For anyone who wants to support their local bookshop but reads eBooks, or enjoys the convenience of buying online, there is a new scheme called Hive which allows you to order the books online and collect them from your local indie bookshop. The local bookshop is then paid a commission fee. Apparently, they are also paid the fee if you buy eBooks or have the books delivered to your door.
Obviously this is a commission, so it’s still good to visit the bookshop and buy direct when you can but this could alleviate some of the guilt we feel when we’re too rushed to get in for a visit! The only problem for me is that my favourite local bookshop isn’t on there yet, though another is and there’s a lot of representation for the Oxford shops.
Alice in Wonderland is universally popular because of the whimsy and nonsense that fill every page. It means different things to different people, but no one can deny that it is one of those stories which has sunk into the British public’s collective consciousness to the point where the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party was included as a scene in this year’s Marks and Spencer Christmas advert alongside scenes from Christmas classic film of choice The Wizard of Oz and panto favourite Aladdin. If you have an Alice in Wonderland fan in your life, they would love any of the following gifts.
For crafty Alice fans, Everything Aliceis a must have. One of 2011’s most popular craft books there is something for everyone in this gorgeous book. Given that the Alice in Wonderland bedspread from Urban Outfitters has sold out, this will give you some good ideas for Alice in Wonderland style decor for the home.
Grown up Alice fans will love this too cute little Drink Me bottle from The British Library which is filled with Austrian Grüner Veltliner sparkling wine. I’m sure the wine is delicious but I want this bottle soooo much. I love trinkets…
And speaking of trinkets this Drink Me pocket watch is also amazing. It doesn’t scream Alice in Wonderland, so readers and non-obsessives alike will love it but it would make a nice vintage-style touch to any outfit.
I’ve seen a lot of amazing Alice in Wonderland themed jewellery (I have a pretty funky Disney Couture bracelet that I bought myself in my youth…) but I have never seen a piece of Alice in Wonderland jewellery as unique as this incredibly intricate locket… a once in a lifetime present for an Alice in wonderland fan.
If you want to decorate your tree with a touch of Alice in Wonderland, then the British Library has an amazing set of tree decorations inspired by the stories. You can go Alice, Hatter, Cheshire Cat, Flamingo, but my favourite is this cute Smoking Caterpillar tree ornament.
If you’ve seen my twitter thingamajig, you’ll know that I spent Sunday at the Hay-on-Wye festival and browsing around the town which is home to numerous second hand book shops, including one which touts itself as the biggest in the world.
I didn’t like the biggest second hand book shop, for me it was a bit too slick and pannelled, which removed the excitement of hunting through dusty shelves looking for treasure. There was one shop which I thought was a genius idea, a book shop dedicated to crime novels. There were chalk outlines of bodies on the floor and quotes from famous crime fiction on the wall. If you’re ever in Hay-on-Wye I thoroughly recommend a visit to Murder and Mayhem.
On Saturday, after I’d visited the festival bookshop of The Oxford Literary Festival in Christchurch Meadows, I stopped by Alice’s Shop which sells memorabilia associated with the Alice in Wonderland/Alice Through the Looking Glass books by Lewis Carroll.
This picture is a bit wonky- like Wonderland itself
As you can see it seems to be very popular with tourists and was even busier inside that it was out. I bought some post cards (as part of my campaign to resurrect the art of letter writing- they are letter writing-lite) and Mad Hatter Tea for my father, as well as a Mad Hatter quote card. We’re big Alice fans in my family.
Something that really excited me was learning that the shop itself actually features in Alice Through The Looking Glass. It used to be a grocery shop that the real life Alice used to visit to buy her sweets, and was run by a lady with a bleating voice. This ended up as the mean sheep who sells Alice the egg that becomes Humpty Dumpty. I remembered the passage well because Alice is told that two eggs are cheaper than one, but if she buys the two she must eat them both. It always struck me as the type of thing you would say to a greedy child whose eyes were bigger than their belly, though I could imagine an eccentric shop keeper having such a policy.
‘I should like to buy an egg, please,’ she said timidly.
‘How do you sell them?’
‘Fivepence farthing for one— Twopence for two,’ the Sheep replied.
‘Then two are cheaper than one?’ Alice said in a surprised tone, taking out her purse.
‘Only you must eat them both, if you buy two,’ said the Sheep.
‘Then I’ll have one, please,’ said Alice, as she put the money down on the counter. For she thought to herself, ‘They mightn’t be at all nice, you know.’
The Sheep took the money, and put it away in a box: then she said ‘I never put things into people’s hands— that would never do— you must get it for yourself.’ And so saying, she went off to the other end of the shop, and set the egg upright on a shelf.
‘I wonder why it wouldn’t do?’ thought Alice, as she groped her way among the tables and chairs, for the shop was very dark towards the end. ‘The egg seems to get further away the more I walk towards it. Let me see, is this a chair? Why, it’s got branches, I declare! How very odd to find trees growing here! And actually here’s a little brook! Well, this is the very queerest shop I ever saw!’
I’ll be going back when I get my house buying sorted out to buy myself their amazing character key holders. I think I’ll get myself one of each and use them to hang my necklaces from!
I spent about four hours looking for a nice, reasonably priced black cardigan in Oxford today. I was not very successful. Fortunately I had more success in spending my Waterstones Christmas gift card (which given the financial trouble I didn’t want to hold on to) buying the books below, which I am looking forward to reading, and a booklight which will let me read in bed when I can’t sleep without the boyfriend whining at me. At least, that’s the theory. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I was introduced to this little shop on the weekend, and I could have spent years in here. It’s an amazing treasure trove of wax seals, leather journals, quills and assorted oddities. If I could have bought the entire shop, I would have. They don’t really sell reading books, the only books on display were some very expensive folio editions (cheaper to become a devoted member of the Folio Society and purchase heavily for a time) but if I ever win the lottery I will be going back to stock up my desks. I can see me now writing in a leather-bound tome with gold engraving, writing in an elegant script with a peacock feather quill and rainbow coloured inks. The perfect place to act out your Romantic/Gothic/Medieval/Harry Potter fantasy.
I came away with some vintage look postcards showing animals on vintage maps. There were two of each so I will have one to frame and another to send to lucky recipients. I will have to go back soon though. I’m sure that come pay-day I can justify my new-found need for a magnifying glass, butterfly patterned sticky notes and a few pretty marbled notebooks. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Oxford area, their website is http://www.scriptum.co.uk/