It's that time of year again.
You know, when all the lists start appearing of what's cool, what's not, must haves, must sees and what's worse, must have read.
It takes courage for me to scan the list. Because if I'm not careful I can end up feeling completely out of the loop. A bit thick.
Sometimes I imagine sitting next to one of the recommenders at a dinner party. The conversation turns to books and they start to say what the must reads for the year have been. Already I can feel myself shrinking back into my seat knowing I'll be lucky to have heard of them let alone read any.
And then even worse they'll ask me what I've read this year and I'll have to confess to lapping up the latest detective novels, and re-reading Georgette Heyer for the umpteenth time. Or going back to Anthony Trollope.
There'll be a silence then they'll probably turn to their other neighbour and freeze me out for the rest of the meal.
I jest... but not much. I am past the age of feeling guilty for what I choose to read but there is an intellectual snobbery about, that dismisses much of what I might enjoy as mere light reading. I spent my twenties wading through, 'serious' reading so I've served my sentence thank you. Stream of consciousness novels hold no fears for me.
For the record, this year I have read one of the authors on a list - Alice Munro - her short stories are immaculate examples of the genre.
So my recommendations for what they're worth:
Non-fiction: David Bellos Is that a fish in your ear? Wonderful, funny, learned look at translation. Did you know how they bring about simultaneous publication of EU laws in all official languages?
Fiction: Donna Leon Drawing conclusions. Wins it hands down for the descriptions of Venice. And can I please find another Inspector Brunetti?
PS: Does it count I'm about to read the latest Murakami?