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Caro

Books for Christmas

Books for Christmas.

Although it wasn’t a big books Christmas for me, it was for others in the family.  My husband gave me a book of food memories and recipes gathered in the national Sunday paper here; the author was a girl he taught some journalism to at school which makes it particularly interesting. She called it social history.  The only other book I got came in a package of goodie bits – it was by Louise Penny, a Canadian whodunnit writer who I don’t know.

My husband got a haul of books.  From me a memoir by Bruce Ansley of New Brighton, my husband’s area when he was growing up.  He also got Ben Elton’s Meltdown and Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals, and Michael Palin’s Halfway to Hollywood, the 1980s.  

My son, interested in political memoirs and ideas, got from Santa (aka his partner) The Prince, Marx’s Communist Manifesto, something by Nietzche and Sun Tsu’s The Art of War.  He was also excited to get The Little Red School Book, described by wikipedia as “The Little Red Schoolbook (Danish: Den Lille Røde Bog For Skoleelever [English: The Little Red Book For Students]) is a book written by two Danish schoolteachers, Søren Hansen (b. 28 Mar 1940) and Jesper Jensen in 1969, which was controversial upon its publication. The book was translated into many languages in the early 1970s.[1]

The book encourages young people to question societal norms and instructs them in how to do this. Out of 200 pages, it includes 20 pages on sex and 30 on drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Other topics included adults as paper tigers, the duties of teachers, discipline, examinations, intelligence, and different schools.[1]”

He had tried to buy this earlier but it  cost over $90 in a Trade Me online auction, so he pulled out.  My husband has this book but wouldn’t give it to him.  We also have  version called The Little White School Book which is a Christian response to it, but very hard to find much about on the internet except that it was by Australian Roger Bush.  And he also got a book called New Zealanders at War.  

So any exciting book presents for you?

Cheers, Caro.
MikeAlx

Santa obviously read my wishlist very carefully, as I got everything I asked for!

Fiction
The Children's Book - A.S. Byatt
The Wilderness - Samantha Harvey
Berg - Ann Quin
Three - Ann Quin

History
The Great Silence, 1918-1920, Living in the Shadow of the Great War - Juliet Nicolson
A Crisis of Brilliance, five young British artists and the Great War - David Boyd Haycock

With my birthday books from last week, I have a lot to get through in 2010!
Evie

No books for me, but then I almost never get books. Idon't really get many presents - my sister is taking me to the theatre in January, so that's nice, and a lovely friend sent me a DVD and a CD of recordings of authors, which looks wonderful.  We failed to meet up with my brother and his family, owing to the weather, so I don't know what they will give me, but it's very unlikely to be a book.

Mike, that's a lovely list, I am quite jealous!  I try to push my family in the direction of my Amazon wishlist, but it doesn't work.
Evie

PS - have not read Ann Quin, but really want to!  Definitely need to get down to some serious reading this coming year.
MikeAlx

Hi Evie, I am fortunate in having very generous in-laws who never know what to get me, so ask for a list! On my side of the family we've given up doing Christmas gifts for the adults as my brothers and I have 6 children between us now, so it was getting ridiculously expensive for my parents, who are retired and of limited means.

Of course, having my birthday so close to Christmas helps as well.

The other present I was very pleased to get this year is the DVD of 'Ghost Story', a 1974 British horror film featuring, amongst others, Marianne Faithfull, Barbara Shelley and Vivian MacKerrell (the real-life Withnail, no less).
Mikeharvey

I acquire such a lot of books during the year that my friends and relations are wary of giving them as presents, so I don't get any.  Unless I hint at a specific title.  But my sister gave me a very nice CD anthology of poetry.  
I often give books as gifts.  Whether their recipients read them or not I almost never get to discover.
Evie

I give books as gifts wherever possible - they are easy to wrap, which is an extra advantage!  But like you, Mike, I rarely discover if people have read them; my sister is very good at telling me if she enjoyed something I have given her (fortunately she usually does!), but my brother is not a great communicator at the best of times...  I do like giving books, though, and always feel slightly stumped with presents for people who don't read!
Ann

The only bookish thing I got was a set of Jane Austen, illustrated, in beautiful wrapping. It is a nice thing to have but I'm rather fond of my tatty and well thumbed paperbacks.
My Husband, who never, cooks, got two cookbooks by James Martin so I will enjoy exploring those. He is not a 'cook' I know, so can anyone tell me if he is an exciting cook? Some of the recipes look interesting
county_lady

From my brother a brand new hardback copy of Richard Whiteley's biography by Kathryn Apanowicz found in an Help the Aged charity shop.
My husband also searched the charity shops and bought me MoonDust by Andrew Smith, P G Wodehouse's The Inimitable Jeeves and A mysterious Affair of Style by Gilbert Adair, all in pristine conition.
miranda

I've read those last three and they are good.  Moondust is fantastic if you are interested in the Apollo project.  

And A Mysterious Affair.... is funny if you are a fan of Agatha Christie.  You can also have a good game of 'spot the novel'!
county_lady

Thanks Miranda if you liked them I'm sure I will too. Very Happy
storrrm

Strictly speaking not christmas presents, but I took full advantage of my branch of Borders closing down and got:

Atonement - Ian MacKewan
Disturbing the Peace -  Richard Yates
Revolutionary Road - ditto
The Magus - Fowles
Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
Animal Farm
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Notes on a Scandal
The Remains of the Day
The Rise of the Iron Moon - Stephen Hunt
The Book Thief
Renegades Magic - Robin Hobb
Drood - Dan Simmons

along with various fairy tales and art books. All for over 90% off so a christmas present to myself!
Caro

That's a great ot of books, Storrrm.  I don't know of Andrew Davidson's Gargoyle, but the rest are familiar to me by name at least and I have read a reasonable amount of them.  I am interested to see you put Notes on a Scandal and Remains of the Day together.  Perhaps because of the unreliable narrator and the similar construction of their names I associate them together, though one has a warmth in the characters that I don't think the other did.  Richard Yates is an author I intend to read one day and I want to read more Fowles, though really mostly I mean I want to re-read The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Cheers, Caro.
iwishiwas

I agree - a great selection from the Borders 90% day Storrrm. I resisted going as I have so many books at present. Everyone is now telling me what fantastic purchases they made, I'm seriously regretting not calling in!
miranda

county_lady wrote:
Thanks Miranda if you liked them I'm sure I will too. Very Happy



Embarassed   Don't blame me if you don't!    Laughing
Melony

Your Borders is closing???  Our Walden Books is closing, it is a branch of Borders.  Boo...what is wrong with bookstores!!
MikeAlx

Melony, the whole of Borders UK is in receivership. They have been struggling for some time. Pressure from internet sales, presumably.
Chibiabos83

Do let us know how you get on with the Ann Quin, Mike - an author who has intrigued me for quite a while.

I've had a lovely Christmas so far. Only a handful of books - Strangers by Graham Robb, which looks fascinating, Seven Hundred Penguins and a couple more volumes of the Complete Peanuts to add to my collection. I hope people are having a nice holiday and I'll be posting a few things before new year about reading resolutions and the like.
Sandraseahorse

Quote:
I'll be posting a few things before new year about reading resolutions and the like


I seem to remember a thread at the beginning of the year where people listed their reading resolutions for 2009.  I've been trying to find it as my reading plan went way off track this year.
Apple

Mike Wrote:
Quote:
The Great Silence, 1918-1920, Living in the Shadow of the Great War - Juliet Nicolson


Please do a review when you have read that I have had my eye on it too! By the way did you get hold of Sapper Martin from the Book People? I didn't see it on your pressie list! - I have started reading it, not got very far yet but what I have read is very good .
MikeAlx

Hi Apple - got Sapper Martin for my birthday!
Freyda

I was given 'The Little Stranger' by Sarah Waters for Christmas, and some detective fiction by writers new to me - an Italian retired head of  police, and an Icelandic one. So my list of wanted books was largely ignored but successful stabs at new ones made. Everyone is always wary that I will have already read whatever they might pick up, which I often have!!
Marita

Santa brought two books this Christmas, both non-fiction, both in Dutch.

The first one is about the floods in the Netherlands in 1953.
The second is a translation of the German book Das schweigende Klassenzimmer (The silent classroom) about an East German class in the final year of secondary education that held five minutes silence after the Hungarian uprising had been beaten down.

Marita
Apple

I was given one book for christmas this year Wolf Hall, I have not given it much attention but looks promising I had a quick glance at the blurb and it says its set in the time of Henry VIII.  I like historical type novels and stuff so I am looking forward to reading it. Has anyone else here heard of it or read it?
storrrm

It was the winner of the Booker prize this year and is the most popular Booker winner ever in terms of sales. I've read very favourable reviews for it so you should be in for a treat!
Evie

A few people on the board have read it or are planning to read it - it has had amazing reviews, I still can't decide whether I want to read it or not!
Ann

Apple it is absolutely fabulous! It has an unusual style so be prepared to stick at it for a while because once you get your eye in, so to speak, it is very immediate and works well. Although it is an area of history I know very well I still found myself almost surprised about some events they were presented so unusually. It is a biographical novel about Thomas Cromwell and I was especailly impressed by the way his character changes subtly as the book progresses. I persuaded my husband to give it a go, ( historical novels are not his thing) and he too was blown away by it.
Chibiabos83

Let's revive an old thread - anyone get any good books for Christmas?

I didn't get many - relatives seemed to favour the DVD this year, including a promising looking BBC dramatisation of Hotel du Lac, which I haven't read - but I was given the lovely London volume in the City Lit series - see here - which I had asked for. My brother bought me a second-hand romance novel about a ballerina called Fanny Beloved at a charity shop. He knows me well.

But I have been to Bath this morning and bought a number of books both second-hand and new (using several book tokens from many years ago I discovered in a drawer - from the days when they used to be stuck to the card with adhesive and torn off at the perforation), which may have been wise given that I have vowed to limit my buying of books from tomorrow onwards. So I now have copies of:

J.G. Ballard - Crash
Joe Moran - On Roads
Olivia Manning - Balkan Trilogy
Rebecca West - Cousin Rosamund
Armistead Maupin - Tales of the City

I have lots to be getting on with, so shouldn't need to buy too many books next year, but it's good to stock up.
Sandraseahorse

My sole literary Christmas present was "Madresfield:  The Real Brideshead" by Jane Mulvagh.
MikeAlx

Here is my rather splendid birthday & Christmas haul (think I need to take a year off to read them!):-

A Life in Pictures - Alasdair Gray
The Horns of Ruin - Tim Akers
The City & The City - China Mieville
The Wind Up Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Moxyland - Lauren Beukes
Zoo City - Lauren Beukes
Best Ghost Stories - Algernon Blackwood
Count Magnus and Other Stories (complete stories vol 1) - MR James
Teatro Grottesco - Thomas Ligotti
Hypothermia - Arnaldur Indridason
On Writing - Stephen King

Plenty of SF and horror in there, plus a promising-looking Scandinavian crime novel. The most luxurious however is the Alasdair Gray - a big square hardback showcasing his various paintings, murals and illustrations, beautifully produced by Canongate Books.
county_lady

Mike I envy you the Alasdair Gray as I saw some of it earlier this year in a programme, possibly Imagine?

Mine from hubby were Why does E = mc2 and why should we care?, Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw and a book of West Bromwich memories where I lived from age 8 in 1956 till 1972. Today's late Xmas arrivals from Amazon were Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey and Creation, the true story of Charles Darwin by Randal Keynes.
Evie

I just had one book, but am looking forward to reading it - it's a beautifully produced paperback edition of Henry Williamson's Salar the Salmon.  I have read Tarka the Otter, but not  this one, and the lovely woodcuts in it are a joy.

I was delighted to get it, from my sister - I rarely get books for Christmas, but then I don't really get presents!
Marita

I get mostly books for Christmas and New Year. This year they are:
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
Drood by Dan Simmons
The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Selected Illustrated Works of Charles Dickens (a Wordsworth Library Collection hardback with the Christmas books, Ghost stories and other tales and early sketches)
The rest were a gardening book and some cookbooks.

Marita
Evie

County Lady, I didn't know you were a Black Country girl - I was born in Stourbridge, and my mother was born in Dudley, but we moved to Warwickshire when I was 6.  My uncles all supported West Brom!  Up the Baggies...
county_lady

Evie wrote:
County Lady, I didn't know you were a Black Country girl - I was born in Stourbridge, and my mother was born in Dudley, but we moved to Warwickshire when I was 6.  My uncles all supported West Brom!  Up the Baggies...


Smile Well my parents and I were all born in Smethwick.
My Uncle, cousins and brother all did/do support West Brom but in spite of being taken to watch the Baggies train I never became a football fan.
Hector

Both my parents were also from Smethwick and I still have a few relations living in the area. Half my family are / were Baggie fans but thankfully I managed to avoid that particular affliction. Up the Villa!

Regards

Hector
Evie

My Mum in fact was a bit of a Wolves supporter - mainly because of Derek 'the Doug' Dougan, I think!

But Aston Villa is a Brummie team, not Black Country - how can you support them, Hector?  ;0)
Hector

At the moment as we edge ever closer to the relegation zone, I ask myself that regularly Evie! My grandfather was an Aston Villa fan and he indoctrinated me early on - much to my father disappointment I might add.
MikeAlx

My Mum grew up in Dudley and used to get taken to see the baggies quite a bit (my Grandad was a regular there).
Castorboy

Our eldest daughter gave us such an appropriate gift.
When we arrived in NZ in 1966 and settled on the north shore of Auckland, the shore's population was 75,000, now it is approaching 230,000. The social and bulding construction changes that have taken place are documented in The North Shore: An illustrated history by David Verran, a descendant of a family who established a cartage business in the 1900s. He is president of the local Historical Society apart from his day job as a librarian and historian. The illustrations include photographs and paintings brought together from the archives of the various councils which have now been amalgamated in the new Auckland Council. Of particular interest is the number of writers who lived at one time in this marine suburb, a tradition continued on with writers' groups including ones named after Frank Sargeson and Michael King.
Caro

Interesting-sounding book, Castorboy.  Where did you come from and why didn't you settle in the lovely south?

All you others are mentioning teams that I feel could well take up the relegation zones and allow my husband's West Ham to move up a spot or two.  He cheers when Blackpool or Blackburn lose and I frown as they are teams I like, (I liked Blackpool when we visited it and NZer Ryan Nelsen plays for Blackburn) so I suggest the premier division could do without West Brom or Bolton or Aston Villa or Wolves or any number of teams that haven't impinged on my consciousness particularly.  

Cheers, Caro.
Jen M

A reasonable haul for me this year, but then I did have a list:

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave (already mentioned on the December thread)
Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernieres - a book of linked short stories which I intend to dip into between books
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - I know so many people who have read this and raved about it
Haweswater by Sarah Hall

and one that was not on my list:
Middlesex Murders by Linda Stratman (a local history book)

I'm looking forward to devouring these as the year goes on.

As for football, I support Arsenal, Watford, and Leeds United.  I also take an interest in Hull from time to time.
iwishiwas

Disappointed not to receive any books, or any cash to spend on books. However the shelves are already groaning so should not complain.
MikeAlx

Jen M wrote:

As for football, I support Arsenal...

As all right-thinking people should, Jen!  Wink
TheRejectAmidHair

I got a Folio edition of Browning's verse monologues, with an introduction by AS Byatt. I don't know Browning's work at all, so this will be interesting.
Caro

I used to like Browning's verse monologues, I suppose because they have something of a story to them.  Surely the duke in My Last Duchess is the original unreliable narrator (I suppose I would have noticed that without tutors advising me, not that the term unreliable narrator was used when I was at university.).  

I think Browning was really very clever in his poetry.  

Cheers, Caro.
TheRejectAmidHair

I think Defoe had used unreliable narrators before Browning - Roxana, for example: it becomes increasingly obvious as we read the novel that Roxana is mentally ill, and we cannot even be sure by the end whether the climactic event of the novel actually takes place in reality, or only in Roxana's imagination. And I don't think we're meant to take Moll Flanders' account - or even Robinson Crusoe's - at face value. Indeed, possibly the earliest unreliable narrator was Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey: it is noticeable that most of the fantsatic elements of the story occur in Odysseus' narration, and that leads me to think that Odysseus may have been embroidering somewhat!

What I do find interesting is the question of why authors use unreliable narrators, and whatthe narrative gains from it.
Caro

Well, some books wouldn't actually exist without it.  Browning's Last Duchess is predicated on it; he could have written a poem directly condemning the Duke, but that would have been quite different.

Likewise Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day is so touching and fascinating because the narrator doesn't quite understand either what the events going round him signify or his own feelings.  Narrating that in the third person would have left a fairly ordinary book, I think, whereas the book we get is quite superb and subtle and it's impossible not to feel affectionate sorrow for the butler who wants to do everything correctly and manages to get things so wrong.

I am not sure exaggeration is quite what I would think of unreliable narration.  I think it requires something more than that.  More similar to the twists in short stories.

Cheers, Caro.
Gul Darr

I got two books for Christmas. John Irving's latest novel, Last Night in Twisted River and The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk. I now have 2 unread novels by Pamuk, the other being My Name is Red.
Green Jay

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
I think Defoe had used unreliable narrators before Browning - Roxana, for example: it becomes increasingly obvious as we read the novel that Roxana is mentally ill.


I had to read Roxana at university and we never came to that conclusion! Mind you, I managed to get through much of the book because it was one of those editions with - instead of the chapter title or book title at the top of each page -  a very brief synopsis of that page's events. So I can't say mine was a thorough evaluation.
TheRejectAmidHair

Green Jay wrote:
TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
I think Defoe had used unreliable narrators before Browning - Roxana, for example: it becomes increasingly obvious as we read the novel that Roxana is mentally ill.


I had to read Roxana at university and we never came to that conclusion! Mind you, I managed to get through much of the book because it was one of those editions with - instead of the chapter title or book title at the top of each page -  a very brief synopsis of that page's events. So I can't say mine was a thorough evaluation.


Ah - well, I read Roxana without the benefit of a formal classroom study, so that possibly gives me a different perspective on it!  Very Happy

The novels I have read by Defoe all inhabit so obsessively the minds of the narrator, allowing us notthe slightest glimpse of anything external to that mind, that I, for one, can't help but question the narrativ. Of all major novelists, Defoe is the one whose own individual voice I cannot discern: th eonly voice I hear is the narrator's. (All four novels that I have read, incidentally, seem to me exceptionally brilliant.)
Green Jay

I think Moll is a kind of wonderful blaguer - but I hadn't seen Roxana as that. I thought her story was true! Liked the way she put a French count and five children behind her at the start of her career, and only in later life became the most desirable courtesan!! there's hope for us all, I thought.  But we were only examining her as part of a course on the development of the novel form, so it was a pretty quick race through.
Apple

iwishiwas wrote:
Disappointed not to receive any books, or any cash to spend on books. However the shelves are already groaning so should not complain.
You and me both, I didn't get any apart from the photography reference books I got which my husband said he would buy me which I ordered a while ago, but considering the amount of books I have on my shelf I really didn't need any more to add to them!!
Joe Mac

I always hope for books under the tree at Christmas and didn't do badly this time, in numbers at least. Three Robert Wilson Javier Falcon mysteries, four (count 'em!) George RR Martin fantasy books that I understand are best sellers, but otherwise know little about. And the one I'm reading, Storm and Conquest, by Stephen Taylor. It deals with  naval activity in the Indian Ocean in 1808 and 1809. The French and the weather being the chief antagonists of the doughty British.

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