The Booksellers Association has released its Independent Bookshops’ Alternative Christmas Top 10, which it publishes for “shoppers looking for intelligent Christmas gifts and something a little different this year. The books on this list are just some of the gems that bookshops are so brilliant at finding and championing”. The most recommended title, by 200 bookshops across the country, was the completely un-celeby England’s 100 Best Views by Simon Jenkins (below), with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and Patrick Barkham’s Badgerlands in at two and three. Not a celebrity life story in sight – unless you count Penelope Lively’s lovely Ammonites & Leaping Fish, a memoir which addresses ageing, memory, and time.
Last month Between the Covers wrote about a new paperback edition of Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, which has on its cover a photograph of Idris Elba, who plays Mandela in the movie – presumably so that the young people know who it’s about. Now another formerly great statesman has been reduced to drawing on slightly low-rent associations in order to sell a book. George Walden (above), the George Walden, the former diplomat who became the Tory MP for Buckingham and the Minister of Higher Education in Margaret Thatcher’s government, has written his first crime novel, A State of Fear, published by Gibson Square. Walden has written under a pseudonym, Joseph Clyde, because, he has confessed: “I gave up politics in 1997 and I’ve written all sorts of non-fiction books on politics, diplomacy and the arts. Now I feel it would be nice to think a reviewer could say this book is utter rubbish without saying the author is a typical Tory bastard.” However, the press release received by Between the Covers not only unveils him as the “former Cabinet minister” but also flaunts the fact that he is Piers Morgan’s father-in-law.
Celebrate Christmas (and probably count your blessings) at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth. From now through December there are mince pies, mulled wine, readings by the Ilkley Players, and tales from the Brontës’ servant, Tabby. This weekend is Steam Punk Weekend (and we all know how much Charlotte Brontë loved her steampunk). Find out more at www.bronte.org.uk.