Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

Well, it’s all over for another year.  The Christmas decorations are down, the presents have been put away, the chocolates, cheese and alcohol has been converted into excess weight and I am back at work.  It’s all a bit deflating really.  Falaise Towers looks bare without the tree, cards and baubles and, given the overwhelmingly negative and gloomy predictions, I am not exactly jumping for joy at the advent of 2012, despite it being the year of the London Olympics and Dickens' bicentenary.

On a brighter note, the Falaise Christmas was thoroughly enjoyable.  Santa Claus did his best to single-handedly revive the UK retail sector, my cooking seemed to go down well (even if I do say so myself) and the proverbial good time was had by all.  As for mini-Falaise, well she is in for a big shock this week as things get back to normal.  She has consumed her bodyweight in chocolate, received enough presents to transform her playroom into a Hamley’s warehouse and been treated to numerous theatre, panto and other outings.  She has also become a “face” at our local gastro-pub, where her stock order of sausages and chips, followed by strawberry ice-cream with a pot of sprinkles on the side with apple juice (and a separate cup of ice) gets punched into the order terminal as soon as she bundles her way over the threshold.  And woe betide the hapless server who gets any of it wrong, as mini-Falaise has developed a hard stare of which Paddington would be proud.

But enough about her great holiday season, let’s talk about me, me, me.  The Big Man in Red did me proud by leaving an iPad under the tree and it is fantastic.  He also managed to arrange for a cover and a wireless keyboard which will make my luggage on business trips much lighter as my chunky laptop can now stay home.  He also brought clothes, after-shave, kitchen gadgets and the complete Poirot on DVD.  It’s a sign of how sedate and middle-aged I have become that my first thought was how much I would enjoy watching them tucked up in bed at night.  How rock and roll am I?  Not very much at all.

Of more interest to you all, though, I am sure, is the literary booty that came my way.  And, in no particular order, my Christmas haul comprised:

1.         The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje.  Although I have a slightly ambivalent attitude to Ondaatje, the idea of the long passenger ship journey from Ceylon to England as seen through a boy’s eyes appeals to me very much.

2.         Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño.  I’m intrigued by this one as it has a very odd structure, being a fictional encyclopaedia of Latin American right-wing writers with Nazi sympathies or affiliations.

3.         The Shakespeare Thefts by Eric Rasmussen.  Of the known 160 Shakespeare First Folios catalogued in a 1902 census, 14 were subsequently stolen, of which only two have been recovered.  Rasmussen, a Shakespeare scholar, has written of the journey he has taken around the world to try and find out about the stolen copies.  Hopefully, this should be fun.

4.         The Myth of the Eastern Front by Ronald Smelser and Edward Davies II.  This one should be interesting but probably not fun.  It is a study of the way the Eastern Front of World War II was portrayed in American popular culture after the war and, in particular, the Cold War and German efforts encouraged a mistaken view that the Wehrmacht had fought a mostly “clean” war in the Soviet Union.

5.         Leith’s Vegetable Bible.  In an attempt to eat more healthily and to set mini-Falaise a better example, Mrs F and I are going to be trying to eat more veg this year and, in particular, be meat and fish-free three days per week.  Mrs F bought me this so I can get some more exciting ideas on how to make this interesting and tasty for us, as we are big meat eaters by choice.

6.         Vegetarian Dishes from the Middle East by Arto Der Haroutunian.  Does what the title suggests.  For reason, see 5 above.

In addition, I have been taking full advantage of Amazon’s Kindle daily deal and the 12 days of Kindle Christmas to fill up my Kindle with interesting looking books.  I have been trying to exercise restraint but, at between 99p and £1.99 per book, I am fairly easily persuaded not to do so.

I’ve give up with the whole New Year resolution thing.  Over the years, I’ve moved from classic resolutions to more limited goal setting to vague intentions but, having looked back at this time last year and, in particular, my stated reading and blogging intentions and aims, it is clear that I am absolutely hopeless at sticking to them.  So, rather than holding out hostages to fortune, I am simply not making or saying anything about this kind of thing in 2012.

I will, however, be doing a bit of mental spring cleaning to draw a line under 2011.  I have around 30 or so books that I read last year but didn’t post about.  Whatever my intentions may be, I am being realistic and accepting that I will never catch up with these properly so, with the exception of ten or so for which I have a specific idea, I will be putting up a post in the next few days, listing them so that they get included as part of my 2,606 books but will not bother writing a full post on any of them, thereby leaving me with a largely blank slate for this year.

I hope you too had a wonderful holiday season, that you received some good books and that you also managed to fit in some reading time around the festivities.  I’d also like to thank you for reading this blog in 2011 and to wish you all health, happiness and success in 2012.


Shann said...

I love that story about your dd, too cute :)

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

Hurrah for the resolution not to make resolutions!

The Shakespeare Thefts sounds really interesting - must check its potential for helping me pay homage to Shakespeare this year.

My best wishes for a Happy 2012!

Falaise said...

Shann - thanks for the comment.

Alex - Happy New Year to you too!

Rebecca Reid said...

I recently enjoyed reading The Shakespeare Thefts! It's light and quick. I got it through LT ER.