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What Text wants (and will give) for Christmas

It can feel a bit risky* to get a publishing professional a book for Christmas: what if they’ve already read it (and hated it)? What if they’re judging my choices? What if the last thing they want is a book after spending all year making them?

Well, fear not. We love getting books, and lament the fact that we don’t get as many as gifts any more: after all, we got into this game because we love books. So here are the books Text staff are asking Santa for for Christmas, and the books they’ll be getting for their loved ones.

*It seems like you’re pretty safe if you’re buying them the latest Barbara Kingsolver, judging by the responses below.

Jane Novak, Publicity Manager

I’ve worked in publishing for 15 years and my parents are booksellers so almost nobody dares to give me books for Christmas but they are always what I want most! I’m a fiction junkie so I would love to read the new Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behaviour, and May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes. I’ve just read Ancient Light by John Banville but I also adore his Benjamin Black books so Vengeance would also be on the list. My guilty pleasure though, the book I’m looking forward to reading while floating around a pool with a stubby, is Justin Cronin’s The Twelve.

For my step-daughter, I have already chosen Life After Death by Damien Echols. She has followed the West Memphis Case for years so will love this. For my literature-loving friend, I have bought Per Petterson’s extraordinary Out Stealing Horses and for the friend who reads everything, Toni Jordan’s Nine Days. I cried my eyes out on a plane reading this and it’s one of those rare books that you could give anyone regardless of age or gender. An instant classic.

David Winter, Editor

For Christmas I hope to receive food, music and cash; you wouldn’t give a greengrocer a tray of mangos, would you? However, I’ll be given books, and be grateful, because soon I’ll be in a shack in southern Tasmania, staring at mountains and sea, wondering how to make the radio—my only contact with the world—shift from static to cricket.

I’ll cross fingers for Waging Heavy Peace, because it’s Neil Young and longer than all the Crazy Horse guitar solos put together (terrible idea), and I’ve hours to fill. I’ll be hoping for Michelle de Kretser’s Questions of Travel; Ross Coulthart’s The Lost Diggers looks amazing.

In the New Year I get through classics: Hamsun, Harrower…heavy stuff starting with H. On the list are Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin and an oddity called Isle of Mountains: Charles Barrett, a Melbourne journalist, went roaming in Tasmania after World War II; accompanying photos are by the legendary Frank Hurley.

I’m contractually obliged not to raid Text’s stockroom for stocking-stuffers. But I’ll check out Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project (I must be the only person who hasn’t), Diego Marani’s New Finnish Grammar and Wayne Macauley’s Caravan Story, which we republished this year.

Michelle Calligaro, Digital Manager

Dear Santa, can I have A. S. Patric’s Las Vegas for Vegans, Alice Munro’s Dear Life, Richard Ford’s Canada, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour, Zadie Smith’s NW, Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue and Kevin PowersThe Yellow Birds…and…oh, I’m running out of space…in that case, Mum can have Alice Munro, Dad gets Richard Ford, sisters will get Smith and Kingsolver, best friend can have the Chabon, and brother will get Zane Lovitt’s The Midnight Promise—my favourite book of the year—and Wayne Macauley’s The Cook, just because he should. Ooh, and there’s still one left for me! And afterwards, in true Christmas spirit, we can all share. Thanks, Santa.

Rachel Shepheard, Publicist

For Christmas this year, I’ll be giving my mum Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book Flight Behaviour as well as A. M. Homes’s May We be Forgiven. My plan is to ‘borrow’ them when she has finished reading them—but don’t worry, she can have my copies of The Amateur Science of Love by Craig Sherborne and Nine Days by Toni Jordan in exchange. My dad will be getting a copy of Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein, because he is a sunset-gazing type of guy. Nanna will be unwrapping a copy of Brenda Niall’s gorgeous True North. All my friends will be getting those nifty Lantern Cookery Classics. And I’ll probably be giving copies of Kevin PowersThe Yellow Birds and Zane Lovitt’s The Midnight Promise away to anyone who will accept them—such superb and exciting debuts!

As for me, if someone could gift me The Forrests by Emily Perkins or Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears I’d be forever grateful.

Shalini Kunahlan, Marketing Coordinator

The book I’d like for Christmas has not been published. Yet! I’d like a book written by the dapper Peter Schjeldahl (New Yorker art critic), on his meanderings through the NY art scene from the 1960s till now. It would be a beautifully bound, glossy hardcover, that’d incorporate an audio visual experience—similar to a recent Campari promo that embedded a mini screen in a print book. This is so I could see Peter doing an Attenborough, but with artworks instead of lions, while turning its pages.

Lucky friends of mine will be getting the Ottolenghi cookbook and spunky, collectable Text Classics bundles.

Imogen Stubbs, Production Coordinator

Top of my wishlist this year is Beci Orpin’s Find and Keep, Megan Morton’s Things I Love and the new Ottolenghi cookbook Jerusalem, so I can spend my holidays cooking, crafting and redecorating. In between I’m hoping to be reading about some favourite writers in John Freeman’s How to Read a Novelist and some short stories of the Tasmanian kind in Deep South.

I’ll be getting my twitter-obsessed sister Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, while I know Nan will love Brenda Niall’s story of the Durack sisters, True North. I’m going to get movie-loving Mum on to S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep before it makes it to the big screen, and for all my friends a colourful Text Classic each.

Penny Hueston, Senior Editor

For Christmas, I’d like A. M. HomesMay We Be Forgiven; Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety; Tony Judt’s Postwar; James Knowlson’s Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett; Richard YatesThe Easter Parade; and Bohumil Hrabal’s Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age. No cookbooks.

As for what I’m giving others, they’ll unwrap the Lonely Planet New York City guide; Christina Stead’s The Puzzleheaded Girl; Jorge Luis BorgesLabyrinths; Jeremy ChambersThe Vintage and the Gleaning; Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower; Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall; Craig Sherborne’s The Amateur Science of Love; and Wayne Macauley’s The Cook.

Anne Beilby, Rights Manager

I’m hoping to get Texts from Dog by October Jones, a collection of text messages from a bulldog to his owner: not dissimilar to Wilfred, but in text message form. I’d also like Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue—I just love the stories he tells—and Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, which was a buzz book at the Frankfurt Book Fair a few years ago and is now available here. I’m hoping January gives me a chance to head out of town with a copy of Michelle de Kretser’s Questions of Travel so I can sit down and enjoy it without any distractions. I read The Best Australian Essays every year, and I’m looking forward to the 2012 edition, edited by Ramona Koval. Reading her By the Book earlier this year has also given me lots of authors to catch up on.

I’ll be giving out copies of Craig Sherborne’s The Amateur Science of Love, one of the most devastating, cutting, ruthless and funny portraits of a relationship. Patrick White’s Happy Valley is another one: it is such a privilege to publish this book and such a pleasure to read. As this is the first time it’s been available in decades, I don’t think anyone will already have an old copy on their shelves. Jacinta Halloran’s Pilgrimage is beautiful and heartbreaking and made me go and give my mum a big hug. Derek B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night is one to give fans of literary crime. Anna Krien’s Quarterly Essay Us and Them: On the Importance of Animals is a really important piece that I’ll be encouraging everyone to read.

Ali Arnold, Editor

I want Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. And then I want to have never read anything else she’s written so I can start over again. Also Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel and Lace by Shirley Conran.

I’ll be giving Shadows by Paula Weston to all the angel readers out there, and then to readers who wouldn’t pick up an angel book if it flapped its feathery wings at them. And The Very Cranky Bear to all the kids. Hilarious. For others, Ramona Koval’s By the Book, because it leaves you feeling warm and happy and smart.

Mandy Brett, Senior Editor

Mostly I don’t give books as presents because of working in publishing—something about that special way people look at me when they open the parcel that makes me anxious to assure them I paid retail. My father, however, serendipitously doesn’t care how I came by the gear as long as he gets to rip the paper off a lot of it. This Christmas it’ll be Zane Lovitt’s The Midnight Promise—one of ours, but the best crime I’ve read for a long time on any list. Glen Duncan’s wolf-lit epic Talulla Rising would be a shoo-in too, except that Dad’s had it for months. It’s so much fun I couldn’t make him wait. (It’s also full of perverse sex but we don’t talk about that.) Consequently I’m looking at paying full bookshop rates for Death Comes to Pemberley, P. D. James’s homage to the classic Pride and Prejudice with Zombies. Some Christmases I also go for a muesli book, something Dad ought to read but probably won’t. He generally finds historical fiction a bit long on fibre and short on fats, but this year I think he is overdue a bowl of Hilary Mantel. Deluxe recipe, with macadamias and cranberries.

Stephanie Stepan, Publicist

Every Christmas I hand a little wish list around. I know it’s not what you’re meant to do but I have been labeled as ‘difficult’ to buy for (you know the one) and this year I will be hoping with all my might for the Jerusalem cookbook and This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. Lately I have been lamenting the fact that my friends don’t have kids because if they did they would all be getting a copy of Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy. Everyone should have a chance to meet the fabulous Georges. Someone else I can’t get out of my head is John Dorn, the central character in Zane Lovitt’s The Midnight Promise, and I will be giving this sensational debut to anyone after a brilliant summer read. And of course, you can’t go past the genius of Shaun Tan, can you? I plan to give my boyfriend The Oopsatoreum, but who am I kidding, I want this one all for myself too.

Alaina Gougoulis, Editorial and Digital Publishing

What I really want for Christmas is the time to read all the books I’ve bought through the year and haven’t had a chance to read yet. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into Junot Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, Zadie Smith’s NW, Andrew Croome’s Midnight Empire, Josephine Rowe’s Tarcutta Wake, D. T. Max’s Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, Grace Coddington’s Grace: A Memoir and who am I kidding I’m going to squander the holidays watching American Horror Story and eating frozen grapes.

Still, if someone were to get me David Foster Wallace’s Both Flesh and Not, Alice Munro’s Dear Life or Michael and Matthew Dickman’s 50 American Plays, I would be delighted to add them to the teetering stack of not-read books next to my bed, which will topple and crush me to death as soon as my order of Gitta Sereny’s Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth arrives.

I’ll be giving my friends copies of Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower, because there’s nothing like a relentless, tragic portrait of an oppressive and odious man wreaking cruel psychological torture on his seriously messed-up family to make Christmas with your own family seem not all that bad, actually. (Also, it’s absolutely brilliant.) They’ll also get copies of Wayne Macauley’s books, because you can’t be a friend of mine if you’re not a fan of his.


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