For many of us, it is time to bid farewell to the office hustle and embrace the most enchanting time of the year. The Christmas festivities are in full swing, inviting us to indulge in delectable treats and a warm home surrounded by your nearest and dearest. As 2023 draws to a close, it is the perfect time to also unwind solo, ensuring a rejuvenated spirit for the dawn of the new year.

In the spirit of our festive pause, Bain and Gray are taking a break from social media until the 2nd! Before we sign off, we gift you our winter book recommendations. Get ready to slip into your cosiest socks, clutch a favourite hot chocolate, and embark on a magical journey to other worlds.

‘Good Material’ - Dolly Alderton

Flora MacGreevy

Flora is a long-term Dolly fan – particularly Dolly’s agony aunt column in The Sunday Times Magazine! Dolly’s observational and witty outlook on modern life has lightened those mundane commutes to and from work. Set in London in 2018 – 2o2o, this is a story about a 35-year-old comedian who finds himself single after a relationship of 4 years. Written in a whimsical fashion, we follow the male protagonist as he navigates his heartbreak and single life in a world where all his friends are married with kids and generally ‘settled down’. We also get an interesting glimpse into the world of comedy and how his lack of income goes hand in hand with letting anywhere half decent in London – an issue we can all relate too!

‘Klara and the Sun’ - Kazuo Ishiguro

Liza Shashenkova

Liza has had a long-term fascination with artificial intelligence, especially A.I ethics so this was a huge hit! It is a beautiful and sad story of a young girl and her AF (Artificial Friend), Klara. Josie (the young girl) has a mysterious illness, and her mother hopes Klara can provide her with companionship and support. As Klara learns more about the complexities of human emotions and relationships, she also grapples with her own understanding of the world. It will leave you contemplating the concept of consciousness, what it is to truly be human and an empty box of Kleenex tissues. Ps, the Spotify playlist inspired by this novel happens to be equally mesmerising!

‘Yellow Face’ - R. F. Kuang

Charlotte Bloomer

This one was Charlotte’s book clubs’ choice this month and it certainly sparked plenty of lengthy discussions over delicious mulled wine. An aspiring novelist named June goes for a drink with her incredibly successful novelist friend, Athena during which she dies in a freak accident. June steals Athena’s unpublished manuscript and publishes it under the racially ambiguous name, June Song. The book follows June’s attempt to get away with plagiarism. The story is a dark take on the greedy and morally corrupt publishing industry. The pacey narrative taps into discussions about who can or should write trauma narratives and raises questions about the relationship between readers and authorial identities.

‘Squeeze Me’ - Carl Hiassen

Hetty Woyka

In the run up to Christmas, Hetty has turned to this light relief. She describes this book as belly achingly funny! Hiassen’s razor sharp wit, unrelentingly mocking the Trump era is guaranteed to make you chuckle. Set against the glittering backdrop of Florida’s gold coast, the story unravels with a mysterious disappearance of a wealth socialite. Pink pearls, pythons, wildlife wrangler and a philandering president add up to a rather unusual Palm Beach social season. Hetty could not put it down!