Those pre-Christmas book-puffs are repellant enough — the most heart-warming spin-off being Private Eye‘s annual list of mutual back-scratching log-rollers.
Look it up. You have a hot-link there.
At least we can assume those Christmas listings are recommendations by critics who have actually read the things. Then, for something different, there are three pages (pp10-12) in the current edition of the Times Literary Supplement where:
Twenty-six of our reviewers discuss the books the’d like to read on holiday.
Got that? We are being recommended stuff the recommenders admit they haven’t read. This amounts to vapourware. Inevitably, the entries radiate of self-congratulary self-admiration (and I paid £3 for the dubious benefit).
Why do I not feel inspired to read, — and here goes for just two examples pulled at random:
Leonie Swann’s Garou: Ein Schaf-Thriller … Swann’s plucky sheep detectives (led by the brilliant ewe, Miss Maple) as they gambol into thriller territory?
a novel about immigration, dislocation, nationalism and PTSD … Olga Grjasnova’s Der Russe ist Einer, der Birken liebt?
So, here’s my immediate plan:
Taking a couple of idle hours to finish the last third of Jill Paton Walsh’s re-treading of Dorothy L. Sayers, The Late Scholar, now available in paperback, and a two-for-one-and-a-half at Waterstones.
Follow that with a re-read of Michael Dibden’s And Then You Die, which must be the shortest of his Aurelio Zen techies. Yeah, yeah, I woke at two in true morning, and have already knocked off the first 46 pages. The joy there is amplified by a well-produced Faber hardback still, a dozen years later, in excellent mint condition.
There’s an Adam Furst, Midnight in Europe, UK publication just this week, which I haven’t yet read, an omission which needs instantly to be rectified.
Perhaps something a bit more “demanding”?
Well, it won’t be any of the stuff the TLS critics have lined up for themselves, apparently on hearsay and sight unseen.
I see here there at my elbow are several demanding paperbacks, topped by:
- William Dalrymple’s Return of a King, The Battle for Afghanistan 1839-42.
- Brendan Simms’s Europe, The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Present.
To be honest, I have pecked at both, but need an extended run at either.
- Chris Skidmore on Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors. I guess that one will get priority, not because of the current vogue for Richard, ever since he was extracted from the Leicester car-park. No: there’s a distant ancestor, Henry Pigott of Abington, Cambridgeshire, recorded as being killed at Bosworth. His father, Thomas, died the following day — could it have been as a consequence of receiving the news?
That seems better justification than much of what those TLS types offer.
And why does one need to be “on holiday” to find time and reason to read?