Best Books for Christmas

Image above: Jessica Bloom, Bookcase London

Books are usually a good bet for ideas for Christmas presents. Jessica Bloom at Chiswick’s independent bookshop Bookcase London has some suggestions.

Bookcase has been in Chiswick High Rd for 28 years and specialises on good books at discount prices. More recently they have expanded their range to include all the latest books, which they have available at retail price. They are also members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering Club Card holders 10% off all their stock, whether it is already discounted or not.

Recommendations from Chiswick’s independent bookshop Bookcase London

Guest blog by Jessica Bloom

Children’s Discount Books Recommendations

The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton with illustrations by Angela Barrett (RRP: £29.99 Our Price: £14.99)
A stunning deluxe edition of Jessie Burton’s dazzling feminist fairytale. Illustrated by Angela Barrett, this extra-special edition includes an exclusive print and gorgeous sprayed edges, all enclosed in a beautiful slipcase. An essential gift, this inspirational story is a modern classic to be handed down for generations.

Stories for Every Season by Enid Blyton with illustrations by Becky Cameron (RRP: £19.99 Our Price £9.99)
A beautiful treasury of stories for every season from one of the world’s best-loved storytellers. With gorgeous full-colour illustrations throughout, this collection will delight at any time of the year and makes the perfect gift. Step into a world of magic and nature, where elfin tailors make clothes from autumn leaves and a spring lamb remembers a kind little girl.

Divided into four sections to reflect the seasons, this treasury contains 28 timeless stories from Enid Blyton’s archives – plus a bonus extra story for Christmas. Some of these wonderful tales are collected in book form for the very first time. It is gorgeously illustrated by Becky Cameron, acclaimed illustrator of Treasury of Bedtime Stories by Enid Blyton and of Paddington and the Christmas Wish.

The Complete Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling with illustrations by Stuart Tresilian (RRP: £35 Our Price £19.99)
A beautiful luxury gift book to cherish for years to come, The Complete Jungle Book is the ultimate edition for Jungle Book fans. With a foreword by award-winning writer and superfan Katherine Rundell, this book contains Rudyard Kipling’s best loved classic animal stories: The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book, the bonus story The Cat That Walked by Himself and Kipling’s most famous poem, If.

Step into Kipling’s wonderful jungle and join Mowgli, Bagheera, and Baloo on their adventures in this one-of-a-kind book, featuring stunning illustrations and colour plates by Stuart Tresilian. A luxuriously designed and foiled die-cut cover, head and tail bands, green foiled edges and a ribbon marker, this truly is a gift edition to treasure.

First Fairy Tales by Margaret Mayo with illustrations by Helen Stephens (RRP: £14.99 Our Price: £6.99)
Bursting with magic and mischief, adventures abound with this new collection of classic fairytales authored by bestselling author Margaret Mayo. Join favourite characters as they scale beanstalks, ride in carriages made of pumpkins, and eat poisoned apples …

Much-loved classics that feature in the collection include Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rumplestiltskin, These timeless tales are vivaciously retold by Margaret Mayo, who perfectly captures their enchantment. The highly illustrated edition features artwork by Helen Stephens, whose colourful sketches deliver the stories to their dramatic full potential.

Wonders of the World’s Museums by Molly Oldfield with illustrations by Harriet Taylor Seed and Peter Malone (RRP: £14.99 Our Price: £6.99)
Open up this treasure trove of wonders to visit 43 museums and 50 exhibits. Discover the most fascinating and mysterious objects found in museums, from star attractions to unsung exhibits. With Molly Oldfield, research elf of hit television show QI, unearth the astonishing stories of how these treasures were created, found and finally displayed.

Travel back in time to discover an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, encounter China’s mysterious Terracotta Army, sail the seas in a Viking ship, take flight in the world’s first aeroplane, defend World War Two Britain in Churchill’s siren suit, journey to the Moon with Neil Armstrong in the Apollo 11 Command Module and even play in a World Cup Final wearing Pele’s victory shirt.

Through stunning photography and glorious illustration, these wonders and many more will bring history, science and culture to life for readers aged 10+, as well as the whole family!

Children’s Full Price Books Recommendations

The Nutcracker: Wind and Play by Lily McArdle and Twas the Night Before Christmas: Wind and Play by Clement Moore (£20)
Bring the magic of music into your home with this interactive book, which features a wind-up mechanism that sounds just like a musical jewellery box. Wind and play the nostalgic carol Deck the Halls as you settle down to share Clement C. Moore’s classic story ‘Twas Night Before Christmas and play the Waltz of the Flowers as you share the enduring joy of this classic ballet story. The holidays never sounded so magical.

Planetarium by Raman Prinja with illustrations by Chris Wormell (£25)
Welcome to the museum that is always open to explore… Step inside the pages of this beautiful book to discover galleries of galactic matter, expertly curated to bring you the experience of a fascinating exhibition from the comfort of your own home. Planetarium features all aspects of space, from the Sun and our Solar System, to the lives of stars, the Milky Way and the Universe beyond.

With stunning artwork from Chris Wormell and informative text by Professor Raman Prinja, Planetarium is the perfect gift for anyone with an interest in this fascinating field.

Fairy Tale Land: 12 classic tales reimagined by Kate Davies with illustrations by Lucille Clerc (£20)
Fairy Tale Land opens the gates to the magical land where all the fairy tale characters live. Get lost in this visually stunning, oversized gift book that features all the well-loved stories, and immerse yourself in their enchanting world!

The tales are expertly retold, perfect for bedtime, and each story is followed with an exquisitely illustrated, detailed map of its neighbourhood. You can drop into Hansel and Gretel’s cottage, explore the palace from Beauty and the Beast, and dive deep under the sea with the Little Mermaid.

What wonderful things can you find in your favourites’ homes? Beautiful, stylish and vibrant illustrations adorn each page, as the magical text transports readers to faraway lands of mystery, fantasy and magic. Stunning full-page artworks and the detailed maps of the lands in which these stories take place mean this title will be lovingly pored over time and time again.

The History of the World in 100 Animals by Simon Barnes with illustrations by Frann Preston-Gannon (£20)
An exquisite edition of The History of the World in 100 Animals by author and journalist Simon Barnes, adapted and abridged for younger readers, with superb illustrations by award-winning artist, Frann Preston-Gannon, illustrator of I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree.

This outstanding gift book proposes the 100 animals who have had the greatest impact on humans and the way we view the world around us. From the bees who pollinate our food to the chimpanzees who share over 98% of our DNA, this book explores the unique and thought-provoking relationship between humans and animals throughout history. This fact-filled guide is sure to inspire and delight animal lovers young and old, and will make the perfect gift this Christmas.

Little People, Big Dream Treasuries: 50 Stories of Brilliant Dreamers by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (£28)
Dive deeper into the world of Little People, BIG DREAMS with this keepsake treasury featuring 50 dreamers from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling series. Learn more about each of your favourite dreamers with new in-depth stories, facts and figures. Each story is rewritten to be appropriate for an older audience.

Revisit best-loved figures from the series and some new ones, too, including Frida Kahlo, Coco Chanel, Maya Angelou, Amelia Earhart, David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, Elton John, John Lennon, Malala Yousafzai, Mindy Kaling, and Prince.

From inspiring artists and passionate climate activists to intrepid explorers and ground-breaking musicians, this collection goes further than the original series into the lives of these iconic figures, perfect for curious minds who always want to know more! Each of the beautifully written biographies is accompanied by a timeline, featuring extra information, important dates and real photos. This keepsake treasury makes the perfect gift for holidays, birthdays, and more.

Adult Discount Books Recommendations

River Kings by Cat Jarman (RRP: £25 Our Price: £9.99)
Follow bioarchaeologist Cat Jarman – and the cutting-edge forensic techniques central to her research – as she uncovers epic stories of the Viking age and follows a small ‘Carnelian’ bead found in a Viking grave in Derbyshire to its origins thousands of miles to the east in Gujarat. By examining teeth that are now over one thousand years old, she can determine childhood diet, and thereby where a person was likely born.

With radiocarbon dating, she can ascertain a death date down to the range of a few years. And her research offers new visions of the likely roles of women and children in Viking culture.Told as a riveting story of the Vikings and the methods we use to understand them, this is a major reassessment of the fierce, often-mythologised voyagers of the north, and of the global medieval world as we know it.

Bob Dylan: No Direction Home by Robert Shelton (RRP: £30 Our Price: £14.99)
Robert Shelton met Bob Dylan when the young singer arrived in New York in 1961. He became Dylan’s friend, champion, and critic. His book, first published in 1986, was hailed as the definitive biography of this moody, passionate genius.

Shelton tells the intimate and first-hand story of Bob Dylan’s formative years in Greenwich Village NYC, and it is the only biography that has been written with his active cooperation. Following his Nobel Prize for Literature Award in 2016, Dylan’s standing is higher than at any time since the 1960s and Shelton’s book is now seen as a classic.

This new illustrated edition, published in the year of Dylan’s 80th birthday, includes key images of Dylan throughout his incredible, enduring career, making it a must for all Dylan fans.

Asian Green by Ching-He Huang (RRP: £20.00 Our Price: £9.99)
Asia has always had an abundance of delicious recipes that are traditionally meat and dairy free. Here, Ching-He Huang MBE draws inspiration from across the continent to create simple, healthy home cooking that everyone can enjoy. From Nourishing Soups to Fast & Furious and Warm & Comforting, each chapter features fresh and vibrant vegan dishes that are both nutritious and packed with flavour, including Wok-fried Orange-Soy Sticky Sprouts & Wild Rice Salad, Peking Mushroom Pancakes, Smoked Tofu & Broccoli Korean-style Ram-don, and Chinese Black Bean Seitan Tacos.

Orchids by Bo Mossberg and Henry Aerenlund Pedersen (RRP: £30 Our Price: £14.99)
A beautiful, richly illustrated book on Europe’s wild orchids – perhaps the most enigmatic and popular group in the botanical world. The orchid family (Orchidaceae), numbering some 25,000 species, is one of the world’s two largest families of flowering plants.

Whilst the vast majority of orchids are found in the wet tropics, Europe accommodates c.130 native orchid species which are equally arranged in dense inflorescences of great beauty. Beautiful watercolour artwork accompanies the text, making this an indispensable gift for anyone interested in the natural world. Not only is it a useful field guide, it is also a beautiful art book.

Vogue: The Gown by Jo Ellison (RRP: £30 Our Price: £14.99)
Illustrated with fabulous images from Vogue‘s archive, Vogue: The Gown is the ultimate book for fashion lovers. In Vogue: The Gown, Jo Ellison has gathered more than 300 images and grouped them into five thematic chapters: Classical, Fantasy, Drama, Decorative and Modern.

The book provides an evocative celebration of almost a century of fashion history, showcasing the work of photographers including Tim Walker, Nick Knight, David Bailey, Herb Ritts, Norman Parkinson, Corinne Day, Cecil Beaton and Horst.

Something about a gown’s intrinsic construction, unashamed opulence and sheer feminine romance ignites in us the promise of fairy-tale adventure and unparalleled glamour. The magical gowns featured here give full reign to those fantasies, be they the sublime yet simple classical creations of Madame Gres, the heavenly bodies sculpted by Azzedine Alaia, the lean, seductive lines of a Deco-inspired silhouette or huge tulle poufs fit for a princess.

Now available in a new format with a luxurious real cloth cover, at a more pocket-friendly price of GBP30, this is essential reading for fashionistas everywhere.

World Atlas of Beer by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont (RRP: £30 Our Price: £12.99)
As craft brewing continues to go from strength to strength across the world, World Atlas of Beer is the definitive and essential guide to beer. Understand the rich, multi-faceted traditions of Belgium, the Nordic legend that is Finnish Sahti, the relatively new phenomenon of the New England hazy IPA, and why Australia’s lower-strength beers are one of its great successes.

With thousands of breweries now operating around the globe, and more opening every day, this is the expert guide to what is really worth drinking. Country by country the book considers a vast range of brewing techniques, beer styles and traditions. Detailed maps describe crucial trends in major territories and features such as matching beer with food and how to pour different kinds of beer complete the picture.

Now in a fully updated third edition, this book is the perfect companion to help you explore the best beers the world has to offer.

Peanuts: The Poster Book by Charles M. Schulz (RRP: £14.99 Our Price: £6.99)
Celebrate the classic art of Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts with this unique collection of twenty images, beautifully printed and ready to remove for framing. Whoever your favourite character is, you’ll find them in here, along with classic moments that will make a distinctive addition to your home.

Adults Full Priced Books Recommendations

The Penguin Modern Classics Book by Henry Eliot (£30)
Struggling to find a gift for the person who has read everything?! This book may be exactly what you’re looking for! The essential guide to twentieth-century literature around the world.

For six decades the Penguin Modern Classics series has been an era-defining, ever-evolving series of books, encompassing works by modernist pioneers, avant-garde iconoclasts, radical visionaries and timeless storytellers. This reader’s companion showcases every title published in the series so far, with more than 1,800 books and 600 authors, from Achebe and Adonis to Zamyatin and Zweig.

It is the essential guide to twentieth-century literature around the world, and the companion volume to The Penguin Classics Book. Bursting with lively descriptions, surprising reading lists, key literary movements and over two thousand cover images, The Penguin Modern Classics Book is an invitation to dive in and explore the greatest literature of the last hundred years. We also have a limited number of signed editions!

Nature Writing for Every Day of the Year edited by Jane McMorland Hunter (£20)
Enjoy a whole year of the very finest nature writing, with one carefully selected piece to savour every day. This beautifully illustrated daily anthology brings you the very best of nature writing from around the world and through the centuries, from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History to modern authors such as Helen Macdonald and Robert Macfarlane.

Encompassing fact and fiction, essays and field guides, letters and diaries, it’s a rich banquet of prose, the perfect companion to help your mind escape into the world of nature every day.

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci (£20)
From award-winning actor and food obsessive Stanley Tucci comes an intimate and charming memoir of life in and out of the kitchen. For Stanley and foodie fans, this is the perfect, irresistible gift.

Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about growing up in Westchester, New York, preparing for and filming the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia, falling in love over dinner, and teaming up with his wife to create conversation-starting meals for their children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burnt dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last.

Written with Stanley’s signature wry humour and nostalgia, Taste is a heart-warming read that will be irresistible for anyone who knows the power of a home-cooked meal.

Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury (£14.99)
A guiding light in the darker months, Big Panda and Tiny Dragon is the beautifully illustrated and mindful journey of two friends through the seasons, inspired by Buddhist philosophy ‘Which is more important,’ asked Big Panda, ‘the journey or the destination? ”The company,’ said Tiny Dragon.

Explore your surroundings with the inquisitive eye of Tiny Dragon, our friend who is big in heart if not in stature. And on their journey through the ever-changing seasons, join these two friends as they learn how to live in the moment, be at peace with uncertainty, and find the strength to overcome life’s obstacles, together. Inspired by Buddhist philosophy and spirituality, the story of these whimsical characters makes the perfect gift for anyone looking for a little hope and comfort.

Peter Blake: Collage (£50)
Peter Blake (b. 1932) has remained constant and groundbreaking in his exploration of the medium of collage throughout his career spanning seven decades. Most recognised for his iconic 1967 cover for The Beatles’ Sgt.Pepper album.

From his early paintings depicting assembled fragments of popular imagery, to his found-object constructions and his most recent inkjet print collages, Blake has broadened the scope of what collage can be and communicate. Peter Blake Collage provides the first comprehensive survey of Peter Blake’s work in the medium.

It features a foreword by David Hockney, an essay by Patrick Elliott, Chief Curator of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, a recent interview with Peter Blake by Natalie Rudd, Senior Curator of the Arts Council Collection, over 250 colour reproductions and a newly compiled illustrated chronology.

The Beatles: Get Back (£40)
The book opens in January 1969, the beginning of The Beatles‘ last year as a band. The Beatles (The White Album) is at number one in the charts and the foursome gather in London for a new project. Over 21 days, first at Twickenham Film Studios and then at their own brand-new Apple Studios, with cameras and tape recorders documenting every day’s work and conversations, the band rehearse a huge number of songs, culminating in their final concert, which famously takes place on the rooftop of their own office building, bringing central London to a halt.

The Beatles: Get Back tells the story of those sessions through transcripts of the band’s candid conversations. Drawing on over 120 hours of sound recordings, leading music writer John Harris edits the richly captivating text to give us a fly-on-the-wall experience of being there in the studios. These sessions come vividly to life through hundreds of unpublished, extraordinary images by two photographers who had special access to their sessions-Ethan A.

Special Recommendation

And of course this article would not be complete without a special mention of our beautiful Chiltern Classics which would make absolutely wonderful gifts!

Jessica Bloom is part of the Bookcase London team.

Bookcase are part of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme and offer 10% off any book bought in store.

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See also: A resurgence in independent bookshops – Bookcase London

See also: Chiswick Christmas lights turned on by Sophie Ellis Bextor

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