Saturday, 12 January 2013

2012 Book Catch Up: Books 102 - 103

Almost at the end of the book catch up posts now, just one more after this (and then I can start reviewing the books I've been reading this year)! Here's three more from 2012:

Book 102 of 2012: Christmas Penny Readings Original Sketches for the Season - George Manville Fenn
Yet another of my Christmas reading books that I got for free for my Kindle. This one was a collection of dozens of stories which are all set around the Christmas period. The stories are all obviously set back at the time that this was written, I'm not sure of the exact date, but I'm guessing some time around the Victorian period.

Considering that this was a pretty short book, it took me a fairly long time to read. Part of this was probably due to the fact that I was hanging with a really bad cold at the time when I started it and I just didn't have then energy to read a lot in bed on the morning or at night. Even taking that into account, it was a very slow read.

I can't honestly say that I thought much of this book. I didn't feel like I got very much from any of the stories. They all seemed to start well, but they would end in strange places and I found myself thinking 'was that it?' There weren't any that really stuck out to me, I can't really think of any memorable stories and even the ones that I can half remember sort of merged into each other.

There were some poems in the collection as well, though I only remember this because according to my review notes I liked the one about potatoes. There was a quote that I noted down from this too "Or who'd think nice / Soppy plain-boil'd rice, / Or parsnips or chestnuts toasted? / Earth has no fruit / As a substitute / For the 'tater plain-boil'd or roasted." I think it was mainly because it reminded me of Sam in The Lord of the Rings.

I don't think that I'd really recommend it to anyone. The stories weren't even that festive really and I'm glad that it was a free book. I'm just disappointed that it took me so long to read in the run up to Christmas when I could have been reading a more interesting and enjoyable festive book.

Book 103 of 2012: Letters from Father Christmas - J.R.R. Tolkien
This is a book that I reread every year in the run up to Christmas, I've got a lovely hardback copy of it which is absolutely beautiful, but also massive and so not at all practical for leaving the house with. For this reason I had to be really careful to choose the day I read it so that I didn't have to worry about taking it out of the house. Luckily my Secret Santa on HTV got me a paperback copy for Christmas so I won't have to worry about that in the future.

I really, really love this book. For me it's like A Christmas Carol in that I have to read it in the run up to Christmas. It's such a magical book and it reminds me of Christmas days as a child, the excitement of Christmas morning and discovering that Santa has been. I also received letters from Father Christmas for years, though mine came in cards, rather than with Tolkien's beautiful illustrations, but that helped to prove that this was obviously real for me.

I love that there are stories which are told through the stories and these continue from one year to the next. I wonder if in the run up to Christmas the Tolkien children brought out their old letters to remind themselves of what their special visitor had been up to since the last time he'd come.

It always makes me feel a little bit sad as I head towards the end of the book and gradually the letters are written to fewer and fewer children, until finally it's just Priscilla and then you know that those are going to end too. All the same, I like the middle when you can see that the belief is at its strongest and you can see that everyone is writing, with Father Christmas even making reference to the children's toys who have written to him. I vaguely remember doing something similar myself as a child and having my stuffed toys write to Santa.

The pictures are beautiful as well. They're so magic and beautiful. I love the work and effort that Tolkien put into them. The edition of the book I read has aspects of the picture incorporated into the text as well, which helps to make it look interesting. It's also fun to try and spot where the picture has come from in the actual picture. It's a book I can't wait to share with my own children in the future, and see what's happening with Father Christmas when he writes to them.

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