Saturday, January 3, 2009

Blessed With Books at Christmas

I count myself fortunate, for people seem to like to give me books, especially at Christmas. A fine thing, and much appreciated, for it is difficult for me to fathom a better gift to receive than a book chosen specifically with me in mind. I am spending a delicious amount of time this week getting acquainted with some of these new bound treasures and as I do, I know I am sharing the experience with countless readers all over the world; readers who, like me, were blessed with books at Christmas.
Perhaps your favourite aunt, the one who suffers cruelly with wanderlust, received a Bruce Chatwin or Evelyn Waugh, a Michael Palin or Gerald Durrell, and is currently curled in her favorite armchair, with her tea going cold, snow falling quietly out in her garden, while she travels the dusty streets of Cairo or roams the hillsides of Corfu. Your ten year old niece, the one with all the fetching freckles, who practically lives in jodhpurs and hacking jackets? It is after midnight and she is under the blankets reading her very first copy of Black Beauty by the dim glow of a pink flashlight. At this very moment, in town and country, there are cooks devouring all the latest recipes from the inspired kitchens of Ina Garten or Nigella Lawson - gardeners carefully underlining passages of Elizabeth Lawrence or Gertrude Jekyll - oh, so lucky novice readers embarking on maiden voyages inside the world of Harry Potter - mystery lovers unravelling the just released P.D. James or the classic Wilkie Collins - babies with their imaginations aglow from the magical illustrations of Chris Van Allsburg or Beatrix Potter, or from the unique artistry of Robert Sabuda.
Count me in with these voracious page turners, for this first week of January commences my month of serious hibernation.... reading, planning, sketching out the year ahead..... but mostly, reading. For while lounging beachside with a book nestled on one’s lap in July is certainly sublime, there is not much better than a cold January afternoon spent fireside, snug in a fat nest of a chair, cracking open a brand new book for the very first time.

Here are a few newly added to my library:

John Fowler: Prince of Decorators by Martin Wood
Michael S. Smith Houses by Michael Smith and Christine Pittel
Charlotte Moss: A Flair for Living by Charlotte Moss and Pieter Estersohn
The Drawings of Gustave Dore by George Davidson
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann
Shaggy Muses by Maureen Adams

I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson.... a fabulous hardback copy of this
vintage classic in its fabulous zebra cover

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling...I was unbelievably fortunate to receive this one in the hardback, collector’s edition!!!


  1. You know, I'd LOVE LOVE LOVE to see your library - I'm sure it's a beautiful and over filled area just brimming with sophistication and "real" elegance! I too, love books at Christmas, and any time! I'm so excited to see your new list, and I think we should put together a little reading club, what do you think?

  2. In my former life, I made things and sold them at craft shows and in shops. In late September I would have to set aside my books and take up my paintbrush. I usually worked right up to Christmas day. Always, always, my first thought on December 26th was "Now, I can go to the library today." I usually read the month of January away.

    Beautiful post.

  3. Count me as slightly envious about your collector's edition Beetle and Bard. ;-)

    Ah... good old Evelyn Waugh. I wish my copy of The Loved One was not in storage at my mother-in-law's house.

    Enjoy the wonderful escape. :-)

  4. Pamela, I only got one, 'Botanical Riches', Stories of Botanical Exploration, with magical explorations. I'm unusually blessed in other ways, my daughter feeds me books like candy.
    Enjoy your treasure trove.

  5. It is a successful Christmas when there is a pile of books on my nightstand -- each one to be devoured in turn and then shelved in either the sunroom or the guest room.

    Your friends and family were quite kind in their selections -- some I must read as well.

    Osa Johnson and her husband are from the little town just west of here -- there is a great museum of there things there.

  6. Sounds like a wonderful collection! I look forward to your writings appearing in a book - they would make a beautiful uplifting meditative read first thing in the morning or late in the evening, to fill one's mind with tranquillity and good things.

    The winter sun is shining here today, beckoning me out into the garden - so books and blogging will be put aside for a few hours!

  7. I too love to receive books at Christmas - any time! This year, though, it's been mostly tokens, so at present I have the excitiement of anticipation and deciding what to buy. I warming to tokens already!

  8. For me books are the best gift, and you manage to find amazing ones and illustrations. I am always intrigued by what you choose for posts. Are the illustrations you post here from books you own? I love to find new inspiration and am interested to know more about the ones you post.

  9. I gave my 10-year-old step-granddaughter Black Beauty, King of the Wind, The Black Stallion, and National Velvet for Christmas. She lives in Oak Park (Frank Lloyd Wright's old neighborhood) without even a dog or a cat or a hamster.
    I hope she reads at least one of them.
    But I doubt she will.

  10. Of course Pamela, it should come as no surprise that you are familiar with Gerald Durrell. His Corfu trilogy I've read and reread over and over again. Whenever I need a lift and an escape from the real world I bury down deep into my nest of down & flannel with my well worn and a bit musty smelling, paperback copy of "My Family & Other Animals". Ahhh ! my most favourite book ever.

    Best Wishes & the Happiest of New Year to you, the songwriter, Edward, & Miss Apple from all of us at 29 Black Street but especially from Miss Winnie Dixon.

  11. Books, music, and new pajamas are always my favorite Christmas gifts.
    The first book I remember opening on Christmas was The Cat in the Hat. Wonder where that 1st edition (!!) might be!! This year I actually had to return a very expensive book due to typos and poor picture quality. I'm worried about the future of books. But I love those warehouse used-book stores!

  12. When I was a child I'm sure my favorite aunt received that distinction by giving me books for Christmas every year...she introduced me to Anne of Green Gables and Trixie Belden and many books remain one of my favorite gifts to receive...this year my sister gave me a boxed set of David Sedaris' audio books...she knows I listen to audio books on my frequent 2hr trips to her house...oh its the best gift!

  13. I so agree! And I have been fortunate enough to have received several beloved, much cherished books this Christmas, bought by loved ones who really know me and what I love!
    Thank you for putting my thoughts into words!

  14. books have been an undying passion of mine since I was a very young girl - that passion has not waned one iota - my most favorite spots on the planet are my locale library and bookstore!

  15. Hello Pamela & Edward,

    Happy New Year to you both.

    We had friends staying over New Year and David put together for us two new book shelves. This allows us to get more books out of storage so that we might delve into them again!

    Books create whole new worlds into which we can escape!

  16. I look forward to getting back home to Sweden and looking more deeply into this website. Bless!

    Steve Morris

  17. I agree, books are absolutely the best gifts and haven't you have been very lucky to receive such a superb selection.
    I won a lovely book in a draw on a blog recently, it was a delightful suprise.

  18. There truly is no greater gift than a book - escape to new worlds of intrigue, or romance or history or anything your heart desires!

    Pamela, like me, I fear you were born in the wrong era.

    Wonderful post!


  19. I would expect nothing less from you with your lovely writing than the appreciation of a good book.
    Reading is no penance rather it allows one to venture across continents, time and tribulations to moments of pure delight.
    xo Susan

  20. Lovely quote in your previous post.

    Ooo to be able to re-read with a fresh mind those books of childhood and really believe in the Wishing Chair and hope to find it in a dusty corner of your Nana's house, or to look at a hedgehog and wonder if it's The Mrs Tiggywinkle.

    Books are so magical- they take us to places and meeting people an characters we wouldn't otherwise dream up.

    Have you heard of Lisa St Aubin De Teran? I think you would like her biography "Off the Rails" in case you have space for another book.

  21. Yes, books are wonderful presents. I got 5, and now all the Christmas company has departed, I will get stuck into them.
    Some of my happiest times have been when living a parallel life in a book.
    Loved you essay.

  22. Well, I'm rather ashamed to admit, but I've not read or heard of any of these but the last one you mentioned...and I consider myself well read! Obviously not enough!

    Enjoy devouring all these books and think of me also there with a cup of tea growing cold, reading along..reading blogs like yours more likely!

  23. Wonderful collection of books that you received, Pamela! I always love to give and receive books as presents. I have a long "wish list" and I love searching The Strand bookstore in Manhattan for old, out of print editions of treasured books. I never fail to find something of interest there!

    This Christmas I was surprised with a very special camera instead of books but I think I'll be reading the instruction manual for a long time to learn how to use it

  24. I would read a book written by YOU! I would pour myself a flute of champagne, settle down and drift through the pages with 3 little poodles curled up nearby..

  25. Happy New Year to you all, have a lovely read!

  26. What a great post - I adore books and think they make the most wonderful presents. Enjoy your special time with your new books:)

  27. Michael Palin..yes. Nigella,yes.
    Beatrix Potter,yes..The Elegance of the Hedgehog..not yet..The drawings of Gustave Dore..WOW..
    Like you I love books..have a great time..

  28. I do love a good book! I am collecting vintage books and keep adding to the collection each month. Or at least I try to. Sometimes a book ordered online does not go through. I have a shelf just for my Beatrix Potter books now. I love any book about her life. You are right...there is nothing like a cold January day, sitting by the fire with a good book. I keep stealing a few moments to read between my undecorating this evening. Well that and looking at your sweet blog.

    Hugs ~

  29. You did very well this Christmas didn't you Pamela. Interesting to see your new additions. My favourite book of this season is my daughter in law's first published novel, An Ungodly Child. If you haven't yet bought it, it's with Amazon and the author is Rachel Green. I am almost half way through it and it's great fun, unlike anything I would normally choose to read but I'm loving it.
    Happy New Year to you all.

  30. Another lovely post. Leaves me feeling dreamy~ just the tought of the over-stuffed chair, by the fire with a cup of tea. Nothing more important to accomplish than this.
    I think this is just what January is meant for.

  31. Wonderful to get so many books at Christmas. If somebody asked me what I would like to have for my birthday or St.Nicholas'Eve( 5th December) my answer was always "a book"!

  32. You are defintely loved!!!! What loot indeed!
    I got a few (and gave a few) books too, and could always get (and give) a few more.
    Happy reading,and happy 2009!
    xo xo

  33. Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment on our blog. This is my first visit to yours. I am stunned by the incredible illustrations. I could lose myself in your library. Happy New Year, Pamela!

  34. A belated Happy New Year to you both. I have been too busy studying to visit regularly, but read avidly when I do - thank you for a wonderful blog...

  35. Pamela, I agree, Nothing better as far as I am concerned ... Books make me feel like a Queen... matter of fact nowadays we probably have as many books in our individual households as Kings and Queens use to have...

    thank you so much for sharing the new additions to your shelves... Take care and all the best for the new year...

  36. Sounds like happy days ahead, xv.

  37. Happy, Happy New Year, Pamela.

    What joy! new books, old books. fresh from the press books, musty books .....Books!

  38. You are spot on...Nothing greater than receiving books for Christmas and Birthdays. Enjoy your reading with a nice hot cuppa!

  39. I gave my granddaughters gift cards for a bookshop this Christmas - they were thrilled. As a child - long before the days of gift cards - when given a money gift I would head straight to W.H. Smith. I'd spend hours browsing through the books - all hard cover then - before deciding which one to purchase.

    Your gift book on the hedgehog sounds tempting - must check that one out.

    Yes, lucky you with a big dog to take you 'walkies'!!

  40. Happy reading Pamela.Hope you get time to visit between turning all those pages, and add a bit of Textilosophy to your reading, because I posted on Scotland.*sigh* I know how much you love that country!

  41. I have arrived via Raph's Ramblings, and after perusing the previous posts I see why he likes coming here.

    This post on receiving books at Christmas stirred memories of receiving books via mail from England by a grea-Aunt. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.


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