Previous posts in this Christmas recommendation series include picture booksjunior booksmiddle-grade bookscookbooks and fiction.

Home Work – A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

“With this second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her phenomenal rise to fame in her earliest films–Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Andrews describes her years in the film industry — from the incredible highs to the challenging lows. Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. The pair worked together in numerous films, including Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending comedy that garnered multiple Oscar nominations.” You can visit the publisher’s website where the above quote came from and also find the beginning of the book’s introduction. I love Andrews – for her talent, her class, her resilience. She’s got a great surname too! *wink*

Everything Tabletop Games Book: From Settlers of Catan to Pandemic, Find Out Which Games to Choose, How to Play, and the Best Ways to Win! by Bebo

I’ve written about games a little for Essential Kids over the years, but it’s occurred to me I haven’t mentioned my love for them here very much. And, oh, I do. It’s why I adore PAX Australia; it’s why we have a full cupboard devoted to them and even that’s full now and a few are stacked on Riley’s floor. They’re a great way to sit down with friends and family, have some fun and maybe flex your mental or strategic powers. But what want to get started but know nothing about games? Everything Tabletop Games Book: From Settlers of Catan to Pandemic, Find Out Which Games to Choose, How to Play, and the Best Ways to Win! by Bebo would be a good place to start. This book breaks its chapters into lots of different game types. Luck based? Party suitable? Roleplaying? Cooperative? Hidden role? (As in, someone usually is chosen at random to be duplicitous, like a villain.) Those and more. That final example is important when applied to our household. Keira doesn’t enjoy games very much to start with, but she especially does not enjoy games that involve a traitor mechanic, like in Betrayal at House on the Hill. So this book could help avoid fights in advance; it goes over such things as difficulty, age recommendations, player numbers and play time. Important to note when you consider that some big box games can be quite a monetary investment.

Peaky Blinders: The Real Story – True History of Birmingham’s Most Notorious Gangs by Carl Chinn

With a working-class background, author Carl Chinn is the great-grandson of a member of the so-called Peaky Blinders gang and “believes passionately that history must be democratised because each and every person has made their mark upon history and has a story to tell.” The quote is taken from the publisher’s website. It’s a worthy thought, one I agree with, and I love to see people digging into their family’s past to discover more about their roots. Fans of the television show will be especially interested to learn about the realities of what was going on in Birmingham during this time and the mention of now-familiar names, such as Billy Kimber and Alfie Solomon. If you’re buying for a fan of the show or that period in history, bear this one in mind.

Note: I’m one of those television fans and have avoided discussing it here in case I accidentally give away spoilers! It’s on Netflix now, catch up!

Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume One 1978-1987 by Helen Garner

From the publisher’s website:

“Helen Garner has kept a diary for almost all her life. But until now, those exercise books filled with her thoughts, observations, frustrations and joys have been locked away, out of bounds, in a laundry cupboard.

Finally, Garner has opened her diaries and invited readers into the world behind her novels and works of non-fiction. Recorded with frankness, humour and steel-sharp wit, these accounts of her everyday life provide an intimate insight into the work of one of Australia’s greatest living writers.”

The first 79 pages of the book are available for preview on the above website link if you want to have a look. Garner fans, such as myself, will snap it up without hesitation!

Me: Elton John Official Biography

I usually post a quote or quick synopsis about a book and where you can read a synopsis – and I will (below). But I’ll go one better. Here’s Elton John reading from the prologue and I admit I groaned when it finished because I wanted it to keep going!

“In his first and only official autobiography, music icon Elton John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life, which is also the subject of the smash-hit film Rocketman. The result is Me – the joyously funny, honest and moving story of the most enduringly successful singer/songwriter of all time.” (From the publisher’s website.)

One of the things I’ve always liked about Elton John is his honesty. In interviews, especially. I find it refreshing. Cher is another frank, says-what-she-thinks artist and is why I love her as well. Elton John is an important musical influence on my life; he might even be my favourite. I cannot think of him and not be reminded of my father, who also loved his music. One day I might write about those long car trips of my childhood, with only the double-tape ‘Best of Elton John’ cassette as our music option, but I didn’t care. Those classic, unbreakable, wonderful songs were all I wanted.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Booktopia, which means I earn a small commission if you click through from this site and make a purchase. Be aware that Booktopia has Christmas cut-off dates for both non-stocked and stocked items so it’s a good idea to check when ordering what these dates are. (At the time of writing they are still being determined.) Did you also know that you can earn Qantas Points on eligible Booktopia orders? If you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer you can link your membership to your Booktopia account. More details here.

That’s the end of the Christmas recommendations series! I hope you found it interesting/helpful!

karen andrews

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity