keira the Border Terrier. It is an honest and deeply personal account, that is sure to capture the hearts of readers as they find out how animals saved Noel’s life – and can save theirs too.

As well as being the star of the hit Channel 4 show, The Supervet, Noel is the founder of Fitzpatrick Referrals in Eashing, Godalming, and lives nearby with Ricochet and Keira.

Follow Noel on Twitter, @ProfNoelFitz, and on Instagram and Facebook, @ProfessorNoelFitzpatrick.

• One August Night by Victoria Hislop (£14.99, published by Headline, on sale October 29)

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This is the long-anticipated sequel to Victoria Hislop’s multi-million copy bestseller, The Island, where she returns to Crete and reunites readers with Anna, Maria, Manolis and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of the leper colony at Spinalonga and in the weeks beyond. The new novel begins on August 25, 1957, a night of celebration as locals mark the closure of the colony; a cure has been found and the residents can return to their families. But the night ends in tragedy, with a moment of violence that has devastating consequences and two families are split apart. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.

• The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult (£8.49, discount price, published by Hodder & Stoughton, out now)

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when an announcement is made: prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. But her thoughts are not of her husband, but of a man she last saw 15 years ago – Wyatt Armstrong. After a near-death experience, Dawn must decide whether to return to her family, or to a life she abandoned 15 years ago. This is a stunning novel about life, death and missed opportunities, from the number one bestselling author behind titles like Small Great Things and A Spark of Light.

• The Oxford Book of Theatrical Anecdotes by Gyles Brandreth (£20, hardback, published by Oxford University Press)

Writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth presents an entertaining collection of theatrical anecdotes with stories of mishaps and missed cues, indiscreet asides and dramatic first nights. From the most haphazard of touring companies to the West End and Broadway, from the age of Shakespeare through to Dame Judi Dench, the stories cover all aspects of the theatrical experience. Actors, playwrights, prompters, producers and critics past and present all play a part. As does the audience. Funny, cringe-worthy, witty, and wise, it’s the perfect book for theatre-lovers.

Gyles will be appearing in person at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre as part of Guildford Book Festival on Saturday October 10 from 7pm to 8pm.

Guildford Book Festival runs from October 4 to 10. For the full programme and to book tickets, visit guildfordbookfestival.co.uk

• House of Music: Raising the Kanneh-Mason by Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason (£18.99, hardback, Published by Oneworld Publications, out now)

By any standards Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason has raised an extraordinary family. She has seven children, aged 10 to 24, all classically trained musicians, including Sheku, the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016, who played at the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, and sister, Isata, who last year released her first album. Sheku, Isata and their siblings have played across the world and performed for royalty, and on TV. None of the children come from elite music schools, but from a state comprehensive in Nottingham. How do they do it? In her eloquent and inspirational memoir their mother, a former university lecturer who was born in Sierra Leone and brought up in Wales, opens up about her own life and what it takes to raise a musical family against the odds.

• Hidden: Young, Single, Cancer by Annabel Chown (£8.99, paperback, published by Blue Door Press)

At the age of 31, Annabel Chown was living the carefree life of a young, single Londoner. Then she found a lump in a breast and her world changed overnight. Hidden is her incredibly honest, raw account of the devastating impact of being diagnosed with cancer in her early 30s.

Told with wry humour and an eye for detail it’s also a very positive book. Following treatment she turned to yoga to rebuild her strength and confidence. It gave her the courage to give up her career as an architect for a less stress-filled life, and she now teaches yoga at a London studio. She also found love on an internet dating site and at the age of 47 gave birth to a son, now aged two. The book is aimed at anyone who has been forced to radically change direction in life.

• I Follow You by Peter James (£20, hardback, Published by Macmillan on October 1)

Suave and charming Marcus Valentine appears to have it all. A loving wife, three kids, great job. But there’s something missing, or rather, someone – a woman from his past, he has fantasized about for years.

His obsession threatens to destroy both their worlds but he just won’t stop. Can’t stop. A plot-twisting, page-turner from start to finish it’s another winner from number one bestselling author, Peter James.

• Murder on Mustique by Anne Glenconner (£16.99, out now in hardback)

From Princes Margaret’s former lady in waiting, Baronness Glenconner and author of last year’s bestselling memoir, Lady in Waiting, comes a gripping, and witty, murder mystery set on the Caribbean island of Mustique.As a storm heads towards the island a few young socialites remain, unwilling to let summer’s partying end. One morning an American heiress, Amanda Fortini, fails to return from a morning swim and when a body is found, the island’s only police officer begins a murder investigation. With flights and ferries cancelled he knows that the killer must be among the islanders, and then when the storm hits, and someone else disappears, the mystery deepens. Full of suspense, humour and a memorable cast of characters Anne Glenconner’s first novel is the perfect escapist read this Christmas.

• My Horsey Life by Janet Rising (£14.99, out now in paperback)

Janet Rising has written 16 pony books for young readers including, with Carl Hester MBE, FBHS, the life story of Valegro, the greatest dressage horse that has ever lived.My Horsey Life is a memoir of the author’s five decades spent with equines including teaching riding, working for a top-class donkey stud, and 20 years as an equine journalist and editor of Pony, the magazine for young riders. A Surrey resident for the past 25 years, many of the hilarious, hair-raising and often thought-provoking equestrian memories took place in the county.

• Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory (£20, out now in hardback)

This enthralling new historical novel from one of our most popular authors is the perfect read for dark, wintery nights. Charting the rise of the Tidelands family, it opens in Restoration London where, after years of Civil War, the monarchy has been restored and Charles II is on the throne. Royalist exiles return from hiding and are rewarded, joining the hedonistic court at Whitehall Palace. For some this is a chance to make their fortunes, for others a chance to steal one. From the poverty and glamour of London to the golden streets of Venice, and onto the frontiers of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home. Superbly crafted, Dark Tides is the second book in the Fairmile series, and follows on from the number one bestseller, Tidelines.