1. Title: The Signature of All Things
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Recommended by: The Writer, who saw her speak at an event last year and leant me his signed hardback copy.
Read: 23rd December – 5 January
What a way to start one’s reading year. I wasn’t at all convinced given the author’s previous book was the self-help-travel-thingummy, Eat, Pray, Love, but I’m so glad I read this. It’s brilliant. You might well pick it up and think, “no. Tales of obscure 19th century female botanists aren’t for me,” but I assure you, they are. Gorgeously written, full of completely unexpected twists and turns, and the hardcover edition is utterly beautiful.
2. Title: A Talent to Annoy
Author: Nancy Mitford
Recommended by: I don’t remember. A Christmas present from Ma Blonde.
Read: 2 – 19 January
If you like Nancy’s novels, you’ll adore this. A collection of her journalism and essays, this nonfic collection loses none of Nancy’s biting wit and natural way with words. Some of the pieces on her life in France are a little involved for me, but the book includes the classic U and Non-U, as well as an absolutely hysterical piece on English country weekends, and for horsey types, the piece on watching point-to-point is a must.
3. Title: The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker
Author: Janet Groth
Recommended by: bought for me as a birthday present by PolitiGal
Read: 20 January – 4 Feb
I wanted to really, really love this. Instead, it was the first book I’ve very nearly given up on in over a year. It’s a memoir by Janet Groth, who spent decades as a receptionist at The New Yorker. There are plenty of anecdotes about the illustrious people who passed by her desk, but the book just doesn’t hang together in the way other more intimate memoirs do. Irritatingly, she’s pseudonymised any really juicy tidbits, and the rest is more self-indulgent than properly insightful. A disappointment, given its potential.