The Road to Wigan Pier next, another apt read against the current backdrop of blurred reality. Orwell’s unflinching truth-telling and masterly prose. And Lara Maiklem’s Mudlarking for the stories attached to the vast gallimaufry of trouvailles washed up by the waters of old Thames.
Paul Dowswell: Having greatly enjoyed Craig Brown’s Princess Margaret hatchet job Ma’am Darling, I think I might have developed a taste for royal biogs. Edith Sitwell’s Victoria of England is sitting in a pile by my bed and a cursory glance through the pages suggests it will be a fascinating read.
As a long-time writer of non-fiction I have a deep admiration for Bill Bryson – his History of Nearly Everything was excellent. So his recently published The Body looks unmissable.
Finally, I have just spent a week touring Italian schools and the people I was with have been working with the YA author Melvin Burgess and tell me he is brilliant. So I must give one of his a read.
I also re-read, for the first time in about 40 years, Emile Zola’s novel The Masterpiece, published in 1886, which is full of information about the lives and difficulties of the Impressionists, and in particular Zola’s friend from childhood Paul Cézanne who (guess what) ceased to speak to Zola after its publication.
The book that I’m most looking forward to is a debut novel, The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer, given to me by my friend Julia Wills. I’ve only read the opening paragraphs of the prologue so far (I’m saving this book for just the right mood – mine, that is), which are so beautifully written that I might have wanted to read on even if it hadn’t been about the youth of American photographer Lee Miller, whose work I’ve always admired.
Other than that, I am excited about Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (recently reviewed here as the choice of Orb's Bookshop of Aberdeen) by Olga Tokarczuk, the Polish writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. I was attracted to it for its title, which is a quotation from William Blake and I downloaded a sample of the book on to my Kindle. I liked what I read very much and bought the book. This feature, which isn’t much talked about, is one of the things I love about reading on Kindle. It prevents a lot of terrible mistakes. I have sampled quite a few dreadful books and saved myself a lot of money! Merry Christmas to all our readers and hoping for lot of wonderful books in the New Year.