Well we are nearly there – just a week left to do your Christmas shopping and find the gift that will really mean something to the recipient, offering pleasure that will last well after the 25th December. Okay – there may be a few electrical devices that will offer a similar sensation but in truth – what is better than a book?
On Talking Books, my show on 10Radio, last week I discussed books as gifts for Christmas with my resident book expert, Julie Munckton. Julie works tirelessly to support local bookshops through the website localbookshops.co.uk, which offers an alternative to the faceless Amazon via your own local high street bookshop (or your favourite bookshop in any part of the country) and she really knows her stuff. Twenty five minutes sped past as we offered hints and tips for presents across many subjects – from fiction to gardening and from history to biography. Whether you have a loved one fascinated by football or a fan of Dr Who, into soap stars or the natural world, Victorian gothic fiction or a cosy mystery – there was something for everyone. We even looked at incredible jolting chairs and cures for dimples via the Quackdoctor.
I love getting books for Christmas, but I recognise it is often hard for people to buy for me as they know I am such a book lover and they worry I will already have a copy. It is the same for many of us. But most shops will exchange without question (just get a gift receipt) and in all likelihood we won’t have it – take a chance! We also discussed buying a lovely old second-hand book as a gift, polishing up a leather cover or opening the pages to find an old receipt or newspaper cutting falling on your lap. Unique. Hairs and old food are not such good ‘surprises’ of course but many bookshops sell new and old side by side now, so have a browse for that priceless present.
Julie chose the wonderful ‘In dulci jubilo’ by Mike Oldfield as her request at the end of the show which was lovely and festive, so do have a listen to the show on the link below (with a pencil and paper handy) and get those last-minute ideas. As Julie says, not only do books give great joy of themselves, they are also very easy to wrap….
Just in case you can’t write the titles down in time, here is a list of most of the titles we mention:
The Somnambulist, Elijah’s Mermaid and The Goddess and the Thief by Essie Fox
The Judas Goat by Patrick Brigham
Murder in a Cold Climate by Stanley Reynolds
Daisy Dalrymple mysteries by Carola Dunn
The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Before the Year Dot by June Brown
Recipe for Life by Mary Berry
The Street to Recovery by Kevin Kennedy
Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography
Quick and Easy French Classics by Jean Cristophe Novelli
Great British Bake Off
Great British Sewing Bee
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond (re-issue for 2013)
Octopus’s Garden by Ringo Starr
The Befana Drama by Gianna Hartwright
The Quack Doctor by Caroline Rance
Bradshaw’s Guide to Continental Railways
The History of the Letter by Simon Garfield
The Great British Year by Stephen Moss
The Allotment Almanac by Terry Walton.
Go to localbookshops.co.uk for more details.