Posted by: Kirsty | December 18, 2008

Christmas Week Reading

With three separate university-related projects going on at the moment, I’ve had no time throughout December to read for pure, unadulterated pleasure. That’s not to say that I’ve not enjoyed the essay reading, because I’ve enjoyed it very much for the most part. BUT I’ve promised myself that other than some re-drafting of my term paper, I’m having the week from Christmas Eve to Hogmanay off in terms of academic reading. A whole week to devour as many purely-pleasure books as I can in between family Christmas dos and a random wedding that week.

Here are the handful I’m hoping to make a dent in during Christmas week:


The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
Winner of the BBC 4 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008, this is the story of a true life murder case from 1860, which apparently inspired Dickens and Wilkie Collins in their sensational plots. It’s been sitting on my shelf since the summer, and seeing Kate Summerscale on The Book Show on SkyArts the other day reminded me how much I want to get stuck into it. Even if my friend and fellow-Victorian-nut Catherine wasn’t bowled over by it.

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams
I bought this at the Edinburgh Book Festival back in August after seeing glowing reviews of it everywhere I turned. This is, also, surely one of the most beautiful book jackets about at the moment. So sayeth the blurb:

From her lookout on the first floor, Ginny watches and waits for her adored younger sister to return to the crumbling mansion that was once their idyllic childhood home. Vivien has not stepped foot in the house since she left, forty seven years ago; Ginny, the reclusive lepidopterist, has rarely ventured outside it. The remembrance of their youth, of loss, and of old rivalries plays across Ginny’s mind. Why is Vivi coming home? Ginny has been selling off the family furniture over the years, gradually shutting off each wing of the house and retreating into the precise routines and isolation that define her days. Only the attic remains untouched. There, collected over several generations, are walls lined with pinned and preserved Bordered Beauties and Rusty Waves, Feathered Footmen and Great Brocades, Purple Cloud, Angle Shades, the Gothic and the Stranger …

The Beacon by Susan Hill
A slim volume which I’ve earmarked for the car journey up to Scotland (presuming that I’m not driving, in which case it’ll be the car journey back down). After delighting in The Woman in Black earlier this year, I’m very much looking forward to this. From the Blackwell’s website:

A story of a family torn inside out when one of the brothers publishes his misery memoir which results in the family being dragged into the media spotlight. But is he really telling the truth?

Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
Because I regret not taking the literary theory module when I was doing my undergrad.



  1. Just to say that I like the new site and I have given up trying to leave comments on the old one becasue it doesn’t work! I dunno what typepad are doing to themselves at the moment. I have updated my links to you to here.

    The Culler is great, especially read in tandem with the Terry Eagelton introduction. They approach the subject differently and I needed both approaches to ‘get’ theory.

  2. Thanks Juxtabook. I was having real issues with Typepad myself, and thought the time to move over here was nigh. I like WordPress’s layouts much better too.

    I haven’t got the Eagleton book, though a friend recommended another book by Peter Barry called Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, which I bought recently. I’m hoping that between the two I’ll nail it. 🙂

  3. I’m in the middle of The Behaviour of Moths (or The Sister here in the U.S.) right now, and I am enjoying it a lot. It hasn’t been hyped over here at all, and I wouldn’t have picked it up had I not recognized the author’s name from seeing reviews on UK blogs.

  4. […] my proposed Christmas reading I have actually only managed two of the four books: The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate […]


%d bloggers like this: