Tag Archives: shopping

Best Secret Santa books of 2015

The Mindfulness Colouring Book has been everywhere this year. Practicing mindfulness has been credited with reduced stress levels and improved focus, but really speaking, who doesn’t love a colouring book? The Mindfulness Colouring Book is a grown up twist on everyone’s favourite childhood pastime full of the kind of beautiful patterns you used to draw for yourself then carefully colour in.

 

 

 


I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones tv series, so I was very excited to hear about the Game of Scones: All Men Must Dine cookery book when it was announced a few years ago. I’m even more excited now that it’s been released, full of recipes like Tyrion’s Shortbread, and Jamie and Cersei’s Family Mess. On a similar note, Breaking Bad fans might like the Baking Bad cookbook

 

 

 


The Magpie and the Wardrobe is an enchanting collection of folklore, traditional recipes and quirky facts tumbled together in a beautifully designed book. With a chapter for each month of the year, there’s something to interest everyone. For example, did you know that people started hanging glass baubles in their windows to trap witches?

 

 

 

 


Doing Good Better is a must read for anyone who wants to make a positive difference in the world. It challenges the reader to re-examine their assumptions about altruism to take an evidence based approach to charity. Effective altruism is rapidly becoming a hot topic.

 

 

 

 


Versions of Us is one of only two fiction books I’ve put on this list as I think that it’s quite a subtle area of interest to judge when buying a Secret Santa present, but I couldn’t resist this book which has been described as a bit of a literary sliding doors and asks the question, what if you had said yes?

 

 

 

 


Britannia Obscura takes an alternative look at Britain, exploring different ways of engaging with the landscape- via networks of caves, through the skies, by canal and around leylines- and exploring the worlds of people who experience the country through these. This would be an unusual gift for ramblers or map fanatics.

 

 

 

 


The other fiction book I’ve put on this list is the newly released, illustrated Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. The illustrations are just perfect, and it would make the perfect gift for Harry Potter fans young and old. I can’t wait to start reading this with Phoebe when she’s older.

Bedtime Reading for Baby Geniuses

Jane Austen Emma Cosy Classic

Emma by Jane Austen for “younger readers”

iconLast night I was browsing on Not On The High Street for some non-chocolate Easter eggs for my nieces and nephew and came across something that made me giggle in a really geeky bookworm way. Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce classic literature adapted for babies, aka The Cosy Classics. They are described as a ” popular board book series that presents well-loved stories through twelve child friendly words and twelve needle felted illustrations.” I say- amazing.

My sister studied Emma as part of her AS Level in English Literature and hated it, so I feel that a Cosy Classic of this text would be an ideal gift for her daughter. Bedtime stories for baby geniuses, or their parents, the series includes such classics as Jane Eyre, Les Miserables, Moby DickOliver Twist and Pride and PrejudiceI might even buy myself War and Peace as it’s the only way I’m ever likely to read it!

Fantastic Mr Fox

You might have guessed from my recent post about my Sass and Belle cushions that I’ve got a bit of a thing about foxes. I’ve been feeling a bit run down at the moment, I just seem to be so busy that when I have a moment to myself I just end up falling asleep so I decided to buy myself a treat to cheer myself up. Meet Mr Cordy Roy Fox by children’s toy maker Jellycat.

I wanted to get Cordy Roy for my newborn niece at Christmas, but as you can guess by looking at his cheeky little face, he’d sold out so I got her a Jellycat raccoon instead who my sister assures me is now her best friend. If you’re looking for toys for children that encourage imaginative play, Jellycat is a great place to look. Not only do they have a great range of animals which includes dragons and woolly mammoths, but they have dolls which map to fairy tales and would make great bedtime story companions.

Gifts for Sherlock Holmes Fans

Other than reading, one of my favourite things to do at Christmas is to curl up on the sofa watching re-runs of old Sherlock Holmes films and adaptations. You’d be surprised how many you can find and in the past my father and I have managed to fill at least three days of viewings with Sherlock Holmes re-runs, much to the consternation of my little sister. I’ve even managed to hook my boyfriend on the stories to the point that we now have quarrels about which of us is Holmes and which of us is Watson. I am clearly Holmes, as you’ll be able to see from the following exchange:

Me: Elementary, Watson.

Boyfriend: You’re Watson, I’m Shakespeare.

Anyway, I digress. If you have a Holmes fan in your life, or want to introduce a loved one to the Sherlock Holmes stories, the following are great gift ideas:

I am a huge fan of the Penguin Clothbound Classics series. They look amazing and if, like me, the reader in your life is constantly berating themselves for having failed to read a particular classic, they’re a great gift. Even if you’re buying for someone whose favourite book is The Hound of The Baskervilles and has read it a thousand times, they’re sure to love this beautiful edition which will be cherished by Holmes veterans and Sherlock newcomers.

 

 

 

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iconIn the unlikely event that, like myself and my boyfriend, you and your loved ones are arguing over which of you is Watson and which of you is Holmes, you can settle things once and for all by treating them to a The Hound of The Baskerville personalised classic which lets you swap the characters’ names for those of your choosing. A word to the wise, my little sister got me an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland personalised classic, and the recipient gets to choose the characters on the internet. If settling disputes like me and the boyfriend, intercept the pack and do this for them then give them the finished book.

 

 

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iconThis working magnifying glass necklace is a great gift for budding detectives or someone who keeps misplacing their reading glasses. Pair it with this cute and quirky knitted deerstalker hat for this season’s take on the consulting detective look.

 

 

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iconIt might come as a surprise to people who haven’t lurked in the darkest corners of Sherlock Holmes/Conan Doyle internet fandom but the question of what tea Sherlock Holmes drank is a contentious one and causes heated debate among more special interest fans… Adagio tea has responded to this brewing crisis (couldn’t help myself… sorry) by creating this set of teas with an exclusive blend for each of the main characters in the BBC’s adaptation, Sherlock. Don’t worry, favourite characters are also represented.

 

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iconIf you are decorating your study (in Scarlet) or any other room in your house, or know a Sherlock Holmes fan who is, then these art prints may be just the ticket. Being a lady with expensive tastes, I really like this Sherlock Holmes silhouette print which has been carefully constructed from well-chosen quotations for £75.

 

 

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iconHowever, I am also a lady who knows my budget, so this print of Sherlock Holmes keywords is a more affordable compromise at £32.

 

 

 

 

 

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iconIf your Holmes fan is, like me, a big fan of the BBC adaptation Sherlock which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr John Watson, then they probably can’t wait for the new series to be released. Help them catch up with this box set of series one and two. It is coming soon, it is, it must be. And I still can’t figure out how he did it.

 

 

If your Holmes fan already has the Sherlock box set, firstly congratulate them on their well-maintained DVD collection, then consider leading them in the direction of the Elementary box set which stars Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr Joan Watson. I know what you’re thinking, I expected to hate it as sacrilege too. But I actually really enjoyed it and will buy pre-ordering for my father and hoping that it comes in time for Christmas. This shopping game is afoot.

Wrapping the Worm- Best Gift Wrap for Readers 2013

Today is my last realistic-to-shop-after pay-day before Christmas so I’ve started out with the easy stuff first- wrapping paper. The following book/typography/whimsy wrapping papers are sure to be a hit with the reader in your life.

 

 

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iconThese pillow gift boxes from The Alphabet Gift Shop are very cute, Christmassy and affordable at just £2.50 ideal for some bookish jewellery

 

 

 

This pink typewriter wrapping paper is retro cool and would look great teamed with bright ribbon on a present for a writer or reader. And remember, a typewriter is not just for Christmas

 

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This gorgeous scrabble gift wrap is an affordable classic.

 

 

 

And speaking of classics these Penguinand Ladybird Classics are bound to be popular choices with readers:

 

 

 

 

If typography is more your thing then this newspaper style wrapping paper from the “partnership” aka John Lewis is likely to please. 4m of Christmassy kitsch.

 

 

 

 

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If you’re looking for something a little less typography focused which is sure to please a Science Fiction fan then this robot wrapping paper is very sweet (I am definitely getting this for my boyfriend’s present).
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These are my favourites, but be sure to check out The Literary Gift Company and The Bodleian Library Shop for their great ranges extra ideas.
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Bookshop brilliantly parodies John Lewis Christmas Advert 2013

You may already have heard, but if you haven’t Christmas is officially six weeks today and UK shops are rolling out their blockbuster adverts in the hope of stealing John Lewis’ crown. This year, the John Lewis Partnership (brief side note- am I the only person who finds the Partnerships’ sociolect a little cult-like?) have splashed out a reported £7 million on an old school Disney-style epic of an advert, following the improbable friendship of a bear and hare, which has been doing the rounds on the internet under #BearAndHare. If you’ve managed to avoid it so far, it can be viewed here:

 

What caught my attention though, was this slightly surreal parody from Waterstones Oxford Street, The Hare With the Amber Eyes and A Bear Named Pooh. If Rosie Huntington-Whiteley inspired you to experiment with the unusual this Christmas in her trip down the rabbit hole for Marks and Spencer, then you should definitely watch this for a whole new level of brilliantly weird:

Gifts Ideas for Brontë Fans

If you’ve read this blog for a while you probably know I have a slightly sacrilegious attitude to many of the classics which form the literary canon, but despite this I love Wuthering HeightsJane Eyre and all things Brontë. The sister’s lives could have been a novel in their own right, I’m pretty there isn’t a massive motion picture being promoted at the moment, given the success of biopics about Keats, Austen and Potter in recent years. Either way, their books are amazing, a blend of the Gothic and Romantic traditions which are perfect for reading on cold winter nights.

Consequently, I have decided that Brontë inspired items would make great Christmas presents for the Romantic (with a capital R of course…) in your life. Here’s a list of my favourites.

Jane Eyre Birdcage Necklace

Jane Eyre Birdcage Necklace

I love this necklace for the free thinking woman in your life. As my boss reminded me, much to my amusement, when we were selecting book covers in work the other day; bird cages are very on trend. This trinket adds weight to the motif with a well-chosen quotation on the presentation card, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

 

 

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iconIf it was the Romance with a capital ‘R’ that brought you here, then I think that these earrings which quote Cathy’s outburst about Heathcliff being “More myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” has to get a mention. Almost certainly one of the best declarations of love in literature, and one of the ones with the most heartbreaking outcomes for the couples involved.

 

 

 

Jane Eyre Manuscript Journal

Jane Eyre Manuscript Journal

If you’re looking for a present for an aspiring writer, they may take inspiration from this mini journal which is embossed with Charlotte Brontë’s writing from the manuscript of Jane Eyre. It’s a bargain at £6.99 and would make a lovely diary.

 

 

 

 

Wuthering Heights Poster

I mentioned some time ago that I didn’t want so much as need this amazing paper cut style poster which is being sold to raise money for a charity which aims to fight illiteracy. So for about £40 you effectively have a gift that gives twice, a beautiful picture for the recipient and a better life for someone who learns to read.

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever our souls are made of decalIt may be because I’m decorating my house at the moment, but I’m a big fan of this Wuthering Heights decal which contains part of one of my favourite passages in literature. I think it’s great inspiration for a gift for a book worms, you could order a custom decal with a favourite passage from any book, or even a song lyric. I would put this up in a shot if my boyfriend would let me. Compromise leads to a very bland aesthetic.

 

 

 

The Melting Library sells beautifully scented soy candles and has a great range based on a wide variety of books. I want so many of them. If you want to experience being out on the winding, windy moor more fully while reading in the comfort of your own home (or bath) then this Wuthering Heights inspired Wild Heather Emily Brontë candle is just the ticket. Just be careful you don’t stir up any ghosts by leaving it alight in your window…

 

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iconAnne Brontë always seems to me to be the overlooked sister, but I love this greeting card with a quotation from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Obviously it would work well as a card in it’s own right, but pop it in a frame and it would make a lovely artwork for a gallery wall such as the one I’ve been creating in my dining room…

 

Fairytale Themed Presents

The Crimson Fairy Book

The Crimson Fairy Book

Recently, instead of catching up on the news while I wait for the bus, I’ve been reminding myself how much I love reading classic fairy tales by reading the stories of Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm as eBooks on my phone. The stories are still great, but the lack the magic of settling down by the fire with a beautifully illustrated book. In honour of Christmas Magic, I thought I would share my top fairytale inspired Christmas presents. I hope you find them helpful when shopping for gifts for fairytale lovers.

 

 

 

The Yellow Fairy Book

No list of gifts for lovers of fairy stories would be complete without the Folio Society Fairy Books. Colourful, luxurious and beautifully illustrated with introductions from key names in folklore studies, I think they would make the perfect Christmas present. I’m tempted to start a collection as well, but where to start? They’re all so beautiful. The Folio Fairy Books are quite expensive but have real heirloom potential.

 

 

 

This Once Upon A Time storybook necklaceOnce Upon A Time Necklace, is made from solid silver, and can be customized with a personal message especially for your fairytale fan. It also comes in a really cute little gift box, which is a bonus if you’re no good at wrapping presents. I have this necklace and people always ask about it, especially children who want to open it and read the story inside (it doesn’t open sadly).

 

 

 

I used to have a copy of The Frog Price that was decorated with the most amazing papercut illustrations, I think it might actually still be at my father’s house so I’ll need to dig it out when I’m next back. These papercut illustrations of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood remind me of that book, and I love the splash of red in Little Red Riding Hood’s coat along with the important life advice, it seems a more Brothers Grimm phrase than the slightly saccharine one that accompanies Cinderella…
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iconI love Heather Alstead’s Fairy Tale range at Not On The Highstreet, there are so many beautifully designed products, but these storytelling bookends, happily ever after bookmark and dragon slaying mug have to be my favourites.Happily Ever After Bookmarkicon
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Fairytale Bookends

100 Artists for Literacy

 

100 Artists for Literacy

100 Artists for Literacy.

I loved the above post on Anni Cardi’s blog, which links you to a charity Doedemee selling posters of redesigned book covers to help raise money to fight illiteracy.

Guess where I’m shopping this month! I think I’ll probably get the Wuthering Heights design for myself,  because it’s completely gorgeous AND one of my favourite books.

The posters for Alice’ Adventures in Wonderland, Anna Karenina, Wind in the Willows, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atonement and Northern Lights are also amazing. I might ask for some for my birthday/Christmas.