Most Beautiful Books of 2023 – A Holiday Gift Guide

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A Holiday Gift Guide

Most Beautiful Books of 2023

Hello and welcome to my seventh annual holiday gift guide! This post is where I review the most beautifully designed books published during 2023, to help you find something special to gift to your family and friends, or identify new treasures to add to your own shelves. 

The best books of 2023 are listed below, loosely sorted by genre, and any book with a star () next to it is also visually reviewed in the video above. If I recommend a book in this list, you can rest assured it’s not just the physical beauty that counts – I do also read the books I recommend on this site, and I only include books where I think the contents are beautiful too  .

Bookshop links are included below if you are interested in buying any of the books for yourself. Some of the links are affiliate links (and thank you if you use them!) but please do support your local bookstore as a priority if you can. If you’re new here, and you’d like more regular recommendations, you might also like to check out my regularly updated lists of special editions, pre-order offers, and/or subscribe to my very occasional newsletter.

And now, on to the books!

Video Overview

Children and the Young at Heart

bickford lost treasure
★ The Squirrel and the Lost Treasure - Coralie Bickford-Smith

An enchanting new nature-based folktale with a thoughtful message about growth and hope. It’s bound in brightly colored blocked cloth and filled with stunning illustrations (as you would expect from the designer of the popular Penguin Clothbound Classics series) . In series with the equally enchanting The Worm and the Bird, The Fox and the Star, and The Song of the Tree.

Particular Books, 9780241541975

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Olive - Jed Alexander

Part of Alexander’s wordless fairy tale color collection, this duotone retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk delightfully explores perspective from the point of view of a small girl. Also recommended are his earlier books in this series, Red and Gold.

Creston Books, 9781954354258.

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Sleeping Beauty - Charlotte Gastaut

Originally published in French, this is an enchanting retelling of Tchaikovsky’s classic fairy tale ballet, told through intricately layered die-cut illustrations.

Tate Publishing, 9781849768931.

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Little Red Riding Hood (40th Anniversary) - Trina Schart Hyman

This is a 40th anniversary edition re-release of Trina Schart Hyman’s retelling of the classic fairy tale, with her cozy, romantic illustrations. (Her Rapunzel was also recently re-released and is equally beautiful.)

Holiday House, 9780823456437.

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe

Rich and haunting illustrations from French artist Lacombe accompany this version of Andersen’s classic mermaid tale. This edition includes additional pages featuring Andersen’s unrequited love letters to Edvard Collins and an essay by Lacombe with historical biography and context that explores LGBTQ themes in Andersen’s life and explains Lacombe’s androgynously styled mermaid.

Cernunnos, 9781419771996

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Enchanted Tales & Happily Ever Afters - Various Authors

A pocket-sized clothbound gift edition of 10 classic fairy tales, with classic illustrations from the ‘Golden Age’ of illustration in colour and black and white throughout.

Macmillan, 9781035010301

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

A Fairytale for Everyone - edited by Boldizsár M. Nagy, illustrated by Lilla Bölecz

A collection of LGBTQ+ fairy tales, originally published in Hungary. They are mostly classic stories, which different authors have retold for a contemporary audience through an inclusive lens. It won’t be for everybody (I felt some of the retellings lost the charm or moral of the originals), but there will also be children who are happy to see themselves reflected.

Farshore, 9780008508203

Find it at AmazonWaterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Moomin Mail - Amanda Li & Filippa Widlund, inspired by Tove Jansson

Open the envelopes inside this book and find letters from all your favourite Moomin characters, including postcards from Moominpappa, a little book from Little My, a pancake recipe from Moominmamma.

Macmillan, 9781529073850

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Suppose You Met a Witch - Ian Serraillier, illustrated by Ed Emberley

Emberley’s fabulous psychedelic illustrations for this poem are simply magical, filled with detail, humor and sworls of vibrant color. I’m absolutely thrilled this long out-of-print 1970s classic has been reissued.

Anthology Editions, 9781944860561.

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

 See the witchy picture books page for more of these types of books.

★ Godfather Death - Sally Nicholls, illustrated by Júlia Sardà

A humorous gothic picture book retelling of this uncommon Grimm fairy tale, this is beautifully illustrated in a bright woodcut style.
.

Andersen Press, 9781839131417

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Leatherbound Santore Picture Book Classics

These beautiful leatherbound classic children’s tales feature brightly coloured leather covers with gold foiling, and lush illustrations by Santore, including a huge 46″ panoramic gatefold. Beautiful family keepsake editions.

Applesauce Press, Peter Rabbit: 9781646433988 / Wizard of Oz, 9781646433964 / Christmas, 9781646433995

➤ Find The Wizard of Oz at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find Peter Rabbit at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find The Night Before Christmas at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Paws Claws Tails & Roars - Brian Wildsmith

Brian Wildsmith’s breathtaking animal paintings are accompanied by new lyrical text, inviting readers to linger over his glorious depictions of wild animals, birds, and fish.

OUP, 9780192784216

Find it at AmazonWaterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Island of Whispers - Frances Hardinge, illustrated by Emily Gravett

A ghostly fairy tale of magic, navigation, and grief, enhanced with additional storytelling via Emily’s spectacular blue-hued illustrations. Beautiful shimmery silver moths on the cover give it great shelf appeal too. (US edition will be released in 2024).

Amulet, 9781419774331 (US) / Two Hoots, 9781529088076 (UK)

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

Find UK edition at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

The Eyes & The Impossible - Dave Eggers

The delightfully told and illustrated story of a wild dog living in a suburban park. Eggers is always pushing the creative boundaries of trade bookbinding (I also have a crazy faux-fur-bound edition of his Wild Things book) and the deluxe edition of this title features an incredible etched wood die-cut cover.

McSweeney’s, 9781952119453

Find Deluxe Edition at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Big Tree - Brian Selznick

An immersive novel told in words and pictures that follows two tiny sycamore seeds, Louise and
Merwin, as they try to save the world while searching for a safe
place to grow.

Scholastic, 9781338180633

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

The Blunders - Davis Walliams, illustrated by Adam Stower

Another hilarious offering by Roald Dahl’s successor David Walliams, filled with riotous mishaps and hilarious escapades. Fabulously illustrated, and the hardbacks feature a hidden cover under the dust jacket.

Pan Macmillan, 9781035014217

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find special snowflake page edges edition at Waterstones (while stocks last)

The Blunders - Davis Walliams, illustrated by Adam Stower

Another hilarious offering by Roald Dahl’s successor David Walliams, filled with riotous mishaps and hilarious escapades. Fabulously illustrated, and the hardbacks feature a hidden cover under the dust jacket.

HarperCollins, 9780008305840

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Skellig (25th anniversary) - David Almond, illustrated by Tom de Freston

A life-affirming story about friendship and the power of kindness, with captivating illustrations by Tom de Freston to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary.

Hachette, 9781444972283

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Girls Who Slay Monsters - Ellen Ryan, illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald

Unsung stories of Ireland’s ancient Irish goddesses are vibrantly brought to life through these retellings and lush illustrations.

HarperCollins, 9780008538972

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Terra Ultima - illustrated by Raoul Deleo, compiled by Noah J. Stern

A delightful collection of natural history notes and illustrations to accompany the discovery of a fictional ‘new continent,’ – oversized and full of imaginative and beautiful creatures for fantasy and nature lovers to pore over.

Big Picture Press, 9781800786240

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

The Observologist - Giselle Clarkson

A playful field guide looking at 100 small creatures, perfect for budding natural scientists and curious observers of the natural world. Interesting explanations are accompanied by humorous illustrations of the natural world to inspire us all to mount our own “very small scientific expeditions”.

Gecko Press, 9781776575190

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Weird and Wonderful Nature - Ben Hoare

The latest volume in the wonderful DK Treasures series contains tales of more than 100 extraordinary and unusual species, behaviors, and objects, accompanied by fascinating photos and delightful illustrations.

DK Children’s, 9780744085112 (US) / 9780241632314 (UK)

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Glow: The Wild Wonders of Bioluminescence - Jennifer N R Smith

A fascinating exploration of creatures that glow in the dark for young naturalists, with stunning luminous UV ink illustrations that accompany snippets of scientific knowledge and history.

Thames & Hudson, 9780500653203

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Glow: A Child's Guide to the Night Sky - Noelia Gonzalez, illustrated by Sara Boccaccini Meadows

A beautifully illustrated guide to the night sky for budding astronomers. It includes descriptions of how to locate constellations, followed by an engaging exploration of their mythology. In series with Grow, and a set of pretty matching Constellation Notecards are also available.

Abrams, 9781913520786

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ How Our Solar System Began - Aina Bestard.

A large format, beautifully designed and fantastically illustrated journey across the landscapes of the solar system, with lift-up flaps and detailed text to entice readers of all levels. In series with How Life on Earth Began, which is also highly recommended. 

Thames & Hudson, 9780500653197.

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ The Mysteries - Bill Watterson and John Kaschy

is the first book published in years by Bill Watterson, creator of the beloved Calvin and Hobbes series. It’s beautifully designed and bound in cloth, and contains a curious illustrated fable for adults that explores mystery and wonder, and how can it survive in our modern world of progress and science. I’d recommend it for deep thinkers and philosophers.

Andrews McMeel, 9781524884949

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ What You Need to be Warm - Neil Gaiman & 13 illustrators

Gaiman’s poem is a poignant reflection on finding warmth and security as we face our challenges. It was inspired by comments on Gaiman’s Twitter/X account, and includes illustrations from 13 gifted artists. Profits from the sale of this book support refugees, which is another important way you can feel warm if you buy it. 

Quill Tree, 9780063358089 (US) / Bloomsbury 9781526660619 (UK)

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Classics

★ The Great Gatsby

With The Great Gatsby recently out of copyright, there have been a bunch of new editions of this title. But even against this backdrop, Nippoldt’s edition really stands out, with its gorgeous Art Deco styling, stylish and atmospheric illustrations, black sprayed page edges and fold-out pages, and it is magically supplemented with removable ephemera for a truly immersive experience, including a map of New York City, cocktail recipes, newspaper articles, and mini fact sheets (and – a hugely thoughtful point – an index to these is even included in the back). An absolute stunner.

Andrews McMeel, 9781524879761

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, illustrated by Chris Riddell, translated by Ros Schwartz

A beautiful and heart-warming edition of the much loved family favorite tale. The original is so good, that only a master like RIddell can bring something new to a reimagining like this. His visual interpretation is gentle and emotional, a perfect match to a perfect story.

Macmillan, 9781529052565

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Watership Down: The Graphic Novel - Richard Adams, illustrated by James Sturm & Joe Sutphin

An excellent adaptation of the original epic novel that explores friendship, leadership, society and survival through the adventures of a band of rabbits. The illustrations are gorgeous and this graphic novel is a wonderful way to introduce this beautiful tale to a new generation of thoughtful readers.

10 Speed Graphic 9781984857194 (US), Puffin, 9780241683118 (UK)

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Charles Robinson

This is the second title in the new Abbeville Illustrated Classics series. These books feature clothbound covers with decorative gilt embellishments and classic golden age illustrations. A thoughtful new introduction has also been commissioned for the book. A lovely keepsake edition. In series with Little Women.

Abbeville Press, 9780789214720

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Paolo Barbieri

I’m always excited to find a new Alice, particularly one of this high caliber! In this oversized volume, Barbieri has reimagined Alice as a teenager exploring Wonderland, and the results are simply magical. (Look out for his interpretation of Wizard of Oz coming out in 2024 as well!)

Llewellyn, 9780738775852

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

 See the Great Guide to Collecting Alice in Wonderland for more interpretations of this title.

★ Frankenstein - Mary Shelley, illustrated by John Coulthart

A beautiful Deluxe Illustrated Classics edition of this gothic classic, with decorative sprayed page edges, ribbon bookmark, and 25 haunting duotone illustrations by John Coulthart, World Fantasy Award’s Artist of the Year. Features the complete Mary Shelley 1818 edition text, and bonus material including John Polidori’s The Vampyre and Lord Byron’s The Darkness –the two other works created during the famous 1818 writing contest that sparked Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.

. In series with last year’s gorgeous Pride and Prejudice edition.

Publisher, ISBN

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Puffin Clothbound Classics - Various Authors

These pretty and affordable classics feature a touch of gilt on the cover and look appealing enough on the shelf to catch the eye of a new generation of readers.

Five new titles were released this year, as listed below.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find Stig of the Dump – Clive King at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

➤ Find Grimm’s Fairy Tales at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

➤ Find Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

➤ Find Watership Down – Richard Adams at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

➤ Find The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

 See the Puffin Clothbound Classics page for more in this series.

★ Chiltern Classics - Various Authors

Chiltern Classics are based on the style of beautiful vintage classic novels, and are small format volumes with heavyweight paper and gorgeous tactile cover designs (that photos never do justice).

Over the year Chiltern has released 10 new titles, ranging from classic philosophy and theatre, to adventure and mystery. I’ve listed a few below, but be sure to check out the Chiltern Classics Guide to see them all.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find Hamlet – William Shakespeare at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells

➤ Find Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells

➤ Find Murder on the Links – Agatha Christie at Amazon | B&N Waterstones | Blackwells

➤ Find Meditations – Marcus Aurelius at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells

➤ Find Hamlet – William Shakespeare at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells


 See the Chiltern Classics Guide page for more in this series.

HarperCollins Jane Austen Collection

Based on the extremely popular Austen titles in the limited edition Seasons collection, collectors can now have a full set of her novels. Each of the books includes a delicate laser-cut jacket over a textured cover, with foil stamping and a ribbon marker, along with pretty internal quote pages.

➤ Find Pride and Prejudice at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Book Depository

➤ Find Northanger Abbey at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Book Depository

➤ Find Mansfield Park at Amazon | Blackwells | Book Depository

➤ Find Emma at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

➤ Find Sense and Sensibility at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

➤ Find Persuasion at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells


 See the Seasons/Jane Austen Collection page for more in this series.

★ Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics

Barnes & Noble are renowned for their long-running leatherbound collectible classics series. Five new titles were released this year, as listed below.

➤ Find ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Other Christmas Tales (a Christmas anthology) at Barnes & Noble 

➤ Find The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank at Barnes & Noble

➤ Find The Godfather – Mario Puzo at Barnes & Noble

➤ Find The Adventures of Indiana Jones by Campbell Black, James Kahn, Rob Macgregor at Barnes & Noble

➤ Find The Alchemist and Other Novels – Paulo Coelho at  Barnes & Noble


 See the Barnes & Noble Collectible Classics page for a complete list of their titles over the years.

★ Penguin Clothbound

These classics are well-known to most, with their decorative cloth covers (designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith), coloured endpapers and integrated ribbon bookmark. Four new titles were released in 2023, as listed below.

➤ Find The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find The Master and the Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay


 See the Penguin Clothbound Classics page for more in this series.

★ Little Clothbound Classics - Various Authors

12 “Spring” and 12 “Summer” titles were released to complete the set of Penguin’s Little Clothbound Classics collection – a diverse and delightful collection of classic short stories and novellas, with pretty covers by the inimitable Coralie Bickford-Smith. I’ve included a few favorite titles below, but do check out the Little Clothbound Classics page for the full list.

➤ Find The Library of Babel – Jorge Luis Borges at AmazonWaterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find Death in Midsummer – Yukio Mishima at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find Chess – Stefan Zweig at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find Moonlight – Guy de Maupassant at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay


 See the Little Clothbound Classics page for more in this series.

Painted Editions - Various Authors

Four new titles were released in the Harper Muse Painted Editions collection, each featuring decorative tactile covers, pull-quotes, and a ribbon bookmark.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find Winnie-the-Pooh and other Delights – A. A. Milne at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay


 See the Painted Classics Collection page for more in this series.

★ The Wolf-Girl, the Greeks and the Gods - Tom Holland, illustrated by Jason Cockroft

A brilliant weaving of history, myth and imagination to tell the gripping story of the Persian Wars. The illustrations are dark and captivating. A perfect introduction to ancient history for youthful readers.

Walker, 9781406394740

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Fiction

If We Were Villains - M. L. Rio

A gorgeous illustrated edition of the bestselling dark academia thriller where tragedy strikes at an elite Shakespeare conservatory – complete with a brand-new cover, original illustrations and deluxe finishes. Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago. As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else’s story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life. When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

Titan Books, 9781803364919.

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Hercule Poirot's Silent Night - Sophie Hannah

If you love Agatha Christie and have ever wondered about the Sophie Hannah New Hercule Poirot books, I can highly recommend them. She does an excellent job of capturing Christie’s voice, her latest, Silent Night, is a fun Christmas mystery. The UK editions have a cute Poirot silhouete stamped on the boards under the dust jacket.

William Morrow, 9780062991638 (US) / HarperCollins 9780008380793 (UK)

➤ Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Agatha Christie - HarperCollins Special Editions Series

This year saw publication of the final two ‘seasonal’ collections of Christie’s short stories, and the introduction of several new volumes with a new painterly cover style (but note that the new volumes are a slightly different size than the previous editions in the series!).

Find Five Little Pigs at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

Find Dead Man’s Folly at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

Find Murder for all Seasons at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

 See the Agatha Christie Special Editions page for more in this series.

★ Heartstopper vols 1-4 (Special Editions) - Alice Oseman

Special editions of the graphic novels behind the adorable hit Netflix series. These UK hardbacks have foiled covers and decorative endpapers.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find Vol 1 at Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones

➤ Find Vol 2 at Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones

➤ Find Vol 3 at Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones

➤ Find Vol 4 at Amazon | BlackwellsWaterstones

➤ There’s also a B&N exclusive with bonus mini-comics at Barnes & Noble

Fangirl [10th Anniversary] - Rainbow Rowell

The original book that inspired the Simon Snow series. This US 10th anniversary edition has stencilled pink page edges, exclusive bonus content and other treats in store for fans.

(Internal pics from @rainbowrowell – mine’s not here yet)

Wednesday books, 9781250907134

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

One Last Stop - Casey McQuiston

A light-hearted queer rom-com fizzing with great dialogue, as cynical August falls for 70s devotee Jane. The US collector’s edition has illustrated endpapers, bonus content and pink stained page edges. The UK Waterstones exclusive has a signed bookplate, fan art endpapers, and extra chapter and red sprayed page edges. 

Publisher, ISBN

Find US edition at at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

Find UK exclusive at Waterstones

★ Before the Coffee Gets Cold (Gift Edition) - Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot

A lovely gift edition with decorative endpapers and blue stained edges, of the bestselling Japanese novel that explores what would you do if you could travel back in time, and who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

Picador, 9781035032280

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells 

➤ Another special edition with a bonus original essay from the author and other design effects is available from Barnes & Noble

What You Are Looking for is in the Library - Michiko Aoyama

In this uplifting book, we meet five visitors to the library, who are assisted by Tokyo’s most enigmatic librarian, Sayuri Komachi. A quiet but inspirational tale of community and the comfort of books.

Hanover Square, 9781335005625 (US) / Doubleday, 9780857529121 (UK)

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder - Holly Jackson

Collector’s edition with decorative stencilled page edges, an introductory letter from the author, and a ribbon bookmark, for this popular YS mystery novel in which teenage sleuth Pippa Fitz-Amobi embarks on a quest to re-investigate a closed local murder case for her final year project.

Publisher, ISBN

Find it at AmazonWaterstones | Blackwells

★ Inside The Mind of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Scandalous Ticket - Cyril Lieron and Benoit Dahan

A new Holmes story told in graphic novel style with fabulous illustrations that delve into the inner working of Sherlock’s mind as he solves a complex and intriguing case. His thought processes are cleverly presented as a factory of ideas and the illustrations laid out in a way reminiscent of period anatomy text books. Something different and fun for a mystery fan.

Titan, 9781787738911

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Myths, Legends & Folklore

★ Goddesses and Heroines - Jean Menzies, illustrated by Katie Ponder

A beautifully illustrated collection of short profiles and stories of more than 80 goddesses and other powerful women. Although aimed at around a middle grade level, the history is accurate and informative enough to entertain an adult reader, and the illustrations are gorgeous.

DK, 9780241609774 (UK) / 9780744080315 (US)

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

 See the DK Ancient Myths page for more in this series.

★ Lore of the Stars - Claire Cock-Starkey & Hannah Bess Ross

A mystical guide to folklore and wisdom of the heavens. Traditional folk-style artworks accompany the secrets of augury, the meanings of types of weather, stories explaining the birth of the Milky Way, and the beings and deities said to govern the worlds above. In series with Lore of the Wild and Lore of the Land.

Wide Eyed Editions, 9780711282018 (US) / 9780711282001 (UK)

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ A Natural History of Magical Beasts by Emily Hawkins and Jessica Roux

Featuring a gold-foil-embossed cloth cover, a ribbon marker and sprayed gold page edges, this gorgeous volume is filled with beautiful illustrations and precise notes detailing the secret lives of magical beasts.

Publisher, ISBN

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

 See the Folklore Field Guides page for more in this series.

★ Serpent, Siren, Maelstrom & Myth - Gerry Smyth

In this volume, Smyth has gathered together myths and folktales from cultures around the world. For illustrations, the book draws on artworks, paintings, medieval illuminations, maps, and sailor sketches from the incredible collection held by the British Library.

University of Washington Press, 9780295752310 (US) / British Library, 9780712354196 (UK)

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Treasury of Folklore: Stars & Skies - Willow Winsham, illustrated by Joe McLaren

Deftly illustrated  throughout in black & white, this volume delves into the captivating realm of starlit tales and cosmic wonders, presenting an array of myths and legends that have captivated humanity through the ages. The mysteries of the universe are explored through world mythology and enchanting tales that have shaped our understanding of the mysteries of the heavens. In series with folklore treasuries focusin on the Woodlands & Forests and Seas & Rivers.

Batsford, 9781849947749

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Mythos: The Illustrated Story - Stephen Fry

The reprint of Fry’s celebrated retellings of the Greek myths is my favorite so far. The US deluxe edition is quite beautiful (and educational) as it features classical artwork inspired by the myths, but this new UK edition for me just joyfully captures the magic and mayhem of the world of Greek gods in glorious colour.

Michael Jospeh, 9781405955102

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★ The Macmillan Collection of Greek Myths

A collection of short retellings of classic Greek myths, filled with classic golden age illustrations from iconic artists such as Arthur Rackham and Walter Crane, and it also has a bonus illustrated account of the authors and artists behind Macmillan’s original story collections, first published in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Macmillan, 9781035021901

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★ Witch's Forest: Trees in magic, folkore and traditional remedies - Sandra Lawrence

Forests have long been associated with witchcraft, mystical beings, and enigmatic creatures. Yet, they also serve as sanctuaries, preserving ancient magic and hosting an array of spellbinding tree species. The Witch’s Forest invites readers on an enchanting exploration of these woodlands and their lore, revealing the secrets of magical trees, from the birch, known for its broomsticks, to the iconic Tree of Life.

Welbeck, 9781787399068

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 See the Kew Garden’s Magical Folklore page for more in this series.

★ Hausgeister!: Household Spirits of German Folklore - Florian Schäfer, Janin Pisarek and Hannah Gritsch

This gorgeous coffee-table photography book immerses you into the heart of German folklore, where domestic dragons and moss women, Kobolds and Wichtel, roam free. Lifelike sculptures have been meticulously crafted based on historical descriptions, then beautifully photographed in dark and mysterious German landscapes. (Not really for children – think of it more like the sinister uncle of Elf on the Shelf, creepily peering in through a window at night!). A sumptuous blend of eerie and enchanting.

Eye of Newt Books, 9781777791810

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 See the Wool of Bat page for more in this series.

Purnam: Stories & Wisdom of the Feminine Divine - Abhishek Singh

A collection of illustrated stories that depict various lessons delivered by Jagat Janani, the universal mother, or feminine divine. The artwork is figurative and suggestively spiritual, and the stories bring rich Indian folklore vividly to life. In series with Namaha, which I also highly recommend.

Wonder House, 9789354406911

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Rebel Folklore - Icy Sedgwick & Melissa Jarram

A fascinating collection of “complicated” folktale characters from around the world, exploring different perspectives and cultures in the context of modern dat themes.

DK, 9780241623008 (UK) / 9780744084535 (US)

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Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Gnomes [revised edition] - Wil Huygen, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet

An updated and revised edition of this whimsical and enchanting journey into the world of Gnomes, a bestseller since its original publication in 1977. Lovely production values, and new content in this version make this version most attractive.

Publisher, ISBN

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 See the Wizard’s Library Bookshelf Tour for more books like this.

Dragon Lore - Curatoria Draconis, illustrated by Tomislav Tomic

A treasury of ten epic tales that brings together the world’s most famous dragons, stunningly illustrated in fabulous detail.

Megic Cat, 9781915569332

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 See the Wizard’s Library Bookshelf Tour for more books like this.

Circe (5th Anniversary Edition) - Madeline Miller

A feminist retelling of the legend of the witchy Circe, in a glittery clothbound 5th edition designed to match the 10th anniversary edition of The Song of Achilles.

There’s also a special edition with sprayed page edges and the original US cover design at Barnes & Noble.

Bloomsbury, 9781526664587

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★ Gods and Monsters

A gorgeous collection of classic and contemporary mythological poems, illustrated throughout in black and white by Chris Riddell. Including retellings and reimaginings of Roman, Greek, Ancient Egyptian, Norse, Celtic, Aztec, Mayan and Incan mythology.

Macmillan, 9781035023011

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Fantasy & Science Fiction

★ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling, illustrated by MinaLima

The third book in the Harry Potter series, illustrated in brilliant full color by MinaLima with eight special interactive elements. The full colour illustrations on every page are extraordinary, and although they are sometimes overshadowed by the interactive elements, they really shouldn’t be because they’re really beautiful. Interactive elements include the Marauder’s Maps, the Knight Bus, the Grim in a teacup, a spinning Time-Turner, and more.

Publisher, ISBN

Find US edition at Amazon | Blackwells

➤ Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

 See the MinaLima Interactive Children’s Classics series page for more in this series.

★ A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories - Terry Pratchett, foreword by Neil Gaiman

A delightful treasure trove of 20 early short stories by one of the world’s best loved authors. These are rediscovered tales that Pratchett wrote under a pseudonym for newspapers during the 1970s and 1980s, and featuring his trademark humour, the collection will definitely bring joy to its readers. Charming woodcut illustrations throughout.

Waterstones & Blackwells Clothbound Exclusive: Exclusive Edition with limited edition poster, special endpapers, doodles, real cloth slipcase with one foil on front and back panel, books bound in same real cloth with one foil on front, back and spine.

Find it at Waterstones | Blackwells

Waterstones Trade Exclusive: UK hardback with foiled board design, exclusive doodles from Terry and decorative endpapers.

Find it at Waterstones

Discworld Exclusive: UK hardback exclusively embossed with Terry’s signature and sealed with his coat of arms, featuring a cream cover and exclusive red sprayed page edges.

➤ Find it at Discworld

Harper, 9780063376199 (US) / Transworld 9780857529633 (UK)

Find US trade edition at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find UK trade edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Eragon - Christopher Paolini, illustrated by Sidharth Chaturvedi

This illustrated 20th anniversary edition of Eragon by Christopher Paolini is another of my favourites from this year. It’s huge and gorgeously illustrated by Sidharth Chaturvedi, with over 50 full-color paintings. There are plans to do illustrated editions of all the books in the Inheritance Cycle if this one does well.

Publisher, ISBN

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

★ Once Upon A Time In The North - Pullip Pullman, illustrated by Chris Wormell

A gorgeously illustrated novella that tells how two beloved characters from the His Dark Material series first met, young Texan balloonist, Lee Scoresby, and armoured bear Iorek Byrnisson. Chris Wormell’s beautiful colour woodcut illustrations make this one a timeless classic.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ The Essential Peter Beagle, Volumes 1 & 2

Peter S. Beagle is the author of the bestselling The Last Unicorn and these two “Essential” volumes collect some of his best fantastical tales over the past 40 years. They have beautiful hidden covers and the dust jackets and delightful dream black & white illustrations by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law (who also designed the pretty Shadowscapes Tarot).

Tachyon, 9781616963903 (V1) / 9781616963903 (V2)

➤ Find Vol 1 at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find Vol 2 at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Dune Messiah and Children of Dune - Frank Herbert

These deluxe editions of the two Dune sequels feature stained page edges, stamped quotes on the covers under the dust jacket, and reversible cover art.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find Dune Messiah at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

➤ Find Children of Dune at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Fourth Wing - Rebecca Yarros

This year’s biggest breakout fantasy hit, with overnight release parties for the sequel and the works! Don’t fret if you missed the first printings with sprayed page edges, there are lots more special editions available.

Publisher, ISBN

Find it at Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Blackwells

 See the Empyrean Special Editions page for more in this series.

Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi

This collector’s edition of the first instalment of the epic and romantic YA fantasy series has a ribbon bookmark and birds stencilled on the blue sprayed page edges.

Publisher, ISBN

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi

This collector’s edition has black decorations on a black slipcase, and the cover is lush and velvety along with black sprayed page edges. But I’m not sure if they are planning to do the rest of the series.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find it at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

★ The Wounded Storyteller: The Traumatic Tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann - translated by Jack Zipes, illustrated by Natalie Frank

Hoffman was one of Germany’s most famous authors of dark gothic fantasy. This collection of five stories explores ideas of madness, genius, doppelgängers, artificial intelligence, and the boundaries between realities and dreams. Natalie’s accompanying kaleidoscopic gouache and chalk pastels create a suitably crazy environment in which to read them.

Yale University, 9780300263190

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★ Daughter of the Pirate King Special Editions - Tricia Levenseller

All three of the Daughter of the Pirate King series have been given special treatment, with metallic foiled covers, decorate sprayed page edges, endpaper maps and a ribbon bookmark.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find Daughter of the Pirate King at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

➤ Find Daughter of the Siren Queen at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

➤ Find Vengeance of the Pirate Queen at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

The Witcher Series - Collector's Hardbacks by Andrzej Sapkowski, translated by David French

UKcollector’s editions with new cover designs for the series about the eponymous “witcher”, Geralt of Rivia, that inspired the Netflix show and video games.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find Blood of Elves at Amazon
➤ Find Time of Contempt at Amazon
➤ Find Baptism of Fire at Amazon
➤ Find The Tower of Swallows at Amazon
➤ Find The Lady of the Lake at Amazon
➤ Find Season of Storms at Amazon

★ The Wounded Storyteller: The Traumatic Tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann - translated by Jack Zipes, illustrated by Natalie Frank

Hoffman was one of Germany’s most famous authors of dark gothic fantasy. This collection of five stories explores ideas of madness, genius, doppelgängers, artificial intelligence, and the boundaries between realities and dreams. Natalie’s accompanying kaleidoscopic gouache and chalk pastels create a suitably crazy environment in which to read them.

Yale University, 9780300263190

Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

The Deluxe Hunger Games Collection – Suzanne Collins

Oct 26, 2023.

“With all four of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games novels in one box set, you can step into the world of Panem with the 10th annual Hunger Games, and continue all the way to the electrifying conclusion.”

Deluxe Box Set: UK hardbacks with new artwork by Freya Betts.

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells


The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

Sep 14, 2023

“Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey ‘there and back again’.”

Find enhanced edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

Leather Slipcased Edition: UK hardback, quarterbound in green leather, with raised ribs on the spine, stamped in three foils on black cloth boards, and housed in a custom-built clothbound slipcase. The pages are edged in gold and include a ribbon marker. Unique to this edition are two poster-size, fold-out maps revealing all the detail of Thror’s Map and Wilderland, an illustrated 88-page booklet, and a printed art card reproducing Tolkien’s original dustjacket painting.

Find leatherbound edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells


The Eye of the World – Robert Jordan

Sep 7, 2023

“When their village is attacked by terrifying creatures, Rand al’Thor and his friends are forced to flee for their lives. An ancient evil is stirring, and its servants are scouring the land for the Dragon Reborn – the prophesised hero who can deliver the world from darkness.”

Special edition: UK hardback with new cover featuring metallic foil, full-colour endpapers with the classic Wheel of Time map from Thomas Canty and Ellisa Mitchell, and head and tail bands.

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells


Tiffany Aching's Guide to Being A Witch - Rhianna Pratchett & Gabrielle Kent, illustrated by Paul Kidby

An illustrated and practical guide to being a witch in Discworld, covering everything you’ve ever wanted to know from telling the bees to magical cheese, from dealing with elves to making deals with demons, from tending flocks to fending off forces from other worlds. This beautiful and practical guide has been compiled by Tiffany Aching herself (aka Terry Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna), including snippets of remembered wisdom and notes from Granny Aching, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Miss Tick, and Rob Anybody. (Note: Physical copy presently only available from the UK.).

Penguin, 9780241651995.

Find it at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

 See the witchy picture books page for more books like this.

Non-Fiction & Reference

★ The Unfortunate Life of Worms - Noemi Vola

A whimsical, delightful and original presentation of everything you never knew you needed to know about worms.

Tra Publishing, 9798986640600

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Remarkable Plants - Helen & William Bynum

A glorious celebration of the beauty, diversity, and importance of plants throughout history, with exquisite illustrations from the collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Wonderful gift for a gardener.

Thames & Hudson, 9780500026427

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★ Arboretum - Katie Scott & Tony Kirkham

An oversized and beautifully illustrated celebration of the life of trees, the latest in the wonderful Welcome to the Museum series. Perfect for any nature lover.

Big Picture, 9781800782198

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The Screen Traveller's Guide

A gloriously geeky compendium of real-life movie locations, with maps and fascinating trivia, perfect to entertain movie lovers and travel enthusiasts.

DK Eyewitness, 9780744083927 (US) / 9780241629253 (UK)

Find US edition at Amazon | B&N | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

Find UK edition at Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ Entangled Life: Illustrated Edition - Merlin Sheldrake

This edition of Sheldrake’s fascinating exploration of the role of fungi in our world is accompanied by over 100 glorious color photographs – fantastic for anyone curious about the natural world.

Publisher, ISBN

➤ Find US edition: Amazon | B&N | Blackwells

Find UK edition: Amazon | Waterstones | Blackwells

DK Habitats

A gorgeous visual reference to natural habitats around the world, the plants and animals that live there, and how they all interact. Perfect for the curious (or armchair!) traveller.

DK, 9780241569498 UK) /  9780744084979 (US)

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Find UK edition at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

The Story of Flowers and how they changed the way we live - Noel Kingsbury, illustrated by Charlotte Day

A beautifully illustrated collection of stories about 100 flowers and the role they have played in through myths and legends, literature and the decorative arts.

Lawrence King, 9780857829207

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Around the Ocean in 80 Fish - Helen Scales

A fascinating aquatic world tour with fascinating stories of beguiling sea creatures and their ingenious feats of survival.

Lawrence King, 9781399602785

➤ Find it at Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Blackwells | Abes | eBay

★ The Wolf-Girl, the Greeks and the Gods - Tom Holland, illustrated by Jason Cockroft

A brilliant weaving of history, myth and imagination to tell the gripping story of the Persian Wars. The illustrations are dark and captivating. A perfect introduction to ancient history for youthful readers.

Walker, 9781406394740

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