Sunday, 16 December 2012

A pre-Christmas 'I have no willpower' book haul

Every year, during the week before Christmas, people across the land get gripped by Shopping Fever.  For the disorganised amongst us, this might be a last-minute mad dash to buy Christmas presents.  For many it might happen in the middle of the supermarket, when it occurs to you that rather than just buying, say, one or two boxes of mince pies, some nice things for lunch over Christmas, and enough festive food for a week or so, it would be a good idea to buy ALL THE FOOD!  BECAUSE IT MIGHT SPONTANEOUSLY SNOW AND THE SHOPS ARE SHUT FOR A DAY!  LET'S BUY TEN OF EVERYTHING! 
For me, this same thing happens, only with books and DVDs.  It occurs to me that the postal service is going to go seriously wonky between Christmas and post-New Year, and that I should therefore take advantage of their pre-Christmas superhero efforts to buy ALL THE THINGS!  RIGHT NOW!  This is my chance to veer crazily through the depths of my various wishlists and pick out things I won't be getting for Christmas but still kind of want, just because.  Even though I shouldn't.  Because I will be getting stuff for Christmas and therefore more isn't really necessary.  But... ALL THE BOOKS!  BECAUSE IT MIGHT SPONTANEOUSLY SNOW AND I MIGHT NOT HAVE ENOUGH TO LAST IF WE'RE SNOWED IN FOR TWENTY YEARS!  Hey, is this starting to smack of guilt?  Let's get on with it then!  Photos of books make everything better.  :)
So, let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start, doe a deer etc. etc. ).  First, I give you... my Penguin Advent.  You'll be glad to know that I was rather more restrained during this particular sale than I was during the Penguin Treat50 one a week or two before!  Rather than buying a mountain of themed books, plus extras, I decided to go a little upmarket and treat myself.  I've seen ONE Clothbound Classic 'in real life' before, I think, so I decided to take a gamble and buy myself a copy of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.  I've been after a nice hardback copy for YEARS, after my ancient one got a bit too sneezeworthy, so I'm very happy with this one!  I also treated myself to one of the art deco-on-foil Fitzgeralds, which I had never seen IRL but which have been tempting me for months.  I chose Tender is the Night, because I culled my rubbish paperback a while ago and hadn't replaced it yet.  Oh, it was so worth it!  The book is BEAUTIFUL - a compact hardcover with a gorgeous design.  I can see why people collect them as a set, I might have to do the same!  I also bought The Penguin Book of Norse Myths, because it sounds a little more accessible than the Prose Edda for a relative beginner.  It'll be perfect reading during the cold weather, methinks!

Soooometime this week (Wednesday?  I have no idea) I popped into town to buy some stuff like Tablets For On Christmas Day When It's All Too Much, and also to get my boots reheeled with super grippy sole thingies so I have slightly better odds in the Ellie v Black Ice winter battle.  This took me right past the bookshop on the corner, and ZOMG WHO SHOULD BE WORKING THAT DAY but Bookshop Boy!  As my Twitter peeps may know, Bookshop Boy is a little younger than me, but is basically the closest thing I have to an Intelligent, Appropriately-Aged(Ish), Bookish and Conveniently Quite Hot Male around this town, so... I'm crushing a tiny bit.  So I went in and did buying because he'd seen me and I couldn't NOT really, could I?

I spotted this little hardback copy of A.S. Byatt's Ragnarok on the sort of random 'Bestseller and Recommended and Maybe A Few We Don't Know What Else To Do With' shelf and was all like "HOLD ON A MINUTE I KNOW THAT WORD" because it is all about the Destruction of the Norse Gods.  It is also a very beautiful little book, with gold detail on the dustjacket and a little gargoyle mask thingy on the spine.  Publishers are doing SO WELL right now making beautiful non-humungous hardcovers to drool over, it's wonderful!  While I was there I also trawled the classics shelf and ended up buying one of the Penguin Great Ideas series, Useful Work vs. Useless Toil by William Morris.  Should be interesting!  Aaaaand after I saw that frickin' AMAZING Imagine documentary on Jeanette Winterson, I went right ahead and ordered Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?  I haven't read any of her books before but from the excerpts she read in the documentary - and from her general awesomeness - I reckon it's going to be brilliant!  If you haven't seen the programme, UK viewers can catch it until the end of Christmas Day; it's well worth it even if you're a complete Winterson newbie like me.  Seriously.

And now, to Christmas Presents, aka Another Facet Of My No Willpower Thing.  Yes, some of these presents were wrapped.  No, it didn't make a blind bit of difference.  Yes, my inner six year-old had to open them immediately.  But hey, if blogging friends are the equivalent of school and university friends then it's practically the law to have a kind of early Christmas mutual gift-fest in the run-up to the holidays, right?  So... I maintain my right to be excited NOW.

These two were from the lovely Charlotte from Lit Addicted Brit.  In a spooky turn of events I sent her a Magnum edition of one of my favourite books of the year, In Cold Blood - and she was simultaneously sending me Truman Capote's Complete Short Stories!  It's always kinda cool to know you're On The Same Wavelength with your blogging buddies!  She also sent this absolutely GORGEOUS Vintage hardcover Dickens at Christmas.  It's got all his Christmas writing in it, not just his famous short stories, and it's SO PRETTY.  I don't know if you can see from the bottom picture, but it's all done out like a Dickensian shop, or maybe a sumptuous family feast - the front cover has the window looking in on all the goodies, and it goes through to the rear door and wall on the back cover.  Scrumptious.  Thank you Charlotte!

Today Rachel and her obliging boyfriend dropped by to see me again EVEN THOUGH she is in crippling amounts of pain right now, and they EVEN brought me chocolate crackle from across town.  It's so brilliant to have a fellow book fiend closer to home again after Hanna LEFT ME (*plays world's smallest violin beseechingly in the general direction of Leeds*).  Anyway, she gave me two more beautiful books - seriously, how lucky am I this year?!  As you may remember, A Curious Invitation: The Forty Greatest Parties in Literature by Suzette Field appeared on my Christmas wishlist, and it's another gorgeous hardback with an arty, glitzy cover and it's SO PRETTY.  I've already had a little flick through and I reckon it'll be perfect for slipping into over the festive season!  She also bought me this beautiful copy of Wuthering Heights, which is one of my all-time favourite books.  Isn't it lovely?  So clean and simple, with that lovely bright blossom on the tree branch.  I'm getting very appreciative of good hardcover design of late!  Thank you Rachel - and you may be pleased to know that the crackle kept me ALIVE this afternoon.  So that's good.

On to Rachel's self-confessed 'book twin' Jess, from Jess Hearts Books, who sent me this BRILLIANT mug from the Literary Gift Company along with strict instructions to take it to the shop and see what happened.  So far, happily, the results have been entirely made up of The Arched Eyebrow Slash Smirk of Amusement, and the I Want One Where Did You Get It Interrogation.  I told one regular that it would be a good way to work out who I liked and who should be banned from the shop forever for Chronic Sense of Humour Failure.  He agreed heartily.  So here you go Jess - proof that it is at the shop and a part of my reading day from now on!  :)

Jess also sent the tantalising The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs, which I've heard is a very timely celebration of reading and an exploration of all manner of literary topics.  MY FAVOURITE KIND.  Thanks munchkin!  The gorgeous little hardcover copy of another book about books, Susan Hill's Howard's End is On the Landing, came from Bex at An Armchair By the Sea; she's selling some of her books to raise money for The National Literary Trust, and this was one of the few I hadn't already got!  For the list (including everything from classics to travel writing, at 50p/80¢ plus P+P) and for more details, click here.  I also entered a competition this week, run by the new Headline imprint Tinder Press via Twitter, and won a signed proof copy of Snapper by Brian Kimberling.  The blurb says it's a quirky novel about birdwatching (BIRDWATCHING!), coming of age and small-town life - I'm intrigued already!

Lastly, a few DVDs fell into my life this week.  My Paris kick led me to the movie duo Before Sunset and Before Sunrise, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  The first is set in Vienna, the second in Paris, and they're basically about these two people crossing paths for a few hours, talking, sharing their lives, and forming a connection.  I happened to be playing on Amazon at just the moment when Rhod Gilbert's new DVD, The Man With the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo, was one of the Lightning Deals at about £5 off, so I bought that on the spot.  I saw him live at university - my first ever comedy gig! - and I've enjoyed everything he's done since, so that was a must.  And finally... I fell back in love with the Pie Maker.  It only took one episode of season 1 of Pushing Daisies to remind me why I adored it so much, though last time I had a fella and was all like, "Awwww, isn't this funny and romantic!" whereas now I'm single it's more like "OMG POOR NED THIS IS SO TRAGIC AND HE'S SO LONELY AND TALL AND I JUST WANT TO GIVE HIM A HUG".  But it's still funny and romantic.  Look at this picture.  Awwwwww.  *sighs happily*

Soooo, that's the end of my Pre-Christmas Haul of Shame (haha, see what I did there?).  I do have *cough* one or two more things coming before Christmas (shut up, I had to do a last minute order for somebody anyway) but I'll leave those for the Post-Christmas Haul of Wonder that I'm sure will be in order once I've recovered from my inevitable Turkey and Roast Potato Coma.  In the meantime, have this awesome GIF of Chuck reading, which was yet another reason why Pushing Daisies Episode the First made me happy.  Look, she has book storage issues too!  :)

Alright, 'fess up: am I the only one to get the strange urge to buy too much right before Christmas?  Is there something particular that always tempts you at this time of year?  And if you've read any of these books already, which should I push up my winter reading list?  Let me know in the comments!


  1. The first two paragraphs sound way too familiar... *points at self* Nevermind the fact that I have like a hundred unread items on my bookshelf, who the heck knows? I might need another 20, just in case! \o/

    I love the Penguin classics - Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (which I love!) are so pretty!

    And I need that mug! :D

    1. Haha, I'm so glad I'm not the only one! I can't remember who published this Wuthering Heights - I did look yesterday - but I might have to go in search of more like it, it's lovely! Oh, and yes, after New Year I will be stalking The Literary Gift Company website to see what other awesomeness I can find! ;)

  2. I feel like I've been quite restrained before Christmas, apart from the whole Penguin Advent incident. Which we shan't mention. DUDE so many good books! That Wuthering Heights cover is so pretty, and eeeee, Winterson! I actually don't love her fiction but I loved Why Be Happy so so so much. In a totally :( way, but still! And that documentary was AWESOME. She's a lot funner and smilier than I think I thought she would be from her books!

    1. You were the Christian Grey of restraint, my darling. I was the kid at Brownies who could never tie a knot properly and might as well not have bothered at all. Okay that analogy worked better in my head. But it's okay, because ALL THE BOOKS! :P

      I'm quite liking 'Oranges' at the moment, but also kinda wishing I'd waited until AFTER Christmas to read it. It's funny and brilliant, just not very festive! I'm looking forward to 'Why Be Happy' a LOT. And yay for someone else who saw the documentary, I thought I was the only one on the planet for a while there! I got all starry-eyed over Sylvia Whitman again, she is my NUMBER ONE bookish person I'd go all stupid about if I met her. And there was so much about books, and JW was so down-to-earth, and I nearly cried at the end. GOOD STUFF.

  3. I love the mug! I've been after one forever!! Also thanks for the link to my books!:-D I've actually been really restrained this year, I'm not too sure how...

    1. Something along the lines of: "Hmmm, I think I might go and order some b-... oh look, a baby!" *spends next twenty minutes pulling funny faces and going all mushy* Could that be it? No? Just me then. :)

      EVERYONE GO AND BUY BOOKS FROM BEX PLEASE! It's a great list of books, you should take a look! I'd have bought more if I didn't have most of them already! :P

  4. You *have* been a good girl this year! Look at all those lovely presents! I'm actually the opposite and don't buy any books in December in case I buy something someone has got me for Christmas! I only tend to buy the Kindle bargains this time of year because they can't be bought as a gift. I tend to go a bit mad *after* Christmas and buy everything left on my wishlist ;) I do get tempted by the pretty classics every year though. My Waterstones is full of gorgeous editions at the minute and it's always so hard to resist! Anyway enjoy your new books sweet! :)

    1. Haha, yes, I always TELL myself that I'll wait until Christmas, but then mid-December arrives and it all goes out the window! I always worry that if I wait until January the snow will hit and then I won't be ABLE to get post, so best just do it all now. :D

      Like I said, NO WILLPOWER!

  5. I might have to comment on this post in installments - there's just that much to say!

    Ellie dear, you know I haven't actually moved since I came to your shop last, right? Or even the time before that. My current location has no effect on my burning desire to see you!

    Secondly, I'm kind of behind with Christmas presents/cards, but I haven't forgotten! Last week I went to collect my medication from the chemist but apparently my free-medication-certificate has expired and I had to PAY for them. I know, I know, people everywhere pay for their tablets on a daily basis, but mine came to £36 so I'm having to wait to order stuff until I get some money on Wednesday! *air kisses*

    I don't know why air kisses... they just seemed appropriate.

    And wow I love your books! I'm not a big Fitzgerald fan, but that Tender is the Night looks absolutely beautiful. So is that Wuthering Heights - I have a Pride and Prejudice of the same edition-type-thing. Oh, you got A Curious Invitation! *is jealous* I may have to buy that if I get any Christmas vouchers...

    PUSHING DAISIES. I haven't seen it in ages, but I refuse to start at the beginning of ANY TV series as I have exams in January and... well, it's just not a good idea.

    1. Yeah, yeah, abandonment issues, guilt, etc etc... *plays world's smallest violin just a touch more plaintively* :P

      Dude, medication is EXPENSIVE. I have one of those card thingies too but if it all goes wrong and I don't get a new one on time I think my repeat prescriptions currently come to about £25 a pop. That's when I get reminded what a huge business pharmacology is, and I get all freaked out.

      I've been looking to see what other books they have in that nice edition, but all I can see so far is Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility. Which seems an odd Austen to go for if you're only going to publish one. Clearly I'm looking in the wrong place! I shall try again after Christmas... :)

    2. No no no no! Pride and Prejudice definitely exists in that edition - I got it from my Grandma LAST Christmas in fact :)

      I keep meaning to read that Bad Pharma book for the above reason, and also partly because I'm contemplating writing an article on how England's prescription fees contravene Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Right to Life).

  6. I had a rush of MUST BUY BOOKS NOW in Waterstone's yesterday - my excuse being that I needed one more loyalty stamp to get a £10 gift card from them, but I just bought one book for me and a little present for a friend. Let's hope I have frustrated people so much in my refusal to write a Christmas list that they had to resort to book tokens!

    I want one of those mugs - I thought of it the other day in the staff room when my supervisor came in on my lunch break and wanted to talk to me while I was reading. Surely he ought to know better than that?!

    Lovely lovely book haul! The Norse myth book wouldn't have anything to do with any films featuring characters from the mythology, would it? (I know I want to correct my ignorance on the subject too.)

    Also - how can you put your mug on top of Aiden Turner's face?!

    1. I'm sorry, I'm sorry! But hey, it's AIDAN TURNER, his face can totally pull it off. And aaaah, Loki... you know me so well! It's amazing how a movie can suddenly make you realise how little you know about something, it's always a good push to start reading up! :)

      One book, pffft - that's not a rush, it's a trickle! I shall teach you everything I know, then you can go out and paint Waterstones red! Or, y'know, just wave book tokens around maniacally. :D

  7. I love the fact that you acknowledge your total lack of self-restraint with such humour :)

  8. Agh, I am right there with you on the uncontrollable shopping. This year I seem to have joined the 'one for you, one for me' school of gift-buying. I have conveniently bought many books off my own wishlist as gifts for friends and family (luckily they all have good taste!). That mug is great, so very Bernard Black! I am currently crushing on this little beauty of a book bag, may have to treat myself to just one more spending spree before Christmas:


  9. Ooh, so many pretty books!! I'm so pleased that the Dickens one is as pretty in real life as it looked in the picture! I definitely want it for myself next year as a pre-Christmas treat (which, by the way, you are not the only one with a soft spot for!)! When your present arrived (THANKS AGAIN!), I was like "Eek! I must make sure that Ellie knows that this is a fun coincidence, rather than me just being a copycat since she has Prime and has won the Amazon race". Well, you know, not quite in complete sentences, since I obviously don't think to myself in full sentences but the sentiment was the same...

    Oh my gosh did I love Pushing Daisies! I was devastated when it got cancelled and there was only two series to enjoy! Ned and Chuck were just the cutest, weren't they?! If it's on LoveFilm Instant, I know what I'll be watching tomorrow when Andy's away!!

    That is one BEAUTIFUL copy of Wuthering Heights! In fact, all of the fancy pants hardbacks that you have acquired are beautiful. When we move and I have the space to create a proper library/reading room (I'm getting a library, Andy's getting a "Playstation room"!), I'm going to invest in some of these delicious hardbacks and then just sit and look at them all day long *sighs happily*

    So yes, MERRY CHRISTMAS! *swirls off in a cloud of festive glitter to eat a mince pie*


I love comments almost as much as I love chocolate buttons. AND THAT IS A LOT.