However huddling up at home isn't very exciting without a good book to keep you company, and not everyone was lucky enough to get one of those for Christmas. Fortunately, this doesn't have to be an expensive thing to rectify, as I discovered when I visited the seaside town of Whitstable in Kent.
I have to admit, visiting a seaside town in the winter wouldn't be high on my to do list, but I was invited along by the town's reporter, who offered to introduce me to the local bookshops and other delights of the town, and I'm very glad I accepted.
I'd heard about Whitstable before, but not really visited properly as stories of nightmare traffic and high prices in boutique shops had put me off. Visiting on a cold Wednesday afternoon, I can't answer to any of those complaints for a sunny summer day, but the regular prices on offer in the bookshops I visited would put the sale offerings of most high streets to shame.
As a follower of theirs on Twitter I already knew Harbour Books regularly crafts some beautiful window displays (my photo doesn't do it justice), what I hadn't expected was a shop crammed with more books than I'd seen in a long time, most of them in a space no larger than my living room. Sure, the shop includes a back room and upstairs, but it was this colourful front room that captured my heart. From recommendations and local interest to general fiction and classics - not forgetting a bright and colourful children's section - there was most definitely something for everyone. And listening into the conversation at the till where the bookseller appeared to be ordering in new stock, I was definitely in a place that appreciates a good book.
And so I appreciated their bookshop even more, taking my time to explore the books before selecting The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin for a mere £2.99.
Pleased with my purchases, it was time to take a break and go for lunch at the Horsebridge Arts Centre. A wonderful resource for the community, I enjoyed some friendly banter with the staff followed by a warming jacket potato in their cafe. Then, so comfortable was I in my surroundings (I did have a couple of good books to read too) that I decided to dawdle a while longer and sample their cakes and hot chocolate. It was during this second trip to the counter that I noticed a bookshelf by the door. While I know this technically probably doesn't class as a bookshop, I found it impossible to ignore the shelves and soon found myself picking up Danny Wallace's Charlotte Street for a mere 50p - as it's raising money for the centre I doubled my donation.
And so, for less than £7, I came away from Whitstable with a haul of seven books. Rain meant I didn't get to enjoy an ice cream by the sea, but with bookshops like this to tempt me back we all know I'll be returning for a 99 once the sun returns.
21 Harbour Street, Whitstable, CT5 1AQ
Tel: 01227 264011
Oxford Street Books
20A Oxford Street, Whitstable, CT5 1DD
Tel: 01227 281727