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Joyeux Noël and Happy Humbook!

December 25, 2013 22 comments

Hello everyone !

Mafalda_ChristmasI wish you all a Merry Christmas, or as we say here, Joyeux Noël. I hope you’re having a nice day with your families or if you’re far away from them, that you are among good friends. I still wonder about Christmas in places where it’s warm or even hot at that time of year. I can’t imagine spending Christmas by a swimming pool. Christmas is such an important time for children and memories of them stay with you and shape your idea of what a Christmas should be. For me Christmas goes with hot beverages, fires, cold, snow sometimes, mandarins, chocolate and short days. We have a tradition here in Lyon: the papillottes. It’s a chocolate wrapped in a shiny paper in which there is a message. Now, it’s a quote from a famous writer; lots of aphorisms by Oscar Wilde, JB Shaw, Jules Renard or Alphonse Allais. But it originally started at the end of the 18th Century when a young chocolate-maker in love with the girl living in his building but on an upper floor started to send her chocolates wrapped in billets doux. Lucky girl: chocolates and love letters all in one.

From a blogging point of view, Christmas is also the day when willing copinautes exchange Humbook gifts. This year, we were five: Brian from Babbling Books, Lisa from ANZ Lit Lovers, Stu from Winstonsdad’s Blog plus Guy and I.

So here are the books Guy and I picked for Brian, Lisa and Stu.

For Lisa:

La première gorge de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules by Philippe Delerm. It exists in English but we thought you could try it in French in its Kindle version. It’s not fiction. It was a great success when it was published in France a few years ago. It’s a collection of short texts about the small pleasures of life. (The title means, The first sip of beer and other tiny pleasures) It reminds us that if we pay attention, we have lots of happy moments in our everyday life. It reflects the notion of pleasure that we have in French, a notion I have trouble translating into English.

For Stu:

All yours by Claudia Piñeiro. We wanted to find a book in translation, so here is an Argentinean book. Since you had enjoyed her Thursday Night Widows, we imagined you’d like this one too. I haven’t read it but Guy has and his review is here.

For Brian

The Plague by Albert Camus. No need to present Albert Camus. I’m looking forward to reading your review of it.

Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo. In this historical novel, Hugo brings to life the upheaval of the Chouans in Vendée in 1793.

We hope we’ve made good choices and will be reading your reviews of your Humbook gifts in 2014. I’m curious to discover what Lisa picked for Stu and vice versa.

Gary_White_DogGuy, you expected a Romain Gary last year, you’ll have one this year. 2014 will be the centenary of Gary’s birth. I have chosen White Dog. On paper, it has lots of ingredients that should interest you. It’s in California and in Paris, in 1968. It involves Gary’s life with Jean Seberg. It’s about a dog which needs to be reformed. It describes the political movements of the time from the inside through Seberg’s involvement with the Black Panthers. Cherry on the Christmas pudding: It has been made in to a film.

The other book I’ve picked for you is Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti. It’s a political crime fiction book set in the area I grew up in. I really hope I’ve made good choices.

I just have to wish you a happy reading and I leave you with a picture of a Christmas chimney.


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