New Year, New You, New Book – A Reading List

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New Year Reading List

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to read more, but you don’t know where to begin, our New Year’s reading list is full of recommendations that are sure to get you off to a flying start. This list of classic literature, fantastic fairy tales, and myths and legends has something for everyone. All these books feature beautiful illustrations from some of the greatest artists of the Golden Age, including Arthur Rackham, John D. Batten, and more. Make sure you stick to one of your resolutions and get the ball rolling with our New Year, New You, New Book reading list.


The Classics 

1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass – Illustrated by John Tenniel

Starting our New Year reading list off strong, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a world-famous tale of a young girl with a bright, curious mind who tumbles down a rabbit hole and finds herself in Wonderland. In this mysterious fantasy world, she explores many wondrous places and meets many puzzling characters.  The lesser-known sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, sees Alice return to Wonderland by passing through a mirror where she finds herself in a world where everything is backwards. Both stories feature the original illustrations by John Tenniel and are full of whimsical magic. 


2. The Water Babies – Illustrated by A. E. Jackson

The Water Babies illustrated by A. E. Jackson

In this children’s fairy tale, Tom, a chimney sweep, falls into a river and metamorphoses into a ‘water baby’. The story follows his adventures and experiences after his transformation and the moral and spiritual lessons he learns throughout his ‘evolution’. This edition features reproductions of the artwork and colour plates, as originally illustrated by A. E. Jackson, an immensely talented illustrator who utilised a delicate yet colourful technique.



3. The Jungle Book – Illustrated by John Lockwood Kipling

The Jungle Book - Illustrated by John Lockwood Kipling

Made famous from the animated Disney film in 1967, the original tale is a collection of short fables. Written by Rudyard Kipling in 1894, this collection of stories features much-adored characters, including Mowgli, Shere Khan, and Bagheera. It also features famous stories such as ‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’, the tale of a brave mongoose, and ‘Toomai of the Elephants’, the story of a young elephant handler. Accompanied by brilliant illustrations from the author’s father John Lockwood Kipling.




4. The Wind in the Willows – Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

Kenneth Grahame’s charming children’s classic follows the timeless adventures of Ratty, Mole, Badger, and Toad as they romp around the British countryside. The Wind in the Willows is the enchanting story of four animal friends and their glorious adventures around the Wild Wood and the Thames Riverbank. With themes of unceasing camaraderie, mysticism, morality, and nature, our New Year reading list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this novel. Featuring Arthur Rackham’s magical illustrations, this edition brings Kenneth Grahame’s whimsical story to life.






From the Fairy Tales & Folklore Collection

4. Tales of the Punjab – Illustrated by John Lockwood Kipling

Tales of the Punjab is a stunning collection of 43 Eastern folktales to rival The Arabian Nights, brought to life by John Lockwood Kipling’s intricate black-and-white illustrations. Collected by English writer Flora Annie Steel who lived in India for over 20 years and is best remembered for her books set on or about the sub-continent. A perfect read for lovers of Aladdin and The Arabian Nights


5. Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights – Illustrated by John D. Batten

Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights John D. Batten

This beautiful book presents a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian folk tales. While the narratives differ greatly in their origins, characters, and motifs – they all stem from the initial ‘frame story’ of the ruler Shahryār and his wife, Scheherazade. She tells a different tale each night, never revealing the ending so the king may spare her life. Tales include: ‘The King of Persia and the Princess of the Sea’, ‘Prince Beder and the Princess Giauhara’, The Three Princes and Princess Nouronnihar’, ‘Prince Ahmed and the Fairy’, ‘Prince Camaralzaman and the Princess of China’, ‘The Loss of the Talisman’, ‘ The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor’, and others.

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6. The Nights of Strapola – Volume I & Volume II

A collection of stories in two volumes written by the Italian Renaissance author Giovanni Francesco Straparola during the fifteenth century. The two volumes are divided into nights, where lords, ladies, damsels, and gentlemen are gathered at a party in Venice and tell each other fairy tales, witty fables, and follies to entertain themselves. Seventy-four tales are told over 13 nights, including folk and fairy tales, novellas with themes of trickery and intrigue, and tragic and heroic stories.


For lovers of Myths and Legends 

7. Legendary Stories Of Wales – Illustrated by Honor Appleton

This collection, Legendary Stories of Wales, is written by E. M. Wilkie and illustrated with stunning drawings by Honor Appleton. It contains a total of 57 classic Welsh tales, ‘told through the ages’, including those inspired by Ancient Greece and Rome, the Celtic past, King Arthur, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante, George Eliot, and many more. As Wilkie informs his reader, ‘many of them are well known… some are out-of-the-way tales… and a few, probably, have never been written down before.’

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8. The Talking Thrush and Other Tales from India – Illustrated by W. Heath Robinson

The Talking Thrush and Other Tales from India, originally published in 1899, is a wonderful collection of 43 Indian folk tales superbly illustrated by W. Heath Robinson. These tales were originally collected by William Crooke but are retold here by W. H. D. Rouse. Rouse has chosen to keep this selection confined to the Beast stories, which are particularly interesting as being mostly indigenous and little affected by so-called Aryan influence. Any changes made by Rouse have been included in a notes section that also includes the sources of each tale, alongside a few obvious parallels or references to the literature of the subject.

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9. The Ingoldsby Legends, or Mirth and Marvels – Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

The final book on our New Year reading list is The Ingoldsby Legends, a true classic of children’s literature. They were penned by Richard Harris Barham (1788-1845), better known by his nom de plume, Thomas Ingoldsby. Barham was an English cleric of the Church of England, as well as a fanatic reader and writer. The stories were inspired by real legends, old mythology, and ghost stories. They’re humorous parodies and pastiches of medieval folklore and poetry. This collection also includes several poems by the author, including ‘The Poplar’, ‘Marie Mignot’, and ‘The Truants.’ 

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