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An Abundance of Book Gifts

Greetings all. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas with friends and family.

I suspect there were a fair number of you who found book-shaped presents under the treat this year. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without any book presents as Joe March should have said…

I thought I’d share the books that came into the house as a result of this festive season. There was a very plentiful supply – more books than I can ever recall.

Family Gifts

I’ve learned with my family that it’s best to give hints about what books would give me most pleasure to receive. That way they avoid wasting their money on titles and authors that are just not to my taste. I’ve had a number of those in the past and it’s very awkward – it seems rude to say I don’t care for their gift when they’ve gone to the trouble of buying it for me. So I usually just thank them and then, after time has elapsed, pass it on quietly to someone else who will get more pleasure from it than I will.

This year I was remarkably restrained in my suggestions because I’m still on a campaign to reduce my stack of owned-but-unread books (my TBR) to a more manageable level. I feel guilty that I still have presents from Christmas past as well as birthdays that I asked for yet have not even opened.

I limited my requests to just two titles, both non fiction (another unusual feature of this year) books that caught my eye during this year’s Non Fiction November . My husband duly delivered:

Forty Autumns by Nina Willner

Willner was the first female US Army intelligence officer to lead sensitive operations in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War. When the Berlin Wall came down members of her family who had lived in Communist East Germany. were re-united with those who lived on the Western side. This sounds like an extraordinary story of courage and resilience.

Rebel Writers: The Accidental Feminists by Celia Brayfield

This is a collection of biographical features on six women writers who rebelled against sexism, inequality and prejudice and challenged the existing definitions of what writing and writers should be. Three of the featured women are writers whose work I’ve enjoyed over many years –the authors Edna O’Brien and Margaret Forster and the journalist Virginia Ironside. The remaining three are people I’ve heard of – Lynne Reid-Banks, Charlotte Bingham, Nell Dunn – but know little about so I’m hoping this book will spur me on to reading their work.

Secret Santa

I went off to the Christmas get together for the #southwalesbookstagrammers in November, knowing that I would come home with one book as a Secret Santa pressie.

That wasn’t quite how things turned out…… As this photo shows, I staggered home with rather more than one book.

I knew there were a lot but it only this morning that I discovered the total was 13 books plus a lot of other items like book marks, a t shirt, and a notebook. By the way I hope you admire my self restraint in keeping these packages unwrapped for a month! They were all generously donated by publishers and booksellers.

Here’s what was revealed today.

Judith Barrow and Juliet Greenwood that you can see at the top of the pile are both authors from Wales that I’ve meant to read for some time. The gift from HonnoPress means I have no excuses now.

There were two many books to get into one photograph so here’s the second group.

In case you can’t read the titles, I’ll list the books for you

The White Camellia by Juliet Greenwood: a love affair disrupted in its infancy by a woman’s involvement in a suffrage rally and a call up to World War 1

Stranger Within the Gates by Bertha Thomas : a collection of short stories written in 1912 and re-published by Honno

A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow another novel set against the background of the campaign for female emancipation. Two ordinary women who take huge risks in standing up for themselves and fighting for justice.

The Child in Time by Ian McEwan: I read this years ago and it remains one of my favourite McEwan novels.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano: Based on a true story of a plane crash in which the sole survivor is a 12 year old boy.

The Wych Elm by Tana French: a pscychological mystery that has been on the Sunday Times Bestseller’s list for many weeks

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson: a student chooses for her final year project, an unsolved crime in her home town

Starwars Be More Leia : sorry about this all you Star Wars fans but this is one that is going to be gifted out of the house. I really don’t need a character from a film to advise me on how to live my life

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis: fantasy adventure set in a world where girls are sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings.

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly: a retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale

Frostheart by Jamie Littler: the first venture into fiction for a children’s book illustrator . As you’d expect the pages are crammed with wonderful line drawings

Overdrawn by M J Crosskey: a novel based on a chance encounter between a young waitress desperately seeking funds to keep her brother alive and a man whose wife is slipping away from him.

The Truth Will Set You Free by Gloria Steinem: an illustrated collection of inspirational quotes from a feminist activist

This is now going to do serious damage to my TBR …….

What did Santa bring you this year? Do leave a comment telling me about your latest finds. Not that I need any more temptation to buy, but I can still be interested……


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

27 thoughts on “An Abundance of Book Gifts

  • Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    What an amazing haul – merry Christmas to you! And thank you for drawing my attention to A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder, it sounds like a great read! ❤️

  • Can you believe that I didn’t receive any books this Christmas?! However, I did find first editions of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia (minus The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, sadly) so that was a BIG score! I’m having lots of fun perusing others bookish Christmas presents though; yours look delightful! Happy reading to you!

  • Jenny

    Not at Christmas, but for my birthday six weeks earlier, my son gave me a ‘Reading Spa’ with Mr Brown’s Emporium in Bath. Google it to find out what this is! Suffice to say that on the day of my ‘spa’ appointment next June (they get very booked up and this was the earliest date available) I expect to come home with another bunch of books for my TBR, selected in a personal consultation with a member of the shop’s staff.

    It’s a wonderful gift idea, and I do hope that my already fairly eclectic range of reading will be further expanded as a result. Or maybe my TBR pile will just pile up still more…

    Thanks David for a great gift!

  • I point people towards my wishlist (which has the books I most want highlighted, too!) although Ali and I always give each other Persephones and I asked my best friend Emma for some Dean Street Press books. Oh, and my friend Meg works with Jess Phillips so I asked her for her new book and yay she got it signed! Then there were three secret santas, two were book-related ones, so more books came in that way. All good and a report to come on 1 Jan!

    • I never thought about making my wishlist available – such a good idea though because there will be a lot for them to choose from. All I would need do is make sure its up to date. It sounds like you have your friends well trained in your own preferences Liz.

  • What a lovely collection of books! I hope you enjoy reading them all. I also got books for Christmas and am looking forward to reading my way through them in the coming weeks and months.

    • Are you going to share with us what you received ? We’re as excited about other people’s gifts as our own …

  • I know this would mean adding to the pile, but have you read Sophie Hardach’s Costa shortlisted novel, Confession with Blue Horses? It’s about a family who were brought up in East Berlin under the GDR. I think it’s excellent and it would go nicely with your non-fiction book on the same subject.

    • I don’t know that one but just looked it up on Goodreads and it does sound like a good companion read. Now added to my wishlist

  • Hi Karen! I always give my family a list of books to choose from. I go even further and give them the link to each book, as even if you give a title, you might get an edition you do not want. I’m getting worse as well, as this year I asked if they are ordering from the internet or not, as I know that if they go to a shop, they either won’t find the book or get a tatty copy. But that’s just me. Great blog post!

  • You are very lucky. I never get a single book. And I don’t receive gift cards either 😫

    • Is that out of choice Kim or just that your friends/family take the view that you already have plenty so why buy you even more OR that they wouldn’t know what to buy?

  • I got two Barnes & Noble gift cards, so it appears that people don’t even want to guess what I’ll read. I got four books with them, so that’s nice!

    • That way you can enjoy the experience of browsing and making it more of an occasion … an hour in the shop, hour in the cafe, then another browse…..A wonderful afternoon in all

  • I do more than hint, I give lists 😀

    That’s quite the book haul for you this Christmas! My TBR stack had a small blowout, mostly because my local independent bookshop is very sadly closing down and they are having a huge sale – it would have been rude not to take some stock off their hands…

    • I vacillate on the question of lists for presents every year. Part of me wants to be surprised but the other half also wants to avoid disasters. So I usually cave in and make a short list. Sadly my mum went off the list this year so I ended up with a biography of Maggie Smith (the actress). Not only have I never expressed any interest in her life but my mum had also bought me the exact same book three years ago and I gave it away unread (though never told her).

  • Like Carol, I read a lot of ebooks so I do not usually encourage folks to by me books. The exception is I sometimes ask for big books that have a lot of pictures and illustrations that are better as physical books. I like getting Amazon gift cards but I know that some folks find them a bit impersonal.

    Either way, happy reading in the New Year!

    • I should go for e books more just to manage the amount of space taken up by the physical ones. I do use my e-reader though no-where near as much as I did when I was travelling a lot for work.

  • My goodness, what lovely arrivals! I have had a number of incoming volumes but I also have birthday money and a book token lurking – I suspect I will need to have a major clear out before taking in any more books…. ;D

    • I bet you won’t have that clear out though before succumbing to the next purchase. There is just much more fun in buying new stock than doing a clear out….

  • I read all ebooks so I get amazon gift cards! 😍👍

    • I like Amazon gift cards because there are a few authors whom I love to read who only publish e-books on Amazon.

      • I’ve never got into the gift card thing except for the theatre one I buy my parents.

    • That’s very practical of you. I think I’d miss the excitement of unwrapping the paper to feel the actual book

      • I do miss physical books! I get my fix when I buy gifts for others! 👍😍

  • Wow, that’s a fabulous selection indeed. I only got two books, one of which I already had (but only on Kindle – so always nice to have a hard copy). Enjoy your book haul – that would keep me going for the whole of next year the speed I’m reading at.


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