Whether you are searching for a Christmas gift or simply looking for enjoyable reading for yourself during the festivities, there is a huge selection of bestsellers to choose from. So we have cut out the leg work for you and highlighted the finest fiction and non-fiction on offer.

If you want to know about Bill Bryson's latest comic exploits or are intrigued by Maggie Smith's illustrious career, check out IBTimes UK's pick of the finest of the year's most popular books for your holiday shopping.

Best selling books of 2015

The Road To Little Dribbling: More Notes From A Small Island, by Bill Bryson (Doubleday)

Twenty years after Notes From A Small Island, what does Bryson make of today's Britain?

Bryson has finally produced a follow-up to his first and most famous book. By now he's in his sixties, but his wit continues to shine. If he inveighs against everything from bad manners to talentless celebrities he has always been a champion of everything British, so his tetchiness is forgivable. Or mostly forgivable: what should the assistant in H&M have said when Bryson asked for the food court, under the illusion he was in M&S? As a travelogue, this has more than its fair share of repetition - Bryson has too many pints in too many nondescript pubs - but it is an entertaining account of a haphazard tour around the confusing Britain of the early 21st century.

Best selling books of 2015

The Lady In The Van, by Alan Bennett (Profile Books)

A mysterious homeless woman parks in up in a writer's drive and sparks soon fly

This slim volume has inspired a hit play as well as, most recently, a film with Maggie Smith. It is a poignant and comic tale, always sharply observed, with compassion at its core. Bennett allowed an ex-nun living in a van, Miss Shepherd, to park in his driveway. She turned out to be hopeless as well as homeless, so he became her long-suffering host. He confesses: "One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation." A high point was her attempt to stand for Parliament; the low points included the bags of ordure Bennett had to dispose of. The ways in which she punctured Bennett's cosy middle-class world are a consistent delight.

Best selling books of 2015

SPQR: A History Of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard (Profile Books)

A vivid account of the world's longest running empire: rise, fall and glorious heyday

Beard sets herself a massive task, starting with Rome's foundation in the 8th century BC and concluding a millennium or so later in AD212. Over this period, Rome grew to become the biggest empire before the modern era and it remains the longest lived. Beard starts with Cicero in the mid-1st century BC. It is a bold choice, but logical nevertheless, because all surviving accounts of earlier periods date from then. Beard's sly humour is to the fore. The poor lived in penthouses, she says, not for pleasure but because these were the most dangerous living quarters, from where there was little chance of escaping fires. This eye for detail makes Rome's history both vivid and immediate.

Best selling books of 2015

The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday)

The British rival to Gone Girl brims with tension, and is achingly well written and plotted

Rachel drinks too much and her relationship has disintegrated. And then she sees something odd from the train window on her regular commute.

This remains one of the best recent thrillers.

Best selling books of 2015

Even Dogs In The Wild: The New John Rebus, by Ian Rankin (Orion)

The dishevelled detective returns in a topical thriller set in Edinburgh's seedier side

In the 20th Rebus novel, the detective is dragged out of retirement again. All the Rankin hallmarks feature: playful dialogue, a sombre Edinburgh setting and a story that keeps you guessing.

Best selling books of 2015

Over The Top And Back: The Autobiography, by Tom Jones (Michael Joseph)

The rise of The Voice from a Welsh mining town to Las Vegas and beyond

Jones decided against becoming a coal miner in Pontypridd. Instead, he sang everywhere from Las Vegas to Glastonbury.

Ghostwriter Giles Smith has helped make this into one of 2015's better music biographies.

Best selling books of 2015

Maggie Smith: A Biography, by Michael Coveney (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

All about an actress who can be disapprovingly haughty like just about nobody else

This updated biography appears as Smith triumphs once again with the Lady In The Van. The book delves into her illustrious past, with roles alongside Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton and others.

The Secret War: Spies, Codes And Guerrillas 1939-1945, by Max Hastings (William Collins)

A romp through spying in the Second World War which questions the whole point of spooks

Hastings tells dozens of spy stories here, many combining comedy and tragedy, others downright absurd. Moreover, his underlying investigation into whether intelligence or weapons won the war is compelling.

Best selling books of 2015

The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton)

Stories from the master of horror, with everything from deaths foretold to killer cars

This collection showcases King's mastery of the novella, with the 57-page "Ur" definitely the highlight. There are several strong short stories thrown in too, notably the creepy "Morality".

Best selling books of 2015

Labrador: The Story Of The World's Favourite Dog, by Ben Fogle (William Collins)

The TV adventurer looks into the origins and history of everyone's favourite mutt

This is among the best of the Christmas animal books. Labs were once Canadian fishing dogs and have become the world's most popular breed. Fogle has owned three of them and is an ardent aficionado, and so he knows whereof he speaks.