Jólabókaflóð

If you love books as much as we do, then you need to know about the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð. Throw in the magic of Christmas alongside it and it’s every book lover’s dream.

The term Jólabókaflóð means ‘Yule Book Flood’. Iceland place huge importance on reading and storytelling, with one in ten of the 330,000 population publishing at least one book in their lifetime. Icelanders read more books per capita than any other people in the world. “We are a nation of storytellers. When it was dark and cold, we had nothing else to do” said Icelandic novelist Solvi Bjorn Siggurdson. (Like we needed another reason to visit!)

Every Christmas Eve, Icelanders exchange and gift books to one another, and then spend the remainder of the evening reading them. Sounds pretty blissful doesn’t it? Warm, cosy, eating chocolate, surrounded by your favourite people, and delving into a good book.

In the last year or so, this quiet, simple tradition has garnered more and more international attention. We’re hoping it catches on; it’s a tradition we’ll happily get behind. We’ve created an entire collection on our website for those of you who are hoping to embrace the tradition this year. It includes our personalised Christmas Eve book. You can see the range right here. 

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Our Visit To The House of Minalima

We took a little trip down to London recently, and popped into the most magical print shop there is: The House of MinaLima.

For those who don’t already know, MinaLima is the creative team behind every graphic element in the Warner Bros. Wizarding World, everything from Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letters, to the Black Family Tree Tapestry. The House of MinaLima is the home of these magical props.

Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima (best wizarding names ever, right?) met through a mutual friend and began working together in 2002, when Lima moved to England from Brazil. Mina had already worked on the first Harry Potter film by this point, and Lima joined her for Prisoner of Azkaban.

So imagine walking through Soho, turning onto Greek Street, and seeing the prettiest pink brick building adorned with strings of lights and the shop windows filled to the brim of wizarding wonders. As you step inside you are welcomed into the ground floor shop, home of memorabilia designed by MinaLima, including badges and card holders, wand permits, journals and signed copies of books and prints.

In addition to their work for the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort, and other films such as Sweeney Todd, The Golden Compass and The Imitation Game, they have developed their own range of illustrated classic fairy tale books by Harper Collins, which is exhibited on the first floor. We climb the stairs and exit into the colourful fairy tale world filled with paper cuts and gold accented illustrations depicting Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid and The Jungle Book. You can pick up a signed copy of these, we indulged in a copy of The Jungle Book and cannot express how happy the interactive fold out and moving parts make us. It is just gorgeous!

Moving on up to the second floor and we are in full on wizarding nerd out mode. There’s Mrs Weasley’s howler, the Hogwarts Express ticket, issues of the Daily Prophet and the Quibbler, Undesirable posters and Ministry of Magic propaganda. MinaLima designed every page in the newspapers, magazines and books; using antique books for inspiration in binding and typeface – it was so exciting to see these props in person, but we challenge anyone to decipher the font used in the newspaper articles!

There’s also a little shrine to Weasley Wizard Wheezes and a workshop area that you can make your own Interdepartmental memos and other bits and bobs.

As you climb each staircase you notice an increase of Daily Prophet pages reporting the Triwizard Tournament and Undesirable posters featuring Bellatrix, and by the time you reach the top floor, there isn’t a blank bit of wall. The landing is made even more magical by ‘floating’ candlelight, welcoming you into the first room with even more Harry Potter props and artwork. There’s a fireplace mock up scene with hundreds of Hogwarts acceptance letters spilling out of it. There’s also cabinets of the classic books like Hogwarts: A History,  Magical Hieroglyphs & Logograms, The Tales of Beedle the Bard and our favourite: The Half Blood Prince’s copy of Advanced Potion Making, which was exhibited open on the recipe for the Draught of Living Death, you know, the one that helps Harry win the bottle of Felix Felicis.

Entering the final room at The House of MinaLima, there are lavish Art Deco posters from MACUSA and No-Maj propaganda as well as a display case with props from Fantastic Beast and Where To Find Them.

The House of MinaLima really is a wonderful, ever changing place that we would happily revisit time and time again, and spend all of our money at.

Gift For Book Lovers – Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide

Christmas is right around the corner whether we’re ready for it or not! If you’re after a unique and thoughtful gift for the book lover in your life then look no further, we’ve got you covered! Our main website is full of literary gifts that are sure to make any bookworm smile.

TEA & VINTAGE BOOK CLUB 

From £36 (3 Month Subscription)

A wonderful book subscription gift that will delight any book lover. A special literary package sent from the UK arriving on the doorstep every month: a surprise vintage paperback book, some lovely stationery and delicious tea. Perfect!

ARTHUR WEASLEY MUG

£12.50

Let a friend know how wonderful they are with this funny mug. A brilliant Christmas gift too.

OBSTINATE HEADSTRONG GIRL PRINT

Fr. £14

An empowering quote print in a bright and modern design. We love how this poster inspires determination and ambition. The bold design is available with red text over a pink background or rose gold over a navy background. 

‘THOUGH SHE BE BUT LITTLE SHE IS FIERCE’ SWEATSHIRT

Fr. £23.00

A perfect sweatshirt for the wonderful, fearless girls in your life. It features one of literature’s most popular quotes. 

‘ADVENTURES’ TRAVEL JOURNAL

£13.00

Travel journal featuring this wonderful literary quote from Jane Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’. This lovely writing journal would make a great gift for any young lady you may know who is heading off a new adventure or trip of a life time. A great present to wish them a good trip. 

‘SHE IS TOO FOND OF BOOKS’ BOOK PAGE PRINT

£19.95

A wonderful literary gift for your favourite book lover, this brilliant quote is from Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’.“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” This typographical print uses a framed vintage book page and our exclusive, hand drawn font. 

PERSONALISED CHRISTMAS EVE BOOK 

£16.00

A beautiful personalised book gift for the festive period, and a particularly wonderful gift for Christmas Eve. This lovely book can be enjoyed as a family for years to come. Christmas Eve is all about traditions; cosying up by the fire with a hot mug of cocoa, and reading a good book. 

THREE BOOKISHLY EDITIONS

3 for £19.99

This beautiful selection of three literary classics makes the perfect book gift for any avid reader. 

LITERARY MARBLE MUG

£12.50

This literary mug features an amusing line that’s perhaps a little too relatable to us book lovers. It’s true! Books are the perfect way to escape real life for a while!

LITERARY JEWELLERY

£8.95

These two lovely friendship bracelets make a wonderful gift for a friend going through a challenging time. Use these charm bracelets to let them know you’re there for them and always will be. The two bracelets come in navy and grey and feature a lovely star charm  

9 Things All Coffee Lovers Will Relate To…

  1. Your day doesn’t start until you’ve had coffee… That first mug in the morning means you can face whatever day ahead throws at you.

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2.  Once you smell the coffee, you need the coffee… You could be busily working away but one waft of fresh coffee means you drop everything and head to the nearest kettle.

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3. Whoever heard of too much coffee… 3 a day, 5 a day, espresso, latte or americano. There’s always a reason for more coffee, right?

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4. Not all superheroes wear capes… Coffee makes you feel better. Whatever mood you’re in, whatever problem you’re dealing with, some time out to sit down and relax with a good cup of coffee fixes everything.

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5. Decaf is not proper coffee…  There’s a time and a place for decaf, maybe you don’t want a caffeine fix right before bed, but it will never compare to the real thing.

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6. No coffee shop is too expensive… Costa, Starbucks, Cafe Nero or you little local, when you need that coffee fix you need it now.

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7. Books and coffee are the perfect combination… There is nothing that can beat that quiet time when you sit on the sofa, usually covered with a throw, with your favourite book and a huge mug of coffee. Need a coffee and book fix? We’ve got you covered.

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8. It always tastes better out of your favourite mug… We all have one in the cupboard, that special mug that we always grab when we want to chill with a coffee. Not got one, we’ve got a few perfect options for book lovers

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9. Coffee counts as breakfast… Running late or lying in, a mug of coffee or two is always a good way to start your day.

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Literary Clothing Range?

As a member of The Bookishly Book Clubs, it’s safe to assume that you love books just as much as we do, which is why we wanted to tell you about our brand new clothing range that’s launched over on our main Bookishly website today…

A collection of slogan sweatshirts in a variety of sizes and colours that feature some of our favourite quotes from literature. The range aims to empower, inspire and reflect a society that’s pushing for equality. Here are a few photos to show what you can expect. We’re really proud of these products. If you like what you see make sure to go and check them out in more detail.

Fearless but powerful

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Thanks so much for reading, we’d love to know what you think! Shop the clothing collection here.

Hidden Treasures We Find Inside Our Old Books

We’ve been running a blog series over on our main blog for over two years now. It’s all about those little treasures we find hidden with our vintage books, from tickets and invoices through to photographs, love letters and so much more. Here are a few of our favourites. We’d love to know if you’ve found anything interesting in your old books.

1. Couple Photograph.

We’d probably date the photograph of this young couple back to the seventies. It’s such a lovely picture! We’re always after ways to reunite these forgotten photos with their rightful owners.

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2. Handmade Greeting Card.

On first glance, this handmade card somewhat resembles a letter of ill intention… Though the note itself is simply between two friends catching up!

Dear Anne,

Thanks for card and address. How’s the husband, do i know him? Everyone seems to be married or divorced – not me, all fallen through thank goodness! Am now at Regional College Art Manchester (Industrial Design). Hate the north, what are you doing besides obvious? Lousy weather here but wonderful summer in Italy and Yugoslavia. Have you read the cards from Italy, saw Anne has and can’t think only of you. Life is good to me in all ways but goes far too quickly. Shall come and see you in Bristol as i pass that way en route to Manchester.

Drop me a line in the meantime. Are you any better (calmer now?!)

Sorry Graham (for what?)

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3. Butlins Advert.

An advert encouraging the younger generation to holiday at Butlins. We have to say it’s pretty persuasive! ‘Nowhere else could you dance each day to such famous bands, see greater entertainment stars or enjoy better facilities for every kind of sport and amusement without paying one penny extra…. I am planning to make the coming season my best and biggest ever – for everyone. Leave your holiday to me and I promise you’ll be glad you did.’ The advert message is even  signed’ by Billy Butlin!

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4. Vintage Book Subscription.

This was a particularly lovely find. The reason we sort through thousands of vintage books each month, is for our book club subscription parcels. So, to find a treasure offering an actual book subscription service from over sixty years ago was amazing to us – the love people have for reading, and books in general, is timeless.

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5. Postcards To Grandparents.

These postcards are from a young lady named Bev to her grandparents who live in swansea, dating back to 1971. She’s keeping them updated about the latest goings on from her holiday. They read:

Dear Gran and Grandpa,

Well since I last wrote to you we’ve driven 800 miles across spain into portugal to a place called Figuero Da Foz, which is a great place if only it wasn’t raining. The camp site is tremendous with an enormous swimming pool, tennis courts, restaurant, bar etc. All for less than 2 euro a night. Anyway we’re heading south soon so maybe that will improve the weather. All the best for now, Bev.

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Dear Gran and Grandpa,

I’m writing this in Biarritz where we’ve been since Saturday. The weather was great when we got here but it’s started to rain now so we may head south into the sun after this week. Paul’s got one hell of a hangover after getting high on the local plank (?).

Anyway, bye for now, love Bev

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6. Children’s Illustration

We found this lovely drawing in a vintage copy of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Thirteen Problems’. What do you all think?!

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7. Love Letter

We found this love letter tucked inside the pages of a 1961 publication of Thunderball by Ian Fleming. Upon first read, we thought we were reading about a forbidden and forgotten love between a now married lady and her former sweetheart. However, when we examined a little closer, it seems that the individual who wrote this letter was writing it to Mr. Bond, and was doing so in the character of Domino – his love interest in the story. Here’s how the letter reads:

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Darling,

I wondered at first whether I should write this letter, but I know you will understand. It hardly seems possible that we could be so far apart after what happened.

Carlo is kind. Of course I love him, and the children make up for everything. But once in a while I remember… Our first drive… Our first supper together in the Casino! You ordered Champagne. And I told you about my hero – the sailor on the front of the packet of Player’s (I believe you were jealous!)

This Christmas we’re coming to London. I know you’re terrible busy, but couldn’t you just find one spare evening when we could meet and talk and laugh about old times?

Do please say yes. And don’t let that horrible old ‘M’ give you any assignment over the holiday.

I think of you –

Ciao, Domino.

P.S Came across this book in Nassan yesterday. You must read pages 152 – 155.

 

 

The Best Tea In The World

We’re huge tea lovers here at Bookishly. (We are British after all!) Tea and our unfaltering love for literature was very much the inspiration behind the Tea & Vintage Book Club.

But just where in the world can you get the best cup of tea?  A big question with so many answers and they’re all right! Take a look this list, what do you think?

MOROCCO

You will never be short of tea when visiting Morocco, it’s ever-present.  Moroccan tea is prepared with an infusion of herbs, such as mint, contains plenty of sugar and poured in a very specific way; its strong and sweet.  Sometimes they add Chinese gunpowder tea, don’t worry it’s not actual gunpowder, the leaves are hand-rolled into tiny pellets resembling gunpowder. In the winter you’ll find lemon verbena tea.

Tea is always served with food and a tea ceremony is traditional to close any meal of the day.

SRI LANKA

One of the top 5 producers of Ceylon tea and the original namesake. Ceylon is considered the best tea in the world, extremely popular and comes as a black tea, a green tea and a white tea.  Sri Lankans drink their black tea, very strong with milk and sugar. If you’re looking for beautiful surroundings to sit and enjoy a brew, Sri Lanka is for you.

Like many other countries sharing a pot of tea with friends and family is the perfect way to wind down at the end of the day.

INDIA

Is the second largest producer of tea after China.  In India they prepare tea very differently. Typically, although drunk with milk and sugar, the leaves are not steeped separately but boiled along with additions and then boiled again after adding in the milk and sugar.  The most special tea is boiled solely in milk.

Most famous for masala chai; a combination of black tea with milk, sugar, ginger and cardamom.  A wonderful combination for Autumn & Winter.

CHINA

Tea culture in China is by far the world’s oldest, boasting mesmerising tea ceremonies, luxurious tea houses.  If you want to have tea and chat head to Sichuan Province renowned for venues where you can gossip, play mah-jong or enjoy light entertainment. If China doesn’t have what you’re looking for when it comes to tea, it’s probably not worth the bother.

JAPAN

Another place with utterly beautiful tea ceremonies.  You haven’t experienced the ultimate tea culture until you’ve taken part in a Japanese tea ceremony.  Usually performed by a lady in a kimono, this time-honoured and traditional ritual involves green tea powder or matcha.  Japan has the most delicious tea, especially blended with jasmine or roasted rice. Their traditional tea houses are small exquisitely designed and built ‘huts’, set in immaculate traditional gardens.  This sounds like the ultimate place to take tea.

UNITED KINGDOM

There is no better place to have afternoon tea.  The Duchess of Bedford started the tradition of 4 o’clock afternoon tea.  This much loved ‘institution’ still retains an element of posh, especially if you’re lucky enough to dine in one of the UK’s top hotels.  You’ll find yourself with a menu of delicious teas to choose from, not mention scones and sandwiches. What we lack in ceremony we make up for in emotional attachment.

Don’t confuse this with high tea, totally different a light evening meal, ordering this can lead to disappointment if you’re hoping for scones and sandwiches – how very British.

TURKEY

Real Turkish tea is delicious, it’s strong and dark.  It’s not the apple tea served to tourists (does not contain apple or tea).  The tea is brewed in a special pot, boiling hot without milk. Served in a small glass along with biscuits.

KENYA

Third largest tea producer in the world.  Kenyan tea is a bright copper colour, sounds lively! Synonymous with the brand Brooke Bond.  You can now go on plantation tours, picking Assam leaves with the locals. The Kenyans describe their tea much like France would describe wine; full bodied.

RUSSIA

Not the first place I would think of if asked ‘if you could pick a country to have tea, where would that be?’ The Russians love drinking tea and this simple ritual for making tea makes me think of wintry afternoons under blanket with tea on tap, literally.  Using a samovar, a rather lovely looking brass tea kettle (much like a hot water urn), they make a brew using a tea concentrate, zavarka. Zavarka is strong and made from loose leaf, diluted with kipyatok (boiling water). Fill a quarter cup with the concentrate and top up with water.

Where would you add to the list?