Funnily enough, I wasn't a massive reader until I was around eight and then it was like a switch flipped in my head. Progressively, I began to read more and more. And when I hit my teens and decided I no longer liked being sociable or exercise, I spent my summers reading indoors - I still blame this period of my life for the fact that I no longer tan very well.
During college, my desire to read dipped and spiked at different times. Studying Arts is called "reading" for a degree and it involves plenty of just that. On days I had power-read tens of books, I had no desire to look at any more writing when I got home. During the long holidays, I devoured literature once more.
Christmas, however is a consistent reading-heavy time in my life. I love getting a pile of new books and reading after dinner while the rest of my family snooze in front of the fire. I love loosing myself to new stories. I love the smell of books. I love finding them places on my shelf.
It's kind of an epic love story, really.
And, though perhaps everyone doesn't have quite the same intense relationship with books, I do think they make rather good gifts. So, here are my ten picks for books this Christmas. There's a range of sorts - art books, fiction, fashion books, novelty books, cook books, music books and non-fiction, And the real beauty here is that these would suit as gifts for a wide variety of people.
Beginning at the top left-hand corner, this book is a collection of interconnected short stories by multi-award winning Japanese writer, Yoko Ogawa. I randomly picked it up in a shop knowing nothing of her or her work but, though we're told not to, sometimes you can judge a book by it's cover. It was scary and disturbing at times yet eerily beautiful and often quite touching. At times, ideas or descriptions made me so uncomfortable or affected me so much, I thought I'd put the book down and never finish it. But I kept being drawn back to it and utterly devoured it in hours in the end. It's also a good intro to her work and short stories are lovely to read on commutes or if you're too busy and tired to take on a giant tome.
Next along the top is a collection of John Keats' letters and poems to Fanny Brawne. I kind of hate movie covers but this collection is dedicated to his writing related specifically to and for Brawne (which is quite hard to find) and that's what I wanted. I'm crazy about Keats at the moment and I'm obsessed with their love story. This would be quite a good gift for a poetry lover, aspiring writer or a partner who is particularly romantic. Maybe I'm a complete loser but the idea of sharing poetry with a love is majorly dreamy.
The envelope-shaped book is an activity book where you write letters to your future self and this is the kind of present the sentimentalist in your life would love. Maybe buy it and add a letter of your own to their future self?
For the music-lover, David Byrne's How Music Works. I've been meaning to get my hands on this for a while and only hear great things about it. Maybe a future present to myself? Plus, I'mma want anything that man is attached to.
Wild Irish Women is another book I'm sticking on this list purely because I want it but it's also another multi-tasking gift - it'd suit for history buffs, feminists and Irish-things enthusiasts.
On the bottom row, we begin with Men In This Town. I follow the tumblr blog this comes from and it's great. These sorts of books are great coffee-table books and the fact that it's menswear means it might interest fashion loving women in your life or your friend trying to grow up his style or your dad who's decided to try new things.
Cake is another of my great loves and who wouldn't appreciate the The Cake Cafe Bake Book? The recipes are made super-easy to follow, it looks gorgeous (like a piece of art in its own right), it's from an Irish brand and it allows you to enjoy The Cake Cafe's cakes no matter where in the world you are.
Know a massive Buffy fan who has yet to discover Season 8? Yes, there are new seasons of BtVS but not on tv. The show has been continued for several years now in comic-book form. As graphic novels can be pricey, this is better value than buying smaller bundles of issues and is a great way to get someone's teeth (heh) into the continuation of the Scooby Gang's adventures.
I wanted to have an art book in here and what could be better than one tied to an ongoing exhibition? Especially a really interesting one. Lines of Vision at the National Gallery of Ireland is a collaboration between Irish writers and the gallery wherein the writers have each chosen a work to respond to. The book gathers together reproductions of the works alongside the words. An idea might be to buy an art and literature-lover the book and arrange to bring it along to the gallery for the full experience. The combination of gift and outing makes for a really thoughtful present.
Lastly, we have a book I'm getting (and can't wait to read!) from my siblings. Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell's The Sleeper and The Spindle combines two great minds to produce something wonderfully beautiful. Great for Gaiman or art fans alike.
So, what do you make of my selections? Would you be happy to receive them as gifts?