What ELLE Reads

Fireside special


Want to know what books the ELLE team will have their noses in over Christmas? Read on for our recommendations…

Miette L Johnson, art director

I'm working my way through Welcome to the Desert of the Real by Slavoj Žižek, a wild and frank essay that explores the hysteria surrounding our modern reality. If you're up for having your mind bent, his ideas are challenging and exciting. Expect several moments of clarity, followed by an inevitable existential crisis. It's up to you how you deal with the fallout.


It's no secret that I'm a big fan of JD Salinger, and The Catcher in the Rye is one of my all-time favourites. It changes every time I read it – sometimes sad, sometimes uplifting, always poetic. I think everyone that knows it has a very different, very intimate relationship with it. I often bring it with me on long flights if I'm alone, as it's best to read it without distraction. This year, I'll bring it with me back to wintry Canada during the holidays, and read it in the dark in front of a quiet fire long after my family has retreated to bed.


Alice Wignall, content director

Amongst my recent holiday reading was The Churchills by Mary Lovell. It's a racy tour through the lives of the famous English family, from the first Duke of Marlborough to – obviously – Winston Churchill himself. It's fast-paced and full of gossip from stately homes and 1930s cocktail bars. Ideal beach (or fireside) reading – with the reassurance that it's history, so it's (slightly) intellectual, too.

Hannah Swerling, commissioning editor

If we're talking winter then it has to be Little Women. Lit by the glow of candlelight, log fires and blazing sentimentality, Louise May Alcott's novel has everything you could want – feisty young women, passionate and unrequited love, tear-jerking sadness and lots of uplifting moments.

Joely Walker, beauty assistant

Sister by Rosamund Lupton is tragic yet so compelling. I couldn’t put it down. And when reading S J Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep I just kept thinking ‘I want to see this film.’ When I got to the end my prayers were answered as Ridley Scott’s film company has bought the rights – he will do it justice.

Chimere Cisse, PR executive

This holiday I’m finally reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel because the novel has just come to the big screen and they do say you should always read the print version before seeing the film…

Georgia Simmonds, features assistant

I recently raced through The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. At the heart of the narrative is the college baseball career of a talented kid – I know that sounds utterly unappealing – but it’s not actually about baseball… It has all the trappings of a fantastic coming-of-age story. I fell in love with the cast of conflicted characters and will be rereading it on a wintry evening.

Julia Shutenko, fashion intern

I am reading Mad Women by Jane Maas. It's Mad Men from women's perspective written by a woman who actually worked in advertising in New York in the 1960s! I highly recommend it!

Annabel Brog, editor at large

I will be reading Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – absorbing enough to distract me from festive family horrors, and long enough to see me through the whole week.

Susan Ward Davies, travel editor

If you have a child and want a real heartwarming, tearjerker, I've just finished this with my daughter: Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian. A bitter old man's life totally changes when an abused evacuee is foisted on him.

And I recommend Left Neglected by Lisa Genova – about woman who develops a rare, post-traumatic neurological disorder called Left Neglect, which is both intriguing and thought provoking. The author Lisa Genova is a neuroscientist and also wrote Still Alice a tragic but fascinating book about the gradual onslaught of Alzheimer's on a Harvard University professor. It’s a brilliant and sympathetic insight into the slow deterioration of the mind. Should be required reading.

Laura Darrall, features work experience

The book that I pick up again and again is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer’s first and only book – it is a joyful read and a true heart-warmer. It tells the story of Juliet Ashton, a fiercely witty and intelligent writer who falls in love with Guernsey and its many characterful inhabitants. Through the medium of letters the reader discovers the history of Guernsey and its rarely discussed occupation in the Second World War. But what’s more enticing is that we witness the kind of love story that you want to be your own.

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