Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: What can I get Santa to deliver to you?

A brief trip into the dark heart of London’s West End at the weekend both indicated to me that the Christmas period is well and truly upon us and provided further evidence of the madness of crowds as the frenzied shopping seemed more reminiscent of the carefree days from before 2008 than today’s age of austerity.  Either people have restricted their spending all year in anticipation of a festive splurge or there are going to be some more households in trouble come the middle of January when the credit card bills drop through the letterbox.  I fear the latter.

The Falaise household is sticking to its pre-planned level of expenditure this year, however, and the vast bulk of the gift shopping has been completed, with only Mrs F and my brother-in-law not yet having been dealt with.  I can, therefore, say with confidence that none of the books that form part of this list of ten books we would most like to give this Christmas, as requested by the Broke and the Bookish, will actually be given by me this Yuletide.  

But, not so fast!  will be giving one of these books away - as a post-Christmas treat to one of you.  Just leave a comment below, stating which book you would like and, on December 31, my trusty Random Number Generator and I will make a pick and, delivery charges and availability permitting, one of you will have a nice literary start to 2012.

I should here point out that I am wilfully disobeying the rules of this Top Ten Tuesday by not specifying to whom I would give these books so as to avoid embarrassment either for me or them.  Instead, it is a list of books I love and would like to se someone else enjoy.  And , as it’s Christmas and people just want to relax, I’ve not included anything too heavy.

1.         The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper.  I’m not a big reader of children’s/YA books but this series of five novels, themed around Celtic and Arthurian myth is simply brilliant.  I’d happily give it to anyone but especially to imaginative kids.  If you want to suggest this as your giveaway prize, I should point out that the limits of my generosity are such that you will get the first two in the sequence.  You’re on your own after that, I’m afraid.

2.         A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  It’s the right time of the year for it, it’s a good read and, as next year is the bicentenary of his birth, it would whet the appetite for the celebrations and events that are planned.  Also, most people are only familiar with the story from TV or film versions so it suits my literary snob side to get someone else to read it.

3.         Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman.  A present for a keen reader, this is a collection of essays about books, language, reading, book collecting and all matters bookish.  It’s a joy to read.

4.         Achtung Schweinehund! by Harry Pearson.  Is there a British middle-aged male in your life?  If so, then this is effectively a user’s guide to said man.  Pearson’s memoir of a childhood of model making, war comics and Action Man has so many echoes of that of me and my friends at the time that I’m not sure whether to be relieved at the ubiquity of the experience or worried at the general immaturity of British manhood!

5.         The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater.  Nigel Slater’s journal of a year in his kitchen is crammed full of tempting recipes that are eminently manageable by even cooks as hopeless as me.  Even if you are not a cook, he writes in a style that makes your mouthwater and it can definitely be read as a book rather than just as a cookbook.

6.         Animal Farm by George Orwell.  The subject matter isn’t at all festive but, as I explained in this post, this book is indelibly associated with Christmas for me.  It’s a perfect little allegorical gem.  Everyone should read it and it would be an ideal gift for a young person just getting into history or politics.

7.         Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.  Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of Agatha on the TV or to read by the fire.  This is one of the classics and one of my all-time favourites.  I’d give it to an aged relative, except they’ve probably already got it.

8.         Casino Royale by Ian Fleming.  When I were a lad (say this in a broad Yorkshire accent for maximum effect), there was always a Bond movie on TV on Christmas Day afternoon, just after the Queen’s Speech and it was one of the centrepieces of the programming schedules.  What with DVDs and satellite TV, that’s not the case any more but I’d happily give a Fleming novel to someone to read during the afternoon instead.  I’ve picked Casino Royale because I think it is probably the best from a literary point of view but I’d also think about Moonraker for its brilliant gambling scene in M’s London club.  And it’s nothing like the frankly trashy movie version.

9.         The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse.  I can’t think of many more enjoyable ways to spend part of Christmas Day than Wodehouse, a glass of claret and some good cheese to nibble on to fill up any corners untouched by turkey and trimmings.   The Code of the Woosters is one of the best Jeeves novels and I defy anyone not to chuckle while reading it.

10.       The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux.  Probably my favourite piece of travel literature and a book I’d love to give to everyone.  Every time I read it, I just want to jump on a train and start off round the world.

And as a bonus stocking filler, I’d want to make sure everyone on my gift list had a copy of one of the Rumpole books as this great Old Bailey hack barrister is a fictional national treasure, a gently amusing triumph and a comfort in our turbulent world.

Which of these would you like to receive?


JaneGS said...

The Kitchen Diaries and The Great Railway Bazaar just went on my own gifts-to-give list. The former for my sister-in-law and the latter for my husband, which means I can nab it at some point, armchair traveler that I am.

Good for you, sticking to your budget. Happy Holidays!

Lauren said...

The Great Railway Bazaar!

April Books And Wine said...

Don't enter me!

I just wanted to say that Murder On The Orient Express is such a wonderful read, and definitely a good one to introduce people to Agatha Christie.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I love travel lit and have had The Great Railway Bazaar recommended to me multiple times, so I would pick that one!

I love your other choices. Ex Libris is one of my favorites and Wodehouse never fails to make me laugh. I just posted on the 4th Dark is Rising book yesterday! I am going to read the final one in January and I can't wait.

gautami tripathy said...

Great gift choices. I am noting down a few of those. Do come and check mine too!!

Here is my Top Ten post!

Unknown said...

So glad I discovered your blog! I mean that sincerely, as I've added two new books to my TBR list from this one post alone. Also, really like the idea behind your blog - good luck! I'll be following along to see you work towards your goal.

I, too, love giving Ex Libris, so was thrilled to see that on your list. If I'm randomly selected, it would be a toss-up between The Kitchen Diaries and The Great Railway Bazaar, being enamored of both food lit and travel lit.

Also, not having been a lad (and with no Yorkshire accent) during the time there was always a Bond movie on TV, I discovered Ian Fleming as an adult, but then convinced a local high school librarian to include Casino Royale on her summer reading list - it was a huge hit!


Ok, so I'v e never actually read A Christmas Carol. I'm going to read it on Christmas Eve this yr though. I think you can never ever go wrong gifting a classic!

Kate Maxwell said...

If you send to the US... I think I would have to go with 'The Great Railway Bazaar'! It sounds fascinating! Though, I have put a few of your other books into my towering TBR list! Glad I found your site!

Anonymous said...

There are several books here I'm not familiar with but sound intriguing!

Anonymous said...

Loved the Dark is Rising sequence! @nicolepoliti

Tanya Patrice said...

Love the ecclectic list. I loved Animal Farm and haven't read it in years, so that would be my choice from the list :-)

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Interesting list. I, too, loved the Susan Cooper series, but they didn't come into my life until a college boyfriend pressed them on me.

If I were to win, I'd like that memoir of the British middle-aged man. I'm not one myself, and I don't really know any, but I love your description and it sounds very funny!

Anonymous said...

Great list! I've even read some of them. :)
Here’s my Top Ten Tuesday post. :)

LBC said...

I just ordered a copy of Ex Libris. I would love a copy of Murder on the Orient Express. I've never read Agatha Christie.

Alexa S. said...

Ex Libris or The Kitchen Diaries sounds good to me! :)

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

Had never heard of The Great Railway Bazaar, but after Googling it, I think I'd like it: I love travelling by train and did the Trans-Siberian last summer.

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