I hesitate to steam in and blog on top of Donna's etiquette barnstormer from yesterday but a. this is sort of related and b. Donna's blog is still there, just a short scroll away.
I've always made read-a-lutions. When I was a wee girl I used to resolve things like "don't eat oranges while reading in bed'. Then, as an earnest student, I resolved to "read classics, not junk". In my twenties I resolved to "read more". In my thirties, having started reading more and realised I was never going to keep up, I resolved to "stop reading any book that's not grabbed me by page 100".
Now, so deep in my forties I'm almost out the other end, my reading-more-and-only-reading-what-I'm-enjoying resolutions have left me with a new problem. I read probably a hundred or so books a year and when it comes time to pick five favourites and nominate them for awards, I'm in trouble.
Oh I could go and find the books and check the publication dates. Of course I could. But. I lend them, I donate them, I read library books, I forget where I've put them, I get side-tracked by a book I read five years back and only stop re-reading when it's dark and I'm thirsty, I get horrified by how dusty my bookshelves are, I dust them, that makes the pictures look dusty, I polish the picture glass, that makes the lampshades . . .
This is not modesty. Last summer we found a tiny little mouse in the corner of the kitchen. Neil's exact words, after the rescue, were "I thought at first it was a dustball but it wasn't big enough".
So my first New Year Read-a-lution this year is:
1. Keep a reading notebook. I hereby resolve to write down the title, author and publication date of everything I read this year.
Over the Christmas and New Year holiday where the year begins I read these:
All were enjoyable. Some were absolutely brilliant. Two were so good I was glad I read them on holiday and not while I was trying to write a story of my own. I heartily recommend them all.
But one of them has given me an unforeseen task. There's a game known as "Never Seen Star Wars" where you get points for gaps in your experience of life. Usually, I do pretty well at it - never seen a Quentin Tarantino film, never owned a microwave, never been in a gym . . . but Nick Hornby, in his wonderful collection of essays about reading, has finally made me resolve to throw away one of my easy scores.
2. I will read something by Charles Dickens.
And I'm calling on any Dickens fans out there for recommendations. David Copperfield? Bleak House? Great Expectations? (By the way, if anyone wants to challenge me by claiming never to have read anyone even more unavoidable than Dickens . . . Let the Games Begin!)
And finally - because I'm a writer and a gardener and things come in threes - I've got a confession to make. I've been kind of pretending about something. And when I say "kind of" I mean . . . nothing by it. I've been pretending. Countless times in the last three years of living in the US, when I've been talking about Dandy Gilver, someone has mentioned Nancy Drew. Every time it's happened, I've said "Oh yes" in an airy way. Can you guess where this is going?
3. I will read a Nancy Drew story.
So where should I start? What's the best one? How many are there? Is my reading notebook for the year going to be full of Nancy Drew and nothing else once I get going?
Probably not, because in the TBR pile are Linwood Barclay, Ann Patchett, Curtis Sittenfield, PJ Tracey. And Terry Shames's new book comes out this month, and Jill Paton Walsh has written another Peter and Harriet Wimsey story and . . . isn't life grand!