It’s getting to that time of year already. I love Christmas time. Time off from work without people loading up your inbox for your return. Family. Good food and drink. Twinkly lights and decorations. Over-excited children. Fantastic. I’ve surprised myself this year by being pretty well-organised. The puddings have been made and are maturing away. The turkey and ham have been ordered in time to get a good price from the butcher. I’ve already bitten off a big chunk of the present buying and I’ve even managed to get the requisite family feud out of the way early! So I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself so far. And with work beginning its seasonal winding down and a manageable number of seasonal lunches, dinners and drinks parties in the calendar, I can look forward to battening down the hatches on Christmas Eve with relative equanimity.
There is one small issue, however, as after Christmas comes the end of the year. A time to look back and reflect upon the triumphs, failures and general events of the past twelve months. Although the year has been quite a good one from a personal perspective, the turmoil in the outside world and the uncertain outlook for the global economy and for many people around the world will, I am sure, cast a shadow over the New Year celebrations. And the good folks at the Broke and the Bookish have decided to kickstart the reflection process by asking us to list our Top Ten books to read from the TBR pile/list for winter. If I were a glass-half-full kind of guy, I could list ten books I’m really looking forward to reading or ten books that will be coming out soon but, as I’m in a glass-half-empty mood and it’s the look back at 2011 time of year, here are ten books I intended to read in 2011 and never got round to.
1. A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes. This is a hefty monster of a book, one of the leading histories of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the immediate aftermath, despite the controversies that dog its author. It’s been sitting in my TBR box for a while and the only thing that has been putting me off is its sheer length. It’s also appeared in not one, but TWO of my Top Ten Tuesday posts this year as a book I was going to read this year and, guess what. Haven’t. Even. Opened. It.
2. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. This is a novel about the lives and dreams of the staff on an English language newspaper in
, whose future looks grim. It was described by the New York Times as a cross between Waugh’s Scoop and Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Rome . I said I was going to read it this year in my New Year’s resolution Top Ten Tuesday. Still haven’t even bought a copy. Las Vegas
3. Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka. A debut novel, published in the
in June, this novel has cricket as a central element, with the Chinaman of the title being a type of spin bowling. The book’s protagonist is a retired cricket writer who spends the last months of his life being unpleasant to his family and tracking down a spin bowler who has disappeared and who he considers to be an unsung genius. The novel is not just about cricket but also about modern UK and has been described as “one of the most imaginative works of contemporary Sri Lankan fiction. I was so excited about this, I pre-ordered the hardback which duly arrived at my office on the day of publication, where it still sits today. Sri Lanka
4. Post Captain by Patrick O’Brian. This is the second in the Aubrey and
series and, surprisingly, for a naval series, much of the action takes place on land. O’Brian’s admiration for Jane Austen is often commented on and this particular volume is sometimes said to be his particular tribute to her. I planned to read this on my summer holiday where, instead, it ended up as just another bit of extra baggage. I really do want to read this and don’t know why I haven’t done so yet. Maturin
5. A Clockwork Christmas by Various. This is a collection of four Christmas themed, steampunk tales. I got an electronic review copy from Netgalley, thinking it would make a good pre-Christmas read as I’m curious to read more steampunk. The clock is ticking though. Look out for a review soon.
6. At Home by Heston Blumenthal. I’ve got a review copy of
’s favourite mad scientist chef on my Kindle and I’m just waiting for the apposite moment to read it. I also promise to cook one of his recipes and blog that as well, to see whether they really do work for your common or garden home cook. Great Britain
7. The Fear Index by Robert Harris. I’ve loved each and every one of his novels so far and this one has been sitting on my Kindle for a while, shouting “read me”. Soon. Soon, I promise.
8. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. When I was younger, I used to re-read it annually but have fallen out of that habit over the past few years. I noticed it on the shelves at home the other day and suddenly had a hankering to read it again, which I think I might well do during the Christmas break.
by Cormac McCarthy. I have singularly failed in my resolution to crack on with my 1,001 Books challenge and have read pitifully few of them this year. I want to get this read and An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro before the end of the year to retain any vestige of self-respect. Meridian
10. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. Slight cheat this one but I am looking forward to reading it again this winter because when I do, it will mean that it is the evening of Christmas Eve, mini-Falaise will be about to go off to bed with visions of reindeer and Father Christmas in her head, the front door will be locked and Christmas will be upon us. Can’t wait.