Monday, 28 December 2009

Book haul

Here are the books I received for Christmas:

The Arrival, by Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan has been one of my favourite illustrator / story-tellers since I bought his book The Rabbits a few years ago. What can I say about his work? Well, he likes pipes. He draws an industrial world made of pipes, funnels and tunnels, populated by strange creatures trying to make sense of where they are and if they fit. A second glance however conveys a deeper meaning – his stories reflect political and historical change, dark glimpses into the human psyche, and reveal a reflection we can either improve or strive towards.

The Arrival is a story without words, and tells the story of immigration. A man leaves his family to sail far away to earn money to send back to them, and yet the world he arrives in is alien and strange.

The Red Tree, by Shaun Tan

Depression, oppression – this story uses fantastic imagery to reflect how hopeless and lost people can feel, and yet even then there can be hope. The only thing I would say about this book is that the pictures about depression are many, and the pictures about hope are few – I would have liked to see more of a balance.

A London Christmas, by Marina Cantacuzino

This is an anthology of seasonal memories compiled from various sources. A small extract below, taken from A London Family by M. Vivian Hughes, memories from 1870.

Christmas Eve was the day we liked best. The morning was a frenzied rush for last rehearsals for our family play, last posting of cards, last buying of presents. My father came home early, laden with parcels. The tea-table was resplendent with bon-bons (crackers), sweets, and surprise cakes with icing on the top and threepenny–bits inside. The usual ‘bread and butter first’ rule was set aside, and we all ate and talked and laughed to our heart’s content.

It is a really sweet compilation of memories – I can see myself referring to it when am grown up with my own little place, trying to make traditions of my own.

Dewey, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

My mum thought I might like this story about a library cat in small-town America, as the cat on the cover looks like my Ginger Boy. I haven’t read it yet, and know nothing about the author, but it already has two things I like – cats and books - so it could be a winner. I’m always up for reading new authors – especially as one day I hope they will be up for reading mine!

John Lennon: The Life, by Phillip Norman

A lovely present from my brother, I am looking forward to settling down with this hefty book and seeing what it reveals. I have read a few books on John over the years, but this certainly looks like it will be the most in-depth – mainly as it is massive!

So I am pretty pleased with what I received (you can tell all is well when I chime in with a rhyme). Oh dear, sorry to go all Dr Seuss on you! I got some book vouchers as well, so these are the next books on my list.

Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making

Did I tell you I collect Agatha Christie books? I like the old Fontana publications, but over the years I have got a sizable collection of each imprint. Hence why moving house for me is so tricky – I usually have at least four boxes filled to the top with Christie’s. But it’s not just about the old illustrated covers; it is of course the stories. I think they are wonderful. And so I have to get this book! I can tell I would be completely absorbed by it.

Decades of Beauty: The Changing Image of Women, 1890s to 1990s

I saw this book around my friend’s house and thought it looked fantastic. It documents the social events and history behind the fashions, and has great portraits of the stylish ladies from each decade, and how the idea of beauty has changed over the years.

Under the Dome, by Stephen King

I cannot resist a new book by Stephen King for too long. This was published in November 2009, which means it has been out there for over a whole month and I have not yet read it. The world stops when I read Stephen King, which is why I have avoided buying it as yet, but I doubt very much I will get to February without acquiring this one.


Kit Courteney said...

Lovely books, Jayne.

Because of the odd circs for me this year I didn't ask for/want to receive any books, although I did get one from my brother-in-law, bless him (it was a bad choice, I'll say no more!)

Next year I'll be having LOADS!

Rose said...

what a lovely selection. The London book looks like something i would love! I am also an Agatha fan, shough hugely successful I think she's underated writing wise. I kept looking at the Dewey book for a friend- would be good to know how you find it!

I got Wolf Hall and part of me can't wait to get started but part of me knows I won't finish until June!

musicobsessive said...

My mother introduced me to Agatha Christie (she had loads of the old Fontana paperbacks with the really great covers, alas they all seemed to vanish after she died in 1971) and I'd read them all by the time I was out of my teens.

Still love them today but only have a few on my shelves. Can't wait for the book review of the 'Secret Notebooks'!

Jayne said...

Hi Kit. I love books for Christmas. This year I chose two of the above (the Shaun Tan ones), so I was guaranteed to like them, but I really enjoyed 'A London Christmas'. Hope you get loads of lovely books next year!

Jayne said...

Hi Rose. Wolf Hall - that certainly is a breezeblock of a book. Do post a review when you finish?

I am halfway through the Dewey book. There is something about animal biographies, especially cats, which makes me so emotional, even at the start. I would cautiously say I am enjoying it - the description and history of Iowa is very interesting, considering that is a place I know nothing about. I enjoy reading about Dewey's antics and growing fame. I'm not totally convinced by the structure of each chapter - so far each one ends kind of saying that Dewey is a very special cat. as a reader I got that from the first chapter, I don't need telling each time. But that is a minor quibble!

Jayne said...

Hi Martin. Ooo the old Fontana's! They had amazing covers, what a shame they all vanished. All mine are in boxes at the moment, can't wait to have a shelf of my own (in a room of my own in a place of my own!) to display them proudly again.

Might be a little while before the review of Secret Notebooks - have yet to buy the book!