Christmas @ Waterstone’s Cardiff

Today is the first day of Advent, the run-up to December 25 has begun. I went along to Waterstone’s Cardiff to see what they are selling this Christmas.


Every Sunday Waterstone’s staff update the best-sellers chart. They were still working on this when I arrived so there were a few gaps. To be on the safe side I decided to stick to the top five.


1. The Help, Kathryn Stockett

Skeeta is an aspiring writer, living in Mississippi, 1962. Born into a well-off, white family, she was raised by a black maid called Constantine who disappears mysteriously. Troubled by this; Skeeta decides to collect the stories of domestic maids working in the city. But Mississippi is divided by the Jim Crow laws. Whites and blacks cannot mix, making Skeeta’s project a risky one.

2. Snowdrops, A.D Miller

Miller’s title gives a glimpse of the world his book depicts. In Russia a snowdrop is a corpse which appears at the end of the winter, after the snow melts. In Moscow a lawyer called Nick is living a decadent life. He is convinced he has fallen in love after meeting Masha, a femme fatale, on the subway. But Masha, who brings trouble rather than love, cannot be trusted.

3. One Day, David Nicholls

One Day is the story of Emma and Dexter who meet on the day of their graduation in 1988. They spend the night together, leaving to start life as working adults the next morning. From then on every chapter takes place one year later. Nicholls uses this compelling technique to chart repetition, development and intersection in their lives .

4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, John le Carré

There is a mole in the circus: an informant in the highest branch of the Secret Intelligence Service. George Smiley is called back from retirement to hunt him down. Written in cold-war Britain, this tale is full of flashbacks and plot twists.  Reviewers on Amazon say it is one of the best novels le Carré has written.

5. How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran

Readers of The Times will have already read Caitlin’s wickedly funny articles. These are a brilliant advertisement for her book. If you’re thinking of buying it go to Caitlin’s website  and watch the video.

Picture taken with the permission of Waterstone's

Picture taken with the permission of Waterstone’s


  1. Rob Brydon, Small Man in a Book

Rob’s autobiography is filled with memories of his time as a boy and his time as a radio DJ. His childhood photos will certainly raise a chuckle. Rob has a strange talent for impersonating a man in a box; this is where the title comes from. To find out what a man in a box sounds like click here.

2. Terry Pratchett, Snuff

In this latest Discworld hit Commander Vimes is fighting for goblin rights. He is on holiday when he stumbles upon an aristocratic smuggling ring. Its leaders sell drugs and goblins. Dirty and dim; goblins are used as slaves and treated as second-class citizens. Vime; however discovers a different side to them.

3. The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz

Arthur Conan Doyle is a hard act to follow. When Horowitz was commissioned to write another Sherlock Holmes tale by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate, he must have felt some pressure. Happily it’s been a hit with book critics.

4. Victoria Hislop, The Thread

In May 1923 a ship arrives in in Thessaloniki, Greece, full of Turkish refugees. On board is Katerina, who moves in next to Dimitri, the son of a rich cloth merchant. The story of these lovers takes place against a rich historical background. War is raging and political problems interupt and shape their lives.

5. James Corden, May I Have Your Attention Please?

This book is popular in Waterstone’s, but has received mixed reviews on Amazon. If you’re a James Cordon fan and you’re in a bookshop read his second paragraph, he’s eager for you to buy a copy:

‘I’ve realised that you may not have actually purchased this book and are doing what I do when buying a book and reading the first page to see if you like it. If this is the case let me start by saying that you look and indeed smell incredible today’.


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