Festive · Seasonal Reads

All I Want for Christmas is Books!

A festive welcome to The Shelf today! Yes, it’s that time of the year again – the season of goodwill and books to all men. As Mariah Carey should have sung, All I Want for Christmas is Books so, in the spirit of the season, I thought this week I’d share a few of my festive favourites, as well as some details about what I’ll be reading this Christmas.

18048390The Christmas Tradition Read

Whether that’s mince pies by the fire, singing carols around the crib, or getting grandma tiddled on sherry by 3 o’clock in the afternoon, we all have our favourite Christmas traditions. One of mine is starting my regular re-read of my favourite book, J R R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. There’s something about the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring that I find really festive – the party, the lights, the copious amounts of food and merriment. It gives me all the festive feels. I’m lucky enough to have some gorgeous softcover editions to curl up with and, this year, I’m hoping I might persuade my husband to start reading and finally attend Bilbo’s long-expected party with me.

The Classic Christmas Crime Novel

31900372It seems so odd to choose to read crime at Christmastime but it has become something of a thing for me. That said, I’m not a fan of the dark and gritty at this time of year. As the nights go crisper and the sound of jingle bells fills the air, I turn instead to classic crime. The British Library Crime Classics have been producing some brilliant re-issues of neglected crime classics for some years now, including several festive titles. This year I’m planning to finally pick up their Christmas bestseller, Mystery in White by J Jefferson Farjeon, a classic country house murder mystery featuring a trainload full of strangers, a deserted country manor and, you guessed it, a murderer amongst them.

I’ll also be dipping into P D James’ short story collection The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories. I love James’ writing – she balances the ingenious plotting and classic scenarios of the golden age with a keenly observed psychological drama – and she is a real master of the short story form, so I’ve been saving this festive collection of four of her stories to read at the most appropriate time of year.

The Festive Ghost Story

39098246A Christmas Carol is, of course, the grandfather of festive ghost stories and is, I feel, what probably puts us in mind of spooky happenings at this time of year. I’m not a huge fan of Dickens’ writing but I make an exception for the tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit (although I’ll admit to still preferring the Muppet version every time).

This year however I’m hoping to get to some more modern ghost stories. Laura Purcell’s The Corset has been on my TBR for far too long now. Having read and loved her debut, The Silent Companions, I’m hoping that this second novel, which focuses on a young seamstress who believes she can kill with a supernatural power imbued within in her needle and thread, demonstrates the same ability to send shivers creeping gradually up your spine.

And although not strictly a ghost story, Sarah Perry’s Melmoth, a tale of a mysterious dark-robed figure that haunts the complicit and the cowardly, promises gothic vibes in abundance. I adored Perry’s The Essex Serpent and have almost been avoiding this follow-up in case it don’t love it quite as much. Now however might be time to face my fears and dive in.

The Book I’m Giving. And the One I Want to Receive!

SevenDeathsI’m urging everyone I know to read Stuart Turton’s fantastic genre-bending crime novel The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – it’s a brilliant blend of Agatha Christie and Quantum Leap with a dash of Groundhog Day thrown in. Quite how he managed to plot the whole thing I have no idea but it’s an absolute marvel and will definitely be making my Books of 2018 list. So that might be appearing in a few stockings with my name on the tag!

As for what I’d like to receive, I do like a humour book at Christmas. They’re the sort of books I’d never buy myself but that I enjoy chuckling over whilst I polish off the last of the cheese board on Christmas Day. As I’m currently up to my eyeballs in work for my MA, the thought of reading Academia Obscura: The Hidden Silly Side of Higher Education appeals, so that’s gone on my list to Santa. And although it might raise a few eyebrows on Christmas morning, I love the idea of New Erotica for Feminists: Get What You Deserve, Again and Again and Again, which features the brilliant line ‘He calls me into his office and closes the door . . . to promote me. He promotes me again and again. I am wild with ecstasy.’ I need no other reason for wishing to read it.

I also want to take this opportunity to mention the annual Booktrust Christmas Appeal. For a donation of £10.00, Booktrust will send out book parcels to children who are vulnerable or in care this Christmas. The parcels include an age-appropriate book, a letter (this year it’s been written by Jacqueline Wilson) and a festive postcard. Many of the children get no other post or may have no books of their own so the campaign is an opportunity to spread the joy of reading this festive season. Please do consider making a donation if you can.

So that is it for my Christmas reading this year. What will you be hoping to get to? And what books will you be giving this year, or asking Santa to bring? Do let me know in the comments, or come and say hi on Twitter (@shelfofunread).

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas – do eat, drink and be merry and I’ll be back again after the festivities for my Best Books of 2018 list. And until then…

Happy Reading! x

——————————————————

NB: I’ve previously done quite a few other festive posts, including Bookish Christmas Gift Guides and reviews of seasonal crime classics. I’ve linked the blog posts down below for anyone who wants more festive reading picks, so please do check them out!

Bookish Christmas Gift Guide 2017

Bookish Christmas Gift Guide 2016

Christmas Reads 2016

Feeling Festive Tag

Review: The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin (Faber Christmas Crime 2018)

Review: A Very English Murder by Cyril Hare (Faber Christmas Crime 2017)

 

 

Advertisements
Book Tags · Festive · Random Bookish Things

Feeling Festive Tag

Happy Christmas Eve book lovers!

I hope you’re all fully geared up and prepared for the festive season. I’ve been prepping for the big day tomorrow (I’m hosting) by doing plenty of  baking, drinking a couple of glasses of mulled wine and eating my own body weight in treat sized chocolate.

Having got pretty much there by way of preparations, I thought it would be nice to share a festive tag with you all. I first saw this as a video on Simon Savidge’s channel but it originates with Liv over at The Book Nook and it sounded like a lot of fun so, without further ado, settle down, grab a cuppa and lets get festive!

1. Favourite Christmas movie?

The Muppet Christmas Carol, hands down. I’ll be watching it later. I’ve also got a soft spot for Arthur Christmas and no festive season is complete without a re-watch of Die Hard.

2. Favourite Christmas song?

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues. Most depressing Christmas song ever but proof that, if you throw enough folk music and accordions at something, it instantly cheers everyone up.

3. Favourite Christmas television? 

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol. As Edmund Blackadder would say, “I trust Christmas brings to you its traditional mix of good food and violent stomach cramp.”

4. Favourite Christmas book?

The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien. Yes, I know there’s nothing Christmassy about it but I usually start my annual re-read of The Lord of the Rings around Christmas so now I associate the first book with the festive season. Plus it starts with a massive party, lots of food and much merriment which does seem seasonally appropriate.

5. Favourite Christmas season snack?

Mince pies. Especially the Salted Caramel ones from Aldi. They’re delicious.

6. Favourite Christmas Day food?

I adore sage and onion stuffing. No roast dinner is complete without it.

7. Favourite Christmas Decoration?

It’s hard to pick one as I’ve got some lovely memories on my tree. If I had to choose, it would be the one my grandparents bought me when for my first Christmas that says ‘Nothing like a granddaughter to light the world at Christmas’ and is dated 1985 – it reminds me of my family and, especially, of my wonderful and much missed Granddad.

8. What is your favourite part of Christmas?

Having some time off to spend with my nearest and dearest – it’s a season when everyone seems to remember how important it is to make time for those around them.

9. Tell us about your favourite Christmas tradition that you or your family have.

Stocking presents! We open our presents after breakfast but the day always starts with opening a present from Santa in your stocking (which is, of course, at the foot of the bed) and the present is usually something relatively small and fun – like a puzzle or novelty book. Then it’s downstairs for tea and bagels before we commence the rest of the unwrapping.

10. Any new traditions you’d like to start?

I’ve gotten into the habit of hosting a fish pie supper on Christmas Eve for my mum, my husband and I before heading to the First Communion of Christmas – which is very much a thing of recent years as opposed to something I’ve done since childhood. I’m currently trying to persuade the long-suffering husband to partake in the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod, or Yule Book Flood, where you give books on Christmas Eve and spend the evening reading them – he is yet to be convinced.

11. What’s the most memorable gift you’ve been given? 

Probably the beautifully illustrated copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that my Mum bought me. She also got me a gorgeous hardback illustrated The Velveteen Rabbit, which is very special too. And my husband bought me a Folio edition of Pride and Prejudice last year. I treasure all of them as they remind me of Christmas and my loved ones when I read them.

12. Have you ever re-gifted something at Christmas?

Yes, but only because I thought it would be perfect for the person in question and completely wasted on me.

13. Do you prefer lots of little presents or one big one?

Lots of little presents most definitely. Especially if they are book-shaped.

14. What are you most excited about for Christmas this year?

Having a few days to put my feet up and chill out with family and friends – and a few good books, of course!

Before I sign off for the festive season, I did also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has followed or supported the blog in 2017.  However you’re celebrating and wherever you are, I hope you all have a wonderful bookish Christmas. I’ll be back before New Year with my Books of the Year list but, until then…

Merry Christmas and Happy Reading!

x

 

Festive · Readathons

Christmas #CosyReadingNight TBR

The lovely Lauren over at Lauren and the Books is hosting another Cosy Reading Night on Wednesday (20 December) – just in time for Christmas! You can watch Lauren’s announcement video over on her channel here. As with her previous Cosy Reading Nights, it kicks off at 7pm UK time and runs until 10pm and the aim is simply to enjoy an evening snuggled up in your PJs with some favourite snacks and a good book or two by your side.

So what are my plans for the evening? Well, I’ll be catering for one as the long-suffering husband is out at his work Christmas meal that evening. I’m going to keep it simple for dinner with a mushroom risotto – a meal that I love to cook (as well as to eat). Plus it requires white wine to make which, conveniently, leaves a glass or two left over for sipping with my book! Snacks are also sorted – my current reading snack of choice is a Thornton’s Caramel Cheesecake Block, one of which I just so happen to have in an unopened ready for a special occasion. I’m generally not too nibbly of an evening but, because it’s Christmas, I might treat myself to some dry roasted peanuts to graze on as well. Plus tea, of course. There will always be tea.

32861730And as for the books? I’m currently reading Another Little Christmas Murder by Lorna Nicholl Morgan, a reissue of a 1947 crime novel which takes place in the suitably festive-sounding manor house of Wintery Wold. At three chapters in I’ve been pleased to find all the festive golden age tropes present and correct: a snowbound manor house in a desolate location, a collection of mismatched guests with secrets to hide and, of course, a murderer in their midst. I’m not expecting the book to reinvent the wheel but, for what it is, I’m enjoying it and it has ‘cosy winter reading’ written all over it – perfect for Cosy Reading Night.

Hydra final jacket imageI’ve also received an exciting piece of book post today – an advance copy of Hydra by Matt Wesolowski, kindly sent by Orenda Books in advance of the blog tour I’m taking part in in January. I absolutely loved Matt’s first thriller, Six Stories, which I read earlier this year, so I’m itching to get started on Hydra straight away. Told in a Serial like format, the novel follows six episodes of a podcast looking into the Macleod Massacre, the horrific murder of her family that was apparently carried out by 21-year-old Arla Macleod. The book’s been calling to me since it arrived in the post this morning so I imagine I will be reading that too at some point during the evening!

I’m really looking forward to having a night snuggled up on the sofa amidst all the preparing for Christmas craziness going on at the moment. If you’re joining in with #cosyreadingnight, come say hi over on Twitter throughout the evening and let me know what you’re reading. All being well, I’ll be posting a short wrap up of the evening before Christmas. Keep an eye on Lauren’s channel for her Cosy Reading Night videos and, if you’re taking part, have a great night! x

 

Festive · Random Bookish Things

The Shelf of Unread Books Bookish Christmas Gift Guide!!

Yes, I’m aware that it’s not yet December but the Festive season certainly seems to be upon us – mince pies on every aisle end, novelty jumpers in every clothes shop and, if you’re anything like me, a vague sense of panic that you haven’t even started your Christmas shopping yet. Fear not though because The Shelf is here to help with a selection of book-related gifts to give your nearest and dearest this festive season.

Beautiful, Beautiful Books

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetBook lovers, unsurprisingly, love books. But buying a book for your bookworm is not always the easiest thing to do. Bookworms, by their very nature, buy and/or borrow a lot of books. So how to get something they’ll love and treasure? Simple – buy a beautiful edition of an old favourite. There’s some absolutely stunning series of classics out there at the moment from the every-expanding Penguin Clothbound Classics to Vintage’s oh so pretty Russian Classics series (pictured) released earlier this year. There’s also the latest in the Harry Potter illustrated editions – Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban, Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them and A History of Magic – or, if you prefer your children’s books a little more classic, some lovely new hardbacks of Tove Jansson’s Finn Family Moomintroll books. On the contemporary novel front, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been released in a stunning black covered hardback with red sprayed edges by Vintage whilst Alias Grace has been given a gorgeous orange hardback from Bloomsbury. Chances are, if your bookworm has a favourite classic, children’s classic or contemporary classic, there will be a beautiful edition out there with their name on it.

Bookish Jewellery

il_570xN.453330071_h8lfI’ve mentioned Scribbelicious jewellery in a previous gift guide but they’ve expanded their range to include a wider selection of classic and contemporary titles, more styles and even homeware such as mugs and magnets. Also worth a mention is Coryographies, an Etsy store that features beautiful earrings, necklaces and bookmarks shaped like bookshelves and stacks of books, such as the Jane Austen Bookcase necklace (pictured right). Eclectic Eccentricity don’t specialise in literary jewellery but their gorgeous range features plenty of pieces suitable for matching up to books such as the Ursa Major Bear Necklace which always reminds me of Iorek from Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy.

Literary Gifts

2173.0_1024x1024The Literary Gift Company stock gifts suitable for all tastes and wallets ranging from pin badges to jigsaws via socks, mugs and stationary – it’s like a one stop shop of book related presents. My personal favourites include the Bodleian High Jinks Jigsaw (pictured) – perfect for keeping your bookworm occupied over the festive season – and the Personal Library Kit which allows book lovers to fulfill all their childhood librarian dreams. They also do a lovely range of clothing including T-shirts, scarves and socks, as well as homewares such as cushions, mugs, tote bags and book pouches. Speaking of book pouches, Book Buddle gives your book a hug with lovely padded book sleeves for paperbacks, hardbacks and e-readers in a variety of pretty fabric. The stock changes regularly so keep checking back for new items – or you can request a custom order. Also on Etsy are MyBookmark with a fun and eclectic range of handmade bookmarks.

Subscription Services

AAAABook subscription services are starting to gain more traction here in the UK  so, whilst we still don’t have access to the US’s Book of the Month club, there are some great UK based alternatives out there. Book & a Brew is a monthly subscription service that sends a hardback book and a lovely box/tin of specially chosen tea to complement that month’s title. Book selections are across a wide range of genres and gift subscriptions and one off boxes are also available. For a real adventure into the unknown, how about The Random Book Club?  Run from the famous Wigtown bookshop (the largest second hand bookshop in Scotland), the titles are hand-picked, a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and sure to contain an element of suprise – great for anyone who wants to leave their literary comfort zone behind in 2018. If a book subscription is slightly beyond budget, why not consider a magazine subscription instead? Offering both print and digital subscriptions, NewBooks Magazine (pictured) is a quarterly filled with reviews, extracts, features and author interviews tailored to readers and reading groups. Featured titles in the magazine are available for only the cost of postage and packaging and there’s an exclusive offer for Christmas to include two free books with your gift subscription. I’ve been a subscriber for a few years now and can genuinely say I look forward to each issue landing on the doormat.

Charitable Gifts

Finally I wanted to mention a wonderful campaign being run by BookTrust, the reading charity. Their £10.00 book gift campaign aims to provide books to 9,700 children in care this Christmas time. A donation, either from you or on behalf of someone you love, could help make a real difference so please do consider giving if you can.

Hopefully that little lot will provide a few ideas for bookish gifts to give to your loved ones this season – or possibly some things you want to add to your own letter to Santa! If you’ve got any other Christmas gift suggestions, I’d love to hear them so please drop me a comment down below or say hi over on Twitter. What will you be buying this Christmas? And what are you hoping to receive by way of bookish goodies? Do let me know and, until next time…

Happy Reading x