First on my list is Bill Bryson The Road to Little Dribbling which I have already reviewed here. No matter how grumpy you may feel on Christmas Day (especially if you are cooking up a storm for a huge family gathering) and are fed up with all the pud and turkey, then find a quiet spot (if poss) and read this. I guarantee you will be heaving, sniggering and snorting with mirth within thirty seconds and your equilibrium will be well and truly restored. A simply wonderful book and I loved every word.
The Secret Garden by Johanna Beresford - a grown up colouring book reviewed by me here. Again, this is a must have after any fraught family gatherings over the festive period. I am not saying that all family gatherings are fraught, but even if you have a marvellous time, you will be tres knackered and a sit down with this book, a box of coluring pencils (put them on your Christmas list), a glass of wine and quiet and this book and you will feel totally chilled. I do a flower at a time.
The Complete Peter Pan - J M Barrie. OK hands up. How many of you have actually read the book and how many of you only know the story from Disney? Yep. Me too. So have just started reading this new edition from Alma Classics which those lovely people there sent me. Makes fascinating reading as, of course, it has a wonderfully Edwardian feel to the writing which adds a totally new dimension to the story which I have not experienced before. Beautifully illustrated by Joel Stewart, some of his drawings remind me of Edward Ardizzone, one of my all time favourite illustrators so that adds to the enchantment. A lovely Christmas present for the right child, or adult...
Notes from a Very Small Island - Anthony Stancomb. This is another book by this author on his life on the Croation Island of Vis. I reviewed the first one Under a Croatian Sun, here and this is a delightful follow up. I am half way through and thoroughly enjoying it. Very Bryson in many respects in the self deprecating wit allied with the joy of living in such a glorious place. Another to read to restore calm after the festivities.
Jane Austen's Guide to Modern Life's Dilemmas - Rebecca Smith. This is not a recent publication, has been available for a year or two, but it only came to my attention when Ivy Press (do check out their website and see all of their gorgeous books) sent me their catalogue and sent me a copy. Rebecca Smith is Jane Austen's greatgreatgreat etc niece and she uses selections from books, letters and early Jane writings to answer modern dilemmas. For instance if you wanted to get a tattoo but your parents are dead against it. Now according to Jane you should treat your parents, no matter how unpleasant or ineffectual, with respect but if you really want to go against their wishes, go ahead but do not flaunt the result. Be discreet. Mr Woodhouse is quoted here and also how Emma gets her own way. Whole book is great fun and if you are a Jane lover then pop this in your own stocking.
Finally, today please check out the British Library series in the Classic Crime collection. A whole pile of these would go down very well with a crimefic lover. Beautifully produced and full of fascinating and interesting stores by long forgotten authors. OK I do think that some of them should have remained that way but there are enough goodies to make them worthwhile reading.
I would also like to recommend Charlotte Bronte by Clare Harman. I shall be reviewing this fully for the next edition of Shiny New Books, and you will be able to read my thoughts then but I must say here that it is wonderful. I wasn't sure whether we needed another book on Charlotte but this changed my mind.
I love this time of year in the bookshops, always so much choice available, and I gather that the usual Sleb biographies that appear at this time are tailing off in popularity. Thank goodness for that. I really do not need to read about Katie Price (she has published six autobiogs I gather - six!) or the thoughts of the latest Eastender. I really don't. Sure their family and friends all love them but what makes them think that any of us are interested enough to shell out around £20 (OK £10 if you get it from the supermarket) I really do not know.
Right that is it for today. Quick shop before tennis from O2 starts and then I shall be in situ in armchair for the rest of the day. This is The Armchair which is guilty of tearing my calf muscle in the summer when I arose from it to make a cup of tea. As you know weeks of pain followed so I now get up very carefully.
As I am knitting again I am also watching what I do with my knitting needles with an eagle eye.