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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.
Our March 2021 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. This is such a welcoming and warming read with community spirit, traditional craft, and the environment at its heart. Author Robert J Somerville was commissioned to build an elm barn by hand in Hertfordshire. Over the course of a year volunteers gathered together to help build the barn, and this is the story. There are so many positive elements to this read. A community of volunteers come together to: “teach, practice and celebrate skilled rural craftsmanship”. And while Dutch elm disease has decimated our Elm population, there is hope for the trees survival. As Robert Somerville says: “Elm is a species that suffered a major pandemic, but its incredible determination to survive prevails. Elm is proving itself to be a tree with an enduring life force, and, to my mind, is an appropriate icon for getting closer to nature, the resurgence in making things by hand and for bringing old skills back to life”. The book contains a myriad of interesting illustrations and photos as well as the story from concept to raising of the barn. At a time when community really matters, when our environment needs love and nurturing, Barn Club echoes with all that is good. It is a wonderful read that lightened my spirits and made me smile.
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
This most certainly isn’t just a fright-fest, it is an intelligent, interesting foray into the world of assassinations. Featuring over 100 cases from Julius Caesar to President Kennedy, we explore the victims and assassins themselves as well as failed assassinations. Just as a word of warning, this book is also full of photos relating to their history (including in some cases the dead victims). The chapters highlight geographic areas, before near the end, there is the eye-opening section on investigative journalists. The move through time from individual assassins to political and religious terrorists, and state sponsored killings is examined. British politician and author Kenneth Baker states that: “All assassins believe that by killing their target they will change the world”. He has personally known eight people who were assassinated, including two who were personal friends, and says: “their deaths did not change history”. He: “wanted to explore whether the assassination of other public figures had resulted in a poisoned chalice for the assassin”. On Assassinations is a quality book, and while this may sound somewhat macabre, it would actually make an excellent gift for those interested in exploring these savage moments of history.
Shot-through with the author’s personal experiences as a coach, player and all-round football obsessive, Dominic Stevenson’s Get Your Head in the Game is a timely must-read for fans, players, coaches - the whole kit and caboodle of anyone involved with football. Sharing the experiences of internationally renowned players, figures from top clubs, trailblazers of the women’s game (and many more besides), and offering legions of insights into how sport and the mind could be reconnected, this might just make the beautiful game yet more beautiful - and transformative. Stevenson’s context will strike a powerful chord with fans: “Football is the universal leveller. It speaks in a way that no language does. It is poetry without the pontification, a novel without the concentration, and it changes the world in minutes.” What’s more, football’s “community spirit, the sense of comradeship and the provision of a social lifeline for those who may otherwise be alone are enormous, and they have great potential to be positively exploited for the greater good of society.” Despite these huge positives, mental health “is still an issue that doesn’t get the exposure it deserves, in spite of well-meaning link-ups between football clubs and mental health charities”, and the testimonies from players under pressure feeling they’ve failed even after playing for top clubs, and those blighted by injury and abuse, cut to the core. Then there’s the lack of support from clubs, and heart-breaking accounts of suicide attempts. The book also covers football’s efforts to become truly inclusive, acknowledging that while steps have been made, the game still has a long way to go before racism, homophobia, sexism and transphobia have been totally kicked out. Concluding with a range of tips for improving mental health in the context of football, and confident that “the glory days of football are still ahead of us”, this book is a game-changer.
Click to read our Q&A with Mark Adlington A book to fall totally and irretrievably in love with, Lion is full of the most gorgeous paintings, drawings, and sketches, and is absolutely stunning. The lion, an apex predator, is surely one of the most beautiful sights you can see. When I was 19 I found myself in Kenya, eyes wide, mouth open as I watched a lioness and three cubs at a water hole. It is something that is as clear to me now as it was then, so, when I saw this book was going to be published, I was first in the LoveReading queue. Here we journey together with Mark Adlington as he studies lions in East and Southern Africa. The foreword by the winner of the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa and Co-Founder and Director of Operations at the Big Life Foundation, Richard Bonham, is effusive in its praise of Mark Adlington. It comes with a warning, that lions do not make good neighbours, and “where humans and wildlife compete, wildlife will surely lose”. However all is not: “doom and gloom… in the Amboseli ecosystem, by 2003 there were only 25 lions left… today, things have changed and the population has clawed itself back to over 200”. Mark has painted the progeny of the lions this programme has saved, and they appear in this dazzlingly impressive book. Mark describes meeting Richard and his wife Tara as a miracle: “I found myself invited to stay ‘in the most beautiful part of Kenya’ by a total stranger on the strength of a little sketch of a lion cub posted on instagram”. Mark also allows us access to his sketchbook musings (oh, the tortoise!), and finishes by saying that a world without the lion is unimaginable. What then follows is page after page of the most beautiful artwork, and this is where my mouth dropped open. Each piece is so full of character and movement, so vibrantly alive, that it brought tears to my eyes. The art is allowed to shine, no page numbers or captions to distract, you can simply sink into the beauty of the lion. So, Lion is a book to take pride of place on your bookshelves, a book to return to and open with wonder, to sit with eyes wide and heart open, to adore. Undoubtedly one of my personal books of the year, Lion just had to join our LoveReading Star Books and is of course one of my Liz Picks of the Month.
This spellbinding little book contains a mix of 25 traditional and new Icelandic Folk Tales. Picture Iceland, and a mesmerising image is released, it’s the land of ice and snow, mountains, volcanoes, northern lights, tradition, sagas, and the perfect place for trolls, elves, and ghosts to reside. Hjorleifur Helgi Stefansson lives on the family farm, and grew up with his grandparents close by, saying: “They were born in the old time, in the old country, and they gave me, in my upbringing, a glimpse of another way of thinking and living. Their focus was on people and tradition”. He spends time in Scotland on the storytelling circuit and states that: “I proudly hold the title ‘Pet Viking’. These are tales that are told in the most simple yet vivid way, it was almost as though I could close my eyes and hear them being told. Folk tales often hold warnings, encourage integrity and morality, and of course contain delightfully scary supernatural elements. These tales have the traditional elements stitched into each page and are accompanied by illustrations by Sandstrom Fahlstrom. I’ve included Icelandic Folk Tales as one of my Liz Picks of the Month, it really would make a fabulous stocking filler for anyone who loves the art of storytelling.
Written by the world’s most famous and most investigated paranormalist, Learn to Dowse with Uri Geller provides an accessible overview of dowsing with a sense of practical play. In the words of the man himself, “every page is full of fun”. To set the context, Geller explains that “dowsing is a method of searching by intuition. Instead of relying on the five senses, a dowser uses the power of the mind”, and can be used to find objects and “unlock the submerged thoughts, knowledge and intuitions in your own mind”. He then elaborates on the main methods and tools for dowsing - crystal pendulums, metal divining rods, forked twigs, map dowsing - and concludes with a technique for dowsing without any instrument at all. When it comes to dowsing to find lost objects, the good news is, according to Geller, that “Everything that’s lost wants to be found.” I won’t reveal it here, but he provides a technique that promises to reunite people with pesky lost phones. Throughout, Geller peppers practical instruction with personal anecdotes from his career, such as when he located an offshore oil field for the Mexican national oil company. The history of dowsing is covered too, and celebrity practitioners, with Geller reporting that “Nobel-prize-winning scientists, world leaders and bestselling novelists have all been noted dowsers”, among them Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton and Stephen King. If you’re a Geller fan and fancy trying your hand at dowsing for fun, success, health and well-being, this is the book for you.
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.
The Private Eye Annual 2020 present the year's best cartoons, jokes, parodies and topical sketches from the UK's bestselling news and current affairs magazine. A perennial Christmas bestseller and the perfect gift for under GBP10.
Dedicated to “readers and writers everywhere” this is a stunning gift of a book for every devoted bibliophile. Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread is a beautiful, beautiful reminder of the power and the joy of books. Libris is used as an inscription on a bookplate to show the name of the book's owner. I’ve never had one, I’ve always wanted one. Life goals right there. Michiko Kakutani is perfectly placed to write this “magical brick-sized object”, as she wonderfully speaks of books. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic and the former chief book critic of The New York Times. And this really is a beautifully packaged, beautifully illustrated magical gift of a book. From her fascinating introduction talking of her love of books burgeoning from a young age, she comments on how books “give us the stories of men and women we will never meet in person, illuminate the discoveries made by great minds, and allow us access to the wisdom of earlier generations.” Don’t they just, and this book is a perfect celebration of that. I too am an avid reader. I always have been. I also was the one in my house who wanted to read all the books and who wore out her library card. As a lover of books, you can’t help but engage, dive in, eat her words up hungrily and pore over the accompanying illustrations of alternative book plates by the talented Dana Tanamachi. This book is an absolute gem. Michiko takes you on a literary journey via these “tiny time machines”. Oh how I adore her expressive way of talking about books. She lists more than 100 books across the decades and from a variety of genres – books that have shaped her life, complemented by illuminating essays about them. The themes include books about work and vocation, democracy and tyranny, the war on terror and housekeeping. Her selections range from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison to Abraham Lincoln and Dr Seuss right through to Educated by Tara Westover and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (all of whom I heartily agree with!) The introduction includes the words of Virginia Woolf who famously said: “the pleasure of reading is so great that the world would be a far different and far inferior place without it”. And boy, are we reminded of this. As Michiko comments, the list is “subjective and decidedly arbitrary” but it doesn’t feel that way. I wholeheartedly bought into her excitement, and her passion for reading. Whatever books mean to you, they connect us all and this is a timely reminder of that; a stunning anthology of over 100 gems we all should read and re-read. And next on my list is...best get back to that bookshop!
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 wonderful game for all the family, this really would make the most beautiful gift to celebrate the wonder of nature. Based on the best-selling book The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris this is a game for two to four players from the age of 8 and up. The Lost Words was one of our Books of the Year in 2017, and the more recent The Lost Spells is another LoveReading Star Book, these are books to celebrate and treasure. The card game has been created in conjunction with the authors, and is firmly embedded within the ideology found in the books. The cards are large (tarot size), feel luxurious to touch, and the pack contains the beautiful artwork of Jackie Morris (Nature Cards), spells of Robert Macfarlane (Spell Cards), and Special Cards which instruct an action, such as fishing for a Spell Card or sealing and protecting a completed pair. The aim of the game is to be the first player to place a matching Spell Card, on to all of your displayed Nature Cards. I would suggest you thoroughly read the instructions before starting, and perhaps form a few rules of your own, such as when you match a Spell and Nature Card, you read or chant or sing the spell! The game takes roughly 30 minutes, I was thoroughly beaten when playing for the first time. I would say there is a small amount of skill involved, but it is mostly down to the luck of the draw, which means all of the family can play together. The Lost Words Card Game would make the perfect stocking filler for Christmas, and comes with a celebratory thumbs up from me.
You are encouraged to view the Greek myths in a completely new way with this fascinating book that focuses rather wonderfully on the women from the tales. Natalie Haynes “redresses the imbalance… she puts the women of the Greek myths on equal footing with the menfolk”. She has chosen ten women and here we see how they were actually viewed in the ancient world. These are stories that include Hera, Athena, Artemis, Eurydice, and Penelope. As the author explains, of the eight tragedies written by Eurpides that survive today, seven were titled by women, only one included a man. Yet over the years the stories have altered, the women have been overshadowed, made into monsters, or they even brought about the downfall of men. “Which version of a story we choose to tell... reflect both the teller and the reader. They are not villains, victims, wives and monsters: they are people”. Pandora’s Jar really is the most interesting and readable book, it sits on the Liz Picks of the Month and comes as highly recommended by me.
This small yet perfectly formed book covers personal thoughts, poetry, and the relationship we develop with dogs when roaming, hiking, and running through our wild places, in particular hills and mountains. Helen Mort discusses photography, historical records, research, and shares her experience of her own four-legged friends. She also takes a fascinating look at the dogs bred to be our companions in hills and mountains such as Huskies and St Bernards. Even though this is non-fiction, there is a beauty to the writing, with moments that really made me stop and think. The author is a poet and as she wanders through her own thoughts, pondering, considering, and analysing, she lets us into her soul. Never Leave the Dog Behind would make a lovely little gift, if you adore dogs and nature, then this is the book for you.
A clever concept, delectably delivered - featuring a feast of recipes and tales to inspire readers around the table, around the year, Miranda York’s The Food Almanac will make a piquant present for gourmands and bibliophiles. With a bounty of stories, pieces of passion, stylish illustrations and reading lists accompanying the recipes, this is a book to relish over time rather than scoff down in one sitting, though the delicious results might make that quite a feat of restraint. Each chapter covers a month of the year and opens with a handy checklist of seasonal ingredients to look out for, with an in-depth focus on star ingredients - lemons that “bring flashes of brightness to the dull grey days of January”. Gooseberries that “perform their spritely dance” in July puddings. September’s “tiny, tangy, ancient” crab apples. The “smoky sweetness” of December chestnuts. It’s global in outlook too, with poets, novelists and acclaimed food writers and chefs from around the world sharing stories, memories and insights alongside coverage of food-focussed feasts deserving of a fanfare, among them New Orleans Carnival and Anzac Day in Australia. The roll-call of writers provides a rich range of voices and views too, with contributions from chefs Raymond Blanc and José Pizarro, chef, restaurateur and food writer Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi, writer and cook Zoe Adjonyoh, novelists Kit de Waal and Deborah Levy, and many more besides.
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.