Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Bookish Christmas List: Part 1

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more!"
Dr. Seuss

Okay, okay. I know Christmas isn't about the presents. And I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet. But we're staying with family in Tennessee, and it snowed this morning, and we're drawing names for presents, and I spent a long time today scanning bookstore shelves, so I'm starting my bookish list early.

The Little Prince Pop-Up
This is my second favorite story ever. It makes me cry every time by inducing a blissful melancholy about life and love and friendship and inevitability and hope. Good for kids or adults, but especially adults who've forgotten about once being kids. The artwork has been made interactive in this printing, plus it's still unabridged. The countless pop-up books I saw on the shelves today were mostly abridged and mostly awful. And very un-kid-friendly. Though perhaps that's the nature of the pop-up. (Picture below from

The Wind in the Willows Vintage Book Journal
First, because I love this story (3rd favorite ever) and second, because I really like repurposed books. I don't feel so bad about this one being mangled because I already own a copy of this edition. Plus it's readerly and writerly at the same time and still has some of the Shepard illustrations throughout. Who doesn't wanna journal alongside Shepard illustrations?! Not to mention buying it would mean supporting home crafters instead of, you know, Walmart.

Design your own classic bookcover
Though I love the various illustrated versions of Alice (especially those of Tenniel, as seen below, and Peter Newell), I'd also love to have a copy with a blank cover for my own interpretation of the ordered chaos within. My most enchanted reading experience as a child occurred when I stumbled across Through the Looking-Glass. My most disenchanted reading experience was coming back to the story as an adult and realizing I couldn't fully imagine it anymore. I wonder how I'd decorate its cover now. Perhaps I'd just leave it blank.

Christopher Robin Plaque
I partly like this because Christopher Robin is such a nice guy and partly because it makes me feel good every time I read it. Though it kinda looks like something to hang in a child's nursery, I'd proudly hand it alongside the other classic illustrations of Pooh in the hallway or beneath the Beatrix Potter landscape print in the office or maybe even above the pictures of Ratty and Mole in the living room. (Picture below from

Copy of the Book of Kells
I've been meaning to get a copy for a while now, and after watching The Secret of Kells recently (really beautifully done, lovely music, sweet spirit), I remembered how much I'd like to see the book in person. Until then, I'll take a facsimile (would love this copy, but I'm trying to make a reasonable list here). There are several reasons I'm fascinated by the book, the main one concerning how and why people go about representing a set of beliefs. There's something that appeals to me about taking a long time to very intricately express a feeling or thought artistically. The magnitude of it is silencing. For that reason, this is also appealing: Color Your Own Book of Kells.

Neverland Passport Notebook
Because I love to travel and Peter Pan is my favorite book ever. Behold this passage from Chapter 1: "She was a lovely lady, with a romantic mind and such a sweet mocking mouth. Her romantic mind was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the puzzling East, however many you discover there is always one more; and her sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get, though there it was, perfectly conspicuous in the right-hand corner. The way Mr. Darling won her was this: the many gentlemen who had been boys when she was a girl discovered simultaneously that they loved her, and they all ran to her house to propose to her except Mr. Darling, who took a cab and nipped in first, and so he got her. He got all of her, except the innermost box and the kiss. He never knew about the box, and in time he gave up trying for the kiss." Need I say more?

Set of Quentin Blake Mugs
I often wish I had a better memory for names of authors and illustrators. There are a very few who stick in my mind, and Blake is one of them, previously because of his collaborations with Roald Dahl and more recently for his work with David Walliams. My first memory of Dahl and Blake is from a library reading of James and the Giant Peach (one of the books I called a favorite as a child) in elementary school. The librarian read chapter after chapter as we sat on carpeted steps, enthralled (well, at least I was). No TV screen, no game console, no cellphone required to keep our attention--just the magical blend of written word and imagination. Beautiful. (Picture below from

I don't want a wand. I don't want an invisibility cloak. And I don't want polyjuice potion. I want a time-turner. And if I can't have a real one, I'll take a replica instead. Okay fine, I do want a wand, any kind of awesome cloak, and whatever potion you can whip up for me. But just think of the possibilities time holds...

Shakespeare Sonnet Locket
I didn't become a huge Shakespeare fan till a few years back when I discovered Hamlet in all its dense and witty glory. I get what all the hype is about now. I spent my few seconds on top of St Paul's imagining the original Globe full of stinky people listening to the words of those tragic (or comic) characters and understanding them much better than I ever will--which seems a bit of a contrast to this dainty, silvery locket, but who cares. I think it's pretty and the sonnet quote is lovely. (Picture below from

A Bookish Christmas List: Part 2 coming soon...