If you are looking for a last minute Christmas gift, books are always a great idea. Unwrapping a book on Christmas morning and flipping through it during the day is a treasured tradition in our house. If I'm lucky there will be a few to open and that stack is a beguiling sight in the days to come. Which one will I read first? The quiet weeks after Christmas always allow for some good reading time. And settling in with a good book on a cold winter afternoon or night is one of the best things about this time of the year. Here are some books that have caught my eye recently. I hope this list will give you a few suggestions for last minute Christmas gifts. They are guaranteed to while away a cozy winter night in front of the fireplace.
The Bronte Cabinet by Deborah Lutz
The Bronte sisters are endlessly fascinating and now there is a new book to add to the vast scholarship on the topic. "The Bronte Cabinet" is an intimate portrait of the sisters' lives based on the objects they possessed. This is such a good idea. After visiting many of my favorite writer's houses, I feel that I know them better after seeing their possessions. Victorian scholar Deborah Lutz looks at the complex lives of the Brontes through the things they wore, stitched, wrote on, and inscribed. The first chapter is called "Tiny Books." For the passionate Bronte reader, this would be a wonderful addition to a collection.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
In "The Paris Wife" Paula McClain brought to life not only the tempestuous marriage of Ernest and Hadley Hemingway but also the heady days of Paris in the twenties. Now she is back with another historical novel, "Circling The Sun." It is about Beryl Markham, the record-breaking aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denis Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir "Out of Africa." I've already started this and love it.
The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
This historical novel is about the life of the nineteenth-century writer George Sand. She started out as Aurore Dupin but changed her name after leaving her husband and starting her career as a writer. She had a passionate love affair with Frederic Chopin and defied the conventions of the day. Her friends and lovers included Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, and Victor Hugo. Paris in the nineteenth century is vividly evoked in this book as it tells the story of the loves, passions, and fierce struggles of this fascinating woman.
1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro
It's hard to imagine how Shakespeare at the age of 42 wrote three iconic masterpieces in one year: "King Lear," "Macbeth," and "Antony and Cleopatra." That kind of creativity is awe-inspiring. James Shapiro takes a close look at the political and social turmoil of Britain in the year 1606 that contributed to the creation of these three incredible plays. I can't wait to read this one!
For many people, Nancy Mitford is the ultimate comic novelist. This collected set of her sparkling, astute and hilarious novels would be the perfect gift for a friend who loves British humor. Mitford pokes fun at British aristocrats and their eccentric ways and evokes a long ago vanished time. These books are lough-out-loud funny. What a treasure to have all the novels together in one collected set.
M Train by Patti Smith
After the success of "Just Kids," Patti Smith has written another book. She describes this one as "a road map to my life." She tells the story of the odyssey of her career through the prism of the cafes and haunts she has worked in around the world. This book is a non-linear meditation on topics that have been important to her over the years: books, art, travel, the artist's craft and artistic creation. For your friends who loved her first book, this would be a wonderful gift.
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford
This book is being called a modern day "House of Mirth." A first novel by Stephanie Clifford, it is about the young and wealthy in New York City. The story follows Evelyn Beegan, a middle class millennial from Maryland, whose great aspiration is to work her way into young Manhattan's elite society. It takes its title from the last line of Stephen Sondheim's song "The Ladies Who Lunch." From everything I've read, this book promises to be a funny and sharply observed story about old money in New York.
At Home in the Garden by Carolyne Roehm
This gorgeous coffee table book by Carolyne Roehm is about the gardens at her historic Connecticut home, Weatherstone. I have seen this one and it is impressive, in size and beauty! All of Roehm's books are filled with inspiration for home decor, entertaining and lifestyle. This would be a great gift for the garden lover in your life.
Garden Inspirations by Charlotte Moss
Another book about gardens, this one is by celebrated interior designer Charlotte Moss. She writes about the garden as her inspiration for interiors, entertaining and good living. The garden is her muse and this book shows the many ways it has influenced her life. Another beautiful book for your gardening friends.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Did you know that "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" turned 150 this year? On the occasion of this milestone birthday, Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Company has illustrated a beautiful new edition for Puffin Books. This charming book would be a treasure in anybody's library as well as a wonderful gift for the young person in your life.
A Book a Month from Persephone Books
The endpapers for the Persephone Books edition of "London War Notes" by Mollie Panter-Downes
Image via here
Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a great year of reading in 2016!