Sarah Coley, Deputy Editor, The Reader
I’m finally finishing George Eliot’s Romola on my fifth attempt in five years. Eighty pages to go and I have no idea what happens. Please: no clues. It’s a puzzling book. All the way through, it’s as though handsome, clever and devious Tito should be saveable except that no one can get past his smooth defences to show him that he needs saving. It’s as if in another George Eliot book, Middlemarch you could go back to Mr Bulstrode’s youth and still not be able to intervene. Perhaps some sin is necessary — a Christmas thought to share with you all!
And I’ve got Mark Cocker’s great natural history book Crow Country (shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction prize this year). Marshy wanderings, cold Dumfrieshire nights, and magnificent hordes of rooks making their daily journeys to and from their roosts. In some ways, this is a literary book, even a George Eliot kind of book, in that Cocker takes the most familiar and provincial of birds, the crow, and makes you pay good heed to its doings and ways. This is the book I would give as a gift (if of a giving disposition). Crows are good people.
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Josie Billington, Research and Development Manager, The Reader Organisation
Giving Alice Munro’s Carried Away – selected short stories, deft and deep, for busy person who has to come and go with books – and John Berger’s From A to X: A Story in Letters because his books are eloquent, serious, edgy, fierce all at once. Have read nothing quite like the intimate impersonality of the narrator’s almost out-of-life perspective in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead so will be reading Home (sequel). For kids, Michael Morpurgo, This Morning I Met a Whale and Neil Gaiman The Graveyard Book. Non-fiction, Daniel Barenboim, Everything is Connected. Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise.
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Chris Catterall, Business manager, The Reader Organisation
Over Christmas I intend to read A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini. This was recently purchased for me as a birthday present. I have tried to read this book before bedtime, however I haven’t got passed the first 100 pages yet. I plan to give it some proper time over Christmas.
I intend to buy my flat mates QI: Advanced Banter by Stephen Fry. I am not too keen on this program, largely because it is too complicated for late night television. I am hoping the book will deter them from watching QI on the TV.