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Books given and received for Christmas, in 2015

December 26, 2015

I did a “books given and received post” last Boxing Day, and decided to do it again. It’s a useful record for me to keep, and may just interest you, so, here goes.

  • For Mr Gums, who is often up for a walk: Walking and cycling Canberra’s Centenary Trail
  • For Ms Gums Jr, in her stocking: Anna Funder’s The girl with the dogs.
  • For Mr Gums Jr, in his stocking: Richard Flanagan’s Short Black The Australian Disease: On the Decline of Love and the Rise of Non-Freedom.
  • For Ma Gums, who has worked as a lexicographer: Mary Norris’s Between you and me: Confessions of a comma queen (inspired by a review by Stefanie at So Many Books) AND, in her stocking, Elizabeth Gaskell’s The old nurse’s story.
  • For Brother Gums, lover of nature and good writing: Tim Winton’s Land edge: A coastal memoir
  • For Sister-in-law Gums, who loves art, nature and is interested in women’s lives: Louisa Atkinson’s nature notes (a selection of sketches and writings by this nineteenth century Australian naturalistDanielle Wood, Mothers Grimm, book cover.
  • For Gums’ Californian friend, who indicated in a comment on my post that she’d like to read this book: Danielle Wood’s Mothers Grimm.
  • For Gums’ Californian friend’s daughter, who’s busy studying for her law degree and might like some little interludes: Paul McDermott’s Fragments of the hole (my review) and Cassandra Atherton’s Trace (two fl smalls).
  • For Gums’ Californian friend’s other daughter, who’s developing quite a passion for baking: Delicious Bake.

As for what I received, a lovely, eclectic bunch:

  • From Ma and Pa Gums: Elizabeth Harrower’s In certain circles, in readiness for my reading group doing it in 2016) and Betty Churcher’s The forgotten notebook (about trips she made in the 1990s arranging loans of art of a blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia).
  • From my Californian friend, who knows what my New Year’s resolution is going to be: Marie Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (oh dear, now I’m really going to have to do it). Carolyn, that’s her name, wrote about it in her letters this year and, quite coincidentally, I read about the same book in Travellin’ Penguin’s blog. The title is slightly different but that’s just different editions I believe. She and Carolyn did make me laugh with their discussions of applying this book to their own decluttering projects.
  • From “old” Canberra friends: Tom Griffiths’ Endurance, historical fiction about photographer/explorer Frank Hurley (and they gave us a book gift voucher too. Lucky, us).

What about you? Any Christmas book news you care to report?

28 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2015 2:40 pm

    I received two books for Christmas and a yet to be redeemed Booktopia gift voucher.

    I’m looking forward to reading “Landmarks” by Robert MacFarlane, which according to a blurb on the back cover is a “joyous meditation on land and language”, and browsing The Art of Neil Gaiman.

    As usual I gave several books as presents.

    To my brother – Luna by Ian McDonald (Science Fiction)
    To my friend D – Slade House by David Mitchell (US hard cover edition with quirky cover) and a Joan Aiken children’s book called The Kingdom & the Cave. We’re both big fans of her writing.
    To my friend R – The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
    To my niece C – The Delicate Dependency by Michael Talbot (a stylish vampire novel, long out of print but now reissued)
    To my great niece Z – Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson (you’re never too young – or old – to enjoy the wonderful Moomins.

    • December 26, 2015 3:25 pm

      Thanks Anne for joining in. Enjoyed reading your “receivings and givings”! I’m sure you’re right about the Moomins! Landmarks sounds fascinating – I feel I’ve heard of it. Will check it out.

  2. sharkell permalink
    December 26, 2015 2:55 pm

    I gave The Fifth Wave to my 13 yo son who is struggling to get back into reading and The Crossing by Mandy Hager for my 15 yo daughter. For my husband I gave The Drover – a photographic record of the Brinkworth Cattle Drove. I was lucky to receive The Golden Age by Joan London (already half way through this wonderful book) and Carol by Patricia Highsmith.

    • December 26, 2015 3:35 pm

      Oh, you’re doing well sharkell to be already half through a book. I must read it. The drove sounds like a book my Dad would enjoy.

  3. December 26, 2015 2:59 pm

    My gosh you mentioned my post. Funny, it might influence someone to declutter. I am so over it now. Confessions of a comma queen has attracted me previously but I have not read any reviews of it yet. I got one book for Christmas, Adventures in Stationery by James Ward. I am reading a chapter a night. Last night I learned about the history of paper clips. It was quite fascinating the competition that went on in the late 1800s over the development of them once they hit the patent office. As usual I gave more books than received. Enjoyed this post.Now onto cooler weather?? and 2016.

    • December 26, 2015 3:40 pm

      Of course I mentioned your post, Pam. It’s only right, since I’ve dined out quite a bit on it and my friend Carolyn’s letter about the same book. You two made me laugh so much with your descriptions. Adventures in stationery sounds like the sort of book I’d enjoy.

      Enjoy the summer – but please, not cooler weather yet.

  4. December 26, 2015 3:39 pm

    Good lists! I get despondent some times at how many good books I’ll never read. We’re not having xmas for a couple of weeks but I buy books for gifts through the year and then work out at the last moment who I’ll give them to. At the moment I have Bernice Barry’s Georgiana Molloy (biog.) which I had better give to ex-Mrs Legend so I can read (and review) it, The Three Body Problem (SF) by Cixin Liu and Lima, The Cookbook by Virgilio Martinez. Yesterday I gave a sister in law a Donna Hay cookbook which was surprisingly popular.

    • December 26, 2015 3:44 pm

      Despondent sometimes, Bill! I get despondent frequently. LOL re books you buy and decide later. I have done that sometimes but have usually ended up not giving them because I can’t think of the right person, or the moment has passed and I want to give them something else by the time Christmas rolls around – so I tend to avoid that practice now.

      Anyhow, enjoy your Christmas when it comes. And I look forward to the Molloy review one day in the future.

  5. December 26, 2015 5:47 pm

    Your book list is so… wholesome. And scholarly. The three offspring scored 1. American Gods and The Long Mars; 2. A Dance with Dragons (6th book in the Song of Ice and Fire series); 3. The Maze Runner trilogy. There’s a distinct dystopian flavour to their reading…..

    I didn’t receive any books but I’m stealing American Gods when the Eldest Son is finished with it.

    • December 26, 2015 9:32 pm

      Wholesome! Haha, that makes me laugh Master of Something Yet! I rather like dystopias too. And I should read American Gods.

  6. December 26, 2015 8:13 pm

    I was very excited to receive the audio book of Magda Szubanski’s Reckoning, which I’ll kick off on a bit of a drive tomorrow. I gave a few books- a New York guide and Kate Morton’s The Lake House and a Boris Johnson book about identities of London.

    • December 26, 2015 9:34 pm

      Reckoning is getting good write-ups Louise. An audiobook of that should be great. We have been listening to Emma Ayres’ Cadence on our recent trips to Sydney. I think memoirs make for good audiobooks.

  7. December 26, 2015 9:30 pm

    From Li, who kept being kicked out of WordPress so wrote this to me on Facebook:

    Oh I remember I wanted to respond to this last year and forgot about it, so mustn’t forget this year! I hope you enjoy Marie Kondo, everyone seems to be raving about her. I’m not quite ready to overhaul my belongings just yet, so may wait another year.

    I got “Embroideries” by Marjane Satrapi (a graphic novel about the sex lives of Iranian women) and “Keating” by Kerry O’Brien from Tim. We accidentally gave each other “The Casual Cyclist’s Guide to Melbourne”, so one of them has to be swapped for the walking version. I also gave him “The stories of Eva Luna” by Isabel Allende, in preparation for our South American trip next year. I wanted to get “The house of the spirits”, but they were sold out. Normally I get him a lot more books because he’s a huge bibliophile, but only having Christmas Eve to shop meant I had no time to think/research.

    From my in-laws (but really my mother-in-law), I got “The Dressmaker” (with instructions to see the movie after I read it, as well as the costume exhibition) and “A celebration of food and wine” by Eric Rolls. We gave my MIL “The Terrace House”, which is a gorgeous coffee table book about renovated terrace houses in Australia (she loves houses and interior decorating). It was a good follow up to our present to her last year, which was “Superhouse”, a coffee table book about super houses all around the world. For the FIL, who isn’t much of a reader but dedicated to current affairs, we renewed his subscription to the quarterly essay.

    From my sisters-in-law, I got “A guide to Berlin” by Gail Jones and “Public Library” by Ali Smith. For one SIL, we gave “Handmade for the garden” because she loves making things for the garden. For the other, we gave “Fever of animals” by Miles Allinson. Tim got it because it sounded interesting, and there was a quote of praise from Emily Bitto (who is a good friend of our SIL) on the front cover.

    Anyway, I hope I make a bit more ground with my reading this year. The unread books by my bed are rapidly piling up…

    • December 26, 2015 9:39 pm

      Thanks for this wonderful response Li. I don’t think you need to think about Kondo for a while yet, though perhaps, on the other hand, it’s never too early to start!

      I love the sound of all your book giving and receiving.

      We will think of you cycling and walking Melbourne as we cycle (hmmm) and walk Canberra!

      A guide to Berlin sounds like a great book. I haven’t heard of Fever of animals or Miles Allinson, so will look that up.

      As for making ground with reading – that is such a challenge. Even when you are retired!

  8. December 26, 2015 11:11 pm

    Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without any books would it? I gave loads this year and so far all were warmly received. So far I’ve received two. One is a biography of the actress Maggie Smith and the other is Zola and the Victorians which looks at the moral outrage which greeted his work. That’s just a start though – back home there are parcels not yet opened and I have a feeling they might just contain a few books.

    • December 26, 2015 11:19 pm

      I love to give books too Karen, though it seems that I have fewer people to give books to these days. Must say I’d love to read a biography of Maggie Smith. I’m assuming it’s the recent one I just read about the other day where she wondered why anyone would be interested in her.

  9. December 27, 2015 1:09 am

    Yes, this is a good topic for a Christmas post, WG. Keep it coming. Just want to stop by and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  10. December 27, 2015 3:36 am

    Books are like staples in my house – like bread or milk – no one gives me either for Christmas. lol – I gave my 92-year old mom a gift card to Amazon and she almost whooped for joy – she loves her iPad / Kindle – addiction level.

    • December 27, 2015 7:10 am

      Haha, Bekah. They wouldn’t dare give you a gift I imagine. It would be so hard to be sure you hadn’t read it! And that’s great re your Mum. e-Readers are great for older people with raging eyes – and, with weight of books sometimes being an issue too – aren’t they?

  11. maamej permalink
    December 27, 2015 9:12 am

    Whata cool idea. Alwaysintersting toread lists of books. I think I should have bought the tidying up bookfor my son, he sorely needs it, and I will go liking for the Tim Winton for myself. Sadly I didn’t receive any books, but I gave plenty.

    • December 27, 2015 9:43 am

      Thanks maamej… Do you usually not receive books? Is it because people are scared to buy them for you?

      Perhaps you could buy your son the tidying up one for New Year’s Day!

      • maamej permalink
        December 28, 2015 3:11 pm

        There’s not a lot of present giving in our family -really it’s only to the children, not much between adults. No probs, I can get what I want from the library & occasionally treat myself to buying a book 🙂

        • December 28, 2015 6:24 pm

          That’s a fair enough decision – I like buying gifts but it can get out of hand, I know.

  12. December 29, 2015 4:33 am

    I hope Ma Gums enjoys the Norris book! Will you be borrowing it? 😉 No books for me, though my boss gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card which was an unexpected surprise. Bookman and I gifted ourselves with a soy milk maker. We are crazy happy with it which probably tells you we might be a little odd.

    • December 29, 2015 8:50 am

      Oh I already knew that, Stefanie … That you and B are a bit odd, I mean. I didn’t know that your boss had given you a voucher! 😀

      Useful appliances are a great present. Son gave his sister an appliance and we gave her one too.

      I’d love to read the Norris, I must say, but I’ll see what time I have when she finishes it. When she opened it, she said, “I love punctuation!”

  13. December 30, 2015 8:12 am

    I received two books, which I have now read and highly recommend. The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks and The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I gave numerous books to my grandson, all three prolific readers. Robert Muchmore, Rick Riordan and books on the Greek Gods and Egyptian Gods. I have just returned from Hobart and I took them to their library twice and each one of them brought home more than 10 books each. It gets harder each year to keep up with all the good books to read.

    • December 30, 2015 8:19 am

      Lovely to hear from you Meg. I was hoping you’d join in. I’ve heard such good things about the Gilbert. I’m sure Brooks is a good read. (My reading group decided not to do it next year, so I may not get to read it. We felt we’ve given Brooks a good go in our group and need to give other authors more air.) It sure does get harder and harder to keep up with all the good books to read.

      That’s lovely about your grandsons. Takes me back to my own childhood!

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