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Booky people love giving other booky people beautiful books! Looking for the perfect birthday gift? The right book for Mother’s day, or a stocking filler for Christmas? Look no further as we have a stunning selection for you.
Lucinda Gosling’s John Hassall: The Life and Art of the Poster King is an exquisite feast of vibrant visuals for anyone interested in art and design history. While exhaustive in its coverage and analysis of John Hassall, whose iconic posters and postcards are instantly - and widely - recognisable, its lively, accessible tone will also enthral interested laypeople. Born in 1868, John Hassall began his long, successful, influential career as an advertising artist after studying in Paris, where he was influenced by Czech design innovator, Alphonse Mucha. Hassall went on to found an art school and work across multiple disciplines, including pottery, toy-making, book illustration, fine art and commercial art, each of them bearing his distinctive bold style and wit. His impactful WWI and travel and transport posters are instantly recognisable, as are his striking ads for big brands like Colman’s Mustard and Nestlé. Many sketches, letters and diary excerpts are here published for the first time, and the standard of the reproductions do excellent justice to the striking quality of the art itself. Alongside learning about Hassall’s life, and enjoying the high-quality visuals, I was especially wowed by seeing some of his book illustrations for the first time, among them a stunning Art Nouveau Little Red Riding Hood, and his astonishing “Pantomime ABC”.
Written by Rebecca Bevan (Gardens Researcher for the National Trust, RHS Horticultural Adviser, and BBC Gardeners' World Researcher) in a spirit of wise accessibility, The National Trust School of Gardening strikes a brilliant balance between being a beautiful book to take inspiration from, and an unintimidating practical guide to designing and maintaining your own garden, with hundreds of colour photographs and clear step-by-step, how-to diagrams. Though the book showcases some of the grandest National Trust estates, among them Sissinghurst Castle and Packward House, the advice shared can be applied to more modest private gardens. Indeed, Bevan also refers to some of the Trust’s smaller cottage gardens as she unearths guidance on everything from borders, roses, lawns and meadows, to shrubs and trees, topiary and hedges, fruit and veg. The breadth of tips is impressively exhaustive, including, for example, how to choose the best lawnmower and greenhouse to suit your needs, how to create low-maintenance small-scale displays, and an excellent chapter devoted to sustainable gardening practices. As its charming cover states, The National Trust School of Gardening is indeed a treasure chest of gardening advice and inspiration - a book to give as a gift to green-fingered friends (or yourself).
Perhaps best known for her seminal WWII photojournalism, or her earlier life as a surrealist model and muse, or her sublimely striking solarised portraits, Lee Miller was also an exceptional fashion photographer, whose work illuminated the pages of British Vogue (Brogue) from 1939 to 1944. Featuring over 130 images, plus an excellent contextualisation essay by Ami Bouhassane, Miller’s granddaughter and Co-Director of the Lee Miller Archives, Lee Miller: Fashion in Wartime Britain is a breathtakingly beautiful, informative book - clearly a must-have for Lee devotees, and also essential for those interested in forties fashion and style. Since many of the images featured here haven’t been seen since they were shot in the 1940s (they came to light while being archived in 2020), this truly is a treasure chest to delight in. Miller’s editor at Brogue wrote of her in 1941 that “she has borne the whole weight of our studio production through the most difficult period in Brogue’s history” and this book is a glorious record and celebration of Lee’s contribution to the publication, with an essay by Robin Muir, contributing editor to British Vogue, furnishing readers with detail on this. The range of subjects, settings and fashion is a joy to behold, and fashion historian Amber Butchart’s essay offers fascinating insights into the era. There are classic Lee portraits of women wearing tailored suits, striking angled poses in stark light. There are women positioned by rubble, or going about their day-to-day business. There are staged studio shots of women in elegant eveningwear. And there are women (and the occasional man) in utilitarian outfits - “fashion factories”. All of them, of course, bear Miller’s inimitable panache, her way of seeing the world and its people. Simply stunning.
In 1938, as Europe prepared for war. Roland Penrose and Lee Miller made a journey together through the Balkans. Penrose was a painter, author and curator, Miller, previously a model, had had succesful photographic studios in Paris and New York, and was a brilliant photographer. As they travelled Penrose created pictures and took notes. On their return Penrose produced a charming handmade photobook for Miller, a surrealist love poem, drawn from his own memories and records. A limited edition of the book was soon printed and Penrose embellished a small number with a series of Imaginative tipped in colour motifs. The first of which he personalised for Lee Miller.
In 1938, as Europe prepared for war. Roland Penrose and Lee Miller made a journey together through the Balkans. Penrose was a painter, author and curator, Miller, previously a model, had had succesful photographic studios in Paris and New York, and was a brilliant photographer. As they travelled Penrose created pictures and took notes. On their return Penrose produced a charming handmade photobook for Miller, a surrealist love poem, drawn from his own memories and records. A limited edition of the book was soon printed. The first of which he personalised for Lee Miller.
Featuring 75 images (fifty of them full page), and an engrossing extended essay by Ami Bouhassane, Miller’s granddaughter and Co-Director of the Lee Miller Archives, Grim Glory: Lee Miller’s Britain at War is the perfect primer to Lee Miller’s inimitable coverage of Blitz-time Britain. For context, a book called Grim Glory: Pictures of Britain Under Fire was published in 1941, the British edition of a book originally intended for an American audience. Miller was the largest contributor to this, and the only credited photographer. Skipping back a few years, 1939 saw Miller move from Egypt to Britain, with a summer sojourn in France to catch up with surrealist friends. She and Roland Penrose arrived in Britain on the very day war was declared. Being American, she wasn’t allowed to undertake paid work, or to do any official war work, so she offered her services as a volunteer to British Vogue (Brogue). Her outstanding fashion shoots are showcased in the highly recommended Lee Miller – Fashion in Wartime Britain, while this book features images of Britain and Britons during the Blitz – bombed-out buildings, eerily empty fashionable London streets, shattered statues captured at disarmingly jaunty angles, female fire service and textile factory workers, with some wartime fashion, and much more besides. With notes on fifty-two images providing fascinating detail, variously on the likes of their subjects, historical references and composition, and a compact size that lends itself marvellously to extended, detailed appreciation of each image, this will surely inspire readers to delve deeper into Miller’s life and work (perhaps pair this with Surrealist Lee Miller).
Written and selected by Antony Penrose, Miller’s son and co-founder of the Lee Miller Archives, Surrealist Lee Miller is a stunning presentation of 100 of her most remarkable surrealism-suffused images. Presented in an elegant compact format and contextualised by an engaging extended essay, this really is the perfect gift for dedicated devotees of surrealism, and for photography lovers more broadly - Miller’s unique eye and style never fails to provoke thought and arouse new ways of seeing the world. In an essay that gives an excellent overview of Miller’s life and work, Penrose observes that “she unknowingly had been a surrealist at home in America before the movement had a name. Right from the beginning she chose to live her life to her own standards.” After experiencing a number of tragedies in childhood and young womanhood, Miller went to Paris in 1925. “Baby - I’m HOME!” she rejoiced on arrival, and here immersed herself in student life, with a chance encounter after almost being run over leading to her modelling for Vogue. Through Vogue’s chief photographer Miller met Man Ray and become his model, muse and student. Together they invented the inimitable solarisation technique. In Paris Miller attracted many admirers besides Ray, among them the artists Max Ernst and Paul Éluard, and writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. Later Picasso became enamoured with her, too. Miller’s portraits of many of these individuals appear in this book - we see a smitten Picasso gazing at Lee in his Paris studio; Paul Delvaux and René Magritte captured, dynamically, in Belgium; the artist Dora Maar (Picasso's Weeping Woman) pictured in sharply defiant profile. One of my favourite Miller photos is here too - a playful perspective portrait of Max Ernst as a jolly, paternal giant with a tiny thigh-high Dorothea Tanning waggling her fist aloft that serves as a perfect representation of surrealist mischievousness. There are iconic self-portraits too, including Miller pictured in Hitler’s bathtub, along with some of her most affecting shots of war atrocities. See also Grim Glory: Lee Miller’s Britain at War - taken together, these two books present a fine overview of Miller’s extraordinary body of work.
From Homer to Shakespeare all aspects of the father and child relationship are captured in this beautiful collection of poems. A perfect gift for all fathers on their special day.
The Wainwrights Pocket Log and Tick List is a handsome little book, small enough to pop in your pocket and take up into the Lakeland fells. Conveniently grouped in accordance with the famous Wainwright Pictorial Guides, the pocket log has a dedicated page for each of the 214 Wainwright Fells to record details of your walks and keep a tally of your achievements. With a velvet-like cover and gilded pages it has a quality feel and would be a welcome addition to any walker's Christmas stocking.
This may be a small book in size, but it is mighty of heart and contains 226 pages of delight. I think it would make the most wonderful gift, if not for yourself, then perhaps for someone who would appreciate a smile or hug in book form. This wonderful little treasure contains a myriad of short stories, sitting in sections that range from kindness to poignancy, and from school life to meeting in lifts. There are also some decidedly witty amuse-bouche stories (in cartoon strip form with illustrations by Iain McIntosh) to be found between the pages. It is no secret that I adore Alexander McCall Smith’s writing. He has the ability in a few sentences, to make me stop and think, or splutter and chortle. Every word counts, and each joins to create the most wonderful journey as you travel the world and through time. You can either dip in and out, or binge read like I did as I snickered and smiled my way through the pages. Short and sharp, yet bountiful and considerate, Tiny Tales really is the most fabulous book. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
Best known for his No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith’s writing is nothing if not warm-hearted, charming and filled with the joys of friendship - themes and characteristics that are at the heart of this delightful poetry anthology. Being a book to treasure and return to through the year (and across years), this will make a wonderful gift for fans of his fiction - even those who don’t usually read poetry. With sections covering the likes of journeys, Scotland through the seasons, animals, love and longing, books and reading, and places - with contextualisation coming courtesy of the author’s personal anecdotes - many of the poems invite readers to slow down, to look, to see, to remember. To take-in “the simple facts of being”. Others take readers on evocative journeys - we stand beside the author as he observes Mumbai from his hotel room, and as he and a friend save an oak tree in Scotland. We sit beside him as his train pulls into Kings Cross, as he drives through Los Angeles, as he explores Kerala, South India, and rural Australia. And all of them inspire reflection, and an empathetic urge to take-in the world through the eyes of others.
A magical, thoughtful, and gloriously wonderful little book. Cat Women would make a perfect gift, either for yourself, or someone else (and it really doesn’t have to be restricted to women who love cats, this is an engaging read full stop). Described as “an exploration of feline friendships and lingering superstitions” Alice Maddicott introduces us to cats and their role with humans through history before presenting second-hand photos and examining the relationship between the women and cats in the pictures. It is fascinating to view the suspicion that women with cats, particularly lone women, have come under over the years, ‘crazy cat lady’ and ‘witch’ are two of the more obvious labels. Alice Maddicott looks at the second-hand (orphan) photos with an almost forensic yet beautifully whimsical eye. She spotted things that my first glance had completely missed, her thoughts take a breezy wander, yet she really sees the woman, and in particular, the cat in each picture. Opening up into the most readable and heartfelt book, Cat Women has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book as it is all rather intriguing and absolutely delightful.
Encompassing works from ancient sages, classic poets, well-known thinkers and emerging contemporary innovators from all walks of life, this involving, inclusive collection inspires, entertains, enthrals and emboldens. Alongside enjoying the work of widely-esteemed names (including Sappho, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Christina Rosetti, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Margaret Atwood), it was a pleasure to discover contemporary poets whose work I shall seek out, among them Ruth Awola and Remi Graves, and lesser-known names from the past, for example Edith Södergran and Astrid Hjertenaes Andersen. If the diversity of voices is rich, so too are the themes, with growing up, friendship, love, nature, body image and protest covered in staggering depth and diversity. This varied chorus of bold, incisive voices makes for a collection to be savoured and shared.
This new Wordsworth Collector’s Edition of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty will make a glorious gift for young horse-lovers. It’s a true thoroughbred that really does stand the test of time. First published in 1877, its themes of kindness, empathy and animal welfare were ahead of its day and still resonate today. Moreover, the tale tugs at the heartstrings as the plot gallops along at gripping pace. With its durable hardback format, striking cover and gold foil trimmings, this edition will certainly add beauty to any home or school bookshelf, and will be treasured for years to come. Beautiful Books - Wordsworth Collector's Editions - The latest series for people that love beautiful books.
A stimulating, fresh, and thoughtful read that ponders and wanders through some of the big questions in philosophy. When I initially picked this book up, I did wonder whether it was a quirky guide to training your dog, I very quickly realised that it is in fact an interesting introduction to philosophy (for humans). The author Anthony McGowan is an award winning writer for children and young adults, and has lectured widely on creative writing and philosophy (he has a BA, Mphil and PhD in philosophy). He has joined the two together to produce the most fabulous book for anyone who has questions about the way we humans think and act. The author and his dog Monty chat about philosophy on their daily walks. And so we join them as they take a humorous light stroll through some really pretty big subjects, including happiness and ethics. It made me consider and think about some of the things I take for granted, the discussion between the two helps stimulate thoughts. There is one part where I simultaneously wanted to berate and hug the pair, you’ll know what I mean when you get there! At the end there are suggestions for further reading, including on logic, and the meaning of life. If you’re at all curious about philosophy and want a fascinating introduction, then look no further than How To Teach Philosophy to Your Dog as it is a wonderfully inspiring read.
“All grown-ups were children once, although few of them remember it”. So writes author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in the dedication of this remarkable novella; a poignant line that epitomises The Little Prince’s cross-generational power and continued resonance. If you’re looking for a literary-gift-of-a-lifetime for any little and not-so-little ones in your life, look no further than this Wordsworth Collector’s Edition of an undisputed twentieth-century classic. Published in 1943, The Little Prince tells the unforgettable tale of a young boy with golden hair and a habit of repeating questions until they are answered. Known as the “little prince”, the boy recounts his life story while the narrator - a pilot, like the author - repairs his plane, racing against his eight-day supply of water. The little prince’s tales of other planets are enthralling and hauntingly allegorical. Once read, this is a story to return to through a lifetime, and here beautifully packaged as a hardback that will certainly survive multiple re-readings. Beautiful Books - Wordsworth Collector's Editions - The latest series for people that love beautiful books.
This seasonal compendium collects together poems, short stories, and prose extracts by some of the greatest poets and writers in the English language. Like Charles Dickens's ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, they are representative of times old and new--from John Donne's Elizabethan hymn over the baby Jesus to Benjamin Zephaniah's Talking Turkeys, from Thomas Tusser counting the cost of a Tudor feast to P. G. Wodehouse's wry story about Christmas on a diet. Enjoy a Christmas Day as described by Samuel Pepys, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, or Nancy Mitford. Venture out into the snow in the company of Jane Austen, Henry James, and Dickens's Mr. Pickwick. Entertain the children with the seasonal tales of Dylan Thomas, Kenneth Grahame, and Oscar Wilde.
Dream Believe Succeed is all about changing your mindset so that you can turn your dreams not just into a reality but also into a success. Camilla Sacre-Dallerup was part of the original Strictly Come Dancing line-up but changed direction in 2010 to become a life coach and hypnotherapist, after consulting a life coach herself. Dream Believe Succeed is her journey … partly memoir and partly an exploration of the lessons she learnt along the way. Her book follows the emotional rollercoaster of her own life – her relationships and her career – with all its highs and lows. It’s written in a friendly tone, weaving advice for readers seamlessly into her personal experiences, and offering practical suggestions on taking action and not giving up. She includes simple (highly enjoyable) exercises and thought processes to help readers work towards their own dreams and discover what success means to them. I really enjoyed reading Dream Believe Succeed. I always find memoir fascinating, learning more about other people’s lives and, in this case, realising that celebrity lives are not as perfect as they seem from the outside. But this book goes far beyond that. It made me pinpoint which of my own childhood, or long-term, dreams are still within my reach. And by the time I finished reading the book, I felt much more confident about taking steps to achieve them. Dream Believe Succeed convinced me that my dreams are worth following, however long it takes to get there and however much effort I need along that journey.
Stylish in form and content, this A-Z encyclopaedia of 200 classic cocktails serves up intriguing origin stories alongside inspiring recipes. Written and curated by London bar expert Cas Oh, whose impressive CV includes helming The Club at The Ivy, this gorgeously-produced book (think black-and-gold art deco elegance) represents the distillment of tens of thousands of cocktail recipes into 200 classics - nice work if you can get it! Chicly presented and organised A-Z, it covers everything from the Absinthe Frappé that originated in New Orleans in 1874, to the Espresso Martini of the 1980s, to the triple-rum Zombie of 1930s Hollywood. With the provenance and recipes of many cocktails keenly contested, this seeks to set the record straight, with beautiful reproductions of pages from recipe books of the past revealing the origins and evolution of each concoction. Alongside learning about well-known favourites like Margaritas, Mai Tais, Piña Coladas and Daiquiris, I loved discovering new bizarre brews, such as The Black Velvet, a blend of Guinness and champagne created to commemorate the death of Prince Albert in 1861. Designed to inspire and guide professional bartenders and home-mixers alike, CO-Specs will certainly add more than a dash of glamour to coffee tables. It’s a book to be dipped into, sipped and savoured, rather than downed in one. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
Looking for the perfect birthday gift? The right book for Mother’s day, or a stocking filler for christmas? Look no further as we have the perfect selection for you.