Last night, one of my book groups had our annual Christmas dinner, and exchanged Christmas cards. As is by now traditional (i.e. I have done it for the past three years), I made a card showing the books that we have read this year.
We usually read eight books in a year. This year's were mostly novels, apart from Chris Mullin's diaries of the last stretch of his career as an MP, and Michael Ondaatje's memoir of growing up in Ceylon and his family's history there. The books I enjoyed most, and the ones I am planning to keep, are Stoner by John Williams and Strange Meeting by Susan Hill. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields would also be a keeper, except that I borrowed it from the library. Chris Mullin's Decline and Fall and Barbara Pym's Excellent Women were also library copies - making a Christmas card means that I have to borrow them again to make the card (which might give you a clue as to why you can't see the title of the Barbara Pym book). It also means that I am not often tempted to get a Kindle - books on a Kindle would not make a good picture.
We each got a Christmas present at the dinner from our Secret Santa - a book, of course. Mine was The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.
I have read it before, from the library, and enjoyed it very much. It's great to have my own copy (and a very nicely-produced copy, too) and I'm looking forward to reading it again. I knew when I read it that Barbara Kingsolver must be a knitter, and I subsequently read a feature on her in Vogue Knitting. Here is her account of a non-knitter (her character Harrison Shepherd) talking on a long car journey to another character, Mrs Brown, about her knitting:
"... I thought it was an indigo porcupine."
She had a laugh at that. She has eleven nephews and nieces, I learned, and meant to outfit the tribe on this journey, working through socks from top to toe, all from the same massive hank of blue wool. The coming holiday shall be known as "The Christmas of the Blue Socks from Aunt Violet." She worked on a little frame of four interlocked needles that poked out in every direction. as she passed the yarn through its rounds.
"Aren't you afraid you'll hurt yourself with that?"
"Mr. Shepherd, if women feared knitting needles as men do, the world would go bare-naked."
And later Mrs Brown knits Mr Shepherd a pair of gloves for Christmas, taking the measurements from a grease stain he left on a piece of paper, He is astonished because he has never had a pair of gloves that he can wear comfortably before - his fingers are extraordinarily long. But she has made a pair that fit him perfectly, in pure merino wool.
A good read.