Friday, December 6, 2013

Books At Christmas

Books at Christmas

The cold presses against the kitchen window, causing the steam from your coffee cup to whirl and dance in the warm air.  Yes, not only a heavy coat today, but gloves, boots and shawl to boot.  You smile to yourself in happy anticipation.  No better weather for the task at hand.  Placing your carefully curated list in your coat pocket, you give the dogs a treat, tell them to enjoy their naps and set off into the wind.  The ground, still silver plated from last night’s frost, crunches beneath your feet.  It will be hours yet before the chilled December sun manages to soften the landscape.  Pulling your coat up tighter at your neck you follow the pavement into town.  Across the green you can hear the music of ten o’clock choir practice - “the holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown”-  the beautiful sound seeps under the stained glass windows and oaken doors to drift freely in the morning air, bringing to each ear a memory, a hope, a shiver of unexpected happiness.   You can see the big green tree in the city square now, its fat red and gold balls swaying in the wind.  Swags of garland drape the tiny lanes, streetlight to streetlight.  Snowmen made of light stand guard round city hall.  And there, just off to the right, your destination awaits - your pot of gold, your Wonderland.  The Bookshop.  The shop you love more than any, especially at Christmas.   For is there a more satisfying activity than Christmas shopping for the ones you love? 

 And is there a better gift than a book?  None more individual, more imaginative, none that brings so much for so long, to so many.  To give a book is to give ideas, travel tickets, laughter, joy, thought, enlightenment - oh, the list can go on and on.  Books never wear out, never lose their ability to transport.  Oh, some can be the wrong fit, which is why one must put thought and consideration into each purchase.  But that’s what is so much fun.  

The bell on the green door jangles as you enter.  The orange cat on the counter jumps down to thread his way through your legs while you take a measure of the place.  There is a faint wisp of Nat King Cole drifting along from some back room.  You pull out your list, loosen your coat, and begin the best shopping trip of the year!  Happy Christmas to All!

For Great Aunt Octavia
Great Aunt Octa taught you that everyone can wear red lipstick, and should.  She impressed upon you the importance of a good bag, told you that not everyone is a hat person and that good manners are the most significant characteristic of a woman.  Always.  Octa lived in London in the sixties.  She heard Jimi Hendrix at the Bag o’Nails.  She wore Mary Quant dresses and worked the scarf department at Liberty.  She knew Grace Coddington as a model. After marrying Uncle James and moving to Virginia, she set about creating a home that, though decidedly un-Southern, remains to this day the most fascinating place you’ve ever visited.  You still escape there for the occasional rejuvenating weekend.  Always interested, always individual, always just outside the box, Aunt Octavia will love these books.

Darling Monster
the Letters of Lady Diana Cooper to her son, John Julius Norwich 1939-1952

An Exuberant Catalog of Dreams
by Clive Aslet

Dior Impressions
by Florence Muller

Francois Halard

Great Uncle James
You could perhaps be forgiven for occasionally thinking Great Uncle James is a bit of a grump.  It’s true that he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.  He finds current pop music stupid - his word, not mine -  greatly prefers Gosford Park to Downton Abbey,  and wouldn’t know a Kardashian if he fell over one.  Dinner conversations round his table center on the events of the day; you are often asked your thoughts about international affairs before the salad course.  He refuses to eat brussels sprouts, thinks Jello is “unnatural” and insists on sleeping with the window open.  But if you succeed in making him laugh, which is not as difficult as you would imagine, his laughter is loud, warm and infectious.   
Uncle James loves his Norfolk Terrier, Martin, and strangely enough, Uncle James loves kids.  His own, those of his nieces and nephews, neighbours, you, and your friends.  As long as you can remember, he has gathered you all up to read aloud, cracking open his latest find with a wry smile and launching into a marvelous story in which each character has his own voice and personality, provided by James of course.  He taught you to love stories like candy.  And this year at Christmas, his house will be full of children.  They will all love these books!

by Aaron Becker

The Collected Stories of Roald Dahl

I’d Know You Anywhere 
by Nancy Tillman

The Illuminated Adventure of Flora and Ullysses
by Kate DiCamillo

A personal note....
Thank you all so much for your kind words and best wishes following my last post.
I'm happy to report I am moving along like a champ.
Decorating the house, running errands.  Amazing, really.
Edward is a constant presence at my side...
 He sits beside me, sleeps beside me, watches intently as I go out to the car. 
 If I get up to leave the room, he gets up to leave the room.  
Truly a comforting chap.
I am walking fine, using a rather fabulous cane when I'm outside... one that I just may keep as an affectation when I no longer need it.  I ordered it from Italy... ebony wood with a ivory-coloured rabbit's head on top.  The rabbit has gold-green eyes.  I mean really, how can I give this up??

Stay tuned... many more books to come!


  1. love these books + great gift giving ideas.

  2. Thank you for these recommendations. I am looking forward to your next book lists~

  3. That first picture! I dream of owning a book store like that. So glad to hear that you are recovering well.

  4. Pamela,
    I was waiting, patiently, for this list. I bought my granddaughter This is not my hat, Jon Klassen book and she loved it and her daddy, my son, has bought her the next of his stories. I've still got some shopping to do.
    I'm happy to hear you're up and about...yes, I'd keep that cane, it sounds lovely.

  5. Can we see photos of AUNT OCTAVIA'S house PLEASE!I think that she is amazing…..the dress the handbag everything about her and you have peeked my interest about the house!THAT DRESS IS STUNNING on her!
    So, happy to hear your up and bouncing about with your dear caregiver at your side ALWAYS!!!

  6. So happy to hear you are running errands and always love your book recommendations. That Edward...what a loyal and faithful friend!

  7. FABULOUS my dear........up and 'running errands' and actually decorating, modern medicine can be so awesome. My SIL, like you, is getting good use from her new hip, but says now the cold weather has arrived in southern France she must still get out and walk to keep things moving. So she's bundling up in layers and walking the village lanes as much as possible. If you could see their beautiful village I assure you that you'd be trotting right alongside her!!!

    Great book ideas - sometimes I think children's books are the best ones.

    Keep moving Pamela - and yes, the cane sounds exquisite, I think you should keep it close, or perhaps work it into your decor.

    Happy days - and woof to Edward who remains the perfect companion.
    Hugs - Mary

  8. A beautiful scene you set there. I'm very much looking forward to Christmas (it still hasn't snowed properly here, either) and some book buying.

  9. Thank you Pamela for this wonderful list of books. Also, for the description of my Aunt and Uncle. ;)
    I am not one bit surprised that Edward stays by your side. He loves you unconditionally.

  10. Another delightful post Pamela and another list of possible books to order for presents. I get a lot of my presents from your suggestions!

  11. So happy to hear that you are recovering well!
    Happy reading.
    Good job, Edward, keeping you company.

  12. Oh I am so glad that you are on the road to recovery! And that elegant cane sounds a keeper. :-)

    I love your book lists, and know that happy feeling of walking into a much-loved bookshop and taking a moment to breathe the stress away and let pleasure take over instead.

    I am very much taken with Advanced Style, which is a blog and now a book, and I think it would tickle and suit Great Aunt Octavia.

  13. I am so happy to hear that you are up and out... and with the most fabulous cane, Pamela...
    I think you should keep it, long after it's no longer necessary...
    Take good care of you.... Sending lots of love and 'getting well' wishes... xv

  14. I want an Uncle James. Is he real? If he is not, it is a testament to your talent for character development. I don't know which I like better, your characters or your lists of books--glad there is no need to choose.

    Edward, of course, is a character in his own class. A beloved one who deserves to star in a book of his own.

    Might we have a look at your cane?

  15. Hope you are well and truly on the mend. X

  16. Your great aunt and great uncle sound like characters out of a book - or perhaps that's your wonderful descriptions? I agree that books make fine gifts. You can't go wrong with Roald Dahl. I'm putting together a similar list for next week. Back to reading now.

  17. Am very happy to see the latest news of Christmas. You have given a very good information. I love to read the articles in the blog.

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  18. Hey Pamela,
    Thanks for sharing such an amazing list of these interesting books.Keep it up and Merry Christmas in advance!! :)

  19. How wonderful to be under the watchful eye of a PON !

  20. This will be a fantastic blog, will you be interested in doing an interview about just how you created it? If so e-mail me!

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  21. Who wouldn't want a library like the one in your photo ? And I think your Aunt Octavia is one of the most stylish women of any age I have seen. You are very lucky to have her.I have just finished reading a book I can recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction. It's called "An Army of Judiths" and is about an event in dutch history during the 16th century where it was women who came to the rescue ( almost). The author, CJ Underwood, has a great feel for the period and immerses us in the life of the period. Joyeux Fetes

  22. Well! I can see I have some catching up to do! I "call" Great Aunt Octavia and Great Uncle James. They sound like so much fun and a great source of entertainment...can I have them for a few days, pretty please? Your books are fab as always...I have added links to both posts on my recent post. I can not imagine a Christmas without your Book Posts! Looking forward to the third installment...

    Off to read some more! xx


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