My Bookshop Advent Calendar

Welcome to our biggest blog post ever!

To celebrate the Christmas countdown, we have been posting little snippets of book recommendations – one each day – as part of our own themed advent calendar on our Twitter and Instagram pages throughout December.

Now, with Christmas Day almost here, we thought what better way to share all our favourite books with you than in one place right here on our blog.

Why not sit down with a mince pie (or two) and join us as we get lost in a world of books?

Day 1: The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

Day 2: To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters by Suzanne Fagence Cooper

“To see clearly is Poetry, prophecy, religion all in one.”  A perfect present for art lovers and writers.

Day 3: The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The perfect present for any child. A classic favourite.

Day 4: No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

Our resident 13 year old said it was “a really good book”. As a winner of the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards, this novel is wonderful for young teenagers.

Day 5: Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

This beautifully written lyrical narrative is ideal for those who love a good story.

Day 6: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

One of our customers chose this book, wanting a brilliant tale from Cornwall to send as a present to her friend in America.

Day 7: The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare

A winter journal fantastic to read at this time of year. It reveals an observation and celebration of the rhythm of the season.

Day 8: The Gifts of Reading by Rob Macfarlane

We would love to give every book by Rob Macfarlane as a gift for Christmas, but this one is truly an exquisite stocking filler.

Day 9: Book of Dust – Vol II: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

An amazing gift for all the fans of Philip Pullman.

Day 10 and 11: Any poetry book from the award winning publishers Guillemot Press

We are always proud to host events with Guillemot Press. They joined us for Lostwithiel’s recent Dickensian Evening, selling poetry collections in our shop.

Day 12: The Natural Home by Hans Blomquist

Our shop is full of books, plants and cosy places to hide. This book in particular is one of our favourites and a delightful gift for our customers.

Day 13: Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Another classic from Janet and Allan Ahlberg, Peepo is the perfect present for young children and our best selling baby book.

Day 14: Time and Place: A Pocket Book on the Art of Calendars by Alexandra Harris

All royalties for this book are donated to Common Ground, supporting arts and environmental projects that celebrate the seasons in our lives.

Day 15: A Single Thread by Tracey Chevalier

We have read and loved all her novels and this will definitely be one of our holiday reads.

Day 16: Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

This is a brilliant book for all Jane Austen fans. Focusing on the places Jane lived in while she was writing, this book provides a great insight into the author’s life and the social history of her time.

Day 17: Polkerris: A History of the Village and its Pilchard Fishery by Nigel Hall

For those of us living in Cornwall, a book about our local history makes a great present at Christmas.

Day 18: Do Inhabit

Do Inhabit from the The Do Book Company is part of a series of books designed to help you learn something new and help keep you motivated when it comes to starting a new project. A fantastic gift for this time of year.

Day 19 and 20: Vintage classics Little Grey Rabbit’s Christmas by Alison Uttley and Fell Farm for Christmas by Marjorie Lloyd

Sometimes the old ones are the best!

Day 21: The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide for 2020 by Lia Leendertz

A magnificent read for all book and nature lovers.

Day 22: Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without Brambly Hedge!

Day 23: The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The perfect read if you’re looking for something absorbing, unusual and well written.

Day 24: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Our final choice for the Christmas advent calendar – a true classic!

We want to wish all our customers a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.


Dickensian Evening

Each year, our town of Lostwithiel plays host to the annual event of Dickensian Evening – a tradition which has been running for many years.

Our small antique-filled streets and shop windows delight visitors and locals with the theme of Dickens literature at its heart. Shopkeepers, choir singers and passers-by dress up in Victorian garb and welcome everybody who arrives to join in with the festivities.

This year, it was no different. Dressed up in our very best 19th century attire, we spent the night welcoming customers and celebrating all things Dickens here at Lost in Books.

With carol singers outside, we opened our doors to customers with a cheerful smile, homemade festive biscuits and a glass of mulled wine. We were gladly joined by Guillemot Press, who had a stunning array of poetry collections to purchase, hosted by poets Luke Thompson and Sarah Cave.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful evening and our doors were fit to burst much of the night – and we even sold a good few books too.

Throughout the event, stallholders were available with delicious food, Cornish alcohol and local arts and crafts displayed for passers-by to see while carol singers sang on long into the night, complete with white trimmed hats and sleeves and bells to accompany their songs. A lantern parade began the evening, with fantastic stilt walkers clad in bright colours greeting people and taking photos along the streets.

Lostwithiel Museum spent the evening welcoming people through its doors, offering an insight into the history and culture of our small antique town on a night like no other.

Shop windows created displays dedicated to Dickens literature, lit up with twinkling lights and adorned with beautiful paper decorations. Wheelbarrows full to the brim with mistletoe were pushed around by sellers offering some further festive magic to the evening, bought by many and shared between loved ones.

Father Christmas even paid a special visit to join in with all the fun. He was found sitting in his grotto dressed in true Victorian fashion in gorgeous emerald robes. You could find him inside the church with his elves and helpers, while traditional carol services were being sung surrounded by beautiful Christmas trees.

The unmistakable joy of an old fashioned fairground merry go round was also standing proud next to all the food stalls, where children could play and take in all the sights beneath the twinkling lights.

What’s more, after enjoying a ride they could happily tuck into some bright blue, or pink, candyfloss – a treat we’re sure many adults enjoyed too.

When everything began to wind down and the last of our mulled wine was sipped, the evening continued on in local pubs with live music and drinks aplenty. It seems, despite the cold weather, it was another tremendous success.

As the night drew to a close for Lost in Books, we eventually blew out the candles, untied the strings of our bonnets, and listened to the last carol before finally saying goodnight.

However, with a bright optimism and a slight thrill at what 2020 will bring, we can gladly say we’re looking forward to the next 12 months ahead and celebrating another night of Dickensian fun with the world.

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” – Charles Dickens


The Umbrella Mouse – Review

The Umbrella Mouse is a delightful children’s debut from Anna Fargher.

The journey of a young mouse, Pip Hanway, as she fights her way from wartime London to safety, is a valiant tale filled with courage, remembrance and hope.

It’s worth remembering that it wasn’t just the astounding bravery of people that helped fight the war. Often overlooked, but gaining more prevalence in recent years, are the animals who fought side by side with us and helped champion the war effort across the country of Britain – and overseas.

From the horses involved in combat and the brave search and rescue dogs of the blitz, to the extraordinary messenger pigeons who carried top secret messages across Europe, this book certainly seems to have a home for them all. It is truly an excellent read for children wanting to learn more about how animals helped during World War II.

While the story of Pip’s determination to venture through a war-torn Europe is fictional, there are elements of truth found throughout the entire book. The umbrella shop (James Smith & Sons) in central London where Pip lives with her parents at the beginning of the book is real – and still trades today, though it was its sister shop on Burlington Street which was destroyed during the blitz. The friends she meets along the way are all inspired by the lives of animals who lived during the war.

But, perhaps, the most poignant of all, is the reality of Pip struggling for survival in a world where everything seems lost. Her determination to keep fighting represents the stories and lives of many individuals (both human and animals) who were affected by the war from 1939-1945.

Her courage and resilience is to be admired, by adults and children alike.

We believe that the bravery she exudes in the face of almost-defeat, and the unrelenting feeling of hope for a better future is what makes this book so special.

With a homage to all the animals who fought and lived and died during the war, The Umbrella Mouse is a truly uplifting and important book, beautifully written and guaranteed to leave an imprint (or perhaps pawprint!) on your heart.

Take a look at the selection of very special books we put together to mark Remembrance Day by clicking here.

Lest We Forget

To mark Remembrance Day, we wanted to put together a very special list of books to commemorate those lost during World War I and World War II. Books on this subject remain an important part of bookshelves all over the world and serve as a reminder to those we lost and the horrors we hope never to relive.

For the soldiers who left their homes without knowing when and if they would ever return, we want to take a moment to share with you some of the books that have touched our hearts.

Lest we forget.

Private Peaceful: Michael Morpurgo

Private Peaceful

Beloved by many children (and adults!), Private Peaceful is a beautiful award-winning book told through the eyes of Tommo, a young soldier looking back on his childhood memories on a night where he waits for dawn, a time creeping up all too soon – which will change the course of his life forever.

This book is award-winning for a reason and we couldn’t love it more.

Birdsong: Sebastian Faulks

Argued by many to be the most heartbreaking love story set during World War I, this saga follows the story of a young Englishman, Stephen Wraysford, and his frequent and horrific trials with love and war.

Filled with sharp and realistic detail of the hardships soldiers had to face in the trenches and a journey by tunnel beneath no man’s land, this is a book celebrated by many and deemed a modern classic of our time.

We won’t give out too many spoilers, apart from the fact it’s an excellent book!

Harry’s War: Harry Drinkwater

Harry's War

This is an autobiographical book focused on the real life experiences of heroic British soldier, Harry Drinkwater. A remarkable read told through moving diary extracts, it reveals the truths and horrors of war which many can only imagine.

The fight for justice and freedom in a world filled with violence is what keeps Harry going and his triumph in the face of war is one which captures the heart and emboldens the brave.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

This book is set in Guernsey during 1946, portraying the trials people faced during German Occupancy in the years previous. Written entirely in letter form, the story follows the correspondence between a British author, Juliet Ashton, and Dawsey Adams of Guernsey, where they relate stories of war and find extraordinary friendship in each other.

A book full of hope and the importance of friendship during hard times is what makes this book particularly special.

The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (Penguin Classics)

It’s widely known that many soldiers wrote poetry during their time in the trenches. This collection is a moving account of the lives the soldiers of World War I lived. Each poem is written either to a loved one, to friends, or simply by means of expressing their thoughts and emotions in a world where someone seems to have turned out the light.

However, the will to triumph and never give up, to never forget, is at the forefront of every word on each page and this collection is one truly dear to our hearts.

Testament of Youth: Vera Brittain

This book offers a unique and intimate window into the life of Vera Brittain, a young woman who wrote an inspiring account of her life throughout World War I, revealing a shocking and emotive read.

When war began, she was 20 years old and forced to abandon her dream of studying at Oxford to help the war effort like many women of her generation. Along the way, she became a nurse to care for the wounded, lost the man she truly loved as a result of the trying times, and encountered unimaginable terrors of war.

Published in 1933, this book is truly as prevalent, powerful and moving back then as it is now.

If you have any books that you would like to share with us on this subject, please comment below.

Top Spooky Reads

To get in the Halloween spirit, we’ve put together a list of our top spooky reads which you can find at Lost in Books.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tricker or a treater, you can be sure to delve into these books and unleash the weird, the wonderful and the whimsical … and perhaps even the downright frightening.

The Switching Hour: Damaris Young

The Switching Hour by Damaris Young

What lurks in the dark? Monsters, bad dreams or the power to change the world as we know it completely? Well, in The Switching Hour, how about all three? This is a wonderfully atmospheric middle grade debut from Damaris Young, which tackles themes of loss, friendship and the universal childhood fear of the dark. When everything depends on the bravery of protagonist Amaya to rescue her little brother from a monster deep in the forest, she only has to remember one thing: Never let the outside in.

Amelia Fang and the Half Moon Holiday: Laura Ellen Anderson

Amelia Fang and the Half Moon Holiday

For those after a wickedly charming tale about a girl vampire with an appetite for adventure, Amelia Fang is the perfect read. With this book being the fourth in the series, the story follows Amelia and her friends as they discover an ancient curse during their half moon holiday. The only thing is, it turns them into teeny, tiny bugs. Join them in their mission to lift the curse before they’re stuck as bugs forever.

This treasured series is guaranteed to get little ones longing to be vampires and chasing after their own ghostly adventures.

Frankissstein: Jeanette Winterson

Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

One of the biggest LGBT releases of 2019, this book echoes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in a world where the dead are about to come back to life. Spanning from 1816 to the not so distant future, where the threat of artificial intelligence coming to life is abundantly real, this book from prolific author Jeanette Winterson was longlisted for the Booker Prize and is a dark satire on modern society today.

The Doll Factory: Elizabeth Macneal

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

Despite the beautiful cover, this book is a spine chilling read filled with shadowy Victorian streets, forbidden love, and dark obsession. With a dazzling and determined heroine, The Doll Factory gives readers a glimpse into the world of the famous Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood and their artistry, Victorian class division and the unsettling secrets held deep within its streets.

The Institute: Stephen King

The Institute by Stephen King

The aptly named ‘King’ of horror fiction brings a new wave of fear to reader’s hearts with his new novel of 2019. Deep in the woods, kids with powerful and gifted abilities (think telekinesis and telepathy) are being abducted and held by scientists to develop a new technological advancement, but it seems two kids in particular are more than a match for their captors and it doesn’t take long before bravery, the fight for freedom, and relentless superpowers are unleashed with a vengeance.

The Familiars: Stacey Halls

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

What could be a better read at Halloween than a book set during the ominous witch trials of 1612? Drawing inspiration from the real-life witch trials that took place during King James I’s reign, join two young women in their quest for freedom and truth in a perilous time where their lives are at stake. This book is a powerful exploration of women’s perseverance, the bonds of friendship, and the search for power in a distorted and imbalanced world.

What will you be reading this Halloween?

We would like to thank Gem Hicks Photography for the beautiful cover image of this post.