Chapter and verse on all things literary

Readers and writers share the books they’re giving – and the titles they’re hoping to get – this Christmas

John Boyne, author

Giving: Min Kym's Gone is one of the best books of the year. The true story of a young violinist whose Stradivarius is stolen and the grief she feels afterwards, it also details what it's like to be a child prodigy.

Getting: I collect the Folio Society editions of classic books and they've just published a very expensive edition of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. Generous friends might pool together for that. I'm also hoping for a copy of Richard Flanagan's First Person.

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Giving: Centenary, edited by Ronan McGreevy, which I commissioned to document the many events held around Ireland and the world last year to commemorate 1916. A wonderful keepsake of an extraordinary year, made possible by the collaboration, creativity and community spirit of our people.

Getting: In the 50th year since the death of one of Monaghan's most famous sons, I would like a copy of Antoinette Quinn's biography of Patrick Kavanagh. She described her book as a "warts and all" account of his life – the man himself would have approved!


Gerald Dawe, poet

Giving: Levitation by Sean O'Reilly. There's something really of the moment about this collection of short stories that is unforced and reads so naturally. I'm going to get some copies and spread the news. O'Reilly is one of the best around.

Getting: I am pushing for The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick. As well as being a wonderful novelist, her non-fiction is as potent today as when it was first published in the 1940s. Also Derek Mahon's collection of new poems, Rising Late. That'll do when the nights draw in.

Joe Duffy, broadcaster and author

Giving: My book of the year is also the heaviest – the Atlas of the Irish Revolution weighs in at 5kg but is a magnificent collection of writings, illustrations, and maps of the momentous period between 1912 and 1923.

On a lighter note – literally – I cannot forget Sebastian Barry's Days Without End or Gail Honeyman's uplifting Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, or indeed Ian McEwan's hilarious NutShell.

Getting: The untimely passing of journalist Seamus Kelters, who helped compile the gargantuan Lost Lives, reminds me of how important his work was as I used my library copy to research the children killed in the Troubles. It's out of print so I'd love it as a gift, but it's hard to get.

Sheena Wilkinson, young adult writer

Giving: Deirdre Sullivan's Tangleweed and Brine is a stunning collection of feminist retellings of fairy stories that will appeal to all ages. It's gorgeously illustrated by Karen Vaughan, and I've already compiled a list of people who're getting it from me. I've also loved Bernard MacLaverty's Midwinter Break and John Boyne's The Heart's Invisible Furies.

Getting: I've heard great things about the Maggie O'Farrell memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am. I'm always fascinated to read memoirs by novelists I admire.

Neil Hegarty, author

Giving: Neel Mukherjee's vibrant and vivid A State of Freedom; Naomi Alderman's visceral The Power; and Edouard Louis's The End of Eddy, which casts a cold eye on a France few visitors will see. The Doll's Alphabet is Camilla Grudova's debut collection of short fiction: the stories here are surreal, striking and crackling with imagination.

Getting: What did Isabel Archer do next? They tell me that John Banville offers some ideas in Mrs Osmond, which picks up where The Portrait of a Lady left off. A treat in store.

Myra Zepf, author and Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland

Giving: The teens and adults in my life can expect Deirdre Sullivan's Tangleweed and Brine – dark, feminist re-tellings of fairytales, told in beautifully-crafted language with stunning illustrations. Cressida Cowell's The Wizards of Once is a sure hit for nine-12 year olds, and I'll also be wrapping up Na Cailleacha, a translation of Roald Dahl's novel The Witches, by Niamh Ní Argáin.

Getting: I would love to receive the picture book The Lost Words, by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris – a stunning collaboration celebrating the words of the natural world, which are disappearing from children's lives.

Darach Ó Séaghdha, Motherfoclóir author and podcaster

Giving: I'll be enthusiastically thrusting Red Dirt, by EM Reapy, into Christmas stockings this year. I'll also be giving Alternative Ulsters by Mark Carruthers (an excellent collection of interviews) and the New Yorker's The 40s: The Story Of A Decade, both of which have something for everyone. The Irish language book I'll be giving is Doireann Ní Ghríofa's new collection, Oighear. The youngest reader I know can expect The President's Glasses, by Peter Donnelly.

Getting: Two very different graphic novels are at the top of my wishlist – Cairo by G Willow Wilson and Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Gliden. I'm always interested in books on language, and this year I'm keen to see The Language Hoax, by John McWhorter (who does the fine Lexicon Valley podcast).

Neven Maguire, owner of MacNean House and Restaurant

Giving: I'll be giving multiple copies of my own new book – Neven Maguire's Perfect Irish Christmas. Christmas is such a special time for family and I am really looking forward to it this year. For my twins, Connor and Lucia, it has to be Kathleen Watkin's Pígin of Howth. This book was a runaway success last year, and there's a new audio edition out which is wonderful because the story is read by Kathleen herself.

Getting: I would really like Francis Brennan's Book of Household Management. I really admire him and he's a lot of fun. I also love reading sports books so I'm hoping for Gooch: The Autobiography, by Colm Cooper.

Valerie Bistany, director/chief executive, Irish Writers Centre

Giving: The Watch House by Bernie McGill brilliantly tells an evocative tale of a strange young woman on Rathlin Island working for one of Marconi's engineers who is conducting tests in wireless technology at the turn of the 20th century. The Light Makers, Mary O'Donnell's first novel, is still fresh and feminist and explores the complexities of being a young Irish woman in 1992. Jennifer Johnston's Naming the Stars is a firm favourite, sparse and shocking.

Getting: I'm looking forward to reading Lisa Harding's Harvesting and Arnold Fanning's Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery, due in May 2018.