Books for your Christmas shopping list

book collage

For those pondering what to buy your loved ones for Christmas, here’s a few suggestions from the many books published this year:

Meeting Mister Kim. If you haven’t already bought lots of copies of this entertaining book by Jennifer Barclay, shame on you. Awarded 5 stars by LKL, and, to show we’re not biased in favour of authors who also happen also to contribute to LKL, also awarded 5 stars by every single reviewer at, this is a strong candidate for book of the year. A light-hearted travel book which gives some interesting personal insights into some of the less traveled parts of Korea. From Summersdale, 320pp. Click on the link for a video interview with the author.

Pop Goes Korea. Most LKL visitors will also know of Mark James Russell‘s blog Korea Pop Wars. In his book, which is due to be available from next week, Mark “draws on his over eleven years covering the Korean entertainment industry for publications such as Newsweek, Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and The New York Times, to tell the full story of Korea’s recent pop-cultural revolution, a tale of rapid growth, wild personalities, and uncanny success.” From Stonebridge, 340pp.

Jim Maguire - Quiet PeopleIn 1985, Jim Maguire left his native Wexford on a two-year government training programme in Korea, but ended up falling in love with the place and the people. So much so that thirteen years later he was still in Korea. Quiet People is a collection of short stories, well crafted and beautifully paced, which are a reflection of his time in Korea. They explore a westerner’s struggle to live in peacefulness of mind in a culture that can at times be quite challenging on so many different levels. Available from Lapwing, 108pp

For those interested in the Korean War, Coldest Winter by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist David Halberstam comes well-reviewed. From the blurb at Amazon: “Halberstam gives us a masterful narrative of the political decisions and miscalculations on both sides. He charts the disastrous path that led to the massive entry of Chinese forces near the Yalu River and that caught Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers by surprise. He provides astonishingly vivid and nuanced portraits of all the major figures-Eisenhower, Truman, Acheson, Kim, and Mao, and Generals MacArthur, Almond, and Ridgway. At the same time, Halberstam provides us with his trademark highly evocative narrative journalism, chronicling the crucial battles with reportage of the highest order. As ever, Halberstam was concerned with the extraordinary courage and resolve of people asked to bear an extraordinary burden.” From Hyperion, 736pp.

Featuring a batch of mouthwatering recipes and over a hundred vivid photographs of a striking array of dishes, Korean Cuisine by Michael Pettid is an “incisive and engaging investigation into the relationship between Korean culture and food that will spice up the bookshelves of foodies and scholars alike”. From Reaktion books, 224pp.

Finally, a big, bright book for your coffee table. Contemporary Korean Architecture by Kim Sung-hong and Peter Cachola Schmal. Published to go with an exhibition in Frankfurt earlier this year, the book is packed with great photos of stylish interiors and exteriors, as well as plenty of essays. From Jovis, 263pp.


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