I couldn’t wait to see if anyone was going to get me any of these books for Christmas, so I bought myself some early prezzies. I wanted to share them with you though as they are rather different to the usual books you get at this time of year, and I thought they would make ideal gifts…
Just for this post, title links in the text will take you via an affilliate link to Amazon UK. So, from left to right, we have:
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evilby Stephen Collins. This large format hardback is a graphic novel, beautifully illustrated in pencil. It is an adult fairy-tale, about the fastidious island of Here which is beardless, when one day a bald man sprouts a beard – what are they going to do? I’ve heard the names Seuss, Dahl and Orwell cited as authors with styles and themes in common. It immediately reminded me of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (my review of that here). The Gigantic Beard has been shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2013 – I can’t wait to read it.
(Published by Jonathan Cape, May 2013, Large Hardback – 240 pages, RRP £16.99)
* * * * *
s. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst. This book is going to be a voyage of discovery to read. It comes shrinkwrapped, in a black slipcase, with a paper label sealing the book in. All you can see of the book is the spine which says ‘Ship of Theseus – V.M.Straka’ and it has a library label complete with Dewey Decimal number.
I bought two copies. One to read, one to keep – as this looks like becoming a collector’s item. If you do buy it for anyone – do ensure it’s still shrinkwrapped – for open it up and all sorts of things will fall out: letters, tickets, postcards etc – as you can see in the picture above. This novel wouldn’t be the same as an interactive one – even with pop-ups for the bits inside. It’s a beautiful production with amazing attention to detail. JJ Abrams is behind hit TV series Lost, the new Star Trek films, and the forth-coming Star Wars VII. I’ve only read the first few pages – and it is going to be very strange. The pages are covered in scribbles by two students of Straka, there are footnotes galore, and all those bits to fall out – they all have their part in the story of finding out who the elusive author really is! It will appeal to anyone who likes a puzzle, and those who enjoyed Mark Z Danielewski’s experimental novel House of Leaves.I think it’s going to provide me with hours and hours of fun.
(Published by Canongate, 29th October, Hardback 472 pages. RRP £28).
* * * * *
Letters of Note compiled by Shaun Usher. This is another beautifully produced large hardback book, which has come out of the blog of the same name. Letters of Note collects ‘correspondence deserving of a wider audience’ – be it the Queen sharing her recipe for drop scones with President Eisenhower, to Virginia Woolf’s letter to her husband before committing suicide, and Francis Crick writing to his son about cracking the structure of DNA – each letter is reproduced from the original where possible, set into context by some short explanatory text and is accompanied by a transcript and superb photographs. Some of the letters are from centuries ago – others are more recent; all are fascinating, and many are historically significant too. It is a book to be savoured – I’m going to read just a couple of letters each time I open it to make it last as long as possible. Recommended for … anyone!
(Published by Canongate Unbound, 26th October 2013, Large Hardback, 384 pages, RRP £30).
* * * * *
So those are my quirky Christmas book picks – I’m going to have fun reading them. Obviously, all of these books are available at discounts off the RRP from that on-line store, but they are available at other proper bookshops too!