November more than any other month encourages me to make lists, most of them are Christmas related and depressing as I almost never complete them - you'd think I'd learn. Still there's something about a good list that makes me feel I've achieved something just by writing it, so whilst I should be thinking about presents for other people here's my short list of books I'd really like if I didn't already have them.
Salt Sugar Smoke - Diana Henry This book is quite possibly my favourite of the year, it's already given me hours of fun and is destined to be given to quite a few people (you don't know who you are yet but it's on its way). I've been pricing up stove top hot smokers and find they're not to expensive so it may only be a matter of time before I'm making my own hot smoked salmon. The jams have been brilliant, I have a few liquors maturing, and there are plenty more projects to go. If I didn't already have this book it would be top of my wish list.
The Palliser Box Set - Anthony Trollope I have all of the Palliser novels (I'm almost finished with Phineas Finn) in the lovely Oxford classic editions anyway but almost wish I didn't when I saw this. Reading the Barchester chronicles was a revelation, as well as a whole new level for my obsession with all things Victorian. The Pallisers are a slightly different breed of beasts. The politics are, so far, making for slightly more complex moral dilemmas, there seems to be more going on and so less repetition, and perhaps it's just all a little bit more soap opera. Especially now that I'm acquainted with the characters, looking at the pile of Pallisers still to be read gives me warm feelings of anticipation and security - so many good things to look forward to or fall back on.
Island Years Island Farm - Frank Fraser Darling I loved this book when I read it early this year, so much so that I went straight out and bought four copies as presents for my nearest and dearest - and can still think of a couple more people I'd like to give it to. Six months or so down the line it's not just the pleasure I got from reading Island Years Island Farm it's all the other books it lead me to, and back to. When you have a bit of a book habit reading is more often than not a hop from one new book to the next. Something that leads you to pull old favourites of the shelf as well as exploring new paths is a real gift.
Short and Sweet - Dan Lepard I've just made my Christmas cake (I hope it isn't over-cooked, it took somewhat longer than advertised to cook and the top is a little crunchy looking) same recipe as last year and yet another bake from Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet. I've had my moments with this one - volcanic cakes determined to escape the all to modest bounds of the prescribed tin, cakes unwilling to cook in the allotted time, and a penchant for nutmeg I don't entirely share but despite this it's the book I keep going back to despite initial reservations.
Arabella Boxer's Book Of English Food This is another book I was in two minds about before I got my hands on it. It is however a thing of beauty to look at and fascinating to read. It ties up a few of my interests; mostly food, and the inter-war years, but indirectly that touches on class too and being a basically domestic book women feature more than somewhat albeit as the power in the kitchen. It's just a delight.