It’s a rare Christmas tree that doesn’t have at least one book underneath it. There’s nothing quite like the opportunity to sit and relax with a good read – and this year has seen more than its fair share of excellent books. The INSPO Fitness Journal team share our favourite reads recommended for your Santa stockings..

For the beach (his & hers)

The Break by Marian Keyes
(Penguin Random House, $38)

Girl in Snow by Danya Kufafka
(MacMillan, $34.99)

Friend Request by Laura Marshall
(Hachette, $34.99)

Gather The Daughters by Jennie Melamed
(Hachette, $34.99)

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
(MacMillan, $34.99)

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green
(Hachette, $34.99)

The Burial Hour by Jeffrey Deaver
(Hachette, $34.99)

The Skipper’s Diary
New Zealand’s 1949 Cricket Tour of England ‘The Forty Niners’
($79.95, The Cricket Publishing Company)

By Caleb shepherd

Sir Richard Hadlee brings to life his father’s day-to-day, meticulous account of the 1949 NZ Cricket tour of England.

‘The Forty Niners’ tour holds a special place in New Zealand cricket history, it was a successful tour that earned NZ credibility as a cricketing nation and made a profit. But more importantly “it was an eight month tour based around friendship bond, camaraderie, outside of the performances on the field of play and it’s a story that needs to be brought to life, told and kept alive.”

Sir Richard decided to bring his father’s diary to life after a conversation with commentator Brian Waddle in 2014 about touring and the changes over the years.
The project has been in the works ever since that conversation and after getting the green light from his brothers. “A raw manuscript was typed out by a lady who spent about a year doing it, so I had a manuscript to work from, but there were so many gaps because she found it difficult to read dad’s writing – obviously because so much was crammed into a page.”

Sir Richard used a magnifying glass and countless hours filling in the blanks and deciphering his father’s writing and getting all the detail right.  “It was quite restless work where you just want to get it finished and it took me eight months to do the part that I needed to get done, to have a manuscript that was a readable document so a publisher could look at it and put it into book form.”

Sir Richard says the process was long and by no means easy, but is extremely satisfied with the result. The book comes with a DVD documentary about the tour and can be purchased at

Iris Grace
Arabella Carter-Johnson
(Penguin, $38)

While this isn’t a new release and it is some time since I discovered this book, it still lingers. Make the effort to find or order it from your local bookstore. Written by Arabella, the mother of Iris Grace (who is on the autistic spectrum), it immerses you in the challenges and the joys of life and motherhood. Engaging and thought provoking, you’ll be immersed in the emotional journey and the stunning artworks of Iris Grace, as well as the cat which changed her life. Google Iris Grace for an insight into her artwork and you’ll want to know more.