I’m cheating a little here because it isn’t so much one book that I tend to give as a gift but one of (currently) 115. Persephone Books have been republishing neglected books by mostly women writers since 1998, specialising in titles that are “neither too literary nor too commercial” and they have some gems on their list by writers such as Dorothy Whipple, DE Stevenson and Monica Dickens.
All of their books are paperbacks and come with dustwrappers of matching gentle grey belying the vibrancy of the endpapers, all taken from fabric archives and contemporary to the book. The matching bookmarks – tragically not included in the ones bought other than directly from Persephone – are the perfect finishing touch.
There’s always a perfect book and one of their more recent reissues – and which I won’t mention because I’ll come to it later in this advent calendar – is currently being given by me to absolutely everyone regardless of whether they already have it in a different edition or not.
The Persephone shop in Bloomsbury, just around the corner from the equally delightful Pentreath and Hall, is a delight – full of Persephone’s own books, a small, curated selection of other interesting books, wrapping paper based on some of the endpaper designs and a genial air of literary vagueness. I love it and trips there when I’m in London are as much a habit as Tate Britain and Liberty.