Thursday 24 December 2009

Christmas books

We shall see whether the Christmas holidays prove a chance to catch up on a book or two. I am pretty sure I will get a good run at Tabby McTat and Stick Man from the marvellous Julia Donaldson, interviewed in the Guardian Review last Saturday, as both are wrapped up somewhere under the tree.

I thought Nick Hornby's "Juliet, Naked", recently out in paperback, would prove an ideal Boxing Day novel, but I ended up reading it last weekend. It is perfectly pitched, with a wry take on the dangers of the internets for the fragile sanity of the male completist. If I were forced to construct my top five all time favourite Nick Hornby books, I think it would make the top three, along with Fever Pitch and High Fidelity.

So I may instead return to AS Byatt's The Children's Book, a Fabian family epic, having read the first couple of chapters in the summer, or perhaps Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall if I can navigate the etiquette of reading it having bought the book as a present for somebody else.

My favourite novel this year was Phillip Hensher's The Northern Clemency, a family saga set against the backdrop of 1970s and 1980s Sheffield. I also enjoyed Arvind Adiga's satire The White Tiger

I am not going to be overambitious on political books over the holidays. I will certainly get to Jerry Cohen's pocket diary sized 'Why not Socialism?', which is very elegantly produced and about the length of a New Yorker feature. I also have Michael Sandel's Justice: What's the right thing to do, which looks an accessible generalist primer to ethics and political theory.

The winner in the politics category of most of the books of the year lists I saw in the papers seemed to be Chris Mullin's A View from the Foothills, which certainly has the more-ish quality of the best political diaries, with Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett's The Spirit Level and Amartya Sen's The Idea of Justice

One political book out in January which I really enjoyed was Tim Bale's The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron. I will write something about it in the next couple of weeks.

Some light blogging may resume after the weekend.

Happy Christmas!

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