Christmas is coming, so in the spirit of... getting into the spirit of things, I thought I'd do a little round-up of some book-related Christmas gifts I'm either coveting myself or thinking of buying for others.
I've read a few great reviews of this recently: That Glimpse of Truth: The 100 Finest Short Stories Ever Written. As the title suggests, it's a volume of 100 short stories from around the world, ranging 'from the essential to the unexpected, the traditional to the surreal', from classics to modern writers. There'll doubtless be some stories here that any potential recipient will already have read, but so many more to discover, which makes it a good gift for anyone who loves books but has already read most of the novels you might otherwise buy them. The hardback is currently under £14 on Amazon, which seems reasonable since it'll probably take several months to read the whole thing.
For lovers of huge short story collections, the same publisher (Head of Zeus) also offers The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives of Women, a compilation of 100 stories from women writers.
Speaking of short stories, I recently stumbled across Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales in a bookshop and fell in love with it. Carter's The Bloody Chamber, a reinterpretation of several traditional tales, is one of my favourite books, and this extensive compilation - of which she is editor - collects hundreds of original (mostly meaning dark, bloody and bawdy) tales from all over the world. The hardback is a beautiful object, complete with an embossed cover and woodcut illustrations, and this is the kind of book I'd rather own a physical copy of so I can dip in and out of it whenever.
I also have my eye on Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. Carroll is a comic artist, and this - a set of five gothic tales - is her graphic novel debut. Frequently compared to the tales of the Brothers Grimm, it's received huge amounts of praise from newspapers, magazines, other authors etc., and looks like it would make a great gift for anyone who loves dark, twisted folk stories.
A failsafe gift idea for any book lover: buy them a really beautiful edition of their favourite classic. Waterstones generally has a great selection of gift books - I've been coveting the Penguin Clothbound Classics edition of Tess of the D'Urbervilles for years, and there are loads of other titles available. The Barnes & Noble Leatherbound editions are also beautiful.
I was going to mention this in my ghost stories post, but forgot/didn't have room... The BBC/BFI's excellent Ghost Stories for Christmas DVD boxset is really cheap at the moment - just under £20 at the time of writing; it's previously been about twice that. It's a six-disc collection containing 23 filmed ghost stories in total (lots of adaptations of M.R. James stories), plus lots of extras and a detailed booklet. If you want a ghost-stories-on-DVD starter pack, this and Crooked House are all you really need.
My Black Friday present to myself was the Kindle Fire HDX tablet, which was reduced to £99; it's now gone back up by £50, but the Fire HD 7 tablet is now £99 (for the 8Gb version). If you want to get someone an ordinary, just-for-reading-books Kindle, they're only £49 now, and you can sometimes get refurbished Kindles at even cheaper prices.
As usual at this time of year, there are also some discounted Kindle books on offer, so it's a good time to stock up on winter reads. The current offers (Kindle Holiday Deals) include The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton at £1.79; The Magicians by Lev Grossman at £1.99; Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill at £2.49; and Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss at £2.49, and plenty of Christmas-themed books too.
For the woman who already has every book you could possibly think of, why not fork out £1k for a bag? The Olympia Le-Tan book clutches pictured above start at £1,035. They're very nice to look at, though. They're basically just on this list so I had an excuse to include a picture of them.