Grimm Tales for Young and Old, Phillip Pullman, Penguin Classics

This might seem a strange recommendation seeing as I have not read any Phillip Pullman books (although Adam has), despite the His Dark Materials series being high on my ‘to-read’ list. However, that said, I have always enjoyed the literary interviews in the media that inevitably accompany a release, this being the most recent example, for he is intelligent and articulates his points in succinct, even aphoristic, ways.

But anyway, to Grimm Tales. This book is a re-telling of his 50 favourites from the original tales. Because they are written ‘for young and old’, from my reading of certain critics, in their opinion this puts the text at a bit of a disadvantage, for the times they have been re-imagined in the past – say, by Angela Carter – have been done in radical and epochal ways that others need to stand apart in such a way a ‘re-telling’ may not be able to match.

But still, that said, for someone’s first foray into the world of Grimm, I think this would be an excellent starting point. I’m sure his legion of fans agree.

The Twelve, Justin Cronin, Ballantine Books

I’m reading this right now on the Kindle (my birthday present; the book, not the Kindle) and I must admit, while I had trouble with several elements of The Passage – its predecessor – I was curious to see where Cronin might take the story in The Twelve, if he could bundle up the plot elements neatly or let them go as wild as the monsters that inhabit the land. From the early stages where I’m at (17%, which sounds weird, but I’ve no idea of the actual page number) it seems he’s chosen the latter, adding shifts in time to keep the reader concentrating (interested?).

I have my fingers crossed.

The Engagement, Chloe Hooper, Penguin

I’ve loved Hooper’s writing ever since I pulled A Child’s Book of True Crime down from the library shelf to read. All reports I’ve heard about this book, both in the press and from those who’ve read it, have been unanimously positive. That would’ve been enough for me, even before having the words “dark” and “gothic” attributed to its description!

The Daylight Gate, Jeanette Winterson, Hammer

Forget the formidable literary reputation of Winterson for a moment, the blurb is enough to draw me in regardless of the author:

“Can a man be maimed by witchcraft? Can a severed head speak? Based on the most notorious of English witch-trials, this is a tale of magic, superstition, conscience and ruthless murder. It is set in a time when politics and religion were closely intertwined; when, following the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, every Catholic conspirator fled to a wild and untamed place far from the reach of London law. This is Lancashire. This is Pendle. This is witch country.”

A Clockwork Orange – 50th Anniversary Edition, Anthony Burgess, William Heinemann

I’ve had A Clockwork Orange sitting on my shelf for years. What sets this one apart, you ask? Well, aside from the bright orange-tinged paper edge, this has an introduction by Martin Amis plus other extras that bulks out the otherwise usually slim novel considerably. What’s interesting about this anniversary release is the app that has also been released.

Nice, no?

It really shows where the times are going when one – after investigating what goods are on offer – has the need to ask, “Do I buy the book (in whatever format) or the app, which also has the book?”


What fiction titles are you buying/asking for this Christmas?


Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity