Friday, 6 January 2017

Books and coffee | Happy New Year

Books and coffee: The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing · Lisa Hjalt

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed a relaxing holiday season and that 2017 will send good things your way. In this house we're still in holiday mode, without the festive food. Packed after New Year's, one of the kids suggested a menu of apples and carrots this week, which I found a wee bit extreme, as the Scots would say. Christmas was spent at home with occasional walks to Waterstones for a latte at their café. Browsing in the bookshop was enough because there were plenty of books under the tree. Remember about a month ago when I mentioned rereading Little Women if I had the Penguin clothbound edition? Guess what, my husband gave me the book and two other classics. These editions are so beautiful. I haven't finished the books on my last reading list but I read Louisa May Alcott into the new year. These days I'm noting down ideas for my next list and after our library visit on Wednesday some are just waiting to be read. To give you a hint: On my table you can spot The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. I will reveal the list later.

In December I also watched some TV (by that I mean catching up with the BBC iPlayer - I don't watch TV, I read). I loved Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings in The Lady in the Van (2015). How Alan Bennett put up with Mrs Shepherd for fifteen years is beyond my kin. On BBC there was a documentary, Alan Bennett's Diaries (2016), by Adam Low that I enjoyed watching. I'm thinking about reading Bennett's diaries after viewing his latest volume, Keeping On Keeping On, in a bookshop. And oh yes, I was in awe of BBC2's adaptation of Zadie Smith's NW, directed by Saul Dibb, screenplay by Rachel Bennette, which I watched after finishing the book. The cast was fantastic and Nikki Amuka-Bird better receive an award for her role as Natalie/Keisha Blake. She was extraordinary. My only disappointment with the film was that they left out the hilarious and tragic character of Annie, from the 'guest' chapter about Felix, but I completely get why they did.

Well, it's time to finish sprucing up the home for the weekend. I will soon share my review of Map Stories by Francisca Mattéoli, which I meant to do before Christmas, and I have a few coffee table books in sight.


  1. Happy New Year, from one Lisa to another! Today we will be packing up the holiday and tree decorations, as I love keeping them through my birthday. The sub-zero F temperatures here in Park City have me sitting on my hearthstone, enjoying my morning read and curious about what looks like a bookshops book you have in your photo. Would you care to share its title? All the best to you and yours this coming year, Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa! In Iceland the tradition is to keep the tree until the 6th of Jan., a day we call 'Þrettándinn' or the Thirteenth Night. There are bonfires and people use the rest of the fireworks from New Year's. The last Santa (we have 13!) leaves town and goes back to the mountains. This year was the first time I packed up the holiday decorations a few days earlier. All of a sudden I just needed my space back.

      About that book. It's on my latest reading list, called Bookshops and written by Jorge Carrión (it's translated from Spanish). I made sure it would be under the tree at Christmas. In the blog's sidebar there's an image of it with a link that takes you to the Book Depository if you want to read a bit more about it.

      It's cold in your place! Luckily we are enjoying a rather mild weather. All the best to you and the family.

  2. Thank you, Lisa, for the additional information. I like the tradition you describe, of keeping your tree until Epiphany -- then you could take it down with a Galette des Rois! Mixing traditions is such fun for us, since we've lived in so many countries with their different religions and brings back memories and a sense of belonging in the world at large, as well as in the local community. I imagine you'll agree! Happy, healthy new year to you!

    1. Hi again

      I had no idea that day was called Epiphany. I wonder why in Iceland we call it the Thirteenth Night and not the Twelfth. I must look it up.

      Speaking of traditions. We were talking about it at Christmas that we miss the Sinterklaas tradition from Belgium and Luxembourg.


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