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So.... any good christmas pressies this year???

Hi all - hope you all had an excellent day yesterday, did anyone get any particularly good reads for a pressie this year?

I didn't get any books for christmas this year but I got a number of Waterstones gift vouchers and an Amazon gift voucher (which I have to say I had never seen before!) so I have plenty of spending money when it comes to restocking my shelves after my new year purge which will be coming up shortly!  Very Happy

Friends and relations never buy me books anymore knowing that I already have a house full of them.  Many unread.  But I did receive a Waterstone's Literary Diary.

I never get books either, sadly.  I have an extensive wishlist on Amazon, but no one takes any notice!  I don't even get book or amazon vouchers - I have clearly not trained my family well enough!

Enjoy spending them, Apple!  I have found Amazon vouchers a great standby in recent years, especially for birthdays for people who don't live locally.

I got two books for Christmas, but one is a historical overview of the newspaper which turned 150 this year.  it had something about various stories but concentrated more on changes of personnel and some of the reporters and photographers.  

The other one was from my sister - it was Kathryn Stockett's The Help, which had been top of our book club list last year but we didn't get it since I had randomised the relection by mistake.  (We enjoyed a randomised choice though.)  I shall read this in the near future and then maybe pass it on to other members.  AND I can take a proper note of who I have lent it to, since my son gave me a personal library kit with a date stamp pad, a return date card and cards to say the title, author, date of loan and who to!

I gave my husband Florence: a delicate case by David Leavitt, since he wants us to go back to Florence the next time we are in Europe.

Between birthday and Christmas (only a week separates them) I've done very well for books. "Jar City" and "Silence of the Grave" by Icelandic crime maestro Arnaldur Indridason, Graham Greene's "Heart of the Matter", Tanya Byrne's "Heart Shaped Bruise" (YA), Leon Garfield's "Smith" (children's/historical) and Jo Nesbo's "The Redbreast" (more Scandinavian crime).

I've just started The Bat by Jo Nesbo, Mike, and was surprised that it had only in late 2012 been translated into English.  I haven't read anything else by him, so far so good, but it is set in Sydney which is moderately familiar to me.  I find it a bit less stark than some of those Scandinavian ones - not sure I was all that keen on the Indridason one I read.

Yes, "The Bat" was the first he wrote, but has only just been published in English.

I've just finished Indridason's "Jar City", which is the first of his Reykjavik mysteries. Absolutely superb - though, as you say, pretty bleak. Far more intelligent than most crime fic, though, and with engaging, plausible characters.

It looked interesting so I bought A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz as part of my husband's Christmas gifts, of course it is now on my TBR list.
For me he bought The Secret Self 1 - Short Stories by Women, published by Everyman and a copy of Henry James' The Ambassadors. The latter I last read more than thirty years ago so I'm looking forward to a reread.

I saw the film of Jar City which was very bleak. I have read one about a missing small boy which covered racism and one about the Cold War. The immigration one was better.

They're making an American version of Jar City, set in the US. Not sure how well it will translate. Would like to see the Icelandic film though.

I'be just looked it up and it was on BBC2 last month, so keep an eye out for it again Mike. I recorded it last year and watched it about six months later! I have only just managed to watch the last series of The Killing, and I see Borgen starts again in January.So many books, so much subtitled tv, so little time!
Joe McWilliams

I had three fat books under the tree this year. Sequels to last year's Christmas present, in the case of two of them, and another rock star autobiography in the other.

For some reason I feel I should make disclaimers before admitting I read fantasy or pop biography, but what the hell. Something else tells me I should resist that impulse. Neil Young isn't really a 'rock star', is he? Whatever that means. I have his book Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream. Discursive, to say the least, but charming. Young refuses to go chronologically through his life. He gives the impression he isn't really all that interested in what happened 40 years ago - or maybe he just can't remember it very well. Off he goes constantly on whatever tangent occurs to him, returning sometimes, but not always, to the place he left off. Big gaps result.
Oh well. I love the guy regardless.

The other two 'pressies', as you Brits call 'em, are the two latest in George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series. I got hooked on these last year in spite of myself, not having read anything in the genre probably since LOTR, and finding them superior in many respects.

Having said I didn't like the Indridason book I read, I now realise I have never read one!  It was Hakan Nesser that I read and wasn't impressed with.  I haven't read Stieg Larrson though we have asked for one of his books for our book club, which tends to choose books for the following year which fill gaps from the previous one.  Not many memoirs last year, since we had overfilled on them the previous year; nothing too heavy in theme this year since we had our fill of medical sorrows this time.

I think our first choice, Crooked Letter, Crooker Letter has turned out to be more of a thriller than I had realised from the write-up.
Green Jay

I had Maggie Gee's memoir My Animal Life, which I had never heard of - so that was a nice surprise. I have read some of her fiction, can't really remember what. ( Confused )
Also a big book by Posy Simmonds, Mrs Webber's Omnibus, the collected cartoons from 1970s onwards.
And a couple of art books inc a lovely one, Edward Bawden & His Circle. Plus a sort of 'humorous' thing which will probably go in the loo and a book for identifying butterflies & moths.

I had one book for Christmas: Frances Burney's Evelina. But we also give a gift for New Year and tonight I got Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Times, the complete set in one book.


Marita wrote:
I got Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Times, the complete set in one book.

I am envious Laughing but I have to ask in French, English or Belgian?

It's in French which thankfully I can read. It's been on my wishlist for years now and this year my husband bought it for me.
There is no Belgian language. We have three official languages: Dutch, French and German.


It surprised me that Walloon is not one of the official languages, but looking at wikipedia I see it has been discouraged and is in decline to the point of near-extinction. I see also that some linguists regard it as a dialect of French rather than a language in its own right.

. I

I suppose the languages should have been Flemish, Walloon and German. Just like Walloon is considered to be a dialect of French, so Flemish is considered a dialect of Dutch. Even if you use your dialect at home, you are taught in Dutch or French (depending on where you live in Belgium).

When I was still at school there used to be plays in Walloon on the French speaking Belgian TV channel (yes we have separate channels for both languages). I watched it once out of curiosity and was surprised that there were quite a few Dutch words mixed in the dialect, just as the Flemish uses quite a few French words or at least words derived from French.

German is very much a minority language from a small corner of Belgium near the German border.

The languages (Dutch and French) have always caused problems in Belgium and I fear will continue to do so for as long as Belgium will exist.


My brother, currently posted in India, usually gets me Indian books not easily available in the West. This year, he got me Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's Indian Philosophy in two very large volumes.

Philosophy is a huge subject, and I am woefully ignorant of it. I think this year will be as good a time as any to start asking some inroads. I think I'll get myself Anthony Kenny's recent much-praised history of Western Philosophy, and read that in conjunction with the Radhakrishnan's volumes. Last year wasn't a particularly good year for me in terms of reading, and I think I need to give myself a new intellectual challenge to spark some of those little grey cells back into life. And of course, philosophy is certainly something I need to understand a bit better.

I did very very well for books this year (they made up the vast majority of my presents), particularly as my mum has taken to getting me to review the Book People catalogues and drop big hints about what I would like  Smile

Consequently, a large chunk of my reading this year will be taken up by:

Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng
Happily Ever After - Harriet Evans
The Lighthouse - Alison Moore
Swimming Home - Deborah Levy
Bringing up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
Narcopolis - Jeet Thayil
Atlas Shrugged - Anne Rand
Umbrella - Will Self
Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein (bought solely on the basis it has my name in the title, I think)
The Penguin Book of English Short Stories
The Penguin Book of Irish Short Stories
The Penguin Book of Scottish Short Stories
The Penguin Book of Welsh Short Stories

I also got two cookery books (Arjun Anand's Vegetarian Indian and the Hummingbird Bakery), both of which I'm really excited about (total number of curries made since Christmas = 5).

God bless Father Christmas and my siblings  Very Happy
Joe McWilliams

I just got a blank book for Christmas (from a late-arriving child), as if he expects me to fill it with something!
However, at the same time, my wife received 'The German Girl,' by Armando Lucas Correa, a story apparently based on tales told by survivors of the 'Voyage of the Damned' ship in 1939. I'd actually heard the author being interviewed about it on the radio a few weeks ago and was intrigued, but had forgotten all about it.
Other than that - two more Robert Wilson thrillers.

How about you?

I wish I could tell you, but I can't remember what they're called. Quite poetry-heavy for a man who doesn't read a lot of poetry, but there was one book of poems by Ari Banias and an American anthology from my mother. A book I wanted that I spotted in New York's Three Lives bookshop, though I can't remember the author or title. Oh dear. My brother gave me a book about competitive Scrabble called Word Freak, and I got Alan Bennett's newly published Keeping On Keeping On, which is massive but will probably be very engrossing. Will start that one soon.

The only physical book I received was a very heavy cookery book which I suspect is more decorative than useful. However, I did get a 40 Amazon voucher, much of which will certainly be converted into books. I have yet to decide which ones I want most, but give me time...

Rather sadly I didn't get any books as presents this year, perhaps because people aren't sure if I already have them or not.  I did get quite a few magazines including a family tree one which I am looking forward to reading, and various lifestyle ones which have far too many "inspirational" life stories for my liking.  And quite a lot of recipes with ingredients I have never heard of despite eating out quite a lot at quite fancy restaurants.  Everyone seems to be on a health kick with all sorts of seeds and nuts etc.

But I did get given a couple of books before Christmas either as loans or as second-hand gifts.  One was the book I talked about of the woman living an isolated life in the Yorkshire Dales, and one is The Old Curiosity Shop, which the woman giving it to me didn't think she would ever read.  It might be my holiday reading. Though I also want to start Lawrence Durrell's grand opus, since The Durrells have been on TV here recently.

I didn't receive any books as gifts this year, because people think I already have quite enough to last me this lifetime.

I don't seem to find time or energy to read very much these days, but I did request a few books. This is my birthday/Christmas mini-haul:

Roadside Picnic - Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Sunset Song - Lewis Grassic Gibbon
The Travelling Bag - Susan Hill
Ghost Talkers - Mary Robinette Kowal

All are from writers I've never read before, and it's a fair spread of genres, with at least one major gamble. I will hopefully report back at some point!

There are always some books on my wish-list even though I have enough unread books on the shelves.

This Christmas I got:
- Neil Gaiman - How the Marquis got his coat back (a Neverwhere short story)
- The Mabinogion (from Oxford World's Classics)
- Rosamond Lehmann - Invitation to the Waltz
- E.T.A. Hoffmann - Gesammelte Werke (Collected work)

and one cookbook:
- Rick Stein - From Venice to Istanbul


I didn't put any books on my Christmas lists for the same reason as Mike Harvey; I already have a stack of TBR.

However, I did request a DVD of the RSC's production of "Love Labour's Won" (AKA "All's Well That Ends Well") after having seen "Love's Labour's Lost" at Chichester this summer but missed the send part of the double bill (Both productions are currently at the Haymarket, London).  Somehow I ended up with a DVD of "Love's Labour's Lost."  Never mind.  I'll probably buy myself the other DVD sometime and will then have the set.

I also requested a T-shirt with "Keep Calm and Carry on Tapping", to wear to my tap dancing classes.  But I ended up with a T-shirt with "Keep Calm and Carry On Clapping."  I suppose this is a consequence of information being conveyed by phone to slightly deaf relatives.  

Possibly it is just as well I didn't request any books as who knows what I might have ended up with?  "The Old Curiosity Ship"? Confused

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