Happily life isn't all work, and just before I left a couple of really good looking review books had turned up - I didn't have much time to look at them properly before I went so I knew they were something to look forward to. A couple more arrived whilst I was away, and then (almost as if the universe, Thames & Hudson, Pushkin, and Little Toller, knew when I would most need a boost) today some real gems. I feel like I've won the book lottery here - and that's before I even start looking at the books I bought in Scotland.
I've already mentioned these, but didn't end up taking them away with me, so I'm going to share the excitement again - it's the latest offerings from British Library Tales of Weird series. There short story compilations are always good value, but these look really good. I might be looking forward to 'Spirits of the Season' just a little bit more, but only because everything in it is completely new to me. I've read a couple of the stories in 'Mortal Echos' elsewhere (the Dickens and the Saki) but as one of them (the Saki) is an absolute all time favourite that's only an indicator of quality.
Also from the British Library there's Kate Jackson's collection of puzzles, 'The Pocket Detective'. This looks like it's going to be fun, and (I know it's early, but...) would make a great stocking filler for fans of classic crime generally, and the British Library crime classics particularly.
Something else from the British Library that would make a nice present for the bibliophile in your life (no other British institution has bought me half as much pleasure in the last few years) is Alex Johnson's 'Shelf Life' which contains the thoughts of various writers on books and reading. The charm of this one is that the writers are mostly Victorian or Edwardian figures, but also have Francis Bacon writing in 1601, and Charles Lamb in 1822. It looks like a really nice little collection.
Tim Dee's 'Landfill' arrived today, it's one of Little Tollers monograph series, so is obviously a beautiful object in itself (these little books are very pleasing to look upon, picking one up is a treat). 'Landfill' is about the rubbish we've created, the gull's that have learnt to exploit it, and our uneasy relationship with them - at least that's what the blurb is making me think. It'll report back with more detail in due course.
Margaret Millar's 'Vanish in an Instant' was a glorious surprise. It's out on the 25th of this month, and is part of the Pushkin Vertigo series. Everything I've read in this series has been spectacular so far, I loved every a bit of noir, and adore rediscovering forgotten female authors so this book ticks all the boxes as far as I'm concerned. The back blurb tells me that: "Virginia Berkeley is a nice, well bought up girl. So what is she doing wandering through a snow storm in the middle of the night, blind drunk and covered in someone else's blood?" This wasn't even on my radar so you can imagine my excitement.
And then there's Jamie Camplin and Maria Ranauro's 'Books do furnish a Painting'. A book that explores the books in art appeals to both the art historian and the bibliophile in me. Can I just keep repeating that this is a book about two of my favourite things? Probably not, but it looks as good as it sounds (it sounds so awesome doesn't it) and is another real treat.