Christmas Book Wishes

One Christmas, several decades ago, we opened all our presents. Surrounded by wrapping paper, chocolates, perfume and other goodies, I looked at my parents in horror and said, “You didn’t get me a book!”
They never made that mistake again. One surprising volume of poetry chosen by Mother for me was The Book of Unrespectable Verse. Maybe I should read some of the poems in it to her when I next visit.
If she were to buy me presents this Christmas, I would be droppping heavy hints for two books. In a bookshop last week, I picked up a copy of Jeannette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Had I not had a train to catch I might have stood there and read it to the end. It was a comment about her mother that got me. She described her as a big woman, and then wrote how she had realised much later, too late, how small this woman felt on the inside. Only Winterson writes it much better than that. Both copies have been borrowed from the library and I’ve started Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth instead. But you can bet your last penny that if I get hold of Why Be Happy before I have finished Sweet Tooth, it will be put aside ina moment. I may not even clean my teeth between volumes.
I spent this evening with a friend in a room above a pub lsitening to students of creative writing reading their work. The seats were hard, and one of the readers was very nervous, but it was interesting and I particularly enjoyed one of the poets. There was a special guest too. One of the tutors has been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. My friend writes novels. She is an assiduous editor and after her nth edit of her novel is now ready to try for publication. We sat on our hard chairs. The tutor introduced himself, gave some background to what he was going to read. He has a good manner and the seats suddenly didn’t seem so hard. He began to read. After a few minutes, my friend scribbled something on a scrap of paper and passed it to me. It said, “I’m jealous.” So the second book I’d like for Christmas is The Bellwether Revivals by Ben Wood.
I’m going to check and see if they have a copy in the library.


34 thoughts on “Christmas Book Wishes

  1. I recently received a copy of McEwan’s Amsterdam that I plan on reading soon. One year for Christmas, all I got was books and trust me, I didn’t complain one bit.

  2. Thanks for the heads up on the books Isobel. I am always checking your sidebar for what you are reading. I am reading The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy. Just finished The Dry Grass of August. Have to check out Winterson’s book.

  3. Isobel. ‘Why be happy’ is a book you should own. Order it from Amazon (a few pennies over a fiver) and open it at tea time Christmas day as your present to yourself.

    (We had a tradition in my family so that we got our main presents Christmas morning and a smaller one at tea time. I used to look forward to tea time even more than the morning!)

    I have read three books this year that impacted me more than any for many a year. They are all non-fiction, history in fact, and they will destroy your faith in human nature and any hope for the future of mankind. I won’t attempt to describe them, an Amazon search will tell you all you need to know, but I read them one after the other. Big mistake!!!

    ‘Bloodlands’ ISBN-10: 0099551799

    ‘Mao’s Great Famine’ ISBN-10: 1408810034

    ‘From Ambivalence to Betrayal; the Left, the Jews, and Israel’ ISBN-10: 0803240767

    Much too heavy for your pages, at least in the season of good will, perhaps to be read in its aftermath. Or perhaps not at all.

    What other book can I recommend that I have read this year that this time might warm the cockles of your heart? Can’t think of one I’m afraid, being a bit of a misanthrope.

    So how about a movie? You’ll absolutely LOVE Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Spirited Away’ from the first year of the 21st century or perhaps just for the stunning visuals (but there is more, much more) from Ang Lee’s ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ from the last year of the 20th. Should be part of anyone’s collection.

    If anyone reading this ever reads or sees what I have just written about, I’d dearly love to hear from them.

    I’ll say Happy Christmas nearer the time.

  4. just it came to mind mind, what proffession, degree do you have?
    and by the way, the paper thing made me laugh, it is really my way of speaking in class, when teacher is very dissolved in his work, i hate bothering him, so if a thought comes to mind, and i cant wait ti burst it out, i just write in on the paper, and show it to my friend next to me (especially that i cant wait, to say what is in mind, or i may explode, and oh! i just remebered one day i had some thing in mind and i wasnt able to talk about, it was inappropriate, this caused to me become angry and i shouted at a friend, so she became angry, and i had to spend days trying to please her)

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