Quality books from Saraband this Christmas

Posted on November 27, 2017

If you’ve stayed away from the Black Friday stampede and are looking for some quality books and immersive reads for yourself and for Christmas gifts, look no further. Whether an avid reader yourself, or buying for a bookworm, you’ll find something to suit: award-winning nature writing, compelling memoirs, literary crime and enthralling historical novels.

So, go on, fill your stockings!


Whether amateur, aficionado or expert, nature lovers will be spoiled for choice. The Blackbird Diaries by Karen Lloyd – author of the award-winning The Gathering Tide – is a charming account of our treasured garden wildlife.

Jim Crumley follows up his Wainwright-longlisted title The Nature of Autumn with a spellbinding ode to The Nature of Winter in all its icy, dramatic glory.

And in The Island in Imagination and Experience globetrotting islomane Barry Smith explores why islands have so bewitched us for centuries: from the fictional shores of literary classics to some of the most fascinating islands on Earth.

Stocking fillers

You know what they say about ‘great things’ and ‘small packages.’ Beautifully produced and compellingly written, Jim Crumley’s Encounters in the Wild books make ideal stocking presents. These perfectly formed, diminutive hardbacks see the award-winning nature writer get up close and personal with some of Britain’s favourite wildlife: from the Skylark and its full-throated song, to the fearless Barn Owl and the graceful Swan.

And not forgetting the mammals: the inquisitive Badger, the entrancingly wild Fox and the restless Hare.

For lovers of crime with a literary bent, meanwhile, we can heartily recommend Louise Hutcheson’s The Paper Cell, which is the first title in our Contraband Pocket Crime Collection.

Crime, mystery and thriller

For full-throttle detective drama, our Contraband imprint bristles with literary thrillers and distinctive, edge-of-the-seat treats.

The new novel from Graeme Macrae Burnet, The Accident on the A35, is a darkly humorous puzzler characterised by the same psychological prowess as its Man Booker-shortlisted forbear His Bloody Project.

In the Valley of the Sun, meanwhile, is a thriller with bite…quite literally. ‘A riveting blend of vampire horror, a serial killer’s tale, and police procedural,’ Andy Davidson’s acclaimed debut goes for the jugular and doesn’t let go.

Another troubled protagonist can be found in Sweet William, a pacy thriller that spans forty-eight hours in the life of a desperate father and a three-year-old child in peril.

Finally, Sally McGrane’s Moscow at Midnight was a Times and Sunday Times Crime Club Star Pick and it takes the reader on a breathtaking chase through Russia as private detective Max Rushmore investigates the death of a beautiful nuclear waste disposal expert.

Literary fiction

Spanning dystopia to romance and sweeping historical tales, our literary selection has something for every taste.

Goblin is a ‘captivating debut’ set in wartime London and modern-day Edinburgh, seen through the eyes of its idiosyncratic narrator. Goblin has been shortlisted for the Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award.

Shocking yet eerily prescient, Kenneth Steven’s 2020 explores the chaotic aftermath of a terrorist bombing. Straying into controversial territory with remarkable aplomb, it is a parable for our times.

Over to Africa in the 1970s: a remote expatriate outpost in the Zambian bush is rocked by an explosive scandal in Maggie Ritchie’s Looking for Evelyn. In the award-winning author’s post-colonial romance, two women uncover what happened against a backdrop of witchcraft and political turmoil.

Catherine Czerkawska also deftly weaves past and present in The Curiosity Cabinet, which sees two women connected by a mysterious object despite the 300 years between them. Set on the Hebridean island of Garve, it was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize.

Mind & Body

For those who like their books with a dose of philanthropy, Dr Mary Gunn is donating all royalties from the sales of Well to charity.

Uplifting and profound, Gunn’s memoir charts her journey from fear to freedom after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. For those dealing with loss during the festive season, or for anyone struggling to enjoy life to the full, this is a powerful tool for resilience.