Our Christmas Library

Christmas Library

For the first twelve days of December over on the Women’s Prize social channels we talked about our favourite books by women to give, receive and get lost in over the Christmas period. We had a theme for each day and we’ve collated our suggestions, and yours, below. Happy reading!

1st: Pure Magic

On the first of December our theme was pure magic, those books that conjure spectacular worlds and feelings into being. We selected The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2012 – and lots of you agreed!

@EmilyRhodesWriter on Instagram selected Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner which she describes as a ‘wonderful witchy classic’ and Susan on Facebook selected Cackle by Rachel Harrison. Ginny on Facebook picked Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher and Lisa chose The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse. So many good suggestions for books with pure magic.

2nd: Book to Gift

For us it had to be Ruth Ozeki’s Women’s Prize-winning novel The Book of Form and Emptiness, a book we’ve been happily gifting since June.

@Bookmarkonthewall on Instagram selected The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn describing it as ‘a hug in a book’. Whilst Susan on Facebook chose The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice commenting that is was ‘a lovely gift. It’s the perfect read on these long chilly nights.’

3rd: Reading Next

We’ve had our eye on the new book by Dolly Alderton Dear Dolly, collected wisdom from her Sunday Times column, for a while. Christmas seems like the perfect time to absorb some of Dolly’s wisdom!

@Thisisagoodreadingspot shared their next read with us on Instagram – Betty by Tiffany McDaniel, which is going on to our reading list. Amanda on Facebook said ‘just finished Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge and loved it, so eager to start the Lucy Barton trilogy’ which we can highly recommend!

4th: Festive Reread

Christmas in the March household makes Little Women by Louisa May Alcott a definitive festive reread, and with a new painted edition just published we couldn’t resist.

Janette on Facebook chose one of our other festive favourites Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie and @zoe_outandwild on Instagram selected Wintering by Katherine May commenting ‘This book changed my mindset as I approached the usually dreaded Winter. Now, I embrace the season with a fresh perspective and dare I say, look forward to it.’

5th: Finest First Line

‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ is every booklover’s favourite first line. That’s how Dodie Smith’s captivating novel I Capture the Castle begins and what better way to appreciate all the well-crafted lines in the book than with the full BBC Radio 4 cast dramatisation available on audiobook.

Laura on Facebook suggested ‘You are not going to believe me, nobody in their right minds could possibly believe me, but it’s true, really it is!’ from Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers. @aliceandthegiantbookshelf chose the immortal first line of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’ And @alicebee1234 chose Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons – ‘The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents was expensive, athletic and prolonged.’

6th: Under the Tree

We’re so looking forward to reading The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel and were thrilled that it was chosen as the Waterstones ‘Book of the Year’. Lots of readers agreed that this is the book they’re hoping to find under the tree.

@mama_k.v. on Instagram is wishing for Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes and Mo on Facebook will be looking for The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell – two books we can’t wait to read!

7th: Favourite Series

For this we were torn by a few brilliant book series – Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet, Elizabeth Strout’s Lucy Barton series… but in the end our choice was the Harold Fry trilogy by Rachel Joyce. There’s something very Christmassy about Harold.

@KatieSpencey on Twitter chose The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang tweeting ‘I’m not really a series person, I usually prefer a standalone book. BUT, I loved The Poppy War & have the sequel on my to be read pile! Just a perfect blend of historical fiction / fantasy.’ Whilst over on Facebook Jane chose Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series.

8th: Best Bookish Gift

Determined not to simply point you in the direction of our shop (it’s this way) we thought we’d have a look at some of the lovely special editions of readers favourite books that have come out this year. Drawn to the festive green and gold we selected The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

@tickled_ink_books on Instagram approved of our selection and added ‘I really want this edition- I’ve been dropping hints like crazy so I really hope it appears under the tree in time for Xmas’. @R_E_Baldrey on Twitter selected the hardback edition of Bitter by Francesca Jakobi saying it ‘is wonderful inside and out. It’s a beautifully written story with a compelling central character and I love the cover art.’

9th: Your Character BFF

There are some characters that stay with you and feel like good friends. For our character BFF we chose Isma from Kamila Shamsie’s prize-winning novel Home Fire.

@KatieSpencey on Twitter selected Circe from Circe by Madeline Miller, saying they would be great friends, ‘We would have the BEST time hiking in the woods, enjoying the silence of her island, turning rude men into swine, etc!’ @theroamingreader on Instagram suggested Jo March from Little Women would make an excellent writing buddy and Janette on Facebook picked Kinsey Malhone from Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, as a strong woman!

10th: Greatest Bookshop

For us, it was too difficult to choose just one… we love [book-ish], BookBar, Sevenoaks Bookshop, Red Lion Books, Chepstow Books & Gifts, Topping & Company Booksellers of Ely… the list goes on and on. So we’ve taken refuge in the fictional bookshop Pages & Co by Anna James. Where readers young and old can imagine what it must be like to step into the pages of a book.

On Twitter, Sui Annukka, our 2022 Discoveries winner, selected The Art of Tea, Didsbury Village Bookshop, Manchester and Second Hand Books and Tea. Red Lion Books asked if we could all live in the Pages & Co bookshop – no complaints here! Over on Facebook, Isla chose The Orcadian Bookshop in Kirkwall, Orkney and Cheryl chose The Homer Bookstore in Homer, Alaska!

11th: Amazing Audiobook

This was another category where we had real trouble narrowing it down. After extensive research we selected Managing Expectations, written and narrated by the wonderful Minnie Driver as our recommended listen.

On Twitter @Nicky_Mags picked Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jenny Boylan, whilst Debbie on Facebook had similar troubles to us, choosing three audiobooks – The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré, Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant.

12th: Party Scene You’d Love to Crash

We thought long and hard and decided that it had to be the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice. Plenty of opportunities to dress up, eat some good food and have a jolly knees up.

@lonesomereader on Twitter selected The Waves by Virginia Woolf – Bernard, Susan, Louis, Rhoda, Jinny and Neville’s trip to ‘Hampton Court… summer afternoons, boats, old ladies holding their skirts up, one urn in winter, some daffodils in March.’ Over on Instagram @amakaoc had the great idea of one of the parties in The Great Gatsby, and on Facebook Abbie picked the literary themed party at the start of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

So many fantastic book recommendations for our Christmas Library, we can’t wait to read them all. If you’re looking for something to read, why not randomly choose a number and pick one of the books listed as a surprise book to read next!

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