With Christmas approaching I am already preparing to receive no books from Santa. Nobody will give me a book for Christmas (or my birthday) as they just do not know what I have read. I drop unsubtle hints but to no avail!
As this is likely a common problem in many households I have compiled a recommendation of some wonderful books which would make lovely Christmas gifts. These are not titles that (in the main) you will find on the shelves of your local supermarket but they should not be overlooked. I would hope that your local bookshop would have some (or all) of these – and obviously they are all available on line.
Doctor Who Impossible Worlds – Stephen Nicholas and Mike Tucker
From distant galaxies in the far-flung future, to ancient history on the planet Earth, Doctor Who is unique for the breadth of possibilities that it can offer a designer. For the first time in history, the Doctor Who Art Department are opening their doors to reveal a unique, behind-the-scenes look at one of the most loved series on British Television. Whether it’s iconic sets like the TARDIS console room, recurring villains like the Daleks or the Cybermen, or the smallest hand prop featured in the briefest of scenes, this book showcases the work of the Doctor Who art department in glorious detail. Discover how the designers work with the costume, make-up and special effects teams to produce the alien worlds, and how the work has evolved from the programme’s ‘classic’ era to the panoramic alien worlds and technologies that delight audiences today. Featuring hundreds of models, sketches, storyboards and concept artworks, many never-before-seen, Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds opens the doors to 50 years of astonishing creative work from one of the most inventive shows on television.
Ten years ago Doctor Who returned to our screens and has delighted fans young and old ever since. BBC Books have released this beautiful collection of images, sketches, designs and storyboards from behind the scenes of the shows. It is a stunning collection and would make a fantastic gift for a Doctor Who fan. Printed on high quality paper with extra art cards provided in a hidden sleeve this is a seriously beautiful book which is crammed with information on design techniques and processes.
I have been reading and collecting Doctor Who books for well over 30 years and I cannot think of any title which comes close to matching Impossible Worlds for that initial ‘Wow’ Factor I had when I first picked up my copy.
You can buy Impossible Worlds Here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Doctor-Who-Impossible-Worlds-Dr/dp/1849909660/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450053081&sr=1-1&keywords=doctor+who+impossible+worlds
Rebellious Spirits: The Illicit History of Booze in Britain – Ruth Ball
A delicious history of the secret, exciting and often dangerous world of illicit spirits
For as long as spirits have existed, there has been someone doing something really naughty with them: selling gin through pipes in a London back alley; standing guard on a Cornish clifftop waiting for a smuggler’s signal; or dodging bombs and shrapnel running whisky in the Blitz. It is a history that is thrilling, utterly fascinating and uniquely British.
Packed full of historical recipes, from Milk Punch to a Wartime Martini, along with cocktails from contemporary bartenders, Rebellious Spirits is a treasure trove for the curious drinker.
From the gin dispensed from a cat’s paw at the Puss and Mew shop which could have been the world’s first vending machine, to whole funeral cortèges staged just to move a coffin filled with whisky, the stories show off all the wonderful wit and ingenuity required to stay one drink ahead of the law. The accompanying recipes are just as intriguing: How did we drink gin before tonic? Was punch really made with curdled milk? Or breakfast served with brandy porridge, and gin mixed into hot ale? What did the past really taste like?
As soon as I saw this book I thought of half a dozen of my friends that would enjoy reading it. I also thought it would be ideal as a Secret Santa gift for a friend or colleague that is known to enjoy a tipple or two. Ruth Ball has done a magnificent job of bringing together anecdotes, recipes and historical facts and making them entertaining and fascinating to read.
The book makes for very easy and engaging reading. Nicely presented and written in very accessible sections the history of British booze is a fun title which I found could be read in both a longer sitting and or in small ‘quick page or two’ stolen moments of reading time.
You can buy Rebellious Spirits here: http://eandtbooks.com/book/rebellious-spirits-illicit-history-booze-britain
Tales From The Dugout – Richard Gordon
The dugout can be a fearsome place. When the action heats up on the pitch, emotions in the dugout boil over. Grown men lose control. The normally sane turn into irrational agitators. And every decision, no matter how minor, is hotly contested. Tales From The Dugout is a fantastically entertaining collection of incidents and memories gathered from managers, players, referees, linesmen and broadcasters, which encapsulates the unique environment of the technical area and reveals how even limited exposure to it can transform people unrecognisably. And when the red mist descends, the consequences can be almost unbelievable and frequently hilarious.
Richard Gordon is the voice of football to Scottish footy fans. For more years than I can count he has brought me the highs (but mainly lows) that go with following one of the less fashionable Scottish teams. His years behind the mic have given him unique access to the characters that have defined Scottish football and now he brings us Tales From The Dugout.
This is a fantastic collection of observations and memories (written in Richard’s immediately recognisable style). But the real treats are the additional contributions from the players, managers and referees as they talk about their personal experiences and they lift the lid on what goes on away from the pitch and behind the touchlines.
While the names are more recognisable North of the Border, this is a gem of a book for ANY football fan – funny is funny no matter where you live and some of the stories recounted in Tales had tears streaming down my face. Others just made my jaw drop – some people really do believe their own hype!
You can buy Tales From The Dugout here: http://blackandwhitepublishing.com/authors/g/richard-gordon/tales-from-the-dugout.html
Secret Lochs and Special Places – Bruce Sandison
Secret Lochs and Special Places takes the angler on a journey through some of Scotland’s most wonderful areas to discover little-known lochs and others that are outstanding simply because of their extraordinary beauty. This book is not about huge trout, although they are there, but rather about the supreme joy that is fishing. Your guide is Bruce Sandison, one of Scotland’s most respected anglers. It is an account of one man’s love affair with his native land, with its history and culture, its people and places. Secret Lochs and Special Places celebrates all that is best about wild fishing in Scotland.
Bruce Sandison is one of Scotland’s best-known writers and journalists. He has twice won the prestigious Highland and Islands Media Award Feature Writer of the Year and his work has appeared in a wide range of journals and magazines.
First up it needs said that I am not a fisherman (or an angler) but the idea of hours of peace and solitude doing something I love does sound like a marvellous idea. I HAVE spent considerable time in the North of Scotland and have appreciated the beauty of the landscapes Mr Sandison discusses in Secret Lochs and his love of the landscape pours off the page.
If you are seeking a Christmas gift for an angling fan then Secret Lochs and Special Places is highly recommended. It is a beautiful story of family and friends spending time in the surrounds of Scotland’s remote corners.
You can buy Secret Lochs and Special Places here: http://blackandwhitepublishing.com/authors/s/bruce-sandison/secret-lochs-and-special-places.html
Imagination and a Pile of Junk: A Droll History of Inventors and Inventions
Trevor Norton, who has been compared to Gerard Durrell and Bill Bryson, weaves an entertaining history with a seductive mix of eureka moments, disasters and dirty tricks.
Although inventors were often scientists or engineers, many were not: Samuel Morse (Morse code) was a painter, Lazlow Biro (ballpoint) was a sculptor and hypnotist, and Logie Baird (TV) sold boot polish. The inventor of the automatic telephone switchboard was an undertaker who believed the operator was diverting his calls to rival morticians so he decided to make all telephone operators redundant.
Inventors are mavericks indifferent to conventional wisdom so critics were dismissive of even their best ideas: radio had ‘no future,’ electric light was ‘an idiotic idea’ and X-rays were ‘a hoax.’ Even so, the state of New Jersey moved to ban X-ray opera glasses. The head of the General Post Office rejected telephones as un-neccesary as there were ‘plenty of small boys to run messages.’
This book is a dream for those that enjoy social history laden with lashings of wry humour. Trevor Norton has crammed a huge amount of fascinating information into a single book, spiked it with funnies and droll observations and made lots of facts great fun to read. Fans of QI, National Geographic, Trivia buffs and just those that like a book you can pick up and put down for a short reading burst – this is for you.
You can buy Imagination and a Pile of Junk here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Imagination-Pile-Junk-Inventors-Inventions/dp/1444732587/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450054464&sr=1-1&keywords=imagination+and+a+pile+of+junk
Thunderbirds: The Vault – Marcus Hearn
On 30th September 1965, International Rescue successfully completed their first assignment, and the Tracy brothers imprinted themselves on a generation of captivated children. Thirty-two episodes, many repeats, sixty territories, two feature films, three albums, numerous comics, books, toys, videos and DVDs and five decades later, Thunderbirds are still saving the world from the brink of peril. Thunderbirds: The Vault will be the first ever lavishly illustrated, definitive, beautifully packaged, presentation hardback telling the story of this enduring cult phenomenon. Packed with previously unpublished material, including prop photos, design sketches, production memos and other collectible memorabilia, plus specially commissioned photography of original 60s merchandise, and new interviews with cast and crew, it’s going to be a collectors’ dream and a fantastic piece of British TV history.
Another title for fans with a fondness for classic (cult) television. Thunderbirds: The Vault is another ‘for the fans’ book but then you wouldn’t pick up a volume like this for someone that has never seen the show! Crammed with pictures from the sets, images of the models, figures and the behind the scenes talent this is a glorious love-in of a read.
Although I do not remember Thunderbirds from the first time of showing I am not unaware of the impact that the show had nor of its place in the history of tv. I found Marcus Hearn’s book fascinating reading and it added such depth to my knowledge and appreciation of the show.
You can buy Thunderbirds: The Vault here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thunderbirds-Vault-Marcus-Hearn/dp/0753556359/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450054348&sr=1-1&keywords=thunderbirds+vault