So many wonderful books to hand at the moment and so many I want to share with you all. Here are some more books that would delight me if I were given them and would make me love the giver even more. I am grouping these recommendations by publisher at the moment, the other day the books were from the British Library, today they all happen to be from Yale University Press.
First up, the Richard Burton diaries. I have already raved about them here so will not go into further rhapsodies except to say, once again, that they are utterly compelling and tell of a love which I think never died, though scandal, separation, drink, illness and conflict. I found them quite heartbreaking in the end. Out in paperback so a perfect present.
The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack. The story of women's reading habits across time and culture. This is not a book to be read in a sitting, best if read a chapter at a time and it is not just about modern writers or even 19th or 20th century writers, but covers hundreds of years of reading history. This book as a gift would signal that the giver knows you are a woman of discernment. What could be nicer?
E H Gombrich - A Little History of the World. In 1935 Gombrich, with a doctorate in Art History and no job, was asked to write a history of the world for younger readers. At only aged 26 the author completed the task in six weeks, which amazes me and Eine Kurz Wltgeschicte fur Junger Leser was published in Vienna to huge acclaim and is now available in over thirty languages.
Now this is for young readers. I have no idea of what age this could be recommended today. If I had this book when my children were younger I would have given it to them to read when they were about ten or eleven, even younger in Helen's case (my historian daughter) as she gobbled up books of all kinds. So I am hesitant to recommend how old your child should be before being given this book and you would need to know that he or she would appreciate it. I am appreciating it very much myself at the moment and am learning things about the Phoenicians and the Romans that have hitherto escaped my eagle eye. It is written with great charm, clarity and style and does not talk down in anyway. I simply love it. This is not a book which is going to be passed on but is joining the Random Bookshelves permanently.
And, finally, the most glorious, sumptuous book which had me drooling when it arrived and uttering cries of joy as I turned the pages. Edwardian Opulence: British Art at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century edited by Angus Trumble and Andrea Wolk Rager. Here are a collection of Essays on The Soldier, the King and the Proconsuls, an Edwardian procession; The Glittering World: spectacle, luxury and desire in the Edwardian Age; The Ancien Regime; Victorians and Moderns and all illustrated with the most wonderful paintings and photographs. Superb paper that is smooth under one's stroking fingers, beautifully bound and reminding us all that we love our e-readers and our Kindles but nothing, absolutely nothing, replaces the sheer physical and sensual pleasure of reading a book such as this.
I can only recommend titles as presents from my point of view, being books that would give me such a thrill to be given. If you are lucky enough to receive any of these from loved ones then you know that they are kindred spirits.
My thanks to Yale University Press for sending me these books for review, particularly the last mentioned, Edwardian Opulence which I shall treasure always. For me it is a permanent Christmas present to have this in my library.