Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Heading North

One of the pitfalls of working in retail is the effect it has on Christmas. Work is flat out till the last minute on Christmas Eve, so there’s very little home build up, then Christmas actually happens and I’m back at work before it’s really been taken in. I’m sitting here on the 29th thinking I’m ready for it now, and vaguely wondering where all the new stuff came from. It’s a shame because it was a particularly good Christmas this year and a bit more of it would have been nice.

Fortunately New Year is on the way and from six o’clock New Year’s eve I’m a free woman for 10 whole days. Friday morning I’m getting on a train for Scotland where I will be holed up (briefly) with my family and for slightly longer with my partner and a pile of books – all of which I’m really looking forward and hopefully at the end of it I’ll feel like I’ve had a proper festive season. The last few days have also lead me to make my first New Year’s resolution; I’m going to get some sort of home internet connection, four days without being able to get online, and another ten days to follow is not all bad but....

In the meantime I’ve been admiring the organisation of others who have managed to condense their years reading into wonderful summarised lists (I still have a couple of Christmas presents to wrap goddammit) and would struggle to summarise the books I got for Christmas. I will say that I haven’t read a bad book this year – almost entirely due to very self indulgent selection, but I don’t plan to change that any time soon. My orgonisation isn’t going to stretch any further than working out which of the paperbacks (gratefully received and pictured) to take away with me, there needs to be at least one very long one which I probably won’t get round to reading and three or four shorter more tempting ones that I will. The weather forecast is for very bloody cold so the long one stands a better chance of being read than normal – consequently I’m looking for a less ambitious choice (James Joyce and Cervantes will be staying behind).

The short list is currently Wilkie Collins ‘Armadale’ (long owned, never read), Trollope’s ‘The Way We Live Now’ (I never seem to get round to reading him, but really want to), ‘The Kalevala’ (on the shelf for more than a decade and front of my mind since it was on radio 4 on Monday – probably won’t be a laugh a minute, but on the other hand I do sometimes enjoy epic national poetry, sometimes...), Winifred Holtby’s ‘South Riding’ (guess what – I’ve had it for ages and not read it), or maybe Vere Hodgson’s ‘Few Eggs And No Oranges’. I will definitely be taking my new Barbara Pym, Mary McCarthy’s ‘The Group’, and Maria Edgeworth’s ‘Belinda’. No idea how much I’ll end up getting through, and if anyone has any suggestions for alternatives or a favourite longish book from that list – please let me know.

I hope you all have a really grand start to the New Year – I have a bottle of champagne, a bottle of malt, and a pile of books says I will.


  1. A very happy new year, Hayley. A lovely pile, or a pile of lovely, books to look forward to. Barbara

  2. Thanks Barbara, can't wait to get away, but also looking forward to getting back. Hope you have a wonderful New Year :)

  3. That sounds like the perfect selection of things to start a New Year with. I would definately take Armadale but then again I am biased after my year of reading. Hope you have a wonderful New Year and heres to 2010.

  4. What a wonderful blog you have and I only just discovered it. Your photograph of the pile of books is wonderful. So many excellent items there.

    Happy new year! I hope to visit frequently in 2010.

  5. That sounds like a wonderful way to ring in 2010. I hope, if you get around to reading it, you love Holtby's 'South Riding' as much as I did. Happy new year!

  6. I hope you do get to Armadale eventually--it's my favorite Wilkie Collins novel! But I also keep saying I need to read (fill in the blank), so I know how that goes!!