|Book cover by Slightly Foxed|
I had a nice bumper crop of books for Christmas. I'll review them in good time, but right now I want to wax lyrical about some absolutely gorgeous books that arrived in my stocking and under the tree.
The first is the Complete Calvin and Hobbes set. If you haven't heard of Calvin and Hobbes, then welcome to Earth and stay clear of Chernobyl unless your species is radiation-tolerant. C&H is one of the best of all the long-running newspaper cartoons. Not long-enough running in my view: the artist, Bill Watterson, gave up exhausted after battling the constraints imposed by newspaper editors who would cut sections out of his beautifully-drawn cartoons so as not to put any effort into their page layouts. Shame on them.
Anyway, the collection was a real surprise. Incredibly weighty, astonishingly high quality printing, and each book separated from the others by a paper slip case. Wow. That's attention to detail.
The other one is from a company that I've had my eye on for a while, a London bookshop that has branched out into publishing new, limited-run editions of out-of-print books (https://foxedquarterly.com/home/books/). I read a review of them a few months ago, focussing on the binding of their books, which are really things of beauty: hand finished, lovely quality, and the cover embossed with their logo. At £20 each, they're a bargain. (I'm not on commission here!) I've been watching their catalogue for a while, and a book popped up that caught my fancy: Period Piece, a memoir of turn-of-the century Cambridge written by Gwen Raverat, Charles Darwin's grand-daughter. I'll leave the last word to her, describing the river Cam at the time:
"I can remember the smell very well, for all the sewage went into the river, till the town was at last properly drained when I was about ten years old. There is a tale of Queen Victoria being shown over Trinity by the Master, Dr Whewell, and saying, as she looked down over the bridge: "What are all those pieces of paper floating down the river?" To which, with great presence of mind, he replied: "Those, ma'am, are notices that bathing is forbidden".
Period Piece, by Gwen Raverat