About this time last year I mentioned that we’d tried to rationalise our book collection, which is a fancy way of saying ‘get rid of some’. Like all previous attempts this ended in abject failure. Even disposing of a few as gifts or to charity shops didn’t begin to offset the influx of new titles. There are many sources I could accuse of being responsible for this – though Amazon is not and never will be one of them – but one culprit stands out. So, step forward please Emma and Alex of the Hungerford Bookshop who are responsible for a good number of the groaning shelves round here (as well, of course, for hours of pleasure).
Not content with that, they’ve also compounded the felony by adding a some Christmas book recommendations for 2019, divided into several genres. Click here to see it. We’ve picked out a handful of these titles which are summarised. All the ones in this list, or on theirs, or indeed any book that’s in print, can be bought in their shop or their on-line store. The one thing we haven’t asked Emma and Alex is if they also offer a service putting up shelves – something for 2019, perhaps…
Anyway, here we go…
Down to The River and Up to The Tree
by Sue Belfrage
In a stressful, chaotic world, many of us are turning to nature for a sense of serenity and happiness. While the idea of the wild outdoors is enticing, though, our busy lives and our location can cause us to become detached from nature. Down to the River and Up to the Trees will show you how to connect with the natural world around you.
Discover how to carve your own spoon; to be able to tell if the moon is waxing or waning; or try forest bathing (surrounding yourself with trees). Learn how to make yourself at home amongst the animals and plants on your doorstep, in harmony with your surroundings. There is space too for you to record your thoughts and findings.
A perfect gift for any nature lover.
The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair
From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history.
In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh’s chrome yellow sunflowers or punk’s fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation.
Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.
Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.
As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it. One of the most talked about biographies of the year.
Noel Streatfeild’s Christmas Stories by Noel Streatfeild
From the author of the wonderful Ballet Shoes. In this captivating collection of festive stories, there are auditions on stage and antics on ice, trips to the pantomime, holiday adventures, and laughter shared with family and friends. Charming, heartwarming and funny, this exciting new collection is sure to be a hit with readers of all ages. Originally written for annuals, magazines and the radio from the 1940s-60s, these stories by this much-loved author have never been collected before and will be a welcome discovery to all Streatfeild’s admirers.
Recommended Age 7+
Middle England by Jonathan Coe
Beginning eight years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by Poundland, and London, where frenzied riots give way to Olympic fever,Middle England follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense change.
There are newlyweds Ian and Sophie, who disagree about the future of the country and, possibly, the future of their relationship; Doug, the political commentator who writes impassioned columns about austerity from his Chelsea townhouse, and his radical teenage daughter who will stop at nothing in her quest for social justice; Benjamin Trotter, who embarks on an apparently doomed new career in middle age, and his father Colin, whose last wish is to vote in the European referendum. And within all these lives is the story of modern England: a story of nostalgia and delusion; of bewilderment and barely-suppressed rage.
The Toy Makers by Robert Dinsdale
It is 1917, and while war wages across Europe, in the heart of London, there is a place of hope and enchantment. The Emporium sells toys that capture the imagination of children and adults alike: patchwork dogs that seem alive, toy boxes that are bigger on the inside, soldiers that can fight battles of their own. Into this family business comes young Cathy Wray, running away from a shameful past. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that the Emporium has secrets of its own…
Curl up by the fire and escape into this atmospheric novel.
The Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book
Are YOU the ultimate map-reader? Do you know your trig points from your National Trails? Can you calculate using contours? And can you fathom exactly how far the footpath is from the free house?
Track down hidden treasures, decipher geographical details and discover amazing facts as you work through this unique puzzle book based on 40 of the Ordnance Survey’s best British maps
Elizabeth David’s Christmas by Elizabeth David
A beautiful and timeless new edition of the ultimate festive food book, from the most loved and respected British cookery writer of the 20th century. Treat yourself and make this Christmas the tastiest yet!Elizabeth David’s Christmas is a celebration of every traditional recipe and favourite indulgence that we savour during the festive season.
Containing over 150 classic recipes, together with a selection of wonderful articles, notes and observations from the Elizabeth David archive, this timeless book will inspire an elegant and memorable Christmas while taking the strain out of cooking for a crowd.