Holiday reading

Over at Memex 1.1 the redoubtable John Naughton talks about his holiday reading, and makes me feel guilty that most of mine has been <=140 characters… I did finish Will Self’s Umbrella recently, and am half-heartedly starting up with Iain M Banks new Culture novel, The Hydrogen Sonata, but John has gone for some serious stimulation:

One of the really nice things about Christmas is that the phone stops ringing and the tide of work-related email recedes, leaving time for reading. Here’s what’s I’m into just now:

Artemis Cooper’s biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor. Like many people I’ve been fascinated by Fermor ever since reading his two great travel books — A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. I’ve long been curious to know what the rest of his life was like. Now I’m finding out.

Sebastian Seung’s Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are.

Larry Lessig’s new book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress – and a Plan to Stop It.

Age of Fracture,a terrific work of intellectual history and the first really convincing account I’ve come across of how and why the post-war liberal consensus ran out of steam and was replaced by the neo-con nonsense that has got us into our current mess.

 I need to read Larry’s new book, of course, and while the term ‘Connectome’ just irritates me, it covers an area that I want to write about myself. And just last weekend Katie’s mum was raving about the Fermor biography, so I should add it to the list.

SchroderBut just last week my good friends at Faber sent me Country Girl, Edna O’Brien’s fabulous autobiography, and I have an early copy of Schroder, Amity Gaige’s new novel, which Stephen Page thinks I will enjoy – and  I have learned to trust his judgement over everyone else’s when it comes to such matters.

I suspect this means that my tax return will end up being done on Jan 31 again.

Looking to 2013

It’s been an interesting year, both personally and professionally, as they like to say, and although I slightly resent the fact that my day job has been so exhausting, I’m enjoying the space between Christmas and New Year in a different way from that I experienced during my fifteen years as a freelance hack and pundit. This year, I need the rest.

Of course that didn’t stop me getting up at 0730 on Boxing Day and sneaking downstairs while the house slept, to feed the cats, make a cup of tea, and start puzzling over the cashflow for Working for an MP in preparation for submitting our tax return; nor did it stop me changing the template for this website (I was going to say ‘redesigning’ it but pressing the button in WordPress to activate a new template, cropping an image to upload and changing the widgets isn’t ‘design’ in anyone’s vocabulary); and I will be reading my BBC email this afternoon, just to stay in the loop and see if I’ve been asked to travel to any more exciting places.

Next year

In 2012 I married Katie, we bought a cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, my son went off to university, my daughter continued to live and work in Cambridge, and I kept a lot of plates spinning, some of them not receiving the attention they deserved.  I only ever make one resolution for the New Year, but I have decided to focus more on bigger things next year, and not let so much small stuff get in my way, both in the day job at the BBC and elsewhere in my work.  I will also try to write more here than I have, and not just post my Instagram pix.  Let’s see how that goes.