Italian history features on my list this year. Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War 1944-45 (Harper Press, £25) was a fascinating, if depressing accompaniment to a trip round Italy in April. My immigrant Italian grandfather chose to fight for the British when the Italians entered the First World War.

After reading Mark Thompson’s The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1918, (Faber and Faber, £25) the first UK-published account of a campaign considered even more brutal and futile than the Western Front, I’d say he made the better choice. Both books explain extremely well the different battles and the impacts on the civilian population; highly readable and very helpful if one is trying to understand Italy today.

Meanwhile for a romantic escapist stocking filler, I’d thoroughly recommend Honey Trap (Little Black Dress, £4.99) by Julie Cohen. Her hero Dominick is an ex-alcoholic, washed-up rock star, while the heroine Sophie is a former private investigator/turned aromatherapist, who once specialised in exposing errant husbands. Dominick was her first honey trap. On tour together by accident, sub-plots involve a former vengeful client of Sophie’s and Dominick’s struggle to stay off the sauce. A dark, edgy, unusual romance.