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BOOKS TO GIVE AT CHRISTMAS - what are you wrapping this year?

(113 Posts)
TillyBookClub Tue 29-Nov-11 22:06:00

This year, I'm going all out for strikingly beautiful, gorgeously tactile books, probably as a reaction to Kindlemania... but leaving room in the stockings for a few straightforward paperbacks too.

What will you be putting under the tree?

For 0-5 year olds:
Stuck - Oliver Jeffers
All manner of strange objects get stuck in a tree, as Floyd tries to unstick his kite. A beautifully drawn, funny, whimiscal book from one of the best children's authors (The Incredible Book Eating Boy is still a firm household favourite.)

For 5-8 year olds:
Any of the Tim and Ginger books by Edward Ardizzone
Sea-faring adventures and derring do aplenty, with exquisite illustration and hand-coloured pictures. They are always popular with my boys for having an almost cartoon style coupled with a good old-fashioned yarn.

For older kids:
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick
This book was published back in 2007 but has just come out as a film by Martin Scorcese. Twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets. His mysterious adventures are depicted in both magical words and hand-drawn pictures, and the whole book is an incomparable work of art. Mainly for 9-14 year olds, but would equally captivate younger children or adults. A bit of a whopper (500 pages, but lots of those are illustration) - get in some extra wrapping paper...

For boys in particular:
History Heroes: How Well Do You Know Your Explorers?
Not strictly a book, but a pack of cards, a bit like top trumps, with facts about explorers and adventurers. Keeps my 5 year old fascinated - and usefully covers a great hole in my own knowledge.

For girls in particular:
Penguin clothbound Jane Austen/Louisa May Alcott
As always, Penguin have pulled out the stops and made the classics into something extra-special. One of these (Emma? or maybe Little Women? So hard to choose) will be ideal for my 11 year old niece: she'll read and re-read forever.

For the men:
Private Eye: First 50 Years
OK, not an original choice, but it does tick a lot of boxes: funny, intelligent, visually striking. It's almost like an alternative history book, with all major events covered in those spot-on photo caption covers.

For the women:
Wildflowers - Sarah Raven
A seriously sumptuous present (a sort of equivalent to a giant glass bottle of Jo Malone). It is stunningly produced (endpapers, ribbons, glorious photography, the works) and consequently pricey (RRP £50 but half the price on Amazon). It is also hard to categorise - not exactly an identification book or a gardening book, but a personal detailing of all the wildflowers she found across Britain. Makes you happy to live here, and happy just to think of spring.

Stocking filler paperbacks for grown ups:

Snowdrops - ADMiller
An utterly gripping thriller that was shortlisted for the Booker prize, perfect for crime fans and literary bookworms alike. And it's our Mumsnet Bookclub book for January 2012

Room - Emma Donoghue
One of the best books we did in Bookclub this year - and one I still can't stop talking about.

By Heart - ed. Ted Hughes
A collection of poetry that you can learn easily by heart, with a great introduction on how to visualise the imagery and commit the words to memory. Reminds me how much I love poetry and yet never take time to read it. This means you should (theoretically, at least) be able to pull it out of your head whenever you fancy.

Stocking filler paperbacks for kids:

Traction Man Meets Turbo Dog - Mimi Grey
Traction Man has to save his loyal scrubbing brush from the hideous bin-things - and prevent Turbo Dog from usurping his faithful friend. Great jokes for adults and kids, and a lovely comic illustration that looks stylish and retro.

The Little Wooden Horse - Ursula Moray Williams
A great aunt sent us an original copy of this (try to get a secondhand copy, as the original drawings are lovely) - each chapter sends the little toy into a wild adventure, taking on pirates, kings, coal mines, racehorses and crazy children as he tries to get back to his master. Kept everyone saucer-eyed, despite being decidedly old-fashioned.

jakkyburt53 Tue 19-Nov-13 13:20:11

The Bible

The Quran


Divatheshopaholic Wed 01-Feb-12 22:50:08

Great list here:0)

TillyBookClub Sun 29-Jan-12 20:07:35

This thread is multi tasking - it is now helping to form my list for birthdays throughout the year...

midnightexpress - you probably not on this thread anymore but we have just returned from Finland with armfuls of Moomin books/Moomin DVDs/all manner of Moomin knick knacks. I love the weirdness and yet happiness of them. And the guys are transfixed. Thinking of changing my nickname to Snorkmaiden.

Jux Fri 16-Dec-11 09:31:58

I've just ordered Cooking with Coco for dd as recommenedd by Nigella on the web chat. I think I know Coco's family too (just to nod to, nothing fancy!).

nursenic Wed 14-Dec-11 21:50:20

Other beautiful cookbooks-

Creole- Babette De Rozieres

Secrets Of The Red Lantern- Pauline Nguyen

The Pastry Queen-Rebecca Rather

The Pastry Queen's Christmas-Rebecca Rather

JulesJules Wed 14-Dec-11 14:29:13

Oh yes nursenic I LOVE Tessa Kiros cookbooks, I have them all blush they are gorgeous books to look at before you even start cooking from them - have given several before as pressies

Tessa Kiros cookbooks

cazzybabs Tue 13-Dec-11 22:17:42

Just to lower the tone for a friend I have just ordered
Shag your self slim
How to poo on holiday

LevantineLass Tue 13-Dec-11 15:04:09

Oh, and "Me Talk Pretty one Day" by David Sedaris for anyone who needs cheering up in winter. Literally the funniest thing I have read for a long time. I keep it by my bed.

LevantineLass Tue 13-Dec-11 15:02:53

For my sister: Alice Hart's excellent "Vegetarian" and Niamh Shields' gorgeous, makes-you-want-to-cook "Comfort and Spice".
For my best friend "Tony and Susan" by Austin Wright - an unputdownable thriller which I would never have read, had I not seen it written up on a blog. Written ages ago and forgotten and then revived in 2003.
DS - (6) Picasso's trousers by Nicholas Allan (Whatever you think of his others, which all involve knickers or bums - this is really great, esp for art-loving kids)
DS (4) - William Bee's Beware of the Frog
Godchildren - "Birdscapes" - an amazing pop-up book with noises of each bird on each page. This book is truly a wonder, for all ages, and brilliant for whiling away hours. Pricey but really a treasure. Amazon link here -
Any Mitford fan - Christmas Pudding has just been reissued by Capuchin classics and is meant to be great.
DH is getting, as always, the latest Erast Fandorin novel by Boris Akunin, and a Blake & Mortimer comic to feed his latest thirst for French comics!

ladyr Tue 13-Dec-11 13:50:24

I've ordered one of these My daddy... books for my 3 year old to give to his Daddy

CuriosityCola Mon 12-Dec-11 22:24:46

Thank you planetpotty

nursenic Mon 12-Dec-11 20:24:38

Thank you Thirtysomething- have been tearing the house apart trying to find the name of it. Yes it is.

Like you, I loved 'Falling Cloudberries' and I also bought her Tuscan cookbook too.

If you want a labour book recommendation and you liked the gentleness and charm of 'Miss Pettigrew' can I recommend Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. I love this gentle, mannered book set in surburban, village England.

Sue Miller also writes easily digestable books. I like her writing when I just want to read without the work.

For labour escapism, how about travel writing? Jan Morris on 'Venice maybe? Or The Country Child by Alison Uttley for semi autobiographical writings of a bygone age? It may be 'meant' for kids, but I read and re-read this book and find something new and beautiful in it's natural observations and delicious descriptions of farmhouse food!

Were you a fan of the show you are 'name' after BTW?

Thirstysomething Mon 12-Dec-11 20:14:18

PPS - nursenic was it Braving Home? Sounds great, but I can't find anything with the title No Place Like Home. This looks like it though?

Thirstysomething Mon 12-Dec-11 20:02:22

PS anyone got a recommendation for a book to put in my labour bag?? I know it is unlikely I will get a chance to read, but just in case I do.... with DD2 I had to go in early and had nothing to read (while I could for first couple of hours before it all kicked off...) except old copies of Hello. argh.
Something easy to get into and races along please!

Thirstysomething Mon 12-Dec-11 20:00:13

A Secret History was my favourite favourite book all through my twenties.... my copy is held together with bubble gum and string.

Older boys/girls/adults The King Must Die by Mary Renault if anyone likes Greek history type novels - it is amazing.

Tessa Kiros - Falling Cloudberries is the most beautiful cookbook in the world and also has some incredible recipes, mmm Cypriot cumin lamb.

The Little White Horse for romantic little girls

Adults - Mao's Last Dancer - about a male ballet dancer in the Cultural Revolution, amazing stories of his childhood and then coming to America and watching his ballet director spend his father's lifetime salary in one hour in a mall.

Any Michael Morpurgo for young teenagers

Dove for teenage boys (and girls?) about a boy who sails around the world on his own age 16 and falls in love. Not soppy.

Agent ZigZag for DH

For various nieces and anyone who loves Nancy Mitford, I Capture the Castle etc type books -
Miss Pettigrew
EF Benson - Dodo
Zuleika Dobson

AgnesBligg Would Possession be too heavy going?

nursenic Mon 12-Dec-11 17:05:00

My goodness leo35- we are sisters-under-the-book-jacket!

I think Carl Hiaasen is a very very clever writer.
I recently read 'Black Water Rising' too! A similar book you might like (and others too) is called 'Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter' by Tom Franklin as this is also a Deep South based crime novel full of Spanish Moss, seething, steamy Southern Gothic settings and great local sense of place.

I'm going to try Eugenides' new novel as i kept stopping and starting with 'Middlesex'.

Has anybody read 'A Secret History' by Donna Tart?

Also 'The Prince Of Tides' and 'Lords Of Discipline' by Pat Conroy. Both are big doorsteps of novels to satisfy Christmas holiday reading appetites.

Leo35 Mon 12-Dec-11 14:28:02

Nursenic - Thank you for your kind words on my taste in books. Glad I didn't lower the tone in my initial reply by recommending Carl Hiaasen at that point! I haven't read them all, but enjoyed Skinny Dip as a light read.

Also recently read Black Water Rising by Attica Locke which I was a good first (crime) novel. It links Civil Rights movement history with more recent political skulduggery.

In that vein I usually enjoy Sara Paretsky's VI Warshawski crime novels. The crime is more than a who-dunnit and she writes well about social and political backgrounds in American society. Worth a try if you haven't already?

Jeffrey Eugenides might be worth checking out also? Middlesex, once you get through the long scene setting uses the family living in Detroit to meet with movers and shakers in US history. I really got into it once the scene was set.

nursenic Mon 12-Dec-11 13:12:33

A pleasure. I'll find the correct reference for it when I can get to my book shelves and trawl for it. It has chapters about a man living on a Hawaiian lava field, people living on 'submergible' barrier islands on the Louisianan coast, a guy who is the sole inhabitant of a flooded Atlantic state town, the 'canyon fire fighters' of Malibu who refuse to evacuate and stay to protect their homes....

Fascinating people....

munstersmum Mon 12-Dec-11 12:42:41

Might nab No Place Like Home for our book club - thanks nursenic

nursenic Mon 12-Dec-11 12:28:48

I haven't come across that Steinbeck, munstersmum so thank you, I'll order a second hand copy of it. I love reading books that other readers have recommended. Makes them more memorable for me.

I have heard of Jack London's 'White fang' and 'Call of the Wild'. I have mis- classified them as children's reads and seeing as i adore re reading my childhood books does not preclude them from my list.

I have really enjoyed Brian Keenans account of spending time in Alaska with his family plus other similar Alaskan odysseys especially from earlier times when the state was being 'opened up' to non indigenous people.

There's a brilliant collection of writings about unusual places to live called 'No Place Like Home' by an American travel writer. It has a chapter about a woman who resides in an ex-government building accessible via a mountain tunnel in Alaska and the myriad of reasons why a person would want to secrete themselves away there (many are survivors of DV and benefit from the guarded tunnel through which no stranger can pass through undetected).

munstersmum Mon 12-Dec-11 11:52:10

nursenic Have you read To A God Unknown? I only came across it recently & thought it was up there with his best.

What about Call of the wild/White fang?

Fennel Mon 12-Dec-11 10:22:13

This thread is encouraging me to buy more, just ordered Sapphire Battersea and the Sleeping Army.

And I will have to check out the Jill Paton Walsh too so I can continue my crush on Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey.

nursenic Sun 11-Dec-11 22:26:14


i have read all of those and I commend your taste as I loved all of them. I gave a set of Steinbeck novels to DS after he loved 'Of Mice & Men'- he is not a fanatical reader like the rest of us but really took to these books. I loved the Steinbeck novella about the Mexican pearl divers also.

Bryson does make me laugh and my love of American travel writing was born of both his work and Martin Fletcher's travel writing. There is so much literary snobbery surrounding Bryson but i won't have any of that.

I also love Pat Conroy, Michael Lee West, Bailey White, Jeannette Wells, James Villas and used to subscribe/read 'The Angolan' the online news/features news journal written by inmates at Angola penitentiary in the Deep South. The Angolan has some literary heavyweights supporting it and the quality of writing is high.

Leo35 Sun 11-Dec-11 22:15:32

American books - I always recommend Cannery Row and Travels with Charley by Steinbeck.

guess that you have read Bill Bryson stuff?

My mind has gone blank beyond this - and I've read loads of American authors!

edam Sun 11-Dec-11 21:55:44

Some interesting ideas here. I'm getting ds (8) one of the How to train your dragon series and starting him on Terry Pratchett - probably Johnny and the Bomb. Maybe Treasure Island as well. I'm hoping someone buys me the new Jill Paton Walsh inspired by Dorothy L Sayers.

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