Christmas books

This Christmas I got far fewer books than usual due to not being able to travel around and visit bookshops where in normal years from the autumn onwards I would just ask Jack to put any book purchases away and wrap them up for Christmas for me.

More Christmas Books

Christmas Books

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of Completely Perfect by Felicity Cloake. She’s a cookery writer who features in The Guardian, I really like her as any recipes of hers that I’ve tried in the past have worked out well, and you can’t say that for all food writers. The blurb on the front says: ‘A gift for anyone who is learning to cook’. I’ve been cooking for over 45 years but I’m sure I can improve using these recipes which are all classics.

During a brief lifting of lockdown I visited a favourite rake-around upcyle shop near Perth, they’re always so much more interesting than ordinary shops as you just never know what might turn up. This time I bought three lovely wee Alison Uttley books to add to my own collection of children’s books. Squirrel Goes Skating, Moldy Warp the Mole and Little Grey Rabbit’s Party.

It’s lovely to think that they’ll be in use again at some point in the future. I hope my granddaughter will grow up liking books! They’re illustrated by Margaret Tempest and I think the endpapers are beautiful. These editions date from the early 1970s.

After reading my first book by the Scottish author Dorita Fairlie Bruce I decided I would have to resort to the internet to get some more. So I opted to begin the Dimsie series:

Dimsie Goes to School
Dimsie Moves Up
Dimsie Moves Up Again.

These books date from the 1930s. I’ve ony read one book by her before and that was from her Springdale series, set in Scotland, so I hope I enjoy these ones as much, although I believe the setting of the school is England. The very first page has endeared me already though:

The mail train from the north roared its way towards London down the long bleak incline of the Chap Fells, and Dimsie curled up in her corner seat, regarded the green rounded hills with a certain contempt; the Scottish mountains to which she belonged, were made of altogether sterner stuff, and already she was begining to feel a little bit lonely without them. Ben Lomond – the Cobbler and his Wife – they had all been as living friends to Dimsie through the ten short years of a life that had not known many human friends.

If you look at my header photo of Dumbarton, the town I grew up in, you can just make out Ben Lomond in the distance.

Did you get some lovely Christmas books this year?

10 thoughts on “Christmas books

  1. Katrina, your grand-daughter will be a book lover from the get-go, especially because of a grandmother like you, I am so certain of it. What treats the two of you have in store!
    Alas, no books for Christmas this year, because, like you, the total inability to visit bookstores. A total wash on that. Sigh.
    However, on a much brighter note, Ken gifted me with a huge gift card to Webs (, which is my absolute favorite supplier of my yarn and knitting stuff. So I’m happy, though I CAN’T WAIT to shop in a bookstore. Someday!!

    • Judith,
      Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before we can get into bookshops, if there are any left in business!
      Isobel should grow up with a love of books, I’ll certainly being doing my best anyway.
      That’s great that you can have a big splurge on yarn and stuff. How are you getting on with your aran/cable afghan?

  2. I love Alison Uttley’s A Traveler in Time so much that I can’t help being annoyed she spent so much time writing about Squirrel and the Grey Rabbit. However, your granddaughter will appreciate the picture books sooner.

    I should get out my Dimsie books and read along with you. As you have seen, I love school stories but that is one of the series I came to as an adult and I did not acquire them in the right order. I do think her name sounds unfortunately like Dimwit which is not what the author had in mind, I am sure.

    Although my New Year’s Resolution was to deal with the piles on the floor, I picked up a book at the library (which is so weird because the ones in Boston are only open for curbside pickup but the one in the city where I grew up lets one go in and browse for 30 minutes) called The Book Jumper which is set in Scotland but (also surprising) is translated from German. The author’s name is Mechthild Glaser.

    • Constance,
      I haven’t read A Traveller in Time, so that’s another one going on my list, it sounds right up my street.

      The only boarding school books I remember reading were the Enid Blyton ones and the Chalet School books, but I always wanted to go to a boarding school, it seemed such fun. I would never have sent my own kids though, I don’t know how any parents could stand doing that! I haven’t read any of the Dimsie books so don’t know how she got her nickname, I thought maybe she was small so it was short for diminutive. It isn’t as bad as Titty from Swallows and Amazons.

      That’s so strange about the book written by a German but set in Scotland. I know that Rosamund Pilcher’s books are very popular in Germany, so maybe the author was inspired by those.

  3. You got some lovely books there. I did not get any books for Christmas except for ones I bought myself in December. Our favorite independent book store has remained open, but we have not been there since early November, and at that time they were lowering the number of people allowed in, and encouraging them to spend less time in the store. That was when I got a copy of Little Women and Rebecca, so it was worth the visit but not the same as browsing.

    • tracybham,
      We’ve just been in one secondhand bookshop since last February (St Andrews) and that one is so small it was only one person allowed in at a time, or two from one household. We both got some books though. I first read Rebecca when I was about 12 and loved it and have read it a few times since and still love it, but I think some younger readers dislike it for feminist reasons that I don’t understand!

  4. I didn’t get any books for Xmas but the library sent me out a big bag full of books, personally delivered by the mobile library driver, and that was as good as a Xmas present! One was ‘Not my father’s son’ by Alan Cumming, and while I wouldn’t normally read celeb biographies, this was something else. Very well written and a real emotional rollercoaster, plus the suspense of family mysteries that didn’t unravel until the end of the book.
    I’m working my way through The Shetland Sailing Mysteries by Marsali Taylor and enjoying them so much that I’m trying not to read them too quickly. I’ve never been to Shetland but all the places in the book are real places and I’ve been following her journeys on google earth and getting to know it quite well!

    I watched Rumer Godden’s Black Narcissus on TV and I might re-read The Greengage Summer, which I remember reading in my teens.

    Happy New Year!

    • Sulewath,
      Getting all those books delievered would be like another Christmas Day! The libraries here are completely closed. I have a friend who really enjoyed the Alan Cumming book and I watched him being interviewed so I know the ending. It seems amazing he has survived to be so normal. I must look out for Marsali Taylor books, we’re still hoping to go to Shetland, just wondering if this year will be a write off too.
      I read Black Narcissus so long ago that I could hardly remember anything about it. I also read The Greengage Summer back in the year dot and bought a copy in Dutch as I’m supposed to be learning the language, I haven’t got very far though.
      I hope this year will be a good one for you and your family.

      • Our libraries are closed but we can order books or get the librarian to pick a selection for us and then arrange a pick up -we’re lucky to have such a good service.
        Good luck with your reading in Dutch, and I hope you manage to get to Shetland sometime.

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