Gift suggestions

Buy Me A Book for Christmas 2019 edition

This has actually been quite hard to write this year – some of the books that I wanted, I’ve just bought myself (stress brings on book-buying, you all know that) and others I was lucky enough to get advance copies of, or borrow from the library.  Until a few weeks ago, The Starless Sea would have been on this list, and we all know what happened there… But truthfully, there’s always books that I want, so here are this year’s top picks that I’m hoping to find in my stocking…

Home Work by Julie Andrews

Cover of Home Work

I should be getting this.  I mean I sent a group message to my family saying that if they wanted to buy me a Christmas book, this was what i wanted and could they please fight it out between them but make sure I got it.  I read the first volume of her memoirs (Home) back in my pre-blog Essex days and liked it, but was annoyed that it finished before her Hollywood pinnacle.  This is that part of her story – and she’s been on the chat shows to promote it and I’m very excited.  Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music were big parts of my childhood – and I still watch them now.  I’ve always been really interested in behind the scenes Hollywood stuff and she’s had a fascinating life.  How much more could it be up my street?

Glittering Hour by Iona Andrews

Cover of The Glittering Hour

I loved Iona Andrew’s debut Letters to the Lost four years ago and this is her new novel.  It’s another spit time narrative – with one story in the 1920s and the other a decade later.  According to the blurb it has a Bright Young Thing, an artist, forbidden love and tragedy. Letters to the Lost made me cry, so I’m fairly sure this will too.  But sometimes you need a weepy novel to read, preferably curled up by the fire. It’s out in paperback too, which we know I prefer for fiction.

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

Cover of The Chelsea Girls

This is set in the 1950s, as the Blacklist is starting and follows two women living in a famous New York hotel and trying to get a Broadway play off the ground.  I’ve read a lot about the Red Scare this year, and I love stories about buildings and the people who live in them.  You may recall seeing The Dollhouse on the WiB list a few weeks back.  Well this is the Fiona Davis that I really wanted to read, but that the library didn’t have!  It’s only in hardback (or expensive ebook edition) at the moment, so if it doesn’t turn up in my stocking, then I’ll have to wait for the paperback in summer 2020…

Beyond that, it’s a bit tricky.  I mean you could buy me some of the nice hardback Terry Pratchetts that I seem to have started acquiring – I’d like Going Postal, Mort and Making Money next please. Or maybe one of the Virago hardbacks I’m missing – like The Birds or Strangers on the Train. Or just a book token. I can always find a way to spend it…

Happy Christmas!

 

fiction, Gift suggestions, non-fiction

Give Me a Book for Christmas 2016

Yes, it’s that time of year again, where I tell you what’s been sitting in my Amazon Shopping basket for months as I try to justify buying more books in the guise of offering recommendations for people who like what I like but actually offer last minute hints to my loved ones who read the blog and anyone else who wants to buy me something.  In writing this I went back over last year’s version of this post and was cheered over how many of my 2015 wishes I’ve got and have read – and there are a couple more on my Kindle too that I bought myself!

Non Fiction

The non fiction section of this list always seems to be bigger than the fiction one – I think because non-fiction books are often more expensive or come out in hardback first so I’m less likely to buy them myself and it takes longer for them to drop down in price secondhand.

A new addition to the list is Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Mock, Hate and Fear by Sady Doyle, which Sarah MacLean recommended in her Christmas mailing list.  It’s a look at troubled women in the public eye through history – from Mary Wollstonecraft through Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse – examining what makes a “trainwreck” and why we’re so fascinated by them.  I’ve had my eye on The End of the Perfect 10 by Dvora Meyers since the Olympics in the summer, but haven’t been able to justify shelling out for it when I have so much waiting on the to-read shelf.  And then there’s Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me which I’ve just heard so much about but haven’t got around to reading yet.

There’s a few memoirs that I’m interested on – I keep hearing good things about Tara Clancy’s The Clancy’s of Queens about her childhood growing up in different parts of New York.  Then there’s Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime about growing up in South Africa when his parents’ marriage (between a white Swiss man and a black Xhosa woman) was illegal.  Noah is almost exactly my age and it’s crazy to me that this was still happening in my lifetime, to my contemporaries.

In history terms, I’d like First Women by Kate Anderson Brower about modern First Ladies of the US,  I want to read Barbara Leaming’s Kick Kennedy because I already have Paula Byrne’s Kick waiting on the shelf and I wouldn’t mind Rosemary by Kate Larson (although I fear it may make me sad and angry) because most of my knowledge about the other Kennedys comes from Laurie Graham’s novel The Importance of Being Kennedy and Robert Dalek’s biography John F Kennedy: An Unfinished Life.

I’m not one for science books in the main – although I’d also like to read several of the Mary Roach books I recommended yesterday – but I’d really like Emily Nagoski’s Come As You Are which is an exploration of female sexuality and sex, but I’m not sure there’s anyone I know well enough that I can ask them to buy it for me!  Perhaps I’ll treat myself to it in the New Year!

Fiction

The fiction section this year breaks down into authors I want to try or books I keep hearing about and series/authors I collect.  I’ll start with the former, because if you’ve been here a while the latter may seem a bit familiar to you…

Last year I was asking for the last of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation books – this year I’m asking for her first collaboration with Beatriz Williams (who I also really like) and Karen White, The Forgotten Room, which is a timeslip novel covering three generations of a family in New York.  And incidentally I still haven’t managed to read Willig’s other novel from last year That Summer, where a woman inherits a house and discovers a painting and a mystery.

I’m always wanting non-Christmassy books to read in January – particularly because that’s when my birthday is and I’m sick of tinsel and mistletoe by New Year’s Day – which conincidentally is when Sherlock is back on TV, so Brittany Holmes A Study in Charlotte (female Holmes descendant at a US boarding school) or Sherry Thomas’s A Study in Scarlet Women (historical romance with female Sherlock) which I’ve been coveting for ages might well suit my mood early in 2017.

On the collection front, Virago reissued three more Angela Thirkells recently that I have not yet read or added to my collection (I wasn’t allowed to buy myself when Foyles were doing 20% off online, apparently 1 book as a present and 1 book for me was not an acceptable purchase ratio…) Miss Bunting, The Headmistress and Marling Hall.  There’s also a few more of Virago’s Designer Hardbacks that I’d quite like to add to the shelf – notably the two Daphne Du Maurier short story collections – Don’t Look Now and Other Stories and The Birds and Other Stories and Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on the Train.

And in more boring every day reading so to speak, I really want to read the new Aurora Teagarden Mystery by Charlaine Harris, All the Little Liars, partly because I like the series but also because the idea of an author coming back to a series after nearly 15 years fascinates me. I still don’t have the latest Julia Quinn (Because of Miss Bridgerton) or Sarah MacLean (A Scot in the Dark) so I’m falling behind in my historical romance reading as well as the rest of the backlog.

Bookish Stuff

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve already bought myself another year of Fahrenheit Press books and a couple more years of Literary Review, and I have Vanity Fair as well.  I did investigate a membership of the London Library, but I don’t know anyone who would spend nearly £500 on a library membership for me – especially with the massive backlog I have at the moment (and I can get a *lot* of books for £500 – that’s probably more than I’ve spend on books for myself this year anyway!).

I do fancy a new Kindle e-reader though – my first generation Kindle Touch has given me faithful service for more than 4 years, but it’s now struggling a little bit (it keeps stalling, possibly because of the amount of stuff on it) and the paint is scratching off it.  It’d also be nice to have two so that Him Indoors could use one on the beach on holiday (he ended up using mine for a fair bit of our last one).  My pick (I think) is the Voyage – because I want the backlight but I’m also getting lazy in my old age and liked the page turning squeezing thing when I tried it at the airport.

So there you are, more books than you can shake a stick at that I want for Christmas, despite the piles I already have.  It’s like an addiction except that I learn things and it’s not illegal.