‘I was lost in a world of crystal skulls’: readers on the books they got for Christmas | Books

What a festive pleasure it has been to examine the books you bear in mind getting for Christmas – and likewise to see what number of of you, like me, adored Kaye Webb’s I Like This Poem. Whether or not it was the Rupert annuals obtained yearly by LancsLionheart, or the boxed set of Roald Dahl’s youngsters’s books which auspom began on Christmas Day and labored by over the relaxation of the holidays, it simply goes to indicate that there’s nothing higher to seek out below the tree than a guide.

For LawrenceWindrush, a 14-year-old in 1980, it was his sister who gave him Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World. “Throughout the Christmas week I was lost in the world of crystal skulls, the Yeti and UFOs. The world appeared magical and thrilling – something was attainable amongst all the wrapping paper, turkey sandwiches and nuts. Thrilling occasions.”

benwood201 was given an abridged model of Moby-Dick “which had splendidly vivid illustrations. Queequeg, along with his tattooed face, the whale tossing a boat excessive in the air with its fluke and Ahab being dragged down by the whale entangled in his harpoon line.”

An illustration by Isaac Walton Taber from a 1902 edition of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
An illustration by Isaac Walton Taber from a 1902 version of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. {Photograph}: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

KateSheehanFinn says her life was modified by Gobbolino, The Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams. “It was in my Christmas stocking once I was eight years outdated. I learn it with my mum first, then on my very own, time and again. It taught me what a gripping story was and the way immersive studying a good guide could be.”

TheBorderGuard is “nonetheless profoundly affected by the late Fifties Lord of the Rings version I obtained as a teenager from my cousin”, and staying on the science fiction and fantasy theme, Rhialto remembers getting boxed units of paperbacks in the Nineteen Eighties. “Stephen R Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant sequence. Brian Aldiss’s Helliconia trilogy. Piers Anthony’s Xanth sequence. And the one which brings again the most vivid reminiscences – Herbert’s Dune trilogy (again when it was a trilogy). Simply taking a look at the covers of the late 70s version Dune books right this moment sends a jolt of nostalgia by me.”

dylan37 has a beautiful story to inform, which I feel incorporates a bit of Christmas magic. “I was given a guide for my eleventh Christmas known as The Warfare on William Road by Reginald Ottley. It was a tremendous story of a road gang of boys in 50s Sydney, a time and place so overseas to me, however totally compelling. I by no means forgot it. I don’t know what occurred to these books as I grew up and moved into grownup life, however I all the time saved a robust reminiscence of these Sydney boys, like the imagery in a lost Triffids tune maybe,” they write. “Thirty years later, at nice expense, I tracked down a copy of the lengthy deleted guide. When it arrived, from the different aspect of the world, I opened it, and had the finest and deepest Proustian rush I’ve ever skilled. Vital books will do this to you, irrespective of how lengthy you allow between reads. And I can’t be completely certain, however I’ve the strongest and strangest feeling that it’s the very same guide I had as a youngster. There’s no markings or inscription, no lacking or torn pages that remind me, however I’m related to this guide someway past phrases and reminiscence.”

I additionally love this, from PatLux: “After we had been 11 and 12 my dad and mom gave my sister and me a Christmas reward of a subscription to the village tennis courts, a tennis racket every and balls. Additionally a small inexperienced tennis guide of the train your self kind. I bear in mind devouring the guide and practising the strikes in our bed room. Over 50 years later I’m nonetheless enjoying tennis twice a week and have handled myself to some classes beginning this night. I usually inform my mom that it was the finest Christmas current ever.”

And I’m positively in settlement with Clareontarget on this one: I like Jean M Auel too (though the Clan of the Cave Bear sequence positively goes downhill after Plains of Passage). “Once I was a lot youthful and nonetheless dwelling with my mom I might be given one thing each Christmas by an aged neighbour of ours. Usually it might be one thing fully pointless or inappropriate. Nonetheless one Christmas she purchased me a guide (hallelujah!) and it was the correct of guide. It was the third guide in the Earth’s Kids sequence by Jean M Auel and it was promptly devoured, repeatedly. It goes with out saying that I’m in possession of all six books of the sequence and they have all been worthwhile reads.”

Patching all the time got a guide for Christmas from their dad and mom, and remembers a specific reward at age seven: Nature’s Playground by M Cordelia and E Leigh. “Dense textual content, shiny paper, terribly old style even then, It had chapters on all method of wildlife with titles like ‘A populous Queendom’ (Bees) and ‘Solar Lovers and Unusual Monsters’ (Reptiles) and ‘illustrated with over 250 pictures and diagrams’. It was manner, manner too superior for me, however I was fascinated and pored over diagrams of sepals and nectaries, thorax and stomach, and fell in love with the pure world and the unusual, courtly language used to write down about it. ‘The nest of the long-tailed tit is most cunningly constructed’; ‘the extraordinarily ugly, dull-black beetle known as the Satan’s Coach Horse … however although so ugly and fierce and unpleasant, he can not actually do us any hurt …’ Humorous outdated guide, nevertheless it helped to set me off on a life of fascination with the myriad, attractive weirdness of the pure world and try to write down about it myself.”

After David Barnett revealed his night time terrors on receiving a copy of Usborne’s The World of the Unknown: Ghosts, many others additionally shared beloved tales of the uncanny. “I was given a youngsters’s guide of scary tales for Christmas once I was about 10,” writes Angelaaaa. “A beautiful hardcover, sure with leatherette and gold writing on the backbone. It included, amongst different horrors, The Monkey’s Paw and Sweets to the Candy. I was totally terrified and fearfully learn and reread it for years.”

I do know many of us have been stymied in our present-giving by the lack of new Discworld novels since the much-mourned Terry Pratchett’s death, so it was superb to learn Sam Jordison’s reminiscences of receiving The Color of Magic. And I’ve positively been impressed so as to add a few further books to my pile of presents this 12 months as a consequence of all of your fantastic reminiscences. I’m unsure something will beat my most triumphant current ever, although – once I tracked down outdated editions of Douglas Hill’s then out-of-print Blade of the Poisoner and Grasp of Fiends for my equally fantasy-obsessed husband.

Merry Christmas, and comfortable festive studying from the Guardian books staff. Tell us in the feedback what you discover below the tree this 12 months.

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