Children's literatureIsraeli authorsMan Booker PrizeSunday Salon

Snapshot December 2016

I can’t believe I let December 1, 2016 come and go without marking it with a snapshot of  what I’m reading, thinking about reading, buying. It got to almost half way through the month before I even realised I had forgotten. So let me do a quick re-wind…..


After the dreary experience of  Little Women I needed a complete change of pace and subject.  Waking Lions by  the Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen was certainly far removed from the domestic world of Alcott – this is a novel set in Israel in which a doctor accidentally kills a man in a hit and run accident – and is then blackmailed for his actions. It had a lot of promise early on but got bogged down too much in detail.

rich-in-asiaCome December 1, my attention had turned back to the Booker prize project. I picked up The Conservationist by Nadime Gordiver about which I had heard good things. The fact that it’s set in South Africa was another plus point. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood but it didn’t do much for me – I found the untagged dialogue confusing and I’m not really sure where the book is going. So I put it to one side and picked up How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid instead. It was just the change I needed with its bold, humorous narrator who speaks directly to his main character and mocks the culture of self help books. Quite delicious.


As you’d expect at this time of the year, I’ve been very active with the book purchases. I try to get everyone in the family a book of some description – this year my mum is getting Our Souls at Night By Kent Haruf and Brooklyn by Colm Toibin; my husband is going to be opening a veritable mini library which includes Keeping On Keeping On, the latest collection of memoirs  by Alan Bennett. This is certain to be a hit because it’s a follow on from Writing Home and Untold Stories, both of which had him laughing out loud at times. My dad is getting the Little Hummingbird Cafe cookery book – though he has hundreds of cake recipes in his repertoire having been a professional baker for 40 years he still likes to see what other people create and to have a go himself.

Of course, having to go shopping on line for other people does mean I get tempted myself. It doesn’t help that so many ‘best of’ lists come out around now. I tried to be judicious knowing that I will be unwrapping some book gifts on Dec 25 and the fact my TBR has just jumped over 200. But I still succumbed to Kindle versions of The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney, Tender is the Night by F. Scott. Fitzgerald (hope I like it more than Great Gatsby) and A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale (I didn’t care for his most recent novel A Place Called Winter but still think he deserves another go).


I feel rather adrift at the moment. No more episodes of The Crown which was a stupendous series on Netflix. No more riveting episodes of The Missing. No more Great British Bake Off.  I’ve been trying to like the BBC new series Rillington about the mass murderer Reginald Christie but its not a patch on the film 10 Rillington Place with Richard Attenborough. Fortunately we have Wolf Hall (the adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s award winning novels about Thomas Cromwell) to keep our spirits alive….


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

14 thoughts on “Snapshot December 2016

  • LOL never heard Little Women described as “dreary” before. I’ve heard good things about The Crown. Haven’t seen it yet. Merry Christmas; always enjoy reading your posts.

    • Little women is apparently the set text on our course that divides opinions. |students either love it or hate it. I have to say I am in the intensely dislike category…….

      Merry Christmas to you too – I can’t believe the year is almost over can you?

      • I cannot. Before Christmas though I’m getting ready for the launch of my new picture book (With Grace) so no time to meditate on 2016 just yet. And as far as Little Women goes not only am I in the love category but a highlight of my trip to Massachusetts a few years ago was getting to tour Louisa May Alcott house. I’m not even embarrassed.

  • Oh the dangers of holiday shopping especially when it comes to books! 🙂

  • I was trying not to buy too many books in Nov / Dec but that didn’t really work. I have bought loads as gifts and have already opened 4, plus know I have a good few more in my Virago LibraryThing Group secret santa gift. Hooray!

    • I’m afraid I’m like a kid in a sweetshop whenever I go near a bookshop. Resistance is futile for me!

  • I love hearing what books you bought your family for Christmas. And now I’m dreaming about what it might be like if I had a Dad or a husband who liked to bake cakes. 🙂

    • Ah its not as idyllic an experience as you might think Naomi. First of all, because we often ended up with no bread or cake in the house because some customer had turned up with a sob story and my parents sold what had been earmarked for us. And then, when I was doing cookery lessons in school my dad would take one look at the output and it went in the bin before he quizzed me on what recipe I had used (which always turned out the wrong one). My efforts were appalling it has to be said. But now i’m more able to spend time and effort its wonderful to have an expert at the end of the phone. Only problem is he thinks in large quantities and finds it hard to scale back to just one cake!

      • I guess it’s probably hard to live with someone who’s an ‘expert’ at anything!

  • I think your mum will enjoy her Christmas reads!

  • I can relate to your dearth of good shows to watch. BBC shows on PBS here in the United States were the Sunday night place to watch, but lately the hiatus of all my favorites has me bereft. There are just so many Christmas extravaganzas one can watch. I am looking forward to the return of Poldark and the Durells of Corfu, and hoping The Crown continues next year. A teasing episode of The Midwives has been advertised to appear soon and promises a well-needed respite.

    • i hate to say this but my experience of American tv wasnt wonderful. All those ad breaks drove me crazy. I found a few shows that were my saviour on my trips – Law and Order being the prime one. So I can understand you yearning for the british series

  • I’ve been wanting to check out The Crown…and even Rillington Place. So far, nothing grips me.

    Last night, though, I rewatched the movie Brooklyn…loved it!

    Enjoy the upcoming weeks…and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

  • Book gifts are the best ! It seems you know exactly what they like, which makes it a lot more fun to shop. And I think you still did a good job with only 3 strikes for yourself ;-).


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