‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman is darker than the News.

Three weeks of giving up News and it felt like part of me was floating in one of those silent, dark, sensory deprivation tanks. I tried living without radio for the first time in my life and playing music instead. It was lovely having more music but I missed the spoken word. I got through a lot…

Me and Patrick O’Brian

The first, ‘Master and Commander’ was a gift, the second ‘Post Captain’ I bought in a secondhand shop, the third ‘HMS Surprise’ I clicked-on in the middle of the night. The next day I went back to the secondhand bookshop and bought the next four books because by then I was totally hooked and I’d…

Why is this good writing? A little bit of analysis.

At a dangerous corner of the stairs, the cat got under my feet and I had to grab the bannister. Most of the books I was carrying, I dropped. Only one was within reach when I sank down on the stairs to recover my balance. It was Marina Lewycka’s ‘A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’ and…

Men Do Read Books By Women, Apparently.

Conversation with my husband: ‘Lionel Shriver,’ he says, looking at our bookshelves. ‘I’ve read Lionel Shriver. Jeanette Winterson. Diana Athill – she’s really good. Sally Vickers, Barbara Vine. I’ve read loads. I’ve read loads of women’s books – books by women, sorry.’ I have told him my theory about why men don’t read women’s books….

Why Men Don’t Read Novels By Women

Women read novels written by novelists. Men prefer their novelists to have a Y-chromosome along with the literary talent. Why? The greatest insult a little boy can endure is to be told he’s ‘acting like a girl’. Nobody points out that it’s wrong to use the word ‘girl’ as an insult. A boy child is…

Barter Books and Ladybirds

Barter Books is a bit of bibliophile heaven. I picked up a good-as-new hardback of Philip Hensher’s ‘The Missing Ink – the lost art of handwriting’, and four lovely old Ladybird books, including ‘Julius Caesar and Roman Britain’ still with the dust-jacket. It’s just like the copy I had as a child. (What happened to…

Pink Roses, Chinese Vase

I love this painting by Scottish Colourist, Samuel Peploe. It’s in the Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh where it also features on menus in the café. It’s a picture that’s easy to love but it’s the lemon that really makes it work. Without the lemon, it just wouldn’t do it for me.