by Bristol University Press and Policy Press
16th December 2021

For many of us, Christmas is the perfect time to start new books or finish the ones we have been meaning to finish all year.

This Christmas, the team at Bristol University Press and Policy Press have shared their favourite recent reads, just in time to help you choose a new book to get you through the festive season (in addition to the titles on your shelf from our list of course!). Browse our recommendations below.

When it launched in last year, Bristol University Press signed up to, an online retailer which supports independent bookshops. You can also browse this list there.


Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books (Pan Macmillan, 2020)
Cathy Rentzenbrink

Recommended by Kathryn King, Marketing Manager:
“Cathy Rentzenbrink will remind you why you love reading (cause we all do, don’t we?) and inspire you to read more. Highly recommended for anyone in a reading rut!”



Boy Parts (Influx Press, 2020)
Eliza Clark

Recommended by Heather Townsend, Sales and Customer Service Administrator:
Boy Parts is the ultimate dark comedy, exploring gender, sexuality and abuse with plenty of references that are sometimes toe-curlingly accurate. This book is perfection.”


The Beekeeper of Aleppo (Bonnier Books Ltd, 2020)
Christy Lefteri

Recommended by Millie Prekop, Marketing Coordinator:
“A powerful and hopeful book that challenged preconceptions I didn’t know I had.”



Rainbow Milk (Little, Brown Book Group, 2021)
Paul Mendez

Recommended by Georgie Aldridge, Sales Coordinator:
“It is an honestly beautiful book that explores race, sexuality, religious beliefs, loneliness, love and fresh beginnings. Everyone I know who has read Rainbow Milk has loved it.”


Notes on a Nervous Planet (Canongate Books Ltd, 2019)
Matt Haig

Recommended by Sarah Breaux, Senior Executive Assistant:
“I feel like I should keep reading it over and over, just a bit every night before bed. He’s a really beautiful and honest human.”



Betty (Orion Publishing Co, 2021)
Tiffany McDaniel

Recommended by Zoe Forbes, Senior Editorial Assistant:
“It’s a really brilliant book! Reminded me of Tara Westover’s Educated, if anyone has read that (another great memoir!).”



Open Water (Penguin Books Ltd, 2021)
Caleb Azumah Nelson

Recommended by Anna Richardson, Editorial Assistant:
“A beautiful story about falling in love and the uncomplicated comfort of simply existing in the proximity of someone you love. The poetic repetitious prose is like nothing else and the soundtrack to the story is great.”


Anthro-Vision: How Anthropology Can Explain Business and Life (Cornerstone, 2021)
Gillian Tett

Recommended by Paul Stevens, Publisher:
“The book reveals the “webs of meaning” that exist beneath the surface of everyday economic life, taking in finance, consumer culture and technology along the way, and it shows how we might use ideas from social anthropology to make a difference to the world.”

The New Me (Orion Publishing Co, 2019)
Halle Butler

Recommended by Rich Kemp, Production Editor:
“A novel so raw, engrossing and enraging that you may need a cup of tea and a warm hug afterwards.”



Come Closer (Faber & Faber, 2021)
Sara Gran

Recommended by Angela Gage, Marketing Coordinator:
“Not usually a reader of thrillers, I devoured this in a day and it really stayed with me.”



Milk Fed (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2021)
Melissa Broder

Recommended by Shannon Kneis, Associate Commissioning Editor:
“I devoured this book in two sittings – it is funny, wild, outrageous. Through Rachel’s emotional revelations and playful explorations, the book encouraged me to question my own boundaries and being”


The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice (Penguin Books Ltd, 2021)
Shon Faye

Recommended by Alexandra Gregory, Production Assistant:
“Whilst it’s unlikely that the truths revealed in The Transgender Issue will come as a complete surprise to readers, this book compiles statistics, moving personal accounts and manifestos for change into a comprehensive and accessible volume, written in Faye’s cutting voice.”


Extraordinary Insects: Weird. Wonderful. Indispensable. the Ones Who Run Our World. (HarperCollins Publishers, 2020)
Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

Recommended by Becky Taylor, Senior Commissioning Editor:
“This lovely little book is a fascinating insight into why insects are so amazing, bizarre, and sometimes a bit scary (that’s you, soul sucker wasp), but also so essential to our planet.”


Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (Penguin Books Ltd, 2020)
Robin Wall Kimmerer

Recommended by Sarah Bird, Managing Editor:
“Robin Wall Kimmerer shares her stories of how we can and must learn from our sisters and brothers in the plant worlds. A proper paradigm shifter of a book, and beautifully written to boot”


The Guest Cat (Pan Macmillan, 2014)
Takashi Hiraide

Recommended by Julie Atkins, International Sales Manager:
“A beautifully moving short novel about the nature of life and how to live it – you will probably need a tissue to dab your eyes…”



Where the Crawdads Sing (Little, Brown Book Group, 2019)
Delia Owens

Recommended by Freya Trand, Senior Editorial Assistant:
“It explores themes of family, love, abandonment, trust and the vivid depiction of nature through the book really takes you on a journey – I couldn’t put this one down!”



Hamnet (Headline Publishing Group, 2021)
Maggie O’Farrell

Recommended by Georgie Aldridge, Sales Coordinator:
“Heart-breaking and haunting, and completely beautiful. So good I had to make a second recommendation!”





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