Ask the book buyer about the best local books for Christmas gifts


The glittering East Anglian Book Awards ceremony took place on Friday 23 November. Jarrold Book Buyer Chris Rushby toasts the winner and suggests some great local interest books to give as festive gifts.

I hope you were at the East Anglian Book Awards ceremony on 23rd November. There was a quite delicious lunch, with guest author speakers and a splendid award-giving session, all in the Top of the Terrace restaurant at Norwich City Football Club, catering courtesy of Delia Smith’s fine team. If you were there I hope you’ll agree it was a great success. Let me suggest you make a note in your diary to attend next year. You’ll be glad you did, or your money back (although I’m afraid this is one of the times I mean that figuratively, rather than literally).

At the climax of this year’s ceremony the title crowned overall 2018 East Anglian Book of the Year was:

The East Country: Almanac Tales Of Valley and Shore

Jules Pretty


 This is a hard book to categorise and describe, a haunting, thought-provoking piece of creative non-fiction that’s part memoir, part nature writing, part spiritual musing. The author follows the seasons through seventy-four tales set in a variety of regional landscapes from valley to salty shore.

If you were at the awards you probably heard me offering a view about why there’s such a vibrant writing and publishing scene in East Anglia. I’m sure there are many reasons to account for it, but let me pick just two.

First, East Anglia – and Norwich in particular – is the home of numerous fine writers (some of them alumni of the UEA’s prestigious MA in creative writing) who made their homes here and didn’t want to leave. Authors as diverse as Rose Tremain and Sarah Perry, Emma Healey and Simon Scarrow call Norwich their home. Many more are to be found around the region. 

Second, it isn’t just writers who enjoy living in these parts: it seems almost everyone who lives here takes a strong, quiet pride in this part of the world and is keen on books looking at the history and heritage of the region. That may because they're incomers who want to integrate with and embrace their adopted home. But this is also a region where people born and brought up here tend to stay here: it feels there's a more settled, less transient population than in a lot of other parts of the UK - and that settled population loves looking back at its ancestors' lives.  

That's enough hypothesising. Here are three more fine books to sit alongside The East Country and which I hope illustrate the fascination and diversity of East Anglian publishing. Each, in its own way, would make a great Christmas gift. 

This Hollow Land: Aspects of Norfolk Folklore

Peter Tolhurst 


A book many years in the making, this must surely be the most complete survey of Norfolk’s folklore in existence, a work of scholarship and displaying deep knowledge and attention to detail ever attempted. For anyone fascinated by the county’s myths and rural traditions this book is an absolute must.  


Birds In Norfolk

Paul McCallum and 

 RRP £50

Jarrold price £9.99

Both practical and beautiful: in these glossy pages you’ll find research and statistics about different bird habitats and the resident and visiting bird populations in them, as well as nearly 200 of local artist James McCallum’s glorious illustrations. And because the publisher is, sadly, no longer in operation we’re able to offer this fine book at an almost ludicrous bargain price.


Crossing The Bar: Tales of Wells Harbour 

Robert Smith MBE


Finally, a book steeped in the Norfolk coastal scene; specifically, the harbour at Wells-Next-the-Sea and written by the Wells harbour master. Norfolk author and nature writer Patrick Barkham summarises it well: “A hymn to the most beautiful coastline in the world and its magical creeks, marshes and secret history. Robert Smith tells vivid stories of this wild landscape but also of its resilient people and the great community-next-the-sea. Essential reading for anyone who loves North Norfolk.”


Ask the Jarrold book buyer

Chris Rushby and his team can help you discover a new book series, can recommend a book in your favourite genre and can help you find the perfect gifts for Christmas. Pop into the book department on the lower ground floor or email Chris at 

Back to top