Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Comfort and Joy: What I Want, What I Read, What I Eat

Having finally recovered from the recovery period of recovering from finishing work, I thought a bookish Christmas post was in order.

What I Read:
Since finally finished the last hard slog of work, my time has mostly been spent eating panettone, drinking mulled wine and reading my Christmas books in a painfully hot bath every night. I read the same three books every Christmas, plus a few alternates as back-up which change annually, and this gives me the same lovely feeling as repeats of the Christmas episodes of Only Fools and Horses, Porridge and The Royle Family (done, done and done). Certain films, television shows and books are a must every year, and rather than getting bored of them I enjoy them more and more each year as the tradition gets stronger.

The three I always read are 'The Hogfather' by Terry Pratchett, 'Hercule Poirot's Christmas' by Agatha Christie and 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens - in that order, ending with the Dickens on Christmas eve in bed (always following the last and favourite Christmas film - White Christmas). I find that 'The Hofather' gets me into the Christmas spirit the quickest as it is so funny, and the Dickens is the most traditional, so leaves me with the warmest feeling on Christmas morning. I adore the festive period, but get very stressed around Christmas as I am not hugely social and worry a lot about everything coming together, so I feel that these routines and traditions keep me grounded and happy, and remind me of how lovely Christmas should really be (first world problems - I am so highly strung!)

What I Want:
Realistically, everything, I want everything, all of the books, all of them. Also, because I am a Christmas Nazi, I don't ask for anything at all, and demand that every present buyer makes an effort to get me something I would actually like or to not bother at all (Merry Christmas Everyone). Luckily, most people flake out and get me Lush goodies and book tokens which is an obvious safe bet, and very much appreciated. My partner will of course be held to a higher standard than everyone else, so my expectations will exceed such obvious choices! We have already brought our gifts so this list cannot influence anyone.

The specific bookish covets I would like/will buy afterwards anyway:

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami - Not amazingly reviewed it has to be said, but I have been looking forward to this for a while now, and can't wait to read the new work from one of my favourites.
You Are Here by Chris Hadfield - A book of pictures by Commander Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut that pops up everywhere and is casually amazing in every way.
Hard Choices by Hilary Rodham Clinton - I have grown to love Hil-dog, and find her so strong, poised and inspiring that I want to know more. I do wish she would just commit to running for office though, Jesus.
Playing to the Gallery by Grayson Perry - Another person I find wholly inspiring. I have always liked his persona and demeanour, and found his recent channel 4 show extremely interesting and a real oddity, I have high hopes for the book now.

Thomas Cromwell by Tracy Borman - As heard about on radio 5 like the majority of my obsessions. Tracy was talking about this to the (terrible) new afternoon presenters, as well as her other book about Witches which I also covet. Since reading Wolf Hall I have wanted to know more about Cromwell in general and, cynically, feel that the newer Cromwell fare might be an offshoot of the success of Mantel's books. I want it anyway of course.
Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford - Since the sad death of the last notorious Mitford sister, Deborah, this year, I finally read 'The Mitford Girls', as I had always been meaning to. I also read 'The Blessing' by Nancy Mitford (I read this first on the radio 4 recommendation - so predictable) and thought it was fantastic. I want more of the same and more of the sisters please.

Also, while I am at it, I will have every single Penguin Classic actually, isn't the Nancy Mitford cover gorgeous?

I have a week off after the Christmas main event, so I have lots of time to catch up on the reading I have had to cast aside in favour of work in recent weeks. The 'to read' shelf can wait - new things await.

What I Eat:
Again, everything, it's Christmas. I like the traditional, and every other families traditions are incorrect. One of these traditions is, naturally, worrying about getting chubby, but I keep telling myself that it is just one week of frivolity and to not be a grinch. I do think it is important to be selective, and just have the firm favourites, so one doesn't end up feeling like a gross pig the day after Boxing Day - I know this from experience - everything in moderation as they say. Luckily I love sprouts.

We have a traditional British dinner, with the white sauce, turkey, sprouts, roast potatoes, carrot and parsnip mash and stuffing being a must. The most important element are the roasties - see the picture for Jamie Oliver food porn perfection.

My Pinterest food porn obsession has been in overdrive, dominated by festive crunchy, gooey, fluffy, tasty dreams whilst I was stuck working. A few coveted cookbooks were also added to my wish list:

Crumb by Ruby Tandoh
Green Kitchen Travels by Frekiel And Vindahl
Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward
Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver

So, in conclusion, I am extremely excited about Christmas, and also extremely excited about it being over so I can be left alone to read! I suppose we are all walking contradictions aren't we?
I have brought everyone on my Christmas list a bookish gift and a little extra - both something they will love and a little piece of myself - the best kind of gift in my opinion.

I will leave you with two things:
1. The Radio 4 adaptation of 'Good Omens' by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman starts tomorrow (December 22nd) - we are all excited about this right? It is available for 30 days after airing so no rush. Listen to clips/episodes here.
2. The most pinned Pinterest pin I have every had on my wall, 42 pins in 2 weeks, for the Jamie Oliver popcorn rocky road Christmas pudding! Look at that bad boy.


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