It's been a good year for reading and the first one where I've kept a record of all my books.
2012 saw the completion of my English Lit degree. It was the year I learnt to love Middlemarch and think that anything less than 600 pages constituted a short book. I began my A Level studies with Heart of Darkness more than twenty years ago and finished my degree with the same, perhaps a little wiser but certainly better read.
This year I also signed up for the Classics Challenge, selecting fifty classic books to read over the next three years. My favourite so far has been Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, partly for its pace but mainly for its characterisation of Pinkie, the teenage gang leader. Villains are so much more interesting than the good guys, don't you think?
I have fellow book bloggers to thank for my next two choices. Firstly there's the discovery of Elizabeth Taylor, in particular Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, which impressed me with its sensitive portrayal of old age, both sad and humorous. Taylor is, I think, a fabulous example of a writer who shows rather than tells and I very much admire her understated style. Secondly, I learnt that I can enjoy nature writing, at least in the company of Robert Macfarlane and his book The Wild Places. I'll certainly be dusting off my walking boots but, lacking his astonishing hardiness, I will be waiting for better weather.
A Dickens Day at Lancaster Library persuaded me to try Tomalin's biography of Dickens. I have it on audiobook and I dip into it every time I want to be inspired by his remarkable energy.
Contemporary fiction hasn't had much of a look-in this year, but I must mention The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. It's a moving and magical tale of an elderly childless couple build a snow child that comes to life. It would make a very good read for the chilly winter months.
So that was 2012. With a shelf-load of new books and the perfect reading room, there's a lot to look forward to in 2013.
Here's wishing you and yours all the very best for the year ahead.
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