A very merry Christmas for this booklover

It’s that time between Christmas and New Year when no-one knows what day of the week it is and I start itching to take the decorations down and get everything back to normal.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas and was well and truly spoilt – well as much as the fiscal climate allows.

The booklover in me has had an exceptional Christmas and my ever-burgeoning TBR list is now overflowing. So I thought I’d share some of the gems I have been lucky enough to receive.

This brilliant selection was given to me by my daughters and I am very much looking forward to reading each and every one.

They were accompanied by a lovely diary, a planner, a copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook 2023 (which is a phenomenal resource for any writer) as well as this little beauty – What Writers Read published by Bloomsbury and edited by Pandora Sykes.

I’ve read it already and it is an absolute gem. Sykes has persuaded 35 authors to write a piece on their favourite book. It includes Sebastian Faulks on The Last Swim, Deborah Levy on I Capture the Castle, William Boyd on Catch-22, Monica Ali on Pride and Prejudice, Elif Shafak on Orlando, Nick Hornby on Emil and the Detectives, Nikesh Shukla on the Spiderman comics and many more. It can be dipped into at leisure or read in one go, just like I did, and it is lovely. Not only that but all the authors have given their time and efforts free of charge and profits from the book will go to the National Literacy Trust. In the introduction Sykes says 413,000 children and young people in the UK don’t own a book. I can’t imagine not owning one single book. That’s a tragedy.

I was also gifted some money for Christmas and so immediately headed to Waterstones in Nottingham where I picked up this little haul, with which I am delighted. Dolphin Junction, The Pachinko Parlour, Treacle Walker and Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka are all novels. I’ve finished reading Treacle Walker. It’s brilliant, read it. Alan Garner is an absolute joy and it was also shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize.

To The Lake is a history/travelogue/politics/geography/sociological mash-up about the Balkans region between Lakes Ohrid and Prespa where Albania, North Macedonia and Greece join. It’s a region I’m really interested in and so can’t wait to get my teeth into this one.

Storyland by Amy Jeffs is a new mythology of Britain, The Book of English Magic by Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate charts the history of magic in England from the time the country was first populated to the present day and The Ruin of All Witches by Malcolm Gaskill tells the true story of a single historical witch trial in Springfield Massachusetts in 1651, before Salem.

I think it’s Queen of the Desert by Georgina Howell that I am looking forward to reading most. It’s a biography of Gertrude Bell, Victorian explorer, adventurer, photographer, writer, diplomat, spy. An incredible woman. I used to dream of being Gertrude Bell when I was (a lot) younger.

Now if that wasn’t enough I want to show you part of the absolutely incredible collection I was also gifted this Christmas.

My uncle and aunt had a neighbour and friend – an elderly lady, born in Belgium, who never married. She was highly educated, enjoyed literature, culture and the arts and she died in her 90s a few months ago. She had previously given me a collection of the complete works of Charles Dickens published in the 1940s, which is beautiful and we corresponded briefly before her death.

She had no family and left her house to charity. She wanted her possessions to go to someone who would look after them or to charities who could raise money from them. The executors left these in the garage to go to the dump!

My uncle rescued them from this act of criminality and gave them to me. I like to think their friend would be pleased with that outcome. There are 54 Penguin books published between the 1940s and the 1980s here. In addition I have received a collection of the complete works of Shakespeare, a set of leather bound classics and other paperbacks. But the Penguin books alone include the Brontë’s, Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Iris Murdoch, Fay Weldon, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, HE Bates, Albert Camus, Vladimir Nabokov, John Galsworthy and more.

It is an astounding collection of books and I am so lucky to have been gifted them. Some I have read, many I haven’t. You cannot imagine how absolutely delighted I am with this brilliant selection of novels and plays. I cannot wait to get stuck into them. I wonder how many of my Christmas gifts and acquisitions I will managed to have read by this time next year?

2 responses to “A very merry Christmas for this booklover”

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