Wednesday, 27 January 2016

216 Reading Challenge - My List

A friend, who'd seen  Bristol's 2016 Reading Challenge before me, has offered to send me her list.  Which got me thinking about mine.  Rather than draw up a definitive list I've decided to note down a few possibilities and see which one takes my fancy when the time comes.

A book published this year

I'm going to leave this one until later in the year when there will be more to chose from.

A book you can finish in a day
I've already ticked this box with Food Rules by Michael Pollan, but a friend has suggested Love that Dog by Sharon Creech which intrigues me.

A book you've been meaning to read

There are almost too many to mention but Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel deserve a mention, despite the fact that, having already made a start on Wolf Hall, it should rightly be listed in another category.

A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller

I wonder if a book picked from the 'Recommended' shelf of Bedminster Library or Foyles would count, or whether I should seek a personal recommendation from the person at the desk.

A book you should have read in school

I'm not sure whether this is a book you failed to read at school or one you feel should have been on the reading list.  I'm going to have to give this one further thought.

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, sibling, or BFF

Last year my elder daughter bought me two books, one for my birthday and the other for Mother's Day.  They are This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

A book published before you were born

Again I am spoilt for choice.  I will probably plump for one of the classics.

A book that was banned at some point

Vladimir Nabokiv's Lolita and Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses - but LFrank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?

A book you previously abandonned

This has to be A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, which I have unsuccessfully attempted to get though on more than one occasion.  Maybe this time I'll make it to the last page?

A book you own but have never read

There will be plenty to choose from my laden shelves and tottering piles - Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, or The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed out of The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson?

A book that intimidates you

This could be The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, for its vernacular style with little punctuation or grammar, or Ulysses by James Joyce, for its modernist stream of consciousness technique.  Or perhaps the relentless horror of The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

A book you've already read at least once

I suspect this will be a toss up between Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels and if nobody speaks of remarkable things by Jon McGregor, both of which I love, not just for their subject matter, but for their exquisitely poetic language.

Which books would you choose?

Monday, 25 January 2016

2016 Reading Challenge

Bristol Libraries have tweeted a Reading Challenge.  On the basis that one book a month should be do-able, even for someone who struggles to find make enough time to read, I've decided to go for it.  I was attracted by the categories which should provide a wide range of possibilities.  I'm particularly looking forward to reading a book that was banned at some point.


What's more, I'm proud to announce that I have already ticked my first box, ie a book you can finish in a day.

A while ago I borrowed Food Rules by Michael Pollan from the library.  I skimmed through it but didn't take time to read it properly until I received an email from the library to say that it had been recalled.  So this afternoon I read it from cover to cover.  It's an expansion of Pollan's philosophy on food, namely 'Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.' and is packed with commonsense rules to help steer us away from our modern processed food diet to a more traditional one of natural products, simply prepared and carefully eaten.  My favourites include 'Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise as food', 'Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the colour of the milk' and 'Break the rules once in a while'.

PS  As the mother of a third year art student I should mention that it is exquisitely illustrated, although I can see no indication of the identity of the artist.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

What's for tea?

One of the joys of blogging is being inspired by other bloggers.  Eliane over at faites simple has challenged herself to plan her week's meals in advance on Sunday evening and to make better use of her 'embarrassingly unused cookbook library'.

This is something I have tried at various points in my life.  When I succeed it transforms my week.  No more midday panics over what we're going to eat that evening, no getting halfway through a recipe only to discover that I'm missing a key ingredient, no nasty discoveries at the back of the fridge ...

So this week I'll be (mainly) cooking from Rose Prince's the new english kitchen.

Haggis, neeps & tatties (in celebration of Rabbie Burns)

Baked chick peas, peppers & potatoes with yoghurt sauce

Butternut squash risotto

Braised red lentils with lime juice & feta

Tamarind fish stew (from the freezer)

Chicken curry (from the freezer)

Beef braised with rhubarb

Friday, 1 January 2016


I have succumbed to the recent trend of choosing a word to inspire me during the course of the year ahead.  I pride myself on not jumping on bandwagons but on this occasion I think it makes sense.  Traditional new year's resolutions can very easily, or at least in my experience, become hostages to fortune.  A word is so much more forgiving, especially if it's regarded as being more of an aspiration rather than a fixed goal post.

Anyway, my word for 2016 is 'sustainable'.

It has been prompted by recent events including the Paris Climate Change Conference and the floods in the north of England and Scotland.  The environmental aspect of it is fairly obvious but I'd like to extend it to other areas of my life.  Here are some of the ways in which I'd like to see it work out in practice:

  • I'd like to eat less meat and more plants
  • I'd like to cut down even further on my energy consumption
  • I'd like to get rid of more 'stuff', preferably to other people rather than landfill
  • I'd like to get more sleep
  • I'd like to redress my work/life balance
  • I'd like to make more time for people
  • I'd like to grow more of my own food and prepare more meals from scratch
  • I'd like to push sustainability higher up on the agenda during the coming electoral campaigns
There's plenty to be getting on with!