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Books for Christmas

Christmas shopping? How about a good book? 

Selection of seasonal books from Cambridge.

With Christmas around the corner, many of us will soon be starting out on the annual quest for the perfect present, scouring the shops and online stores. 

The Cambridge University Press bookshop is open for business, showcasing thousands of titles published by the Press and with access to many thousands more Press titles as print-on-demand editions from its back catalogue. 

But if that seems like a lot to get through, here are a few of our top choices from the last year, along with some kind words from the reviewers. Maybe you know someone who would love to spend the holidays curled up with one of these very good books.  

The World of Bob Dylan, Edited by Sean Latham 

The World of Bob Dylan chronicles a lifetime of creative invention that has made a global impact as leading rock and pop critics and music scholars address themes and topics central to Dylan's life and work. Incorporating a rich array of new material from never before accessed archives, The World of Bob Dylan offers a comprehensive, uniquely informed and wholly fresh account of the songwriter, artist, filmmaker, and Nobel Laureate whose unique voice has permanently reshaped our cultural landscape. 

A book filled with scholarly scruple and imaginative audacity. A true Dylanfest.' – Declan Kiberd, Irish Times 

The Impossible Office by Anthony Seldon 

Marking the third centenary of the office of Prime Minister, this book tells its extraordinary story, explaining how and why it has endured longer than any other democratic political office in world history. Sir Anthony Seldon, historian of the residence of the UK Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, explores the lives and careers, loves and scandals, successes and failures, of the UK’s Prime Ministers. From Robert Walpole and William Pitt the Younger, to Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher, Seldon discusses which Prime Ministers have been most effective and why. This book celebrates the humanity and frailty, work and achievement, of these 55 remarkable individuals, who led the country through times of peace, crisis and war. 

…an intelligent and insightful account of the evolution of the role.’ – Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer (Book of the Week) 

A Tattoo on My Brain by Daniel Gibbs 

Dr Daniel Gibbs is one of 50 million people worldwide with an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. He has also spent 25 years working as a neurologist, caring for patients with the very disease now affecting him. He began to suspect he had Alzheimer's several years before any official diagnosis could be made. In this highly personal account, Dr Gibbs documents the effect his diagnosis has had on his life and explains his advocacy for improving early recognition of Alzheimer's. Weaving clinical knowledge from decades caring for dementia patients with his personal experience of the disease, this is an optimistic tale of one man's journey with early-stage Alzheimer's disease. 

Part memoir and part self-help guide, this book sees Gibbs reveal the importance of building your cognitive reserve with preventative measures early in life.' – Natasha Harding, The Sun 

After the Virus by Hilary Cooper and Simon Szreter 

Why was the UK so unprepared for the pandemic, suffering one of the highest death rates and worst economic contractions of the major world economies in 2020? Hilary Cooper and Simon Szreter reveal the deep roots of the UK’s vulnerability and set out a powerful manifesto for change post-Covid-19. They argue that our commitment to a flawed neoliberal model and the associated disinvestment in our social fabric left the UK dangerously exposed and unable to mount an effective response. This is not at all what made Britain great. The long history of the highly innovative universal welfare system established by Elizabeth I facilitated both the industrial revolution and, when revived after 1945, the post-war Golden Age of rising prosperity. Only by learning from that past can we create the fairer, nurturing and empowering society necessary to tackle the global challenges that lie ahead - climate change, biodiversity collapse and global inequality. 

… original and compelling.’ – Will Hutton, The Observer 

Romanticism: 100 poems, Edited by Michael Ferber 

This lively anthology includes lesser-known verse from the best-known Romantic poets, as well as a few fine poems by little-known poets. Perfect for readers who would like to enjoy the many riches of arguably poetry's greatest era, or for those already familiar with the poets but who would welcome some happy surprises, this varied international selection includes verse translated from six languages. Alongside the poems themselves, the book has concise, informative headnotes and a helpful introduction that charts a course to understanding the Romantic movement as a whole. 

I must warn that this marvellous collection of both well-known and neglected poems is liable to make the reader fall in love with poetry.’ Charles Simic, Pullitzer Prize Winner and former Poet Laureate of the United States 


Or, if the poetry lover in your life is going to be too busy stuffing the turkey to read a book on the big day, why not treat them to the audiobook version of All the Sonnets of Shakespeare, featuring the voices of Sir Kenneth Branagh and Lolita Chakrabarti? The collection breaks new ground by arranging all of the sonnets, including those that appear in Shakespeare’s plays, in chronological order. By positioning the sonnets in their probable order of composition for the first time, the book casts fresh light on how and why Shakespeare wrote them. Edited by Paul Edmondson and Sir Stanley Wells of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the book has won praise from its celebrity narrators. 

Alastair Lynn from the Cambridge University Press Bookshop, said: 

"We always see an increase in sales during the festive season and it’s great that we can bring people together at this time of year through a shared love of books."

He added: "A good book makes a great present anytime of the year. Browse the huge number of titles on our website or, if you are in Cambridge, why not pop into our historic shop on Trinity Street?"  

The Bookshop opened in 1992 to showcase the full range of Cambridge University Press publishing, but the shop itself has been around since 1581 when it was run by a William Scarlett. The first University printer, Thomas Thomas, was based just over the road on what was Regent Walk and is now Senate House Lawn, in an area that was really the bookselling centre of the town. Passing from hand to hand over the centuries, 1 Trinity Street was notably run by Macmillan and Bowes (and then Bowes and Bowes) from the mid-nineteenth century. We took on the site in 1992 and are still going strong today, showcasing over 50,000 different titles in the shop.