Book in for fun, games and comedy at Christmas - book reviews

A Very British Christmas: Twelve Days of Discomfort and Joy by Rhodri Marsden
A Very British Christmas: Twelve Days of Discomfort and Joy by Rhodri Marsden
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Laugh out loud at those annoying British Christmas traditions,  check out a brilliant book of party games, discover your wild side, enjoy an inside look at hit TV show Friends, and meet Kimi Räikkönen, the elusive star of F1 motorsport.

A Very British Christmas: Twelve Days of Discomfort and Joy by Rhodri Marsden

If your idea of Christmas is just dipping in and out of it rather than a full immersion, then this hilarious and perceptive book is just what Santa ordered to fill in the ‘dipping out’ moments.

A Very British Christmas – a wryly comical compendium of the very recognisable and often ridiculous mores, mishaps and habits that overtake this nation when the festive season arrives – comes from writer and musician Rhodri Marsden who, for the last four years, has been running the popular seasonal #duvetknowitschristmas hashtag.

The hashtag is now requested every year from Marsden’s fans and followers and their photos of the spare rooms they have been relegated to over the festive period spawned this laugh-out-loud account of the Brits at both play and (a questionable!) pleasure.

The old saying asks us to imagine how wonderful it would be if all our Christmases came at once, an image that supposedly evokes delight, happiness and nothing going wrong, but the British style Christmas doesn’t always turn out that way as many of us have learned from bitter experience!

With that in mind, sit back and enjoy a twelve-stage sleigh ride through the best, worst, strangest and funniest aspects of the Christmas holiday, with cultural icons saluted, national habits dissected and personal reminiscences from those who have eaten all the mince pies and lived to tell the tale.

Amusing and gently affectionate, this is the essential Christmas stocking filler for every Brit who has ever found themselves on a deflating air bed in their parents’ spare room wedged up against the washing machine come Christmas Eve and wondering why this Christmas, just like every year, doesn’t look like the ones on the telly…

(HQ, paperback, £12.99)

The Floor is Lava: and 99 more games for everyone, everywhere by Ivan Brett

If you fear that Christmas might mean sitting around making boring small talk, or you need something to make your party go with a swing, Ivan Brett has the answer... well, 100 answers to be more precise!

A qualified primary teacher based in north London, Brett has a lifelong obsession with games, using hundreds of them to entertain himself, strengthen friendships and teach his classes, and he has spent the last year collecting his favourites to share with the world.

The Floor is Lava, a must-have for any gathering, is an indispensable book which packs in one hundred games to play with family and friends, and turns time together into quality time together.

We all know that playing games can be enjoyable but too often we find ourselves playing the same ones time and time again, so here are some brilliant new games to trigger conversation, initiate story-telling setups, provide fiendish puzzles, and all alongside physical challenges and activities to soothe a weary brain.

Brett has invented games for every occasion and something for everyone… beating boredom in the car, hosting a party, cooling off in the summer holidays, sitting around the dinner table, digesting your Christmas turkey, or being trapped indoors on a rainy day.

But what exactly, you may ask, does the game The Floor is Lava involve? First, you will have to jump up and get started…

The book that no home should be without at Christmas!

(Headline, trade paperback, £12.99)

Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways to Make Nature More Visible by Simon Barnes

As we approach the end of the second decade of the 21st century, we are not just losing the wild world… we are forgetting it about it and no longer noticing it.

Simon Barnes, author of many wild volumes and a council member of the World Land Trust, is determined to reconnect ordinary people with nature and this beautiful and inspirational book features 23 spellbinding ways to bring the magic of nature much closer to home.

Barnes claims many of us have lost the habit of looking and seeing, and listening and hearing. In fact, he asserts, we are beginning to act as though nature is not there any more and, by doing so, we are losing some of the best things in life.

These wonderful tips help to make hidden things visible, bringing wild creatures you thought beyond your scope right into the middle of your own world. With a few new techniques, a little new equipment and above all, a new way of thinking, you will discover new creatures and, with them, new areas of yourself that had gone dormant.

Once put to use, they wake up and start working again. You become wilder in your mind and in your heart, and once you know the tricks, the wild world begins to appear before you.

Whether you live in a city or suburbs, or deep in the countryside, Barnes says this book will bring you closer to the nature that exists all around. In the modern world, non-human life always seems to be just over the horizon, but with the smallest alteration, all this can change and Rewild Yourself is designed to make that happen.

The perfect gift for both confirmed nature lovers, and those who want to discover the wild side…

(Simon & Schuster, hardback, £14.99)

I’ll Be There for You by Kelsey Miller

In September 1994, American TV network NBC aired the pilot of a new half-hour comedy sitcom…

It began as plainly as the title implied, with five twenty-somethings lounging at a coffee house, talking about nothing much. Then Rachel Green burst into Central Park, hoisting up her sopping wet wedding dress, her hair utterly unremarkable. She introduced herself to the gang, and the gang to all of us. The story had begun.

Over twenty years since its low-profile debut, Friends is as enduringly popular as ever. But has it stood the test of time, are some parts of it more problematic than we remember, and who was the cast’s least favourite guest star?

Join journalist and author Kelsey Miller as she answers all of these questions, relives the show’s most iconic moments, examines some of its controversies, and shines a light on the many trends it inspired – from oversized coffee cups to the much-copied 90s haircut, ‘The Rachel.’

Weaving incisive commentary, revelatory interviews and behind-the-scenes anecdotes involving high-profile guest stars, I’ll Be There for You is the most comprehensive take on Friends yet, and the ultimate book for fans everywhere.

(HQ, hardback, £12.99)

The Unknown Kimi Räikkönen by Kari Hotakainen

Kimi Räikkönen is the Finnish superstar Formula One driver with a reputation for being fast on the track and silent off it… until now.

In this fascinating, authorised portrait of Räikkönen, Finnish novelist and author Kari Hotakainen reveals a side of the man that few beyond his close family and friends have ever seen. Enigmatic and private, Ferrari’s former world champion driver rarely opens up to outsiders, but he granted Hotakainen exclusive access to his world and to his way of thinking.

Including never-previously-seen photographs from his own collection, The Unknown Kimi Räikkönen takes the reader into the heart of the action at grand prix circuits around the world, behind the scenes as race strategies are planned, and opens up the private side of his life that he normally guards so carefully.

With all the raw excitement of Formula One and the insight of the best biographies, this will delight all fans of motorsport and those who have long revered the elusive Finn.

(Simon & Schuster, hardback, £20)