Holiday reads and gift guide: escape and read

The holiday season is here and what better way to spend it catching up on some reading? Whether you are looking for a book to unwind with or a gift for the book lover in your life, we've curated a list of some of 2021's bestsellers, award-winners and must-read books.

Slow down and be transported to faraway places with a list of unmissable fiction featuring stories of whirlwind friendships, dark secrets and power, historical fantasy, painfully funny coming-of-age and uplifting tales of love from a fresh new voice, internet sensations and international bestsellers.

Never Tell a Lie

by Gail Schimmel

Book cover for Never Tell a Lie

After a tumultuous marriage, Mary Wilson is happy in her uncomplicated life, focusing on her 12-year-old son. She has always been content with her little family but then she finds an old postcard that throws her past into question...
From the author of The Accident and Two Months, comes the story of a whirlwind friendship – and the dark secrets lurking beneath it.

Soul Sisters

by Lesley Lokko

Book cover for Soul Sisters

Jen McFadden and Kwemisa Mashabane have lived like sisters, bound by ties of friendship and by their shared family history. In London, the friends meet South African politician Solam Matsunyane and both are swept off their feet. Solam is looking for a wife to help further his political career. The lifelong bond between Kemi and Jen is threatened by Solam's impending choice, and by the explosive secrets of their own shared past. Soul Sisters is a rich, intergenerational tale of love, race, power and secrets which centres on the lifelong friendship between two women: Scottish Jen McFadden and South African-born uKwemisa Mashabane, known to her friends as Kemi.


by Raven Leilani

Book cover for Luster

Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2021
Longlisted for the Women's Prize For Fiction 2021
One of Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2020
Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. Razor-sharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster is a painfully funny coming-of-age story about what it means to be young now, told by a fresh new voice.

She Who Became the Sun

by Shelley Parker-Chan

Book cover for She Who Became the Sun

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty plain, a seer shows two children their fates. For a family’s eighth-born son, there’s greatness. For the second daughter, nothing. In 1345, China lies restless under harsh Mongol rule. And when a bandit raid wipes out their home, the two children must somehow survive. Zhu Chongba despairs and gives in. But the girl resolves to overcome her destiny. So she takes her dead brother’s identity and begins her journey. Can Zhu escape what’s written in the stars, as rebellion sweeps the land? Or can she claim her brother’s greatness – and rise as high as she can dream?
An absorbing historical fantasy, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan reimagines the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor.

The Prince of the Skies

by Antonio Iturbe

Book cover for The Prince of the Skies

One man's search for a life lived to its fullest...
Bound to move every one of your book club readers, The Prince of the Skies is a tale of love and companionship, war and heroism, and the power of the written word from the bestselling author of The Librarian of Auschwitz, Antonio Iturbe. A must-read novel, The Prince of the Skies is based on a true story – the extraordinary life and mysterious death of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince.

Under the Whispering Door

by TJ Klune

Book cover for Under the Whispering Door

Welcome to Charon's Crossing.
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead. But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days. Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.

The Missing Sister

by Lucinda Riley

Book cover for The Missing Sister

The six D’Aplièse sisters have each been on their own incredible journey to discover their heritage, but they still have one question left unanswered: who and where is the seventh sister? They only have one clue – an image of a star-shaped emerald ring. The search to find the missing sister will take them across the globe – from New Zealand to Canada, England, France and Ireland – uniting them all in their mission to complete their family at last. In doing so, they will slowly unearth a story of love, strength and sacrifice that began almost one hundred years ago, as other brave young women risk everything to change the world around them.

Watch our author Q&A (the home edit) with Gail Schimmel, author of Never Tell a Lie.