It’s the most wonderful time of the year: time when we forget all the precautions our financial advisers warn us about, and rush to the store to buy yet another slightly updated Apple product to replace our perfectly working gadgets. The time when credit card companies and debt collectors run through the streets red cheeked and overjoyed, knowing that by the time Christmas is over they will probably be able to retire at 35 somewhere in the Bahamas. Time when the usually timid housewives flock to the department stores and roar like lionesses at each other over the last zebra-print towel at 85% markdown. Time when howling toddlers are dressed like exploding cupcakes and dragged to the crowded malls to sit on the lap of a strange man with a fake beard. Oh, the madness.
Aside from overly commercialized holiday, we also get warm family get-togethers, filled with laughter and embarrassingly cute photographs. We get to sit at the big table full of delicious turkey, and stuffing, and mashed potatoes, and carrots, and cranberry sauce. Remember that time uncle Sam fell asleep on the couch from the food coma and your little second cousin drew crooked mustache on his face with a permanent marker? Yes, those were good times. How about all those Christmas specials like Home Alone, A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life that instantly bring you back in your childhood, making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? The yearly tradition of decorating the tree, the house, and the yard with insane amounts of lights that blow every breaker on the block. Don’t forget smothering your pets in silly Christmas sweaters, and licking your wounds after the cat is set and done for a Facebook picture. What about caroling, and sledding, and making cookies, and volunteering at soup kitchen, and desperately restraining yourself from unwrapping gifts too early? Oh, the madness.
Speaking of Christmas gifts, I have been secretly wishing for people in my life to finally learn mind reading and get me those awesome books that I have always wanted, but was too cheap to buy. Instead I will probably get some more socks and a Fifty Shades of Grey set nobody wants in their house anymore. Or maybe I will get a jet plain. That would be pretty cool. Whatever I get, it’s the thought that counts, but it’s fun to make a perfect list once in a while too. I’ll keep wishing, and in meanwhile, behold my most secret desires lurking deep in my heart:
1. All five A Song of Ice and Fire books in hardcover published by Bantam. For some reason I always feel that epic fantasy tales must be owned in hardcover alone. This way, every time I take them off the shelf, put them on my lap, and open the creaking cover to reveal the title page, I feel like that kid from The Neverending Story. Everybody around me should know by now that I adore the series and I’ve been circling the shelves at the local bookstore like a hawk, but at $35 a piece I just keep walking away. The TV show is among my favorites, so a nice blue ray set of the first season would be amazing too.
2. Empires of the Ancient Worlds published by Folio Society. Retailed at about $410, this beauty contains two sets of historical study of ancient civilizations. Near East is comprised of four books: The Egyptians, The Babylonians, The Persians, and The Hittites. Three volumes make up Americas: The Maya, The Aztecs, and The Incas. All seven tomes are beautifully bound according to Folio Society standards and presented in a slipcase. I love ancient history and have been fascinated with Egypt and Latin America since early childhood. I would love to know more about the extremely advance Persians and inventive Babylonians, not to mention that I know nothing about Hittites. It is possible to get the set for $19.99 with a purchase of membership to their club that requires you to buy a certain amount of books a year. That sounds like a tempting offer.
3. Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini. This is a books as intriguing as it is pricy and rare. Some copies go for a few thousand dollars on the auction. In itself, it is an encyclopedia of a fictional world, written in a mysterious language many experts have been trying to decode for decades. It contains hundreds of beautiful illustrations of fantastic nature, showcasing flora, fauna and cultural aspects of the strange world. The few scans of its pages that I’ve see online left me breathless. It’s pretty useless in terms of reading, but it’s so amazing as a piece of art appreciated and pondered upon.
4. Archeological Bible Study (King James Edition). Everyone seems to be picking up this book nowadays. I’ve been curious about The Bible since my encounter with medieval literature. This is probably the most influential book in Christian world, leaving its impact on countless works of classical fiction, many of which I am trying to read and document on this blog. I think I am missing out on many aspects of literature by being absolutely ignorant about its roots. I would love to slowly read this study, getting to know The Bible and at the same time learning about the factual discoveries linking history and religion.
5. The King and His Court by Alison Weir, Easton Press leather bound edition. I’ve written about my love for English history, everything Tudor, Alison Weir and Easton Press in the past. This is the last book I need to complete the series of four, with other three proudly sitting on my shelves. Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to find an affordable one at any seller. I’ve gotten each of them for less than $60, but this one is projecting to cost about $250. I keep checking Abebooks in hopes of finding a good deal on a fine copy, but it’s been a few years with no luck. Someday I know it will be mine.
And there you have it. I can probably come up with hundred more books to put on my wishlist; everything from matching penguin classics paperbacks to a string of Mishima works published by Vintage could be here. I could add my hope of owning entire works of Dickens, or to finally adding several specific cookbooks to my library. I could even list several textbooks I wish to receive for some exciting self-study at a later point. But I wanted to keep this wishlist to bare minimum of extremely special books that are a little far from my reach right now. Books that will not let me sleep soundly at night, and whose electronic copies are just not enough. These are the precious gems that would totally count as Christmas miracle. What would be your special book gift this season?