As I hope you'll expect, our picks for a lovely gift for your Valentine might be slightly on the quirky side, but as ever, come in for a hand-picked recommend for your loved one.
Apparently, we have Geoffrey Chaucer to thank for linking St Valentine to romantic love, so where better place to start than 'My True Love Gave To Me', a series of short (romantic) stories, all with a Winter theme, by authors including stalwart Young Adult writers such as Ally Carter, Holly Black and Rainbow Rowell. A favourite of Imogen's in the shop, this is highly appropriate given that Valentine's Day sees the launch of our YA Bookgroup.
2015 will see the BBC screening a remake of 1970s classic Cornish-set saga 'Poldark' (and we've learned that this Sunday evening the first trailers hit the TV) but until it's shown, the original Poldark novels by Winston Graham (beginning with 'Ross Poldark') have been reissued. They feature some rather spectacular covers, and although we would never suggest anyone is shallow enough to buy them for the covers, they do look rather good...
In terms of beautiful little gift books with a romantic theme, we love 'The Peanuts Guide to Love' (featuring everything from Woodstock falling in love with a worm to Charlie Brown's obsession with the Little Red-Headed Girl). But given that this year it's 150 years since the publication of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' come take a look at the little gem of a book that is the 'Little Folk's Edition', small, red and beautifully gilt-edged collector's edition.
But for something a bit quirkier, how about the gift of happiness into someone's life? According to the UN, Denmark is the happiest county in the world, so when journalist Helen Russell moved to rural Jutland, she decided to try to discover just why the Danes are so happy. The result is ‘The Year of Living Danishly’ (which has to be our favourite book title of the year) and some of her findings may surprise you. However, Helen is convinced that we can all be a bit happier if we put a little Danish into our lives, and this book – amusingly, thoughtfully – shows you how.
There's been some great new fiction in the shop, and we'll always suggest good new fiction makes the best gift. 'Not Forgetting The Whale' by John Ironmonger is one of the most original, and wonderfully surprising new titles out in February.
When Joe Haak is rescued, naked. from the Cornish beach of St Piran, he is immediately adopted by the curious group of different people that call the fishing village their home. But what they don't know if that Joe fled London, having written a computer program Cassie, that has predicted the end of the world. But is the end of the world about to happen, and can Joe convince the people of St Piran to seal themselves off from the rest of the world? Warm, witty, endlessly surprising, this is already one one of our favourite books of the year.
And we get even quirkier with Stephen May's subversive and brilliantly fun 'Wake Up Happy Every Day'. Ever wondered what would happen if you did suddenly wake up one morning with everything you wanted? This happens to Nicky when his awesomely wealthy mate Russell drops dead, and Nicky takes the opportunity to step into his shoes. A fabulously unique take on the 'be careful what you wish for' story, told with verve, passion, anger...and cake?! Highly recommended...
Of course, a big dollop of cash would be nice, but most of us might have to turn elsewhere for a bit of happiness. We have a range of 'colouring for therapy' books in the shop at the moment, with our pick being 'Color Me Happy : 100 Coloring Templates That Will Make You Smile'. Come in and feel your stress reduce...
Actress Sheila Hancock is already a bestselling author. Her memoir of her late husband John Thaw, The Two of Us, was a number one bestseller. Nicki has loved 'Miss Carter's War', her first work of fiction and a bold storytelling sweep through the last century - through the end of the World Wars, the rise of the Labour Party, the Swinging Sixties, to the AIDS epidemic of the Eighties and the race towards a consumer society. It is all told through the life of Marguerite Carter, one of the first women to receive a degree from Cambridge. who has to be as adaptable to the century as she was brave working for SOE behind enemy lines in France and is a remarkable chronicle of our life and times.
If it's just a bit of pampering you want, look no further than the 'Neal's Yard Beauty Book'. This is a real revolution in home-made cosmetics and beauty products from the legendary Covent Garden-based alternative beauty company - and offers real, luxurious alternatives to the over-priced, chock-full-of-chemicals mainstream beauty industry.
Finally, is there a formula for love? Well, turns out there is and in 'The Formula : How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems ... and Create More" author Luke Dormehl reveals how algorithms are increasingly coming to dominate our lives, and what pleasures - and perils - await us in a world that seems increasingly to anticipate out every move.