40+ Most Beautiful Books of 2019 | A Holiday and Christmas Gift Guide


Greetings book lovers! As some of you know, I started my youtube
channel two years ago because I’d had so many friends asking me for affordable but
beautiful bookish gift suggestions, and I wanted to share the list I made with other
people who also love books that have been crafted with care, those books that have something
a little bit special. So here we are, two years, 50 videos, 1500
subscribers and lots of wonderful internet friends later, with my 3rd annual beautiful
book review. I have lots to get through, so I won’t spend
too long on each one – I will give a link to each of the books below and on my website
(which will also include the highly commended books that didn’t make it into the video)
but feel free to ask me in the comments if you have questions about any of the books. So, let’s get started right away with some
beautiful children’s books! Anatomicum is the latest book in the fantastic
Welcome to the Museum series. This volume is a curated guide to uncovering
the mysteries of anatomy, from the muscles we use to show emotion to the delicate workings
of the brain. Oversized, with stunning artwork, fascinating
for the whole family. Animalphabet is a beautiful abecedarian animal
guessing game for preschoolers, with peekaboo die-cut holes and clever hints hidden in the
illustrations. I like this lovely picture book The Hero’s
Quest for young fantasy lovers, as it is packed with vividly rendered dragons, wolves and
sea-monsters. The 6th book in MinaLima’s stunningly illustrated
and interactive series of children’s classics is a combination volume that includes both
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as well as its sequel Through the Looking Glass. The book includes Alice with extendable legs
and arms; the Cheshire cat with a pull tab that removes the cat and leaves the cat’s
grin; and a removable map of the Looking Glass world, among other delights for Alice lovers. I recommend this whole series and I’ll add
a link to my review of the others in the series as well for you. I also want to recommend a second Alice in
Wonderland this year – I know, an embarrassment of riches. The Folio Society have just released this
simply stunning edition illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk – it’s based on the limited
edition that sells for thousands of dollars, and it has almost all the same gorgeous illustrations
in a much more child-friendly size and pocket-friendly price. I have a lot of Alice books, and this is one
of my absolute favourites. A Tale of Magic is the latest in Chris Colfer’s
Land of Stories series – the hardback has a beautifully illustrated hidden cover under
the dust jacket that’s sure to please young fantasy lovers. In this tale, a maid’s only escape are the
library books that are illegal for her to read until she uncovers a hidden book about
magic. Prudence and Her Amazing Adventure is a lovely
oversized picture book that makes clever use of cut-outs and textured papers to create
atmosphere as Prudence playfully dances through underwater kingdoms and plays in tropical
forests as she goes adventuring. In Starfell: Willow Moss and the Last Day,
the youngest and least powerful sister in a family of witches, who has a magical ability
for finding lost things like keys or socks, suddenly has to help the powerful witch in
the world of Starfell find a day that has inexplicably gone missing. Beautiful hidden cover under the dust jacket
and lovely illustrations throughout the text. Guardians of Magic by the brilliant Chris
Riddell is a stunningly and profusely illustrated magical quest in which three ordinary children,
with extraordinary gifts, come together to defeat the enemies who threaten the mysterious
cloud horses. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse is
actually my top gift recommendation for the year. It’s the tale of four beloved friends who
share a tender bond, with simply gorgeous text and illustrations that remind us of what
truly matters in the world. I think it will join those wonderfully profound
children’s classics like Winnie the Pooh and The Little Prince. It’s a book of hope, a window into the heart,
and a simply beautiful piece of art – a book for anyone you love. The House Without Windows is an enchanting
lost classic that was actually written by the author when she was only twelve years
old, and it is a lovely fable about the beauty of the natural world making it’s perfect for
a middle grade lover of the outdoors. It’s beautifully illustrated in black and
white, and is also a sweet read for adults – quite haunting due to the mysterious disappearance
of the author in the 1930s at the age of just 25. If you are looking for a few fairy tale classics
for a young person’s bookshelf, this new series with The Snow Queen and The Little Mermaid
features foiled covers and magical silhouette artwork by illustrator Laura Barrett. There’s also an interactive ‘pop-up and play’
version available. The Wonders of Nature is a gorgeously illustrated
storybook contains interesting facts and history along with fascinating myths and legends of
the natural world. The cover is foiled, the page edges are gilded
and there is a bound in ribbon bookmark as well. There’s even a companion volume called An
Anthology of Intriguing Animals if you’re looking for more like this. In my recommendations for beautiful fiction
books, I’d like to start with the recent collaboration between luxury British designer
Liberty of and long-time publisher Faber. These two special editions feature Liberty’s
fabric-covered editions of Faber’s classic and groundbreaking contemporary works. Milkman by Anna Burns is covered in a new
fabric design called ‘Small Town’, designed by Duncan Grant, while the cover design for
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath incorporates period fabric from the Liberty archives. These are really beautiful looking modern
classics. For more ‘classic’ classics, next we have
Thomas Nelson’s Winter Seasons series – and I do have a separate video for these if you’d
like a closer look. This lovely limited edition series with die-cut
covers includes a selection of classics chosen to reflect the season in which the main part
of the story occurs, so for winter we have Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Wuthering
Heights by Emily Bronte, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Little Women by Louisa
May Alcott. Also lovely if you’re looking to build a
beautiful but affordable classics library are the new additions to the Chiltern Classics
library. These are beautifully crafted hardbacks with
embossed and pearlescent covers, they fit really comfortably in the hand to read, and
are printed on thick, creamy paper. The most recent books are the Adventures of
Sherlock by Arthur Conan Doyle, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Treasure Island by Robert
Louis Stevenson, Northanger Abbey, Emma, and Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley and The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery. They are also available with matching notebooks. This limited hardback gift edition of the
new Australian classic novel Boy Swallows Universe is lovely, with a hidden cover, decorative
endpapers and ribbon bookmark. The book is set in 1980s Brisbane, and it’s
a dark tale of brotherhood, love and unlikely friendships. The folio society edition of The Phantom of
the Opera is perfect for the music lover, telling the story of the famous musical featuring
mysterious goings on at a Paris opera house. It has a recent and very readable translation
along with these gorgeous and bright illustrations. Next up we have fantasy, one my favourite
genres, so I have a whole section dedicated to this. I’ve done a separate video on this collector’s
edition of A Court of Thorns and Roses if you’d like to see it in more detail. The book is covered in generously foiled gilt
designs. It comes in a black slipcase with a red ribbon
pull, decorative metallic gold endpapers and a map that has been intricately and beautifully
updated from the original. It’s lovely. A Hero Born is another folio society release
of a fascinating historical fantasy novel set in China, featuring a young hero trained
in kung fu who has to face mythical villains and a cunning enemy. Deeplight is another gorgeously designed fantasy
adventure, this time with a nautical theme as a pair of friends facing off ocean gods
and sea creatures, heroes and pirates. In this tale, a maid’s only escape are the
library books that are illegal for her to read, until she uncovers a hidden book about
magic. I also did a separate video earlier on the
Occult edition of Good Omens – it’s expensive, but absolutely divine. There are still a few copies available from
the illustrator and Discworld website if you’re quick… Try to snag a first edition of Gideon the
Ninth if you can, as they were all printed with suitably black sprayed page edges, and
an embossed skull under the cover. it’s billed as “Lesbian necromancers explore
a haunted gothic palace in space”. The Folio Society edition of Howl’s Moving
Castle is simply stunning, with a gorgeous binding and lovely illustrations. This book was the inspiration for the Miyazaki
film, and it tells the tale of the Wizard Howl’s castle that terrorizes the inhabitants
of the town below it, and a young girl who braves the enigmatic wizard in the hopes of
reversing a hex upon her. The Binding is a spellbinding story of enchantment,
mystery, memory, and forbidden love. And Waterstones has recently re-released a
limited number of their lovely purple sprayed edges edition if you like that sort of thing,
which obviously I do! The Deathless Girls is a gothic feminist retelling
about the girls who end up being the brides of Dracula. I had this in my Halloween special, but it
is such a lovely physical book, with a beautifully decorated cover, stunning endpapers and a
hidden highly decorative cover that I’m including it here again too. A sequel of sorts to the His Dark Materials
series, in The Secret Commonwealth Lyra is now a twenty-year-old undergraduate at St.
Sophia’s College, her daemon Pantalaimon is witness to a brutal murder, and the dying
man entrusts them with secrets that carry echoes from their past. The slipcased signed limited edition from
Waterstones, which includes an embossed raven daemon insignia, sold out before publication,
but is still available secondhand. The Starless Sea is a story of magic and subterranean
libraries. The Waterstone’s exclusive is still available
with decorative sprayed page edges and a selection of hidden covers under the dust jacket if
you’re looking for something out of the ordinary. Wayward Son is the delightful sequel to Carry
On, and it’s a about what happens to the Chosen One after he saved the day. Waterstones released a really special edition
with fabulous sprayed page edges and hidden cover that match Baz’s suit. It’s sold out now, but a few have turned
up on the second hand market recently. My top non-fiction pic for the year is Invisible
Women. I have the UK hardback edition – currently
out on loan, so unfortunately I can’t show it here – but it does have a clever hidden
cover design based on male and female silhouettes. This fascinating book provides a startling
perspective on the unseen design bias at work in our everyday lives – from phones that are
too big for the average woman’s hands, to the fact that women are almost 50% more likely
to be seriously injured in a car accident due to safety features being designed for
the average male body. It’s a brilliant analysis of gender bias,
filled with a wealth of data. I am also always on the look out for lovely
poetry collections, and this year I have chosen the anthology Poems to Fall in Love With It’s
a gorgeously illustrated collection of classic and modern poetry celebrating love in all
its guises, from silent admiration to heartfelt passion to tearful resignation. It’s beautiful. Another favourite from this year is The Body:
A Guide for Occupants. Bill Bryson has written many brilliant and
hilarious armchair travel books, but this time the journey is through the human body. It’s highly educational and full of fascinating
anecdotes and trivia. Booked is a travel guide for the literarily
minded, exploring eighty real-life iconic literary locations around the globe with photographs
and maps, ranging from Paris and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, to Central Park and the Catcher
in the Rye, to Forks and teen vampire sensation Twilight. Literary Places follows on a similar vein,
but in this case it looks at fewer locations in greater detail, and it’s illustrated with
hand-drawn artwork. I have the Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole
on order, so can’t show you a physical copy yet, but it looks fascinating. The author is the director of the Centre for
the History of the Book, and this volume is one for bibliophiles – it’s about how
books and readers have evolved over time, and how books transform us. Finally, for the history buff, World War II
Infographics by Jean Lopez is a fascinating history of World War II, told entirely through
visually stunning infographics. Every year I include a couple of Harry Potter
books. This year of course we have the illustrated
edition Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Illustrated Edition) – it’s a massive
volume, but filled with gorgeous illustrations and a lovely set to keep collecting. There are also the (much more expensive) fabric
bound limited editions which come with prints and other goodies for the very passionate
collector. I think it has the same number of illustrations
as previous volumes in the series, but because there is so much more text, it looks a little
sparser. And we also have The Journey of Harry Potter
and the Cursed Child – a book for theatre folk who are interested in how the show was
developed, from crafting the story to the team of artists and actors who brought the
story to life. Lots of photographs and interviews and notes
about the production. And to close out the video this is my Christmas
pick for the year, the British Library’s adorable Children’s Literary Christmas. It’s a collection of Christmas stories,
prose, songs and poetry, arranged into twenty-four seasonal chapters of adventures, festive traditions,
tales of elves, snowmen and reindeer, fairytales, folklore and family fun. It includes both Christmas favourites like
Charles Dickens Kenneth Grahame, and Ezra Jack Keats, alongside charming, but more edgy,
contemporary voices. If you’re a newcomer to my channel and would
like to watch my regular episodes celebrating old and new beautiful books throughout the
year, please do subscribe and hit the bell for video alerts. And if you’re one of my regulars, thanks
as always for watching and please do chat with me in the comments about your favourite
discoveries for the year! Til next time beautiful book-lovers, bye!

10 thoughts on “40+ Most Beautiful Books of 2019 | A Holiday and Christmas Gift Guide”

  1. this may be a really oddly specific question, but does the Alice in wonderland (folio) have this page from the limited edition with the words going down like some smoke? https://youtu.be/eppspAPUogQ?t=411

  2. Links to most of the books are in the description box, and also on the website here (along with many other shortlisted books that didn't quite make it into the video): http://bit.ly/2019xmasbooks

  3. Oh My Goodness!!! All the wonderful, magical, glorious books!   I was lucky enough to get copies of Deeplight, The Binding and The Deathless Girls this year and I'm planning to get the special edition of A Court of Thorns and Roses, the newest illustrated Harry Potter and that winter edition of Little Women and the Mina Lima Alice book. Actually, I need Peter Pan in that series too. Santa … are you listening?? Hello??? I do wish that a nice companion set of Louisa May Alcott's books would be published by someone. I'd like to have at least Little Men and a few others in nice hardcovers. The Folio books you've shown are amazing with Howl's Moving Castle and The Phantom of the Opera being my favourites. The children's books here will give me some great ideas for my godson's son as I am trying to build him a decent library … though he's only 19 months old at the moment. If I have anything to do with it he'll be a book lover when he grows up!! Thank you for sharing this amazing video. It shows as a labour of love. Sending warmest best wishes for you and your family for the holidays. Hope that Santa will bring you lots of beautiful books for Christmas too!

  4. I am also glad I am not the only one who decided that all of folios societies winter collection were too beautiful to to get!

  5. Omg 😱 so many books 📚 I need NOW! My pocket book is going to hate me so much 😨 lol thanks for this amazing vid 👍

  6. i like to imagine that you are a fantasical library, who has like a secret magic room where lots of supernatural wonder exists but only special children of great talent are allowed in

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