Welcome to our annual winter reading poll! Tell us about a great book to curl up with on a frosty winter night, and what fragrance we should wear while reading it. (Or, do what I do and record here everything you have read since the last reading poll. And if you want more recommendations, scrolling through the literature tag will bring up all the older reading polls.)
My recent reading:
I read more fiction than usual this last quarter, starting with two books longlisted for the 2023 Booker: Tan Twan Eng House of Doors and Sian Hughs Pearl. Then I re-read all of Nancy Mitford’s Pursuit of Love series (Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate, The Blessing and Don’t Tell Alfred), and liked it even better the second (or possibly the third) time. This is the series I will scent, since the main character wears Guerlain Après L’Ondée and it would really be just the thing to wear while reading it.
Then I went on to an author that Kevin recommended, Sigrid Nunez. I read two of her fiction works (The Friend and What You Are Going Through), and have another started already. I loved The Magician by Colm Tóibín, which I’ve been meaning to read for ages, and I’ve just started re-reading Rebecca West’s Aubry trilogy (I finished the first, The Fountain Overflows, and am in the middle of This Real Night).
For mysteries/thrillers, I finished Mick Herron’s Slough House series (Standing By the Wall, Slough House, Bad Actors) and read a few of his stand alone and/or “Slough House adjacent” thrillers (This Is What Happened, Reconstruction, Secret Hours). I read Val McDermid’s Past Lying (the latest in the Karen Pirie series) and found Anthony Horowitz’s Moonflower Murders a bit of a long slog but I did finally finish. (The Moonflower Murders series with Leslie Manville comes out on PBS some time this year, I think.)
On the non-fiction front, I finally finished William Morris: A Life for Our Time by Fiona MacCarthy, which I think I started in the spring of 2023. I read The Rooster House by Victoria Belim (I know many of you got to it quicker than I did), Hilary Mantel’s A Memoir of My Former Self, and then read huge portions, but not quite every word, of Elvis Costello’s very long Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink. I did read all of Jeff Tweedy’s World Within a Song, but it’s much shorter. Sigrid Nunez’s Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag was fascinating (and was on Kevin’s list of what to read by Sigrid Nunez). I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve read Sontag.