FIVE GREAT BOOKS FOR CHRIST­MAS GIFTS

The New European - - Eurofile Literature -

DE­CEM­BER STO­RIES 1 Ian San­som (No Ali­bis Press, £9.99)

Billed as ‘an an­ti­dote to the fes­tive sea­son’, North­ern Ir­ish writer San­som of­fers a de­li­cious se­lec­tion of short sto­ries, vi­gnettes, med­i­ta­tions, po­ems and even the oc­ca­sional recipe, all con­nected to the Christ­mas hol­i­day, even if that con­nec­tion is tan­gen­tial. There are 31 help­ings here, one for ev­ery day of the month, but far from tin­sel and mince pies this col­lec­tion ranges across The Clash, Mum­snet and ter­ri­ble Christ­mas verse. A highly agree­able com­pan­ion to the fes­tive sea­son, San­som even sports im­pres­sively Santa-es­que whiskers.

THE ART OF THE CITY: ROME, FLORENCE, VENICE Ge­org Sim­mel, trans. Will Stone (Pushkin Press, £12)

No longer the house­hold name he per­haps should be, Ge­org Sim­mel was a Berlin-born writer and philoso­pher whose life spanned the late 19th and early

20th cen­tury, much of it spent trav­el­ling the con­ti­nent giv­ing lec­tures to packed houses. These three won­der­ful por­traits of three of the con­ti­nent’s most cul­tur­ally rich cities are pre­sented along with his es­say The Me­trop­o­lis And The Life Of The Spirit in an ex­cel­lent trans­la­tion by Will Stone, whose in­tro­duc­tion pref­aces this beau­ti­fully pro­duced book from Pushkin Press.

100 PO­EMS

Sea­mus Heaney

(Faber & Faber, £10.99)

It’s five years this year since the death of Heaney and here his fam­ily re­alise an am­bi­tion the poet would never ful­fil: a col­lec­tion of his work that ranges across his en­tire out­put. There have been pre­vi­ous an­tholo­gies but never one as thor­ough as this, con­tain­ing some of his best-known works as well as some that even keen Heaney read­ers might not have en­coun­tered be­fore. A rich and thought-pro­vok­ing ex­er­cise in the still­ness and con­tem­pla­tion that Heaney brought to the world.

PEB­BLES ON THE BEACH Clarence El­lis (Faber & Faber, £9.99)

A walk on the beach is, for any­one near the coast, a tremen­dous way of blow­ing away the Christ­mas cob­webs. Faber’s reis­sue of this charm­ing guide first pub­lished dur­ing the 1950s is a cosy yet fas­ci­nat­ing read, part ge­ol­ogy, part guide­book, part his­tory of the stones that make up our first line of de­fence against the sea. Reis­sued in a gor­geous pa­per­back edi­tion with an ap­pre­cia­tive new in­tro­duc­tion by Robert Mac­far­lane. SI­LENCE IN THE AGE OF NOISE Er­ling Kagge (Pen­guin, £8.99) Si­lence is usu­ally some­thing we don’t get much of at Christ­mas. The ca­coph­ony of Brexit dis­cus­sion also makes a bit of peace and quiet a dis­tinctly ap­peal­ing prospect, and it’s some­thing en­dorsed by Nor­we­gian ex­plorer Er­ling Kagge in this thought-pro­vok­ing, im­mer­sive ex­plo­ration of the power of si­lence. Kagge once spent 50 days cross­ing Antarc­tica with a bro­ken ra­dio, and presents pro­found in­sights on the ben­e­fit of si­lence, where to find it and how it can ben­e­fit our senses of our­selves and the world.

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