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!