1. I’ve read two of my Christmas books. The first one was an intriguing, though flawed, thriller called ‘Magpie Murders’ by Anthony Horowitz. Tim Lott recently said in the Guardian that ‘literary fiction’, by which he meant posh novels as opposed to common ones, had lost the plot, and I sympathise with his point – I’ve tried to read some posh novels in recent years that disappeared up their own introspection – but I’m not sure where the genre boundaries are any more. I reckon Horowitz would, if forced to classify, call his work ‘literary’; but a shortage of plot is not one of its failings.
2. The next book was about growing, processing, storing and burning wood in Norway. It’s informative, gripping and often hilarious – a classic example of writing quality transcending subject matter, in a way the opposite of point 1, I suppose.
3. However, I now know more than I really need to about Norwegian chainsaws.
4. However, if you are felling a tree for fuel, it’s a good idea to do it in the spring, when the leaves have set, and don’t take them off until the autumn. They will continue to grow (not knowing that there aren’t any roots any more) and so extract moisture from the trunk, drying the latter that much faster for burning.
5. The third book is ‘Islander’ by Patrick Barkham. I’ll let you know how it goes. We’re starting in the Isle of Man.