Books of the year 2014: The best stocking fillers

Warning: contains Peanuts

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The Independent Culture

Perfectly sized for Christmas stockings, and guaranteed to have you sniggering through lunch, the four books that make up the Peanuts Guide to Life would make a perfect gift for the book lover in your life and offer much more sensible advice than most of the “New Year, New You” dross that will be filling bookshops.

The Genius of Charlie Brown, The Wisdom of Woodstock, The Philosophy of Snoopy and Life Lessons from Lucy (Canongate) are £7.99 each and packed with wise words and charm. They don’t include my favourite Lucyism (“I bet Babe Ruth had cleats on her shoes”), unfortunately (sigh), but they do offer Charlie Brown’s guide to life: “Be kind, don’t smoke, be prompt, smile a lot, eat sensibly, avoid cavities and mark your ballot carefully …” and many comforting pearls from Snoopy and his alter ego, the First World War flying ace. “That’s life … you set your alarm for six o’clock, and the worm sets his for five-thirty,” he says, so sagely. “Learn from yesterday … live for today … look to tomorrow … rest this afternoon.” A perfect Christmas aphorism.

If you’re a fan of dinky books filled with wisdom and wit, then the Jane-a-Day Five-Year Journal, with 365 quotes from Jane Austen, is for you. It is available from some Waterstones bookshops (£14.99) and from janeaustengiftshop.co.uk, as is a set of 100 postcards (£18.98) with excerpts from Austen’s personal correspondence.

A list of the top Jane Austen quotations would be a fine and well-fought-over thing, but it does not appear in Listellany (Elliott & Thompson, £9.99), a compilation of the weekly lists written in this newspaper by my colleague John Rentoul. His top 10s do include “Douglas Adams quotations”, “examples of journalese” and “useful words for which there is no English equivalent”, such as “age-otori: to look worse after a haircut – Japanese”.

A list of the top 10 things that are generally not improved by technology would have to include books. However, Spineless Classics has found a way to embellish perfection with their beautiful book-on-a-page posters. This year they have added a colourful fairy tales collection, of which Jack and the Beanstalk and Snow White (£19.99 each) are my favourites.

Carry all of these home, and support your local bookshop, by buying a Books Are My Bag bag (£7.49 plus VAT). They’re available from bookshops and at booksaremybag.com, and not from evil online retailers – because their behaviour is just not Christmassy.

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