20 great books for Christmas

Posted on 28 November 2012

The time has come for Christmas shopping. And whether you love it or you hate it, it has to be done. Finding ideas for presents could potentially get tough, especially for the distant aunt or cousin that you only see once a year. But as you’ll know, books are always a safe present option, so to make your search a little easier, here are 20 awesome books that’ll make great Christmas presents.

Books on everyone’s lips

books for Christmas

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

If, like me, you obediently devoured every single Harry Potter book (more than once) then it’s probably time you admit that you were reading children’s books all along and that it might be a good idea to see what JK Rowling can do when she puts her mind to adult fiction. Just be warned – this tragicomedy is as far as it can get from the magical world of friendships and wizardry.

The Racketeer by John Grisham

The ideal gift for any Grisham fan (or anyone that’s into a bit of a thriller novel), his latest accomplishment will not disappoint. The Racketeer is about a federal judge’s murder and an imprisoned lawyer who has inside knowledge on the details of said murder. Just how we like a good Grisham.

Winter of the World by Ken Follet

Same as the case with Grisham, Ken Follet has also been around the block, so you’ll be sure to know if someone in the family is a fan. This is the follow-up to Fall of Giants and is set during the second World War. Follet knows just how to keep you turning those pages, so if you know someone with a keen taste in history novels, perhaps a little box set with both books will make the perfect gift.


Books to curl up on the couch with

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

If you’re looking for an excuse to ditch the extended family lunch early, you might want to buy this one for yourself. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that Flynn’s work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” A gripping suspense novel, Gone Girl is a thriller about a marriage gone horribly wrong.

The end of your life book club by Will Schwalbe

Probably a bit of a tear jerker, this one is for the ladies. This story follows a mother and son’s journey as they start a book club together after she is diagnosed with a fatal illness. The eclectic selection of books they choose inspire deep-seated conversations between the two, bringing them closer together while her life becomes increasingly shorter.

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

If someone enjoyed Tuesdays with Morrie, they’ll also like Albom’s newest edition to the inspirational bookshelf. The story is a little abstract, jumping through time as if it’s something much less rigid and set-in-stone as we perceive it. But ultimately, time is something to be respected much more than our modern lives allow.


Books for sport lovers

100 memorable sporting moments by Peter Joyce

South Africans are known to be rather fond of their sport, making this the perfect gift for anyone that loves reliving the most epic moments in South African sporting history as if it happened to them personally. You’ll find all the most enduring moments, accompanied by beautiful photos, as you page through the epic tale of our sportsmen and women, from the very beginning up until the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton

Take a step back and enjoy this more critical view of the world of cycling. This one leaves nothing out, so expect doping, competing and ups and downs of the world’s most iconic rider – Lance Armstrong. See inside this world of relentless coaching and the most epic physical and mental challenges.


Books about people

What’s news? By Riaan Cruywagen

You don’t have to be Afrikaans to know who Riaan Cruywagen is. He has been the face of the news (and to many the face of Afrikaans) for decades. Anyone who enjoys his formally funny remarks and perfect, professional pronunciation will love reading his story.

Mud, sweat and tears by Bear Grylls

Also an autobiography, Grylls tells how he’s been searching for adventure since he was a little boy living on a remote island off of Britain’s coast. Any adventure-junkie will love reading about his epic expeditions, his horrific parachuting accident and how he recovered to continue this more-than-exhilarating lifestyle.


Books for cooks (and wannabe cooks)

Fast, Fresh, Simple by Donna Hay

This is not just a cookbook; it’s the Donna Hay antidote to toady’s whirlwind life. With Donna’s help and the confidence of tested shortcuts and time saving tips to freshen up every recipe, you can rediscover entertaining and cooking as the wonderful, relaxing shared adventure it’s meant to be.

Abundance: city food from the Cape by Marlene van der Westhuizen

The country rejoiced when Marlene finally released a new cookbook. In it she shares brand new recipes and her love and passion for Cape Town and its food. Just one look at the magnificent photos will have you rushing off to the kitchen.


Books for braaiers

Ultimate Braai Master by Justin Bonello

After the very successful television series, you can now read and re-read the story of South Africa’s most epic culinary road trip. Justin and his 30 friends covered 8000km, cooking up a storm as they went – mostly on an open fire.

Read his recipes on our blog

Fireworks by Jan Braai

From the man who manages to unite a country around a fire every year on National Braai Day (or Heritage Day as some may know it), comes the most comprehensive collection of braai recipes, techniques and advice for experiencing that perfect braai. In his own words: ‘Fireworks is about braaing, about making fires with wood and about you confidently cooking great meals on the coals of that fire.’ As simple as that.

Read how Jan became the braai master
Read about Jan’s experience of writing a book
Read some of Jan’s braai recipe’s on our blog


Books for the coffee table

Best of Getaway Gallery

Don’t worry about this one collecting dust as this selection of amazing wildlife, landscape and portrait images will have all your guests paging through in awe. The best part is that our readers took all these images.

Read more about it hereBuy it online now

Origins: Song of Nooitgedacht, a remote valley in the Karoo by Jennifer Gough-Cooper

British photographer Jennifer Gough-Cooper explores the ancient valley of Nooitgedacht in the Karoo through the lens of a 35-millimetre film camera. The resulting images paw at, reveal and ultimately expand the valley’s history from its smallest detail to its most sweeping landscape.

Read the full review on our website


Books for a chuckle

The Best of Getaway Funny Signs

Indulge in this wild cocktail of signs spotted along the road that has brought countless laughs to our readers on their travels.  They have been sending us their favourite roadside howlers ever since the first issue of Getaway in 1989. It’s led to three books of funny signs and we’re incredibly proud of the fourth.

Read more about it here
Buy it online now

Spud by John van de Ruit

The fourth, and final, in the series of hilarious boarding school accounts was released in August and sees Spud Milton return to boarding school for his 1993 Matric year. Complete someone’s collection or introduce a spud-virgin to these laugh-out-loud tales.


Books about our natural world and its inhabitants

The Rhino Keepers by Clive & Anton Walker

The authors are among Africa’s most dedicated wildlife keepers and this book is a cry from the heart to save one of the world’s most extraordinary creatures. With horn now priced higher than gold or cocaine and a rhino being killed in South Africa every 16 hours, they suggest we discover what drives the trade in China and Vietnam and work out how to reduce the demand. Read the full review in the September issue of Getaway Magazine.

Read more about rhino poaching

Searching Africa: Classic African Travel from Windhoek to Tangier by David Robbins

Award-winning South African writer David Robbins has been producing investigative journalism, fiction and travel writing for 30 years. His latest publication is a hefty collection that charts his progress through 22 countries in sub-Saharan, East, Central and Northwest Africa. Read the full review in the July issue of Getaway Magazine.


The folks here at Getaway recommend the following

Cameron Ewart-Smith, our editor, is currently reading Journey from Darkness by Gareth Crocker and Llewellyn Crocker. ‘It’s about two guys who discover desert elephants just after World War I. It’s still early days so I can’t tell you more than that.’ He does, however, recommend his favourite. ‘The best book I’ve read in ages is Martinique Stilwell’s Thinking up a Hurricane. It’s an awesome tale of a family sailing round the world. Possibly one of the best biographical travel books ever written!’

Our sub editor, Claire Reddie recommends Bitten by Sarah Graham ‘It’s become a source of weekly meal inspiration in our house.’

Read the review here

Sasha van Zyl, wine journo and web editor at Winemag.co.za, reckons that Lessons with Liam, by Chef Liam Tomlin and photographs by Russel Smith, is ‘a seriously good cookbook that not only gives you all the essential recipes you need to know in the kitchen but also teaches you all the basics about cooking, with excellent photos to accompany.’

Sasha’s boyfriend is reading The Final Confessions of Mabel Stark, a tale about the real Mabel Stark who was a tiger trainer her whole life. It’s an ‘awe-inspiring biography of a courageous woman and he tells me one of the best reads he’s come across.’

Chris Davies, our digital projects manager, has only one book on his wish list – Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes.

Meg de Jong, digital projects manager, recommends The Ward by SL Grey for those who like scary and local books and she says that Fairest comic series by Lauren Beukes (art by Inaki Miranda) will make a great gift.

If you seek classics that are perfect for children and adults alike, then Basil Scordilis, intern at Winemag.co.za and Getaway, has some ideas. ‘The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo is a timeless classic about a boy finding himself through struggle while The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is just as timeless and relates a story about a man who meets a little prince in the stars and who teaches him about life.’

And me? I’m am currently burying my head in My Life with Leopards by Fransje van Riel. It follows game range Graham Cooke as he hand-rears two leopard cubs in an unfenced camp in Londolozi Private Nature Reserve. Like him, you’ll fall in love with these little creatures, each with their own personality, and you’ll adore reading about this extraordinary family’s antics in the wild.

Read more about the book launch


*Photo courtesy of Kat




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