chestnut book blog

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A lovely pile of books!

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A lovely pile of books

A lovely pile of books


There are few things that make me happier than a quiet Autumn weekend stretching ahead with some lovely new books!

Autumny delights


For a long time, I kidded myself that my favourite season was spring. I think this was because it seemed more fashionable and more positive than any other season. However, now I am older I can be truer to myself and come out as a person whose favourite season is actually Autumn. I stood in the garden this morning pondering on this and came up with a few reasons for this love of all things Fall:

1. I love leaves. They are my favourite motif and any leaf themed piece of clothing, jewellery or fabric has to be mine! I particularly love them in Autumn when they are at their most beautiful. It is my ambition one day to go to New England to see the ‘Fall’  but until then, here is a little display my own trees put on for me this morning in leafy North London:

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves in North London

2. One of my favourite things in the world is cuddling up on the sofa with a book and a real fire in the hearth. This is intensified by the dark evenings and storms of Autumn. I also have specific books I like to read or reread in Autumn as they just feel right; does any one else do this? Every November I feel drawn to Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Wuthering Heights in particular.

3. One of my next favourite things is striding out for a walk in a crisp, sunny Autumn day. The smell of the leaves, the smell of bonfires and seeing the warm, cosy glow of people’s homes is lovely. If I’ve been organised and made a slow-cooker casserole before going out, the smell as you open the door after a crisp walk is the cherry on top of my enjoyment!

4. Bonfire Night! What is there not to love about Bonfire Night? It even comes with its own rhyme:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,

With gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason, why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot.

Bonfire Night is an English tradition where we celebrate Guy Fawkes failing to blow up Parliament in 1605 (there is more to the rhyme above which explains) The uniquely English, eccentric (bordering on batty!) festival is one of the best nights of the year for me. I have so many happy memories of being pulled into at least five pairs of socks and gloves by my mum and being bundled into the car to go to the local Rugby club to watch our ‘Guy’ (made by the local schools) being roasted on a bonfire. The year that the bonfire was just a little too close to the floodlights was a particular highlight! There are always wonderful fireworks and salty, buttery jacket potatoes to eat. It is also usually raining, but somehow it never seems to matter.  

 The one thing I do not like about Autumn is the dark mornings – getting up in the dark is extremely difficult! However, it is a price worth paying for all the things above!

Fairy Tales

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I have just received my Waterstone’s (I know it doesn’t have an apostrophe now, but it just feels so wrong not to put one – my blog, my rules!) September email bulletin and got quite excited! Philip Pullman is choosing his favourite Grimm’s fairy stories for a beautiful hardback. It is going to be published on 27th September – I wonder how long I am going to be able to resist as that is also my pay-day! Here is the link to it on the Waterstone’s website if you’d like a sneak-peak: Grimm Tales: For Young and Old

Grimm Tales

Grimm Tales: For the Young and Old

I have always loved fairy stories. I was told tales about fairies, pixies and brownies by my Grandma and my Dad read Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to me at an absurdly young age. I feel like I learnt to read with these magical tales and now, whenever I feel like a bit of harmless escapism, I will pull down my Hans Christian Anderson collection or look up Seven Miles of Steel Thistles, an excellent blog on this subject. I particularly love the darkness in fairy stories and that is why I think Philip Pullman is an inspired choice as editor. He combines, in a modern way, that wonderful mix of innocence, adventure and danger that sums up the perfect fairy story.

I’ve just started to read The Snow Child, which takes its inspiration from a Russian fairy story. These ancient, simple tales still hold a huge sway on modern literature, from Margaret Atwood to this example by Eowyn Ivey. I believe that however sophisticated we become as a species, there will always be a place for fairy tales.