A BOOK is the present that never disappoints.
For your mother, your lover and all the important people in your life, we recommend titles by age and sex that will go on giving pleasure into the New Year and beyond . . .
PAUL MCGUINNESS, 25, is a public sector consultant from Colchester. For Christmas he's hoping for peace on earth, but admits he would settle for some spending money for the New Year sales.
This year, revision for his accountancy exams has made much reading (beyond Exploring Corporate Strategy by Johnson & Scholes) difficult, but he has found time to enjoy One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
New Year's Resolution? To run a marathon.
Politics by Adam Thirlwell (Cape, [pounds sterling]12.99)
RANGING over subjects including goodness, Bollywood and the Queen Mother, Politics is about everything but. It's sweet, smart and occasionally shocking - a tender-hearted comedy of sexual manners for the 21st century.
This Diary Will Change Your Life by Benrik Ltd (Viking, [pounds sterling]12.99) THIS quirkily designed book will revolutionise the way diaries are used - it tells you what to do every day.
Suggestions range from the frivolous (drink nothing but champagne; design yourself a logo) to the bizarre (start eating a piece of furniture apparently if you file off a little each day a chair should take about 20 years). The perfect present for people who don't know what to do with themselves.
Isaac Newton by James Gleick (Fourth Estate, [pounds sterling]15) HIS discoveries have shaped our modern world, but his eccentricities have enabled him to give many a biographer the slip. This shimmering portrait brings him to life with novelistic intensity, and makes the science crystal clear without robbing it of its magic.
Private by Alison Jackson (Michael Joseph, [pounds sterling]14.99) WE ALL think we know what celebrities get up to when no one's watching them - and now here's the proof.
Alison Jackson's mock-paparazzo shots capture an assortment of frequently controversial - scenarios: Tony, Cherie and Carole cavorting by the pool on holiday; the Queen giving Prince William lessons in the royal wave, and Alex Ferguson's now infamous boot-attack on Becks.
David Beckham: My Side The Autobiography (CollinsWillow, [pounds sterling]18.99) FOR Beckham's own take on that particular incident, look no further than this latest glimpse into life as the world's most recognised sportsman. Covering his early years, then moving from one headline grabbing story to the next (including his transfer to Real Madrid), this is a highly readable - and hugely entertaining - account.
THIRTYSOMETHING WOMEN AND MEN
MILLA CHALLEN, 34, is a chef and lives in London. An intrepid traveller, she's just back from Bhutan. Next stop is Kenya, followed by Peru. She's also learning to climb in case she finds herself up a mountain. This year she packed The Red Tent by Anita Diamant into her rucksack and adored Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.
The Used Women's Book Club by Paul Bryers (Bloomsbury, [pounds sterling]9.99)
THE members of a book club come under suspicion of murder in this unusual literary thriller (where a Virginia Woolf novel turns out to be a key piece of evidence), set in the present day London Docklands, but with a distinct Dickensian flavour.
The Sea House by Esther Freud (Hamish Hamilton, [pounds sterling]14.99) THE backdrop to this atmospheric story of passion, place and art is Steerborough, a tiny Suffolk coastal village where Lily is researching the life of an architect who lived there years earlier. Reading the heady love letters he wrote to his wife, Lily begins to question her own errant lover.
Courtesans by Katie Hickman (HarperCollins, [pounds sterling]20)
RAGS-to-riches stories of a handful of 18th and 19th century women who, by dint of cunning, beauty and sexual favours, achieved great power and wealth as courtesans. …