The Six Not Picture Books I’m Gifting at Christmas

Not everyone gets a book from me for Christmas although most people do. Many of my friends are readers or writers and if they’re not, they’re the target of my book lover conversion program.

My book giving isn’t age based. Adults are very likely to receive a picture book if I think one will resonate. So this is not the adult list or the or the middle-grade or YA list, it’s the non-picture book list.

Just a Girl – Jackie French

This is one of my favourite books of the year – one for adults and kids alike. It ticks lots of boxes for me – history, ancient Judea, a feisty girl challenging norms, spirituality and a cracking good story. It has a Christmas connection as Mary of Nazareth (Christ’s mother) is an influential character although not a major character. And if that doesn’t make sense, it’s about how it’s cleverly done and I’m not ruining that for anyone. A purple cover earns bonus points from me.

Everything I Never Said – Samantha Wheeler

I couldn’t put this book down. A middle grade book, it’s only a two hour read for me, but I picked it up midnight and wasn’t intending to be still reading at 2 am. It left me shell-shocked. It’s that good at taking you into the life of a young girl with Rett Syndrome. There are so many lessons and messages here – and none of them preachy. All of them about positive things like hope, perseverance and acceptance. And that a happy ending is in the eye of the beholder. Those who have read the book may see that as a terrible pun. It’s not. It’s just exactly what I want to say. Beauty, like happiness, is the eye of the beholder. It’s all about how you look at the world.

Finch – Penny Matthews

This is a wonderfully written quiet book with a most exquisite twist in the tail. Another favourite I discovered through my Sunday Telegraph reviewing which takes me to books I might not have found or chosen otherwise. My own copy is a bit bedraggled now, having been loaned out many, many times. I bought a copy for the friend who loved it as much as me.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles – Hiro Arikawa

I live in a house where cats, Japan, and Japanese translations of books about cats are very popular. And it’s not the only house like that as I discovered on Twitter. Plus this was a very exciting first purchase in the northern suburbs of the Gong’s first real bookstore for as long as I’ve lived here (over three decades!). The new Collins bookstore is a winner in my eyes. The range is surprising –  bestsellers, classics, perennial favourites and a truly eclectic selection of “otherness” books. It’s not a huge shop (not small either) but it took me disproportionately forever to browse. So many books I want/intend to buy added to my Trello Books to Buy list.

Art Matters – Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell

I’m a Neil Gaiman fan so when I heard about this book and that it included his famous speech about libraries and how they foster creativity, daydreaming and reading, I was hooked. Neil Gaiman and library love. Who wouldn’t buy four copies of that for Christmas gifting and spreading the word?. The blurb describes it as “a creative call to arms” – that’s a call I’m always willing to answer.

The Shape of Ideas – Grant Snider

I met Grant Snider (@grantdraws) on Twitter, where he shares his wonderful comics about creative struggle, reading and all sorts of things close to my heart. This was long before there was a book. Although it was quickly obvious it was going to happen. That’s one of the things Twitter can do. Create books that don’t exist yet.  I gifted copies of this book last year, too. Almost a year ago from today, I created a personal bookshelf challenge from one of Grant’s comics.

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