I think blogging  takes quite a bit of self-discipline, and (like lots of other self-disciplines) is often easy to neglect but very rewarding when it does get done – quite like going to the gym. In 2011, I got better at reading blogs, but certainly no better at keeping mine. I’m not feeling too bad about this, seeing as I’m quite sure I’m writing to an extremely small (but no doubt excellent!) readership. That said, I really do think it is a helpful habit, mostly because I do think almost constantly, and it is helpful to put some order to those thoughts.

As it happens, there are just a few gaps in the List of 25, so feel free to make recommendations! I especially want to make some progress on my resolution from LAST year to read through more of the Man Booker Prize list…

Out of interest, did anyone make any especially interesting new year’s resolutions for 2012?

And just for fun, some food for thought from the Abebooks website…

Oh, hello. Well, I have bad news, and good news. I’ll alternate, so as not to shock your delicate sensibilities.

Bad news: your schooner/sailboat/yacht/canoe/dinghy has capsized in a terrible storm and sunk to the bottom of a watery abyss to become home to the eels.

Good news: having clung tenaciously to life and an upturned Styrofoam beer cooler, you have now washed ashore, rumpled, nauseated and salty, but still in one piece.

Bad news: this small island in the middle of the ocean appears to be uninhabited by any other human beings. You are decidedly alone (I recognise that to some of you, this may be good news).

Good news: your basic needs for food, water and shelter are covered with a plethora of fruit trees, a natural spring waterfall, and a conveniently-located cave, warm and dry and free of creatures and guano.

Bad news: There is nary an electrical outlet in sight, so unless that laptop is solar-powered, it has just become a makeshift shovel or paperweight.

Good news: Your waterproof rucksack saves the day! It did its job by protecting its contents, snug and dry: a good supply of matches, and three books: The Holy Bible (or comparable spiritual/religious/philosophical/humanist text), The Works of Shakespeare, and _____________.

The last blank on the list is, of course, yours to fill in.

…okay, so we have blatantly stolen the concept from the long-running (since 1942) BBC Radio program ‘Desert Island Discs’ (it itches my grammatical sensibilities that it is not called ‘Deserted Island Discs’ – are there a lot of islands in the desert? But I digress.) in which celebrities of different disciplines and varying levels of fame are interviewed and given the chance to choose which eight pieces of music, which book, and which luxury item they would want with them, were they stranded on a deserted island. The focus on the radio show is the music, but I’m fascinated by the literary aspect, and started to think…. What would I choose? What formula would I employ? There’s no telling how long I’m going to be there. I decided to look to the experts, and see what other authors and writers had chosen for their books. Combing through the archives of the radio show, there are certain books and authors that make repeat appearances. John Updike, Tariq Ali, Philip Pullman, Stan Barstow, Richard Adams, Dodie Smith and A.S. Byatt all chose Marcel Proust. Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, W.H. Auden and Oscar Wilde all had repeated showings as well, as did various dictionaries, most often the Oxford English. I enjoyed Bill Bryson’s selection – he picked one of his own books. Brazen.

Having surveyed the famous, I decided to turn to the infamous, and ask my coworkers what they thought. After getting rid of the chaff (a million emails with the island-equivalent of “I’d wish for unlimited wishes” — thanks guys), the wheat was pretty interesting. Some people chose books clearly meant to further their chances of getting off the island (books about building, scavenging, edible types of plants, books about fishing). Some chose books clearly meant to help them to better understand their plight (meditation books, self-help books, spiritual texts), and most, having evidently accepted their predicament, chose a favorite book to keep them company, and for good old-fashioned entertainment.

Blessings for the New Year, friends….

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