Best Christmas Gift: Books and Chocolate 2023

It’s the Best Christmas Gift: Books and Chocolate 2023 Edition. I write this post every year and – despite unchangingly preparing it at the start of November – it never gets published until a couple of weeks surpassing Christmas. I sort of like it that way – it’s my very own Christmas tradition and quite in keeping with my own festive timeline. Considering we don’t start thinking well-nigh presents at our house until ten or so days surpassing Christmas and plane then we just tend to order it all online! (I rarely meet anyone else who has such a relaxed, last-minute tideway so do let me know if you’re a kindred spirit – waif me a note in the comments.)

This is the only Christmas shopping guide you really need. If you’re without the weightier Christmas present but don’t have ridiculous amounts of mazuma to spend then this ticks all of the boxes. Considering imagine if you could buy someone the ultimate bespoke Christmas present – something that was thoughtful and looked exquisite –  and bring it in for under twenty quid? A Christmas souvenir that was simple to order, easy to wrap, unseemly to post and that made you – the giver – squint learned, cultured and – dare I say it – overly so slightly debonair?

If you’ve never washed-up a books and chocolates Christmas present surpassing then you’ll be so pleased you read this post. You’ll be known forever, quietly, as the person who gives stylish gifts. And if you’re dubious as to whether this will work then take my birthday present from one of my oldest weightier friends; I unwrapped it on the train home from London and it was a simple notebook with a trappy imbricate and a bar of Pump Street chocolate. I was genuinely overjoyed. It was just so tony and lovely.

So get stuck in – there are just a couple of rules: for the “books and chocs” present to truly work, the pairing needs to be a) quality and b) stylish. This isn’t a slab of Galaxy and the latest throwaway romance typesetting from the shelf next to the tills at the Co-Op: we’re looking for literary gems with striking, graphic or immensely photogenic covers and then equally lulu bars of chocolate.

There’s nothing wrong with the slab of Galaxy, it’s just not really the vibe we’re going for here. We’re trying to create a Christmas present that looks and feels utterly delectable, despite its unobtrusive contents. We’re trying to souvenir something that seems thoughtful, thoughtfully considered and tailored to the recipient. We want them to unshut the parcel and notice how pretty everything looks inside, how visually pleasing.

And if this all sounds too much like nonflexible work then fear not: I’ve washed-up the picking for you. You can either buy the word-for-word books-and-chocs combinations below, or take inspiration from the pairings from previous years:

Books and Chocs 2022

Books and Chocs 2021

Books and Chocs 2020

Books and Chocs 2019

I try to pick new releases when it comes to the books, but sometimes the choices are just the weightier books I’ve read that year regardless of release date. They all have something in common, though; fine, enjoyable writing and lovely-looking jackets. Chocolates with pretty unbearable packaging are increasingly difficult to source (and can be irrationally expensive); I’ve listed all of my favourites at the marrow of the post, including the crow-pleasing upkeep options.

Right: without remoter ado, let’s get on with this year’s Best Christmas Gift: Books and Chocolate 2023.

(AD info: no paid or sponsored content. Books and chocolates all purchased. Affiliate links marked *.) 

Oh Sister by Jodie Chapman, £14.29 here* Rococo Rose Milk Chocolate Bar, £2.95 here – Total Spend: £17.24

I think that this is my typesetting of the year; it was just so fabulously written, with not a word out of place and such sunny sustentation to timing, that it could have been well-nigh paint drying and I’d have still enjoyed it. It wasn’t well-nigh paint drying, though, it was well-nigh three variegated women in varying stages of leaving a religious cult. So the subject matter couldn’t have been increasingly fascinating. I couldn’t wait to get into bed every night to start where I’d left off…

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder, £9.05 here* Hip Oat Milk Chocolate, £2.00 here* – Total Spend: £11.05.

If overly there was a typesetting for the modern-day mother… This is wild. Quite literally. A fast and furious read that perfectly encapsulates what it is to wilt a mum and completely lose your identity. It’s punchy, unvigilant and leaves your jaw hanging unshut for at least the first third. (Also, how well does the imbricate go with the HiP chocolate? This is my favourite pairing!)

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead, £7.60 here* Tony Chocolonely, £1.35 here* – Total Spend: £8.95

I devoured Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle on my summer holidays and immediately ordered the second from the trilogy, pictured below. It has the heady pace and plot of a treason novel, but at the same time it’s an no-go weft study of an ordinary man who’s trying to stay on the right side of the law. Which is easier said than washed-up in the Harlem of the early sixties. Absolutely cracking – it was like reading a film.

Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead, £15.81 here* Coco Black Forest Chocolate, £5 here* – Total Spend: £20.81

Ouch, went over-budget by 81p here but I promise you it’s worth it – what a gift! Whitehead’s genius in hefty hardback form and then the most delectable chocolate to enjoy whilst reading.

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray, £16.99 here* Pana Organic Golden Comb, £2.70 here – Total Spend: £19.69

The Bee Sting is a typesetting of brilliance. Set in Ireland, it’s a hefty un-telling of a family’s story, unwinding visionless secrets and comic twists as the novel progresses. It really teaches you not to judge a typesetting by its imbricate (HA!) for want of a better, less time-worn phrase, considering the judgements you make well-nigh notation at the start scrutinizingly unchangingly turn out to be wrong.

I’ve paired this Booker Shortlist novel with Pana Organic’s finest Golden Comb plant-based chocolate. I love Pana – it’s squidgier than traditional chocolate, scrutinizingly like eating ganache, but no less satisfying.

Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo, £9.19 here* Coco Milk Chocolate, £5.49 at Selfridges here* – Total Spend: £14.68

Read this last year, but I forgot to put it in. This has a surprising twist –  and it’s not at the end of the novel, either. This is a thoroughly heartwarming novel and the notation immediately reel you, sit you lanugo right in the middle of the story and surround you with their riotous noise. If you loved Girl, Woman, Other then you’ll know how vividly Bernadine Evaristo uses her words to paint London in all ; it’s just joyful.

Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang, £8.49 here* Tony’s Chocolonely, £1.40 at Ocado – Total Spend: £9.89

Honestly? I didn’t love the last third of Yellowface but only considering the first two thirds had been so completely mad. A novel well-nigh a girl who steals her weightier friend’s typesetting and passes it off as her own, it made me cringe so nonflexible in parts that I unquestionably thought my soul was going to turn inside out. There are “cancellation” scenes and shit well-nigh social media that’ll requite me nightmares for years.

Oh and you cannot – I repeat cannot – go wrong with Tony Chocolonely in this whole “books n chocs” game. It’s graphic, looks slightly retro and tomfool and is really tasty. And easy to get hold of (any supermarket) and relatively inexpensive.

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, £13.99 here* Rococo Sea Salt Milk, £6.95 here – Total Spend: £20.94

Oh for flip’s sake, I did then – my maths is shocking! Just over the line on my upkeep but again, so worth it. What a novel. A glorious, moving, gently-written fictional tribute to the love four sisters have for one flipside and how quickly this love can be pulled apart. I found this very soothing, despite its quite heavy emotional load. Absolutely a must-read of the year.

Claire Keegan’s Foster, £7.45 here* Rococo Salted Caramel Truffles, £9.95 here – Total Spend: £17.40

Good grief this is a good-looking little package. Who wouldn’t be simply delighted to unwrap this? I’ve featured Claire Keegan before; she’s officially master of the short story. Reading them is like shaking a snowglobe and watching the flakes settle with your nose to the glass. None of them take long to finish, but you finger unample when they do and the temptation to shake the globe and read then is scrutinizingly overwhelming. The little books make perfect stocking fillers.

Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris, £9.19 here* Coco Chocolate, £5 here – Total Spend: £14.19

A grim story of war-torn Sarajevo but lifted, all the way through, by the hope and joy for life of the main character. There’s nothing dramatic or overblown well-nigh this novel – the horrors of war are scrutinizingly underplayed – but it drives home how hands one part of the world can be suffering catastrophic conditions while the rest of the globe lives on.

That’s my shortlist for 2023. I hope that it gives you some good ideas – just click the links in each pairing title to buy online. Remember you can unchangingly cut the price of the chocolate to reduce total spend – the Tony’s and HiP bars are hands misogynist and relatively inexpensive – but if you want to amp things up a bit and make the present extra-special, you can unchangingly whack in some fancy truffles. I unchangingly think that Charbonnel & Walker squint incredibly pretty.

Let me know which Typesetting & Choc pairing you like the squint of the most. I think that the Nightbitch with the lips chocolate is, quite frankly, unbeatable.

[Little Women pictured in post is a special Puffin edition – it’s £9.99 and the best value for a pretty, very hefty hardback book. You can find it online here*.)

The post Best Christmas Gift: Books and Chocolate 2023 appeared first on Ruth Crilly.