#TheDarkIsReading – A Midwinter Reading Group

Isn’t ‘midwinter’ just the best word?

A quick post today to bang a drum for an event that I’ve been quite excited about since hearing of it over on Dove Grey Reader.

Robert McFarlane and Julia Bird are hosting a worldwide readalong of Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising, second in her sequence of 5 books that goes by the same name. I missed out on the books as a child; how, I’m not quite sure. It’s so exactly the sort of thing I would have devoured and loved. It’s always a little sad not to catch a children’s book at the perfect, ‘magical’ age so when I heard about the readalong, the idea of enjoying them for the first time in the company of a few thousand other people (some newbies and some long-term fans) sounded like the ideal way to capture a little of the magic I might have experienced reading them as a child.

Because I am an annoying completist, I had to read the first book in the sequence beforehand – Over Sea Under Stone – but I’ve been reliably informed that isn’t essential.

The Dark Is Rising begins on midwinter’s eve, so the readalong picks up at the same otherworldly time of year (i.e. TODAY!). It’s due to carry on until Twelfth Night, but you can read at whatever pace suits you.

Julia Bird featured the event on her blog here, and you can keep abreast of the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #TheDarkIsReading (inspired).

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A book is not just for Christmas: 9 Christmas gift ideas for book lovers

Lots of people have already finished their Christmas shopping and to them I say ‘Congratulations!’ I very much wish I was done, but I’m not quite.

For anyone who might still be looking for some inspiration, I thought I’d share a few ideas for ‘Things to buy for book lovers who already own and buy a lot of books, making it tricky to buy for them without spending ages checking their shelves first’.

Persephone books – always a good option for gifting because they are just so beautiful. Persephone also do box sets and a book-a-month subscription service.

If you’re interested in subscription services, the gold standard (priced accordingly) is Heywood Hill’s A year in books. I would LOVE to try this one day; I’m currently living vicariously through Thomas at Hogglestock’s subscription. There are cheaper options out there, of course. Not on the High Street offer a couple of options and if you really know your giftee, you could always try doing your own!

For the book lover who regularly loans out their favourites, how about a personal library kit?

Someone once bought the book map for me and it is hands down one of my favourite things hanging on my wall. Good for hours of poring over!

If your giftee happens to like both books and Christmas, how about a book about Christmas? I’ve read Judith Flanders’ The Making of Home and can recommend her engaging style and eye for an interesting detail.

If you want to risk buying a book, go for a current one. How about the Waterstones’ Book of the Year? (I have seen SO much buzz about this and am desperate to read it. It’d be lovely to own the beautiful hardback version.)

Another recent book getting a wonderful write-up (and one that is so beautiful it is automatically elevated to ‘GIFT’) is Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris’ enormous The Lost Words

How about giving someone the chance to meet one of their bookish idols? Both the Hay Festival and the Cheltenham Literary Festival offer gift vouchers for their events. There are bound to be others who do a similar thing.

And if you’ve saved every penny you found down the back of the sofa since the reign of Queen Victoria, you could perhaps swing for this? My own personal, well-a-girl-can-dream item.