Florence’s Gift Guide: The Literary Edition

Please welcome Rachel back this month with another installment of Florence’s Book Club – her selection of books for December. It’s not a true gift guide, but the books have been selected with the Christmas season and Christmas gifts in mind. Thank you Rachel!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Published this year yet set in 1920’s Alaska. A heart warming story about Jack and Mabel who move to Alaska to start a new life. It’s one of those magical books where the reader is unwrapping a story within a story. A true winter book – the protagonists are warmly nestled in their cabin, only going out if they need to for food, knowing the hardship of a long cold winter. It reminds you of the importance of good neighbours, hoping and healing. Of joy and not knowing, nor necessarily planning, where life is going to lead you. The greatest recommendation is that the day after I finished it I found myself missing Jack, Mabel and community. A book that makes the people feel like friends.

Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry: Strachan & Quinn Auctioneers (by Leanne Shapton)

My husband bought this for me a few Christmas’ ago having heard it reviewed on the radio. This book is set out as an auction catalogue, so there are lots of photographs and not many words, and it tells the intense love affair and relationship of Lenore and Harold. A couple who live in New York in 2002 when she’s a 22 year old journalist and he a 39 year old photographer. It catalogues their meeting, their relationship and the moments the cracks begin to show and the relationship ends. It’s clever, it’s wonderful and a highly unusual way of telling a story.

Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm (Vintage Classics) by Stella Gibbons

Although the title suggests that it will be about Christmas and will return us to our friends from Gibbons’ famous book Cold Comfort Farm, it’s a little misleading. It’s a book of short stories where there is one story about the farm and a couple about Christmas. All are gentle and oh so very rural England in the 1930’s but each has its own undercurrent of emotion. I’m really enjoying dipping into these short stories in the lead up to Christmas and could imagine enjoying them lazing leisurely on the sofa with a blanket and just another mince pie or two in the lull after Christmas.

‘…bedding the shapely little tree into a flower-pot and fastening the glass bells and lemon on to the tips of its branches. She stood it in the sitting-room window, with the curtains pulled back, when it was ready, and could not resist lighting its tipsy green and white candles, just to see what it would look like.’

Seeing by Jose Saramago

So this isn’t one of my favourite authors but my husband loves him and I felt rather uneducated about books when he started talking about him, he’s won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He doesn’t really go in for much punctuation and his stories are rather strange. Seeing is about an election where the majority of the votes have been left blank and what this implies for the officials, government and people. Saramago is a great writer and a good gift for someone who likes to read something a little different.

Miss Pettgrew Lives for the day by Winifred Watson

I’ve been wanting to write about Persephone Books for a while and Christmas felt the ideal time to do so. They are an independent publishers, each book is grey with a wonderful end piece from the era of the novel. They are mainly books that have become out of print, written by female author tending to be domestic novels but that would swipe many away often they are gently hard hitting. Miss Pettigrew Lives for the day is one of their most famous and tells the most gorgeous fairy tale, there is a film of it but it has a subtle, yet important change in it that just isn’t right, in my eyes. It’s now my go to book when I need to be cheered up. The other reason for mentioning Persephone in this post is because on Sunday ITV showed Lady which is an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s (The Secret Garden) The Making of a Marchioness, another classic Persephone book.

Rachel x

Florence’s Gift Guide #5: Beautiful Books

It’s official. I’m a book addict, but my favourites to receive as gifts are cookery and interiors books, the kind of coffee table beauties that are full of gorgeous imagery and inspiration. As many of these books are cheaply available online for around the £10 mark, I decided to forgoe a stocking filler gift guide and round up my favourite recipe and decor books that I’ll be giving and would like to receive this Christmas.

For Foodies…

  • I’m ALWAYS looking for recipe books that lean towards sharing food. I love having friends over but rarely make fussy food prefering big plate options, and one pot solutions that everyone can dig into. Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi looks like just such a book and is causing a real stir in the Christmas market this year so it’s on my lust-list.
  • I only discovered the Great British Bake Off this season and got totally addicted. Everyone loves Mary but it’s Paul’s critique and exacting standards that made me want this book. Paul Hollywood, How to Bake
  • I spotted this book on the shelf in the Bertinet Bakery in Bath. I mean, how could you not notice that stunning front cover image? I suspect this would be of the variety of cookery books that I buy mainly for the beautiful imagery, however there are many recipes that look do-able for the keen baker or wannabe pastry chef. Pastry, Richard Bertinet
  • If you’re a regular in the food section at book stores you might have seen Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros, an equally stunning book to this more recent release. I hesitated to buy her books before, fearing I wouldn’t want to attempt the recipes, instead just staring at the pictures, however this book focuses on Italian food – my favourite. Tessa now lives in Tuscany so my mouth waters at even the thought of what this book may contain and it’s more than pretty enough to display too. Limoncello and Linen Water by Tessa Kiros.
  • Lastly, not pretty (what happened with this cover I don’t know as the styling of his books is usually fantastic,) and rather omnipresent this Christmas is Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. I have several Jamie Oliver books and they are without doubt the most relied upon and turned to books in my kitchen. For that reason this has to be a no brainer. Although I’ve heard 15 minutes is more than optimistic for some of the recipes and omits time-consuming prep, I know it would contain recipes that would become staples in my home.

For interiors addicts…

  • First up, Decorate Workshop: A Creative 8 Step Process for Transforming Your Home by Holly Becker. Holly’s second book, this one rather than telling you what to put in your decor projects, advises on how to approach re-decorating and designing your home. Many people struggle to translate inspiration into an actual room and this book shows you how.
  • American Modern, Thomas O’Brien. This book isn’t one you’ll find on the bestseller lists, but it was given to me by a friend and remains my favourite interiors book. With a thorough insight into many American homes in their entirety, I am always inspired when I flick through it’s pages.
  • Another older choice but still relevant, Domino: the Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy, is perfect for the coffee table but full of inspiration. I bought a special edition Domino magazine whilst away and just loved the approach to design, decor and styling so have renewed interest in this book which is on this years Christmas list :)
  • If you have a friend who has just bought their first home or is in the midst of renovation project, Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love: is a great book. Full of DIY ideas from super bloggers Sherry and John Petersik who have documented their own renovations on the synonymous blog.

Readers, I would love for you to share any thoughts on my selection – do you own any of these books and are they a good gift choice or do you have any other suggestions to add to my list? Are you also coveting any of them?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Gift Guide #4: Every difficult to buy for man you know…

This morning it’s the big kahuna. Gifts for men. I think it’s safe to say that every man in the history of the universe suddenly turns into a nightmare to buy for from the age of 15. They either buy what they want as soon as they want it, leaving you nothing to spoil him with, or they simply ‘don’t want anything at all’ leaving you in a quandary.

Here are a few ideas, from stocking fillers to larger presents that will hopefully at least inspire you if not solve your problems…

Did I do well readers?

Please share your best picks for men and triumphs in the gift buying stakes this Christmas!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

More 2012 Gift Guides

Florence’s Gift Guide #3: The Music Edition

Seasons greetings pop-pickers, have you got your 99p rolls of penguin paper at the ready? Already put the scissors down somewhere and not quite sure where you’ve put them? And that rubbish sellotape that you can‘t bite with your teeth and then it wraps around and argh? That’s right it’s Christmas shopping time and we’re about to give the gift of music. Now I may not be able to tell you how to wrap an mp3. However, I can tell you what to buy to wow and delight the tricky, picky, awkward members of your family.

For Little Sister
TOY: Toy
Exuding hipster cool, your little sister is the only person you know who can wear a bowler hat without looking like a try-hard. She drinks craft beer and is “like, so OVER the Weeknd”. Yes, that’s a popular artist, and we’re not sure where the E is either. Maybe your sister took it. Frankly, nothing would shock us. In order to avoid the wrinkled nose this year, buy her one of the hottest releases of 2012, from a hyped band who actually lived up to the fuss. Lovely scuzzy guitars, a dollop of Joy Division, a little bit of early Manics and whole host of other stuff thrown into a shoegazey swirl. It works. She’ll love it. She might even lend you her tie-dye leggings now.

For Dad
MARTHA WAINWRIGHT: Come Home To Mama
Dads always love listening to a good female singer, don’t they? Maybe that’s just mine. This album would honestly do for anybody who loves a bit of soulful, honest song writing. If you’re already familiar with the Canadian troubadour family of Wainwrights – also including Rufus, Loudon III and Martha’s late mother Kate McGarrigle – you won’t be surprised by how truly accomplished this record is. The songs are emotionally connected to the real, larger than life characters in her family to the point of being raw. They’d be uncomfortable to listen to if they weren’t so beautiful. Quite, quite lovely.

For Best Mate
ALUNAGEORGE: You Know You Like It [VINYL] EP
Having already featured these guys once on Florence I’m happy to report that they smash it out of the park live too. This EP is just a taster of what’s to come from Alunageorge so get excited – slick urban beats, massive hooks and sultry, irresistible vocals that’ll take you to the moon and back. Definitely ones to dance the night away with your best bud, preferably wearing something with bat wing sleeves and some really stupid shoes. They’ll be pretty much omnipotent next year so get on it.

For Big Brother
DEFTONES: Koi No Yokan/SOUNDGARDEN: King Animal
Two mighty comebacks for two alternative genre behemoths, you couldn’t go wrong with either for the whichever member of your family likes to make the devil horns the most. Deftones were always the band who made nu-metal credible (really, these two words can co-exist, I‘ve heard it with my own ears) and their new album is fresh and crunchy and delicious. How they manage to sound modern but still like themselves after all these years in a genre that has otherwise dated horribly is a total mystery. As for Soundgarden, I never got them first time round – they sounded pompous compared to the cut and thrust of grunge peers Mudhoney and Nirvana – but this is just a ripping rock album. Massive riffs, no piddling about, nobody vanishing up their own bum. Lovely stuff.

For Mum
LITTLE MIX: DNA
Ahhh who am I kidding, this is for me. Ridiculous everything-but-the-kitchen sink pop music, so well-executed it slips into your ears and zaps straight into your brain before you‘ve even realised it‘s happening. What’s not to love?

Tell me readers, what music will you be buying for your loved ones this Christmas? And what’s on your list for Santa?

Penny.
x

PS Find Penny on her blog Bad Penny Says, or @TokaiPenny.

Florence’s gift guide #1: For your cool sister/friend

I was in two minds as to whether I should put together some gift guides for Christmas 2012 this year as they take some time to do and I wasn’t sure how useful you guys find them. I decided to go ahead for two reasons. One, I love reading gift guides myself and spotting things on them that I wouldn’t have thought of and two, I love browsing gift guides and finding things that I would like for myself. ;)

Today’s gift guide is for the stylish, lovely female friend or maybe sister in your life who you love to spoil. The person that you think of about 25 things to buy for every year but have to settle on just one or two.


Girls Aloud, Ten [Deluxe Edition] // Lucas Jack Star Ring // Sequin wash bag, Ted Baker // Yves Purple Shoes, Reiss // Merino lined wellington boots, EWE Wellies // Caviar and Oyster Eye Pallette, Bobbi Brown // Ice Queen necklace, Banana Republic // Nail Polish gift set, Topshop // Candle, Fox & Crow // Young House Love book // Glitter Clutch bag, Miss KG

Happy Shopping!

Love,
Rebecca
xo