by Margaret Chrystall
YOU still have time to guarantee your loved ones have a page-turner in their Christmas stockings with a look at the titles that are topping the bestseller lists in bookshops across the north.
The local title flying off the shelves according to Waterstones Inverness is Jennifer Morag Henderson’s Josephine Tey: A Life (Sandstone, £19.99 ), opening up some of the secrets of the thriller writer known at home as Beth MacKintosh, but who had already had a glittering career high spot with her London West End play written as Gordon Daviot and launching the career of John Gielgud (read an interview with Jennifer here: .
Take a step back in time with the latest photo book recalling the city’s past with Inverness Remembered: Volume XI (Scottish Provincial Press Ltd, £10.99).
An unlikely hit this winter has been the number one title Norwegian Wood (Quercus, £20) by Lars Mytting about how to fell trees and stack wood is this year’s most surprising bestseller.
The Ladybird book titles have had a makeover for adults with the classic illustrations for children now put together in tongue-in-cheek titles such as The Wife: Ladybird Books For Grown-ups by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris (Michael Joseph, £6.99) with other titles including The Hipster, The Hangover, The Shed and The Mid-Life Crisis.
Star Wars fans can see their favourite films in a new light with The Art Of Star Wars by Phil Szostak and Lucasfilm Ltd
(Abrams Comicarts, £16.99) as the book explores the sketches, storyboards, and concept designs that sparked the latest film.
The chain’s book of the year is Caroline Bickford-Smith’s The Fox And The Star a story for all ages about these unusual best friends (Penguin, £14.99).
One of the year’s consistent number one bestsellers - now with a special hardback edition out too - has been thriller The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday, £8.99) – who visited as part of Scottish Book Week a month ago (read the interview here:
At Ullapool Bookshop, the local bestseller is The Birds Of Ullapool And Lochbroom by Richard Rafe (Lochbroom Field Club, £4) – and owner John Shaw confirmed that titles such as Norwegian Wood and Wild Pony Whispering by Dawn Westcott had been selling well there since it was published in April. And the sixth novel in "the Neapolitan novels" by Italian Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend (Europa Editions, £11.99), is her story of a group of friends that began back in 1991.
At Dornoch Bookshop, Antony and Maggie Hope’s local big seller since its publication at the end of last year has been The Dornoch Cooks (£7.95) which has 80 collected recipes from people in Dornoch. (Go to our website and follow this link for their Christmas cake recipe: www.whatson-north.co.uk/Whats-On/Books/Dornoch-cook-book-gives-readers-something-to-digest-this-Christmas-23122014.htm)
Also selling well has been Set Adrift Upon The World: The Sutherland Clearances by James Hunter (Birlinn General, £25), as has local writer Paul Lippok’s My Story: My Journey From Silesia to Scotland, Life Love And Laughter by Rev James Simpson, The Secret Of Skara Vhore by Jennifer Calder.
"As you can see, we have been championing local authors, these are easily our best sellers with hundreds between them in 2015 for sales," said Antony.
manager Wayne Thomson laughed: "We are champing at the bit for people to write about Elgin!", reporting some familiar names flying off the shelves – such as
the Waterstones’ book of the year The Fox And The Star, but adding some others – such as Murder Of A Lady (British Library Crime Classics, £8.99) by Anthony Wynne and never reprinted since it was originally out in 1931 with its murder mystery based on the only clue – a silver fish scale. The lifestory of TV dangerman Guy Martin, When You Dead, You Dead: My Adventures As A Road Racing Truck Fitter (Virgin Books, £20), the first but not only mention for Ian Rankin’s latest Rebus Even Dogs In The Wild (Orion, £19.99) (read our review here):
Also it was not the only mention for Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song (Penguin) with renewed interest since the recent release of Terence Davies’s new film.
Local titles that are on plenty of people’s Christmas lists in Elgin are dolphin expert and photographer Charlie Phillips’ stunning coffee table picture-book On A Rising Tide (Ness Publishing, £20).
And another hot title in Elgin is local writer Derek Laing’s quirky Elgin’s First 100 Phone Numbers (£8.99) – odd, you might think, till you discover that Alexander Graham Bell was a pupil-teacher at Weston House Academy in Elgin in the 1860s. Businesses that took out the new-fangled phone and had their own numbers in the directory from 1895 included the Moray & Nairn Newspaper Company Ltd!
At Yeadons Bookshop in Elgin, a title with local interest that is popular this year is Aberdeenshire North And Moray (Yale University Press, £35) by David Walker and Matthew Woodworth with a close look at important buildings in the area including Buckie and Banff and the whole of Moray – including Elgin Cathedral, Brodie Castle and Duff House. There, Norwegian Wood, the many colouring books for adults that are out this year are among the general bestsellers, as is Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman (William Heinemann, £18.99), follow-up to classic To Kill A Mockingbird.
At Nairn Bookshop, owner Mavis Macdonald – who moved into larger premises in November – revealed that her top local bestseller is Nairn Through Time by Alan Barron (Amberley Publishing, £14.99). General chart-toppers are Norwegian Wood and also the quirky adult Ladybird titles – Mavis says she wishes she had ordered more initially! And crime fiction writers jointly topping the popularity stakes are Peter May – latest book Runaway (Quercus, £7.99) plus his Enzo titles set in France – and Ian Rankin’s latest Even Dogs In The Wild (Orion, £19.99).
And maybe not surprisingly in Waterstones Aviemore, it’s outdoor and climbing titles that are big local sellers. In Some Lost Place: The First Ascent Of Nanga Parbat’s Mazeno Ridge (Vertebrate Publishing, £24) is by Newtonmore’s Sandy Allan and was nominated for the Boardman Tasker Prize For Mountain Literature this year. And last year’s winner of the same award is the elusive figure of the man often dubbed Britian’s free solo climber Jules Lines for Tears Of The Dawn (Shelterstone, £20) and Ian Murray’s interviews with the people of Braes Of Mar in the Cairngorms in Old Deeside Ways (Lochnagar Publishing, £19.95) has proved another popular choice.
More general hits include spy thriller Kolymsky Heights set in Siberia by the late Lionel Davidson, reprinted by Faber (£8.99) and the first crime thriller set in a town a lot like Campbeltown, Whisky In Small Glasses by Denzil Meyrick (Birlinn, £8.99).
At Grantown Bookshop, Marjory Marshall revealed a locally well-known figure, Aleksander Krawczyinski, features in a book about his life I Looked Back (A4 Design, £8.99) written by his daughter Val. The story was documented in a BBC programme some time back and the book documents Aleksander’s Ukrainian upbringing and wartime experiences before he arrived in Scotland speaking Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, German and Italian.
And, again, Marjory named Norwegian Wood as a huge seller.
She laughed: "At least the men of Strathspey won’t be getting socks this year!"