The 2016 Bookish Winter Gift Guide

4:31 pm

* I was fortunate to receive some of these titles for review from their respective publishers, but my opinions are honest and, well, my opinions! *

Gorgeous Fiction

Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology - ed. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (PM Press, 2015) - An anthology of feminist speculative fiction, as it says in the title. I got this for Christmas last year and it's such a wonderful collection. Perfect for feminists wanting to get into science fiction, or just science fiction fans.

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - art by Yayoi Kusama (Penguin Classics, 2012) - A beautiful edition to someone's favourite classic is a wonderful gift idea. This edition of Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland is illustrated with lots of polka-dots and colourful imagery. 

The Sculptor - Scott McCloud (Self Made Hero, 2015) - One of my favourite graphic novels, illustrated solely with whites and blues. The story is wonderful and the physical book itself is a wonderful thing to behold. A good gift for someone looking for a less-mainstream graphic novel to discover.

The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft - ed. Leslie S. Klinger (Liveright, 2014) - For horror/weird fiction fans everywhere. This book is enormous and full of research material on the work of Lovecraft. This is probably one of the books I'm proudest to have in my collection. It's stunning.

Creative Inspiration

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative - Austin Kleon (Workman Publishing, 2012) - The perfect little kick in the butt for those creatives out there feeling stuck in a rut.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - Elizabeth Gilbert (Bloomsbury, 2015)
You can read my full review of Big Magic here, but this is an interesting delve into the idea of 'ideas' and how to work creatively without anxiety.

Comforting Non-Fiction

The Book of Tea - Kakuzo Okakura (Penguin Little Black Classics, 2016) - A relaxing little volume on tea and the tea ceremony. These Penguin Little Black Classics are just made to be stocking fillers.

The Secret Lore of London* - ed. John Matthews and Caroline Wise (Coronet, 2016) - Hidden secrets about London. Perfect for the inquisitive Londoner in your life, or someone who is just really into history and is always spouting facts when you're out with them.

Beautiful Poetry Collections

The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse* - ed. Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright
You can read a little more about this collection and The Emma Press here. A short collection of somewhat-saucy love poems from some lesser-known poets. Basically all collections from The Emma Press would be the perfect present.

Ariel - Sylvia Plath (Faber, 2010) - A similar idea to the illustrated Alice's Adventures in Wonderland above. A beautiful edition of someone's favourite poetry.

Hands-On Activities

Draw Every Day Draw Every Way* - Jennifer Orkin Lewis (Abrams, 2016) - Every month allows you to branch out with a new art material as you work your way though this daily drawing quest. From experience I can tell you this is very, very fun. I would recommend this as a gift along with some new art supplies and this requires a lot! I now have a lovely collection of Japanese brush pens.

Vertical Worlds Coloring Book* - Abi Daker (Abrams, 2016) - Is the world ever going to get bored of adult colouring? This book is full of incredibly intricate art, for the person in your life who has the focus to colour tiny windows and doors, and loves architecture. 


Redshirt's Little Book of Doom - Robb Pearlman (Michael O'Mara, 2016) - For that one Star Trek fan you know. A wonderful stocking filler.

The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies - Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin (Canongate, 2013) - Need some life help? Got an ache that isn't going away? The Novel Cure will recommend a book or five to heal you of your woes. This is so much fun to flick through and get ideas from. A very chunky volume!

M x


Recent Poetry Favourites: Sappho, e.e. cummings, & Dante

10:58 am

It took me a long old while to get into poetry. There are a few poems I remember loving when I was studying them at school, but that kind of environment where you're picking things apart to try and glean meaning isn't conducive to falling in love with poetry. I remember getting endlessly bored trying to analyse Browning's 'Fra Lippo Lippi', but loving 'My Last Duchess' and 'Porphyria's Lover'. I have a huge soft spot for Shelley's 'Ozymandias', Ginsberg's 'Howl', and anything by Plath, Pound, or Eliot thanks to my years at university. It had been a while since I had read any poetry for pleasure, and recently I've found myself in the perfect headspace for it, so here are three volumes I've been read/read over the past few months.

Inferno by Dante, translated by Robin Kirkpatrick (Penguin Classics) - Hopefully my final attempt to ever read this epic poem. I'm only up to Canto 5, but I'm reading the notes and annotating as I go so it's pretty slow progress. I'm really liking this translation however; it's pleasantly un-clunky and still feels very poetic. As a sucker for any kind of classical allusions, this is a wonderful read.

Come Close by Sappho, translated by Aaron Poochigan (Penguin Little Black Classics) - Go out and pick up a copy of one of Sappho's poetry collections. Although everything is only in fragments, this is some of the most beautiful poetry I've ever read. At several points when I reading I would actually just have to put the book down and stare into space for a while. Sappho knew what she was doing.

Selected Poems 1923-1958 by e. e. cummings (Faber) - This definitely isn't a poetry collection for the first-time reader. cummings liked to throw random punctuation into the middle of sentences and write really long parenthetical lines. Each poem requires several readthroughs but I think they're really rewarding. Some of the imagery he uses is completely bizarre, but works in a way I haven't ever read before.

M x