There's a distinct theme with these books, some of which I was given for my Birthday and which heavily reflect my interests in food and history. But as the news about Christmas is sounding a bit rubbish today, and I've already had to readjust a few present giving plans to postal options, books are featuring in my gift giving more than ever.
In the normal way of things I don't like recommending, or using, the big internet giant for book shopping, but I have prime and it gives me options for getting things to my dad in Shetland (slow, but no extra charge for delivery and anyone with family in the Highlands and Islands will appreciate that), and small presents here there and everywhere. For local friends I can leave things on a doorstep, or as in one case arrange something very like a dead letter drop with parcels swapped from opposite ends of the (closed) museum portico, much to the amusement of passers by. It's all adding to the oddness of this year.
Almanacs are definitely making a come back - this is the first time I've bought Lia Leendertz's 'The Almanac'. It's small and pretty and full of interesting bits and pieces. I fell for it when I was ordering coffee filter papers (nowhere in the city centre that I can find sells the Hario ones I use) and am looking forward to reading it month by month throughout next year. It's the pocket size that I love, and with any luck might be a perfect travel companion.
Miranda York's 'The Food Almanac' is something I bought a couple of months ago and really love. It's a nice thing to have for anybody who likes food and reading. There's a great mix of stuff in here - not just recipes, but stories, recommendations for more books, and all the distraction that I could want - and maybe you too. It's the perfect food book for the cookbook lover who already has a lot of cookbooks (like me) and who wants more tangential inspiration from new books.
'The Women's Suffrage Cookery Book' came as a review copy from the British Library too recently for me to have done anything but glance at it. What I've seen I really like. Originally published in 1912 to raise funds for the NUWSS (National Union of Women Suffrage Societies) it's a collection of recipes sent in by women from across the world. There are household hints and tips as well. Some things sound like they'll work better than others, but the particular charm of this book is the window it throws open onto these women's lives.
Lizzie Collingham's 'The Biscuit' was a birthday present. I'd dearly love to be making Christmas biscuits right now, but common sense says not. There won't be enough people to share them with and eating all the biscuits myself would be a bad thing. I'm a little bit sad about this, but biscuits don't stand up well to being posted and it's hardly the biggest sacrifice of 2020. Meanwhile reading through this is sort of scratching the itch. It's a comprehensive, informative, and entertaining history of the biscuit, with recipes.
Pen Vogler's 'Scoff' was also a birthday present (and I'm fairly sure I have her Dinner with Dickens coming my way too). It's a history of food and class in Britain - right up my street. It's also a brick of a thing, so the perfect book for January and what looks likely to be a grim winter. An initial look suggests history that's solid but approachable (maybe like a Sunday roast?) so for once the size isn't daunting me.
'Hag' is a collection of forgotten folk tales re told by contemporary (female) authors for Virago. It was another birthday present, and one I'm particularly pleased with - not food related either please note. The stories I've read so far (about half of them) have been excellent - not least because they're folk tales I'm reasonably familiar with - but then they are a particular passion. Short stories are another passion - and I like the dark edge of these.