Stocking fillers: pop-ups, poems and smut

 

Amazon had better set its drones to attack because beautiful paper books just get better and better. Anyone left disappointed by the Fifty Shades phenomenon might prefer some literary smut in the form of Erotic Stories, edited by Rowan Pelling (Everyman’s Pocket Classics, £10.99). A collection of stories and fragments from Boccaccio to Sarah Waters, it tiptoes from the suggestive – in Guy de Maupassant’s “Idyll”, which begins with a train “plunging abruptly into the black-mouthed tunnels like an animal into its lair” – to the rather shocking – a piece by Edith Wharton, “My Little Girl”, discovered after her death.

More books as beautiful objects can be found in the form of The Folio Society’s new The Great Gatsby (£24.95) and Pride and Prejudice, with an introduction by Sebastian Faulks (£29.95), and in Bethlehem: A Christmas Poem, by Carol Ann Duffy, with simply evocative illustrations by Alice Stevenson (Picador, £6.99). But the award for the most beautifully designed book goes to S by JJ Abrams (Canongate, £28), filled with cuttings, postcards, handwritten notes, and the delicious smell of old book. An honourable mention, too, for The Large Hadron Collider Pop-Up Book by Anton Radevsky and Emma Sanders (Papadakis, £24.99).

IoS readers will be sad that Martin Rowson’s “Abuses of Literature” will abuse no more after next Sunday, but they are collected in The Limerickiad Vol III (Smokestack Books, £9.99). Fans of illustrated humour who can’t wait until the next Game of Thrones book will also enjoy The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister, by George RR Martin (HarperVoyager, £9.99).

For the book lover who has everything, Spineless Classics has added Psycho (£44.99) and Animal Farm (£39.99) to its book-on-a-page range of posters – they have to be seen to be believed. And the British Library’s gifts for book lovers (http://shop.bl.uk) are charming. There’s no ereader that would not be improved by a Grimm’s Fairy Tales cover (£25), and I’d really like to know what the Dickens diffuser (£25) smells like.

Finally, a happy ending for Christmas: the complete set of the Quentin Blake-illustrated Uncle the elephant books, written by JP Martin, has just been reissued in a lovely edition with new tributes by Neil Gaiman and others (The Complete Uncle, Matador, £40). These forgotten treasures have been out of print since the 1970s and would have cost more than £1,000 to buy. Now, thanks to a kindly publisher and Kickstarter, they have been lovingly brought back to life.

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