09 May, 2009

Now we are thirty

In celebration of my thirtieth birthday, I've decided to move my blog to WordPress, as blogger is becoming increasingly annoying to use. You'll find my new blog blue stockings here at http://woodscolt.wordpress.com/

22 April, 2009

I've added the list of books read so far this year to the sidebar on the right. Annoyingly, blogger won't let me do a list of some hyperlinks and some text, so I can't do a list which links to my posts about books as I write them up. Or, I could, but I would have to do all the HTML myself, which i can't be bothered with.


Reading: having finished L'argent, I've moved swiftly on to Au bonheur des dames.

Listening: it's been a poor week for music.

Watching: for the first time, Rear window, which I really enjoyed. I might try and start to say slightly more meaningful things about the films I watch, actually.

13 April, 2009


Reading: still reading Zola's L'argent and Kotz's Russia's path from Gorbachev to Putin. And a collection of surprisingly interesting articles about indexing for school.

Listening: have spent the Easter weekend listening to the Classic FM yearly top 300 classical pieces poll. It's very amusing how they breathlessly give you the stats - who's up, who's down - for a collection of pieces that actually shows very little change from one year to the next.

Watching: Letters from Iwo Jima, which I thought was brilliant: better than Flags of our Fathers, the companion piece showing the battle for Iwo Jima from the American side.

07 April, 2009

The trouble with libraries

I'm reading a copy of A.S. Byatt's Still life from the library which has been liberally annotated in blue biro with grammatical 'corrections'. Every incidence of the word 'whilst' has been changed to 'while', which is sort of fair enough. Every Oxford comma has been carefully scribbled out. But this reader isn't familiar with the subjunctive, so 'Tony insisted that Frederica come to hear Amis speak' gets modified to 'Tony insisted that Frederica should come'. 'As though this were possible' has been changed to 'as though this was possible'.

Further into the book the self-appointed sub-editor has been carried away with his or her own rightness. 'Last but two' becomes 'antepenultimate'. 'Nature ramble' becomes 'nature walk'. 'I think he might give up on me too' is weirdly changed to 'I think he might give me up too' which is quite a considerable change in meaning, I think. It's very disconcerting reading a book in which the author's language has been so assertively changed by a completely random person.

06 April, 2009


Reading: I've started the second of A.S. Byatt's Frederica quartet, Still Life. I'm also really enjoying David Kotz's Russia from Gorbachev to Putin, although I'm going quite slowly with it.

Listening: a lovely concert on Saturday, Brahms and Mendelssohn at the Royal Festival Hall.

Watching: I've been re-watching Series 3 of The Wire and I'd forgotten how many good bits there are in it. Adjourn your asses! Cutty! Bodie! Omar! So great.

02 April, 2009

We are now beginning our descent - James Meek

This is James Meek's fourth novel, which I thought I'd read as I enjoyed his previous one so much, The people's act of love

I actually found this book so depressing that I had to stop reading it temporarily. It starts in Afghanistan, where the central character, Adam Kellas, is reporting on the war, and meets a fellow journalist from the US, Astrid. The novel then follows him back to London, where he has a sort of crise and smashes up the kitchen at a dinner party gathering of wanky London intellectuals. It was this bit that I found so depressing: Kellas's (Meek's?) anger at the self-satisfaction of the liberal journalists reflects some of my own feelings about the smugness of what passes for the liberal press in this country. The contrast between the war going on in Afghanistan and the abstractions of the newspaper editors and writers back in England is jarring and bitter and miserable.

After trashing his hosts' kitchen, Kellas flies to America to find Astrid, and en route loses everything he has - including his enormous book deal advance. But Astrid is as lost and incapable with dealing with the return to the West as he is. I thought this book said a lot about the way that war, even war in a land far away about which we know little, has an impact on the way we operate. The fact that we split these things off from our own lives - we need to, because you can't do anything else - has effects that reach further that we imagine, and the faultlines are particularly clear for anyone who has to move between these two worlds.

31 March, 2009

Antonia Forest

Laura very kindly lent me a couple of Antonia Forest books I hadn't read: The thuggery affair (one of the stories about the Marlows) and The Thursday kidnapping. These were both reasonably good fun, as Antonia Forest usually is, but not as enjoyable as some of the others because of the appalling snobbery that pervades both stories. This comes up in other Forest novels - the depiction of Marie Dobson in the school novels, for example - but was specially noticeable and unpleasant here.

The Thursday kidnapping is about the relationship between the Ramsays, a family of nice, middle class children in Hampstead, and Kathy, the vulgar, lower-middle class girl who lives next door. Kathy is quite similar to Marie Dobson, in fact - she has all her unpleasant habits, sneaking, stealing, lying and sucking up - and is depicted with a level of snobbery which really gives one pause. Her family are sneered at for being an 'advertisement' family - of course the outward perfection shown by their shiny mod cons home is a sham and they all despise each other. They are even too lazy to walk their dog properly. Kathy is a fantasist and a liar, but is instantly reduced to whining and sycophancy when threatened with punishment. And where the depiction of Marie Dobson in the school stories has the redeeming quality of examining the way we feel guilty for disliking other people, even when we have no reason to like them, the Ramsay children are here given no reason to tolerate Kathy: in fact, the events of the day described essentially vindicate their dislike of her.

The thuggery affair is back in the world of the Marlow family, and describes Peter and Lawrie Marlow and Patrick Merrick's efforts to thwart a gang of drug smugglers. Bits of the plot really defy belief: the gang are despatching their dope via carrier pigeon, for example, and they talk in an embarassing made-up slang. Here Antonia Forest does try to moderate the snobbery that runs through the whole book: she gives the chief thug a long passage in which he explains why he went to the bad. But even this passage is compared very unfavourably with Patrick Merrick's stern (priggish?) morals, and the message is clearly that anyone can afford morals; only the weak succumb to criminality. I'm more in agreement with Bertold Brecht: erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.


Reading: I'm finally emerging from a bit of a reading block, which is good. I've been reading quite a bit of poetry recently and finally finished James Meek's We are now beginning our descent.

Listening: a great concert at the RFH on Sunday, Beethoven's Eroica, Strauss's Four last songs, and some Ravel.

Watching: as part of my project to expand my film knowledge, a recommendation from Niall, Dog day afternoon, which I thought was fantastic.

25 March, 2009

Betsy Blair

I'm very sad to hear about the death of Betsy Blair (Guardian obituary here), whose autobiography was one of the first books I wrote about on this blog. I first heard of her when she was on Desert Island Discs where she came across as such a warm, intelligent person (and picked such nice music) that I bought her autobiography. (Also because I love Gene Kelly, of course.)

24 March, 2009


Reading: skipped my way through a couple of Antonia Forest children's books. Apart from that I've hardly been reading at all: too tired and fed up. And when not fed up, gardening.

Listening: La Somnabula live from the Met on Saturday was really gorgeous.

Watching: The last ever Deadwood. I felt quite bereft. Such a beautiful series. Then, this weekend, Marty in memory of Betsy Blair (such a lovely lovely film), and Sophie Scholl.

19 March, 2009

Girl in red

Little Red Riding Hood was my first love, I felt that if I could have married her, I should have known perfect bliss - Charles Dickens

I was born to a mother in mourning.

The mood in our house was black
as soft tar at the edges of pevements
I stirred with a stick.

Red was my favourite colour:
scarlet, vermilion, ruby.

At school I painted a red girl in a red wood.

'Trees are green,' the teacher said.
So I painted them green
and she said, 'Red and green clash.'

But I wanted them to clash.
I wanted cymbals, trumpets,
all the noises of rowdy colour
to drown the silence of black.

I got my mother to make me a scarlet dress.
(I didn't care that Grandma said
it made me look like a tart.)

I stole a lipstick -
the sizzling vermilion
that made boys and old men look.

I squeezed into ruby high heels
that on hot days filled with blood.

I drank tumblers of pink gin
and told my sister (sent to spy on me)
it was Cherryade.

I dreamed in red: scarlet, vermilion, ruby.

And now I dream in black.

From The book of blood by Vicki Feaver [15]


You think of me
as clean and tasty,
don't want to know
about the mud, the tail,
the terrible trotters

don't want to know
about the neat little hats
in my wardrobe, the orchid
collection and the lengths and lengths
of breaststroke, the days and nights
in the Railtrack buffet
and the mad rapture for molluscs.

Jo Shapcott

From: Jo Shapcott: her book. Poems 1988-1998 [14]

24 February, 2009


Reading: I've started, somewhat tentatively, on Peter Weiss's The aesthetics of resistance. It's actually going much better so far than it did the last time I had a go at it.

Listening: more Lotte Lenya. I even bought the original Broadway cast album of Cabaret, which has Lenya playing the old landlady. I'd forgotten how many good songs get missed out of the film of Cabaret.

Watching: have finally (thanks, Niall!) started Mad Men which is brilliant fun if a bit self-conscious: they make great play of the political incorrectnesses of the day, which gets a bit much, sometimes. The clothes are amazing.

11 February, 2009

Women and children first - Craig and Cadogan

This was another fun cultural survey by the women who wrote the marvellous You're a brick, Angela! (which I wrote about very briefly a couple of years ago). This time they were looking at literature written for women and children about war, starting with the first World War up to the contemporary literature (well, seventies) about the second World War. This was interesting and funny (not as funny as YABA but the material doesn't have such a wonderfully camp ghastliness about it).

The difference between the overt jingoism of the first world war and the contemporary books about the horror of war is very interesting, as is the way the second world war is approached at the time: there's far more jolly whimsical stuff about blackouts and Home Guard japes than there is serious stuff about people actually in the war on the continent. The Holocaust barely seems to feature as a subject for fiction until the 1960s.

They miss out a good example of WW1 jingoism, though - Rilla of Ingleside (the chronological last of the Anne of Green Gables books) is really fascinating, especially given that it's set in Canada. The deeply unpleasant characterisation of the 'pacifist' of the village is particularly interesting for what it says about the attitudes of the time. [12]

10 February, 2009

Interior of the Grote Kerke at Haarlem - Pieter Saenredam

Tariq Ali

I LOVE Tariq Ali. He is one of the people on my new list of people to write to and tell them how great they are before they die and I regret not telling them. (Susan Sontag, Stephen Jay Gould and Linda Smith all died before I could do this, hence this project).

Tariq Ali was on Private Passions the other week which inspired me to read his autobiography Streetfighting years. It's good fun and much less self-regarding than a lot of autobiographers, especially considering some of the amazing things he's done (including being mistakenly arrested in Bolivia when someone took him for one of Che Guevara's companions). It's also very funny in places. I like that Tariq Ali takes some things very seriously but seems to having a pleasing disregard for the way he is portrayed in the press.

The other thing I really loved about this was the introduction, which is a long discursive essay about the changes to the political climate since the sixties, interspersed with beautiful, loving tributes to Derek Jarman, Paul Foot, and Edward Said. I thought it was a wonderful summary of the way the sixties movements in politics and culture have influenced so much since then. [9]

Anyway, that sent me on to one of Tariq Ali's novels, Shadows of the pomegranate tree which is set in Moorish Spain during the Inquisition, when the Arabs in Spains were being persecuted by Catholic fanatics. It's a lovely book - I love all the detail about the cooking and the habits of the Arab characters (the bathing and sleeping arrangements - even recipes!) and draws such an alluring, beautiful picture of life in Moorish Spain. It also works much better as a novel, I thought, than the only other novel of Ali's I've read*. The story is about a family living near Granada who have been there for generations, and now have to choose between conversion to Catholicism or exile from their homeland. It goes into the family history

It's impossible not to draw comparisons between the Arabs in Spain and the pre-1948 Palestinians - both groups pinning their hopes on assurances of fair play from the ruling governments, but in the end having to make the decision between conforming to the ideologies of others, or retreating to another part of the Arab world, where they will share a religion, but not really a way of life. This is particularly poignant when it comes to the story of the eldest son of the family, who decides that he must resist along with a small group of his friends. They are all killed.

The last thing I liked about this was that it was an interesting look at a bit of Islamic history I don't really know much about (well, I don't know anything about Islamic history, but you know what I mean). You hear about other bits of Islam, and it was interesting to read about the way Spanish Muslims lived alongside Catholics, and the way Islam was interpreted in a fairly laid back sort of way, in sharp contrast to the Inquisitorial side of Catholicism. [10]

* Fear of mirrors, which I really enjoyed, but which hangs together quite clunkily as a novel. I like all the detail about left-wing politics throughout the twentieth century, and the cameo appearances by people like Kim Philby, and the message of the book is wonderful.


Reading: having raced through my two books by Tariq Ali, I'm now reading Elizabeth Ewing's book about Twentieth Century fashion, which is very interesting.

Listening: still not much, really.

Watching: I watched the Edith Piaf biopic, La vie en rose/La môme and sort of saw more what the chopped up narrative was trying to achieve, but I still don't think it worked.

06 February, 2009


Reading: am racing through my women's group book, The myth of Mars and Venus by Deborah Cameron.

Listening: I bought a CD of the 1930 recording of Die Dreigroschenoper, which is excellent (also has Marlene Dietrich doing some of her early songs).

Watching: haven't really been watching much recently. I have a pile of DVDs waiting for me to get around to them.

27 January, 2009

Lists galore

The Modern Library, lists of 100 best fiction and 100 best non-fiction books. Two version of each list, one chosen by a panel of critics, the other voted for by readers.

The BBC's Big Read, 100 novels voted for by BBC audiences.

Time Magazine's all-time 100 novels published between 1923 and the present, chosen by Time's critics.

Top 100 books of all time, via the Guardian, 'as determined from a vote by 100 noted writers from 54 countries'.

The top 100 books, via the Telegraph - no explanation of how they were chosen.

Another Telegraph one, the 110 books that make up the perfect library.

This one is interesting: the most downloaded books from Project Gutenberg.

Waterstones' top 100 books of the twentieth century.

And in response to the male-centricity of most of the above, the top 100 books by women, although I can't find the link to the original.

1,000 books to read before you die

This is quite excellent for fans of pseudo-intellectual one-upmanship like me: the Guardian has said 'Pfeh!' to all the lists of 100 best books and created the list of a THOUSAND novels you must read in your lifetime. So obviously I have counted how many I have read and sneered a bit at their choices (it's badly researched enough that at least three books on there aren't even novels. It seems a bit much to compile a list like this and include books that, clearly, no one compiling the list has actually read) but I'm interested in why lists like this exist. Why do they sell newspapers? Or why do newspaper writers think they sell newspapers?


Reading: Elizabeth Ewing's History of twentieth century fashion.

Listening: I really enjoyed the R3 opera on Saturday, more than I'd expected to. Gluck's Orfeo and Eurydice and for once it was available on the iPlayer. Also, lovely Tariq Ali on Private Passions.

Watching: slightly mad Clint movie Coogan's Bluff.

22 January, 2009

The virgin in the garden - A.S. Byatt

I was completely engrossed by this and read it in long gulps in a way I almost never do these days. This was a terrific novel: a twentieth century Charlotte Brontë novel, with downtrodden sisters marrying curates and brothers going mad and being led astray by religous nutjobs, not to mention the domineering father. And a sense of Yorkshire not just as moors and wilderness, but also in the solid provincial towns, which reminded me a lot of Shirley.

This is a bildungsroman, following the development of Frederica Potter, and has that great sixties frankness about sex (her first sex is 'neither nice nor nasty, more like incessant Tampax'). Frederica is, as I said in one of the comments previously, the kind of person I would have liked to be when I was 17: spiky and clever, unpopular but not caring about that, and that too reminds me of the Brontës and their stern and spiky heroines (Lucy Snowe, Helen Graham). She's also the only member of her family not cowed by her insane aggressive father, and the family bits are particularly fun: I have a special fondness for mad shouty families in novels.

But as well as being about Frederica on the cusp of adulthood, it's also about a particular period in time: the moment when England moves from post-war austerity towards the colourful decadence of the sixties. It's all set around Queen Elizabeth's coronation and the central event is a play about Elizabeth I put on to mark the occasion. The play is a marvellous anarchic event full of seduction and betrayal: the relations between the different participants become very similar to the goings-on of the real Elizabethan court.

The bit of the book I felt I hadn't really grasped were the weird spiritual 'experiments' carried out by Frederica's brother and his companion the unhinged science teacher. I shall have to reread at some point in the future to see if I get it then. [5]

21 January, 2009


This is pretty cool. Click on the President to see a word cloud of the inaugural address; the words highlighted in yellow are the ones used more than in the average inaugural speech.
And this is a pretty good summing up of the departing President.
(Picture from the Guardian)


Reading: I'm engrossed in A.S. Byatt's The virgin in the garden, which is like a sort of twentieth century Charlotte Brontë.

Listening: Still having a kind of music block. Still, I have student stand-by tickets to the Royal Ballet's La Bayadère tomorrow, which should be good: it's not a ballet I know.

Watching: nearing the end of Deadwood season 3, and already sad that it's nearly finished. At the weekend I watched most of Cromwell, with lovely lovely Alec Guinness and Richard Harris, and the recent Bond film, which featured some excellent haircuts.

18 January, 2009

Le deuxième sexe - introduction

I think I'm going to really enjoy this book. De Beauvoir's tone is so intelligent and tart, and her writing is so logical and clever.

The introduction starts by asking what is a woman? and comes to the conclusion that women are primarily defined negatively, as not-men:
La femme a des ovaires, un utérus; voilà des conditions singulières qui
l'enferment dans sa subjectivité; on dit volontiers qu'elle pense avec ses
glandes. L'homme oublie superbement que son anatomie comporte aussi des
hormones, des testicules.

and she quotes Aristotle: «La femelle est femelle en vertu d'un certain manque de qualités». So then she talks about the concept of the other and the way in which humans find Otherness in different groups - les Juifs, les Noirs. But women aren't like ethnic groups - Jews aren't Others to other Jews (or at least, not because of their Jewishness). Women live alongside men, in equal numbers to men, but are still seen as Other by those men. In this regard, she compares women with the proletariat: a group which exists alongside the bourgeoisie, and have existed as long as they have.

If you want to read her in English, there's an english translation of Le deuxième sexe at the Marxist Internet Archive. I'm reading her in french because, well, why not stretch my brain for once. Also I read somewhere that the translation doesn't do her justice.

16 January, 2009

Why is it

... that I'm constantly browsing through bookshops making mental notes of things I want to buy, but when I actually get given book tokens, I haven't got a clue?

15 January, 2009

From Tarabas: a guest on earth

The war became his home. The war became his wide and bloody home. He moved from one sector to another. He came to peaceful territory, set villages on fire, left the debris of smaller and larger towns behind him, and mourning women, orphaned children, beaten, hanged, and murdered men. He turned about, learnt the suspense of flight before the enemy, took last-minute revenge on supposed traitors, destroyed bridges, roads, railways, obeyed and commanded, and all with equal relish. He was the bravest officer in his regiment. He led patrols with the caution and cunning of a beast of prey out for booty, and with the confident daring of a foolish man to whom his life means nothing. He drove his timorous peasants to the attack with pistol and whip, but fired the brave ones with his own example. -He was first into everything. In the art of invisible motion, when, masked by trees, shrubs, or undergrowth, covered by darkness or wrapped in the mists of dawn, he would steal upon barbed-wire barricades to the undoing of the enemy, he was unequalled. He never needed to look at any map; his whetted senses divined the secrets of every territory. Muffled and distant sounds came clearly to his ears. His watchful eye caught every suspicious movement. His certain hand went out, shot, and never missed its mark, held what it grasped, came down without mercy upon backs and faces, shut to a fist with cruel knuckles, but opened readily to the pressure of comradeship, answering it with warmth and steel.

Joseph Roth, trans. Winifred Katzin

12 January, 2009

This is a lovely website (well, once you've worked out the slightly fiddly design). Pictures of abandoned buildings from around Europe. I particularly love these photos of a disused hospital near Liège, above.


Reading: La Princesse de Clèves; Turgenev's Fathers and sons; lots of depressing articles about the situation in Gaza.

Listening: I've hardly been listening to any music recently. Turandot on Thursday at the ROH: I'd forgotten quite how horrible the story is, and I hate all the 'Eastern' twiddly bits, but some of the music was gorgeous.

Watching: Cradle will rock on DVD from the library. I loved this: it was so sweet and heartwarming. Also, practically a musical, sort of. And Susan Sarandon wears fantastic hats.

09 January, 2009

Philby: the spy who betrayed a generation

I have a sort of minor obsession with Philby, due to early exposure to John le Carré, I think. This was a fairly boringly-written book (I had to keep reminding myself to focus on the page) but quite hilarious in places. The intelligence services seem to have been a near-farcical shambles from their inception till they rebuilt themselves in the wake of the Philby scandal.

The focus that all the writers (and John le Carré, in the introduction) put on betrayal is interesting, though. I find it difficult to get too worked up about betrayal in the context of the secret services: the way they function relies on betrayal, so clearly betrayal is not the problem - the problem is betraying the wrong side. This is sort of prodded at when they point out that Philby was a double agent at the time when he was probably giving most material to the USSR, which made it harder to identify him as a traitor. As far as the British intelligence services were concerned, Philby was acting the double agent, passing innocuous material to the Soviets, and passing himself off as a traitor for the benefit of Soviet intelligence. What was actually happening was that Philby was passing bogus information to the British and genuine secrets to the USSR. So it's highly problematic to claim that the worst thing about Philby was the betrayal: his whole traning was in betrayal and deceit.

There's a bit in Tinker tailor soldier spy where the traitor says "I have always believed the secret services are the only real expression of a nation's character." It comes from the traitor but it's something that George Smiley, who unmasks him, also agrees with; and in fact John le Carre said something similar in a recent BBC interview with Mark Lawson. I'm bemused by this fetishisation of the secret world. I can appreciate the interest that writers have in it: secrecy and betrayal make interesting stories. But the idea that the secret services are in some way an indicator of the state of the nation seems very strange: the view of an insider, maybe? [2]

08 January, 2009

The foundling - Georgette Heyer

So I started this year as I finished the last one - with a totally undemanding Georgette Heyer novel. Heyer is very nice as an occasional indulgence, though: she manages to write essentially fluffy books which don't insult my intelligence. This is harder (or at least, rarer) than one might imagine. (The last chick-lit book I picked up I had to put aside because it was so full of inanities and anachronisms, to the point where my irritated inner monologue was preventing me from actually taking in any of the book.)

Anyway, The foundling was slightly different from the usual Georgette Heyer model, since the story was not a love story on the Pride and prejudice model, but instead the story of a small, mild-mannered young Duke who becomes increasingly frustrated by the benevolent autocracy of his servants and runs away to find adventure, gets kidnapped, gets embroiled with a beautiful but moronic girl and a runaway schoolboy, and proves surprisingly resourceful at escaping from all of these entanglements. Very charming and slightly farcical. [1]

06 January, 2009

...and this year

So, my reading-related resolutions for 2009 are:

- read more poetry (again!)
- read more in French (again!)
- keep trying to get rid of books, tactically. The end goal is a collection of books which I really love, not a collection containing every single book I might some day want to read
- try and read a bit more German, maybe. I read so slowly in German that I find it really hard.

Some actual books I want to get around to/finally finish this year:

- Middlemarch, George Eliot
- La chartreuse de Parme, Stendhal
- Le deuxième sexe, Simone de Beauvoir (I might try this a chapter a week over the year)
- Capital, Karl Marx

I also want to fill in some of the vast gaping holes in my knowledge of film, catch more art exhibitions, and keep this blog more up to date.

Last year...

So, 80 books in all. My favourites were:

Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
A place of greater safety, Hilary Mantel
The book of Daniel, E L Doctorow
The quest for Christa T., Christa Wolf
Brother of the more famous Jack, Barbara Trapido
L'assommoir, Émile Zola

The feminine middlebrow novel, Nicola Humble
On photography, Susan Sontag
The sceptical feminist, Janet Radcliffe Richards
Adorned in dreams: fashion and modernity, Elizabeth Wilson

Looking at my resolutions for 2008, I seem to have failed abjectly. Reading more poetry and reading more in French will definitely roll over for another year, I think.

05 January, 2009

This is wonderful; I'm so sorry I haven't seen it before. Erin McKean also writes the very charming Dress a day blog, which I'm very fond of, but I think her point about how we don't need to be bound by the limitations of paper publishing is an excellent one which isn't made enough.

Catching up - the end of 2008

So, I'm caving in. I will try and do a few longer posts on these, and this is going to be the year when I blog everything as soon as I read it, so I won't get so behind...

Dead souls - Gogol [62]
Under the net - Iris Murdoch [63]
Landlocked - Doris Lessing [64]
The four-gated city - Doris Lessing [65]
Those happy golden years - Laura Ingalls Wilder [66]
The first four years - Laura Ingalls Wilder [67]
The age of innocence - Edith Wharton [68]
Bread givers - Anzia Yezierska [69]
Ragtime - EL Doctorow [70]
The eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte - Karl Marx [71]
An experiment in love - Hilary Mantel [72]
Shirley - Charlotte Brontë [73]
The professor - Charlotte Brontë [74]
City of darkness, city of light - Marge Piercy [75]
Northern lights - Philip Pullman [76]
The subtle knife - Philip Pullman [77]
The amber spyglass - Philip Pullman [78]
Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban [79]
Faro's daughter - Georgette Heyer [80]

01 January, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to anyone still reading this despite the decreasing frequency of updates. The above is Daniel Barenboim, who this morning conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in their annual New Year's concert, for the first time. The above photo is not the Vienna Phil though; you can tell because women appear to be involved, which is a bit beyond the pale in Vienna.

Anyway, everything will change this year: I'm going to do lots more blogging and read lots more books. So watch this space!