Christmas Presents Sorted

Getting what you want is so much more important than the surprise element, isn’t it? So I’ve just finished buying my Christmas presents. All books, of course, I completely agree with the Icelandic tradition. Here they are:

  • gildedchaletPadraig Rooney: The Gilded Chalet

From Rousseau to the Romantics, Conan Doyle, Patricia Highsmith, John le Carré and even Fleming’s Bond – all sorts of writers have found themselves attracted to the humble or luxurious or well-hidden Swiss chalet, the spas, the sanatoriums, the money-laundering, the tax-haven… From the blurb: ‘Part detective work, part treasure chest, full of history and scandal, The Gilded Chalet takes you on a grand tour of two centuries of great writing by both Swiss and foreign authors and shows how Switzerland has always been at the centre of literary Europe.’

  • erpenbeck_2Jenny Erpenbeck: Gehen, Ging, Gegangen

Here’s what Tony Malone says about this compassionate and very topical novel about a German academic and his gradual understanding of asylum-seekers and refugees in Berlin.

‘It’s this idea of individuals which the novel eventually focuses on, showing the importance of looking beyond the surface and seeing the people behind the story.  In fact, the importance of individuals actually refers just as much to those watching the refugees stream across the borders.  Yes, it’s easy to believe that it’s all too hard and that individuals will never be able to do anything to help out.  However, Erpenbeck and Richard show that this is far from the truth – even the largest of endeavours has to start somewhere…’

  • Alina Bronsky: Scherbenpark

Also the story of immigration: a young Russian girl, living with her family in a council estate ghetto in a German city. I’ve heard this is much better written than Tigermilk, so I’m hopeful.

But it’s not just for myself. I’ve also bought books for my boys:

  • boycalledDavid Walliams: Grandpa’s Great Escape
  • Matt Haig: A Boy Called Christmas
  • The Guiness Book of World Records

Will the children be pleased? Well, they are still negotiating for a much more prized Wii U. Sadly.

And finally, I did also receive a book in the post from my own father: his memoirs about his career at the United Nations and working as a diplomat. While it’s not quite the ‘warts and all’ gossipy type of political memoir which would have become a bestseller, it is a lovely way to archive some of his pictures, achievements and documents for future generations.



24 thoughts on “Christmas Presents Sorted”

  1. Some gems there! I’ve got Broken Glass Park – English edition of Scherbenpark… loved Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes. There’s something very tempting about The Gilded Chalet too.

    1. I’ve somehow never read Bronsky but have heard good things about her. And I had to get something to commemorate my living in Switzerland (well, on the border of).

  2. Oooh, like the look of The Gilded Chalet a lot. I have an A****n wishlist I circulate to family and friends – may add this to it…. 🙂

    1. The Gilded Chalet is perfect present material, isn’t it: the kind of thing you would perhaps not buy for yourself (because it is quite expensive, hardcover etc.) but wonderful to receive.

  3. Hehe – the kids’ books appeal most to me! Worrying! I saw Matt Haig being interviewed about A Boy Called Christmas and it sounds like a lot of fun – you should force – I mean, ask – your sons to review it for us…

  4. The Gilded Chalet sounds wonderful. Santa, if you are listening?
    Guiness Book of Records… kids love it.
    I always wanted the World Almanac of Facts ( yearly edition) so I could quiz my parents: What is the longest river in the world? Country with the highest mountains etc. Top 10 of whatever….
    Thank goodness the ‘Airboards’ are forbidden on public roads, paths here in NL. Only allowed on your own property or in house. Those things look like a huge hazard….broken arms, wrists or concussion after a fall. Are the Airboards in your area?

    1. Ah, we’ve got plenty of those factual books and encylopedias – my boys love them (they are real geeks). I’m just trying to nudge them into fiction as well.

  5. The Gilded Chalet sounds great and how special it must be to receive this book from your father.

    PS Wii U under negotiation here too. According to his standard, good grades should be good exchange money to secure the said Wii U.

    1. My older one just announced he got ‘felicitations’, so feels he deserves it. But given that all they talk about at any given moment are video games, I am not convinced.

  6. You have some nice presents coming to you, Marina Sofia! And I fully agree with you about choosing what you want. In fact, my husband and I were just talking about that. We both prefer to discuss what we want and be open about it. Little surprises are fine – even welcome – but it’s so nice to know you’re getting what you want. And then your partner gets the satisfaction and joy of knowing you’re really pleased with your gifts.

    1. I’ve learnt through trial and error that even not-so-subtle hints don’t work, so I’ve just learnt to buy things for myself. It’s the wrapping though that I balk at… I’m so clumsy, I always end up with sellotape all over my hair and fingers.

    1. He had been talking for years about writing his memoirs and it had become a bit of a family joke, but he finally did it! There’s hope for me too yet…

  7. I’m liking your approach to your Christmas presents and books I prefer to choose for myself anyway – although I’ve just been asked if there are any on my amazon wishlist – stupid question!

    1. It’s a firm tradition to buy books as Christmas presents, and the majority of Icelanders settle down in front of a fire, nibbling chocolates, after presents are exchanged and read in companionable silence…

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