I'll be the first person to admit that I'm a hard reader to buy books for. There are so many in the house that you could be easily forgiven for buying something for me that I'd just finished or had stacked into the "to be read" pile by the side of the bed.
Even my immediate family doesn't bother trying to guess, so it is left to me to make a list. As a consequence I don't often get books at Christmas that I'm not expecting. Which isn't to say I won't enjoy them anyway.
This year I received:
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - the irony of receiving a book at Christmas by the world's foremost atheist does not escape me.
The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford - the hard question here is whether I should go back and read the two previous books in the sequence first.
North Face of Soho by Clive James - probably the funniest set of memoirs written by an Australian, one that needs no introduction at all given the amount of coverage it has been getting lately.
The Planets by Dava Sobel - back to an old love of astronomy.
On the giving front, I steered away from cookbooks for Herself this year - that bookshelf is full, very full - and nothing stood out for me anyway. She received the latest Rumpole novel by John Mortimer and Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann, featuring the world's first sheep detective. She also got the latest Alexander McCall Smith, but he's putting out so many these days I can't, for the life of me, remember which one it was. The kids got too many to mention separately. I gave two copies of Kiran Desai's Man Booker Prize winning novel The Inheritance of Loss, (the Miles Franklin winner goes out for upcoming birthdays); and Peter Temple's The Broken Shore - giving my father a chance to find another Australian crime writer he might enjoy. Most of my nieces and nephews are either too old - we don't give presents to adults at Christmas, or, we're not supposed to - or too young for chapter-books.
Kerryn Goldsworthy has mentioned books she received this year, and I suspect she'd be even harder to buy for than me. What did the rest of you get, or give?