TWELVE BOOKS TILL CHRISTMAS: STORYTELLERS, INC

Before we start I must say a really big THANK YOU to Katie who went far beyond what was expected and wrote a full on article!  I was thinking of editing it down, but then I thought that would just be wrong – so without further ado I pass you over Katie:

Here at Storytellers, Inc. we stock baby books right up to YA fiction as well a healthy supply of classics, poetry, pop-up books and beautiful gift editions. I shouldn’t say it but I’d happily have all my Christmas presents from our stock (probably because I choose it anyway – it’s just like shopping!) and, despite being a book place for children, I’m pretty sure a significant percentage of purchases made here are for adults.

So here are my twelve books of Christmas, with love from Katie at Storytellers, Inc.

In the first week of Christmas I’m looking for some good reads; something to stop me staring at the advent calendar, wishing the days away. My top reads of the year include Annabel Pitcher’s incredible debut My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece. It’s a truly moving story and despite breaking your heart with its mesmerising narrative, Jamie’s story will leave you feeling warm and full in the way only a great book can.

A few other books I’ll be wrapping up for other people this year include the superb When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; the Donnie Darko of teen fiction, this strange story takes place in New York. It’s alive with mystery and intrigue and our narrator makes for great company; great to hang out with for a few days when you feel like wrapping yourself up in a great book (and avoiding the slush of Christmas shopping).

Speaking of good company, you’d do worse than spending some time with Bob and The Rat in Gregory Hughes’ tremendous novel Unhooking the Moon. It certainly beats any family movie that will be shown over the festive period for laughs, thrills and surprises.  I just didn’t want it to end – the hours melted away.

In the second week of Christmas I’ll be making lots of recommendations for presents in the shop. My 8+ choice (I’m 25 and its still one of my favourites!) is the beautifulNecklace of Raindropsby Joan Aiken. The stunning illustrations by Jan Pienkowski (of Meg and Mog!) make this a truly beautiful gift and the recent hardback edition means it can be enjoyed for many years to come. It’s a series of short stories, packed with mystery and magic that seem closer to more traditional tales or Arabian nights than modern wizards and dragons.

 Another classic that comes with a personal recommendation isThe Weirdstone of Brisingamenby Alan Garner. This fantasy story based on local folklore of Alderley Edge is perfect for fans of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and the stunning 50th anniversary edition is a striking addition to any bookshelf.

 I don’t think there’s been a more attractive book this year than Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, a novel in pictures and words from the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. For a really decadent gift – I’d get both. They are made to sit next to each other for ultimate shelf appeal.

In the third week of Christmas I’ll be staying up late, too excited to sleep and a perfect time to get stuck into some teen fiction. One of my favourite authors added another triumph to her impeccable canon this year, Meg Rosoff’s There Is No Dogis just the type of book you’d expect from Rosoff, and couldn’t expect from anyone else. It’s smart, unusual, gripping and ultimately loveable. For me, Rosoff pushes boundaries and asks questions that others are afraid to. She makes big ideas and accessible and nowhere is this more apparent than There Is No Dog, which explores a very simple idea with huge consequence: what if God were a teenage boy?

For the more romantic at heart, and I didn’t think I was one, try Jandy Nelson’s sweet (but not sickly) story of absolute love inThe Sky Is Everywhere. It’s a brave writer who deals with this subject so passionately, with such pure interest in the turbulent confusion and all-consuming nature of love. Seek out the hardback edition for suitably beautiful production too – gorgeous creamy paper, blue font and photographs (for romantics who also get quite romantic about paper).

Mal Peet’s Life: An Exploded Diagramis a wonderful YA read as it encompasses masses of information about the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis of the Kennedy era amongst a wonderful love story of a family in Norfolk. The global scale of the novel and the timeline brings the story right up to date – it demonstrates some seriously deft plotting and some lovely cinematic moments in the Norfolk countryside. A great novel for boys and girls (and mums and dads and grandparents…)

On Christmas Day I’ll be opening my own presents – I hope to find Kay Thompson’s The Absolutely Essential Eloise, a hardback bind-up of four stories about the precocious Eloise who lives in the Plaza Hotel. A hilarious read for anyone not ashamed to be caught reading a picture book. This really should fall into graphic novel territory as there’s as much text as a short novel and Eloise is simply a brilliant character for all ages.

I also hope to get The Hunger Games Trilogyby Suzanne Collins with their striking new jackets. In preparation for the release of the film I’d like to finally get around to reading the books, which I hear great things about all the time. After enjoying a few dystopian novels this year (Moira Young’s Blood Red Road and SD Crockett’s After The Snow) I’m excited to give this much-hyped series a go!

Finally – the book I’ll be reading on Christmas morning when I get up far too early this year will be Geraldine McCaughrean’s Forever X. I loved The Death Defying Adventures of Pepper Roux and this short novel (with high praise from Melvin Burgess) looks to be just the thing for a festive morning. Last year’s morning read was Grimble at Christmas by Clement Freud – what better way to start the loveliest day of the year than with a cup of tea and good book by the Christmas tree…before the chaos commences.

Now after that wonderful selection of recommendations it would be wrong not to pay the store a visit if you can.  Here’s the address for you:

7 The Crescent, St. Annes-on-Sea, Lancashire, FY8 1SN

They’re also very active twitterers so do be sure to follow!

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