I was having a clear out of half-written blog posts still in draft, ones that will never make the cut when I found this one from November, and with a pile of books that seem too good to pass over so I'm squeezing them in before the year's end.
Perhaps I had subliminally absorbed all the beautiful autumnal colours outside and my mind had taken over, but I happened to glance at the pile of books on the table and noticed that they were all of a match...
and then I realised that they all actually also matched my very lovely Orla Kiely notebook which stays around for a quick bookish jot now and again.
So if you have a room in your home that can take autumn colours here's the very stack of books for you and today's selection includes gifts, possibles, permanents and keep meaning tos.
The Country Diaries edited by Alan Taylor and Roger Deakin's Notes From Walnut Tree Farm are a permanent bedside fixture. I am now on my second year of reading and following the seasons with Roger and I doubt I will ever tire of doing so...
'It's mid-November and crickets are still singing outside the kitchen door...and bumblebees are still visiting the nasturtium flowers.- 11th November'
And whilst I love Roger's contemporaneous thoughts I also enjoy reading what people were doing each day in 1876 or 1928. The Country Diaries are a microcosm of life through the ages.
'Rain last night and the morning not very promising, tis surely dreadful weather. Briffet is here to kill the sow. A horrible looking fellow, his very countenance is sufficient to kill anything, a large hulky fellow, a face absolutely furrowed with small pox (a very uncommon thing in these days of innoculations)... 11th November 1799.
My thanks to Carol for A Year in the Woods by Colin Elford, a gem of a book that has now been enrolled in this happy band of daily reading and which I will start on Januray Ist 2012. It is the diary of a forest ranger, and of course in Colin Elford I recognise the Gamekeeper who also spends his days helping to keep the balance that is required for those of us who live in such close proximity to nature red in tooth and claw.
Someone else who enjoys the solitude and with a great deal of nature read in tooth and claw to contend with is Philip Connors, one time Wall Street journalist until he responded to the call of the wild...
'For nearly a decade, Philip Connors has spent half of each year in a small room at the top of a tower, on top of a mountain, alone in millions of acres of remote American wilderness. His job: to look for wildfires.'
And now the author of another wilderness read that has joined the stack, Fire Season Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout. This is a book about fires obviously, though Philip's job is to report them rather than rush off with a hosepipe, none of which sounds too promising. But think again because it is also rich with the joys of solitude and the freedom of the independent spirit along with surprise encounters from black bears to abandoned fawns. And no picture can really convey the beauty of the cover because what looks orange is actually burnished shiny copper foil, it's a handsome looking book.
Solace by Belinda McKeon has been working its way to the top of the mountain and I will make a start the minute I am ready for another trip into Irish life. The novel has been getting consistently solid and favourable reviews as well as winning the Best Newcomer in the recent Irish Book Awards. From what I can gather Solace is about the timeless themes of love and loss with a bit of feud thrown in, the collision of the old with the new in contemporary Ireland and there will be grief for sure. I'm still recovering from my last trip into Irish writing but I'll be ready for this one any day now.
A lovely volume of poetry had also slipped into the Farrow & Ball-like autumnal pile. I wrote about Christopher Reid's A Scattering a while ago, his volume of incredibly moving elegies written after the death of his wife, so when I was standing in front of the poetry shelves at Faber Towers recently and asked if there was anything I wanted (child ...chocolate factory) Selected Poems jumped right into my hand.
Finally I think it really is time we all started using words like fopdoodle (though use with care) and dilly dally (fling that one around) again, and I am intrigued on a daily basis at the moment by The Story of English in 100 Words by David Crystal. Each entry brief enough to read while the washing is spinning or the bath's running, and you'll then want to go and off and find someone to say 'Did you know that...' and share the fact that fopdoodle is a fool (fop) and a simpleton(doodle) so a fool twice over... as I said...use with care. But the book is a wonderful conglomeration of linguistic nuggets with examples of origins, and how word use has slipped and changed or disappeared completely. How do we manage without bespirtle (to spot with vice) and fubbery (cheating) and glibbery (slippery) in these days of economic disaster, words that would all bring much needed joy and colour to Robert Peston's business news reports I feel sure.
Any suggestions that would complement this stack very gratefully received, especially books that would offer a slow, day by day read through the year.