1. The Great Cave Rescue by James Massola
Allen & Unwin, $29.99
The rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team from Tham Luang Cave in Thailand earlier this year captivated people from around the world. For 18 days in July, the attention of millions was focused on the efforts of a group of international divers and local volunteers as they launched one of the riskiest and most complex rescue operations the world has ever seen. Journalist James Massola was on the ground for the rescue and this fascinating book is the result of his reporting and subsequent interviews with many of the main participants. An interesting and heart-warming account of what really happened.
2. The Rescuers by Laura Greaves
Michael Joseph, $34.99
This book about adopted dogs who have rescued their owners is also full of feel-good moments. Australian author Laura Greaves has gathered together a marvellous collection of stories from Australia and around the world, about dogs who were saved from animal shelters or rescue groups and went on to repay the humans who gave them a second chance by rescuing them. From Leala, who saved a two-year-old from drowning, to Buddy, who was rescued from a backyard breeder and in turn saved his new owner and her six dachshunds from a house fire, these are all great stories.
3. Past Tense by Lee Child
Jack Reacher is the quintessential action figure. A former military policeman who roams America like a modern day Western hero, Reacher appeals to a wide range of readers. In Past Tense, Reacher returns to the town his father was born in and becomes caught up in an old mystery and a modern-day crime. Briskly paced and full of action, this is a good, light holiday read. Also included in the Australian edition of the book is a special short story featuring Reacher and set in Sydney. A must for the Reacher aficionado.
4. Slowhand by Philip Norman
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $32.99
This is the ideal present for the ageing rock and roller in your family. Eric Clapton is acknowledged as one of the best rock guitarists the world has seen. His status as a great virtuoso is only rivalled by his appetite for drugs and alcohol and expensive items. His romances are also legendary, including his pursuit of Pattie Boyd, the wife of George Harrison, and the inspiration for the song Layla. Acclaimed biographer Philip Norman has enjoyed rare access to Clapton and his friends and has produced a fascinating portrait of the talented but troubled musician.
5. Kill Shot by Gary Disher
Fans of tough Australian crime fiction will love the latest entry by Gary Disher in his series about the old-style thief known as Wyatt. Just getting by on small one-man jobs in Sydney, Wyatt decides to cast his net wider when he hears about the corporate crook Jack Tremayne. Rumour has it that Tremayne is about to skip the country with a million dollars hidden aboard his yacht and Wyatt decides to head to Newcastle to intercept the money. This is a terrific piece of pared down crime writing and a great book to hide away with on Boxing Day.