Though this is the first year I have ‘lived’ in this little patch of country Victoria, it is my third visit, and the third time I have started a Winter here. I did think that, by comparison, Autumn hung around as long as it could and has made a thoroughgoing effort to keep the town looking lovely. There are still plenty of beautiful yellow and orange trees shaking their little coats down onto the footpaths. It’s delightful. But there are also fewer and fewer hours in the day when one can venture outside and maintain circulation to fingers and toes.

This chilly situation has it’s own advantages for someone as thoroughly and completely uncool as me. I am entirely without any sense of style, I have always known this, but every now and then I feel like I should try. But it’s inevitably disastrous, so winter is a welcome reprieve. When Pri 1 is only to be warm, it seems much more acceptable now to put PJs on straight after work than it does in sunny February. ‘Warm’, in my case, has never equalled ‘matching’, or ‘trendy’, or even ‘acceptable for answering the door’. I don’t mean your Peter Alexander pants and your beloved’s cosy hoodie and cute slippers and a messy bun – that shit belongs in an Ed Sheeran videoclip. I mean ‘these 3/4 pants are the only ones not in the wash, so I’m going to have to pair them up with knee high hiking socks if I don’t want to freeze, and I suppose this old PT shirt with the few holes will do, and I swore I would never wear this sweater again after that airport incident, but hey, it’s cotton, so it’ll breathe when I’m wrapped around the three heat packs and hot water bottle in bed tonight’.

Further to embracing this homely attire has been a prompt to one of my other Winter pastimes – a little bit of a reading challenge. I’ve set myself a few over the years, with varied success. Booker Prize Winners, Non-Western Authors, Australian authors, Books I Bought But Have Never Read, Books People Loaned Me Months (*Years*) Ago And Probably Want Back’, etc. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across this Master List, which has many wonderful ideas, and settled on the Alphabet Soup Challenge. A book for each letter, as perhaps is obvious (the rules are a little relaxed – as long as there’s a word somewhere in the title starting with the applicable letter, it’s allowed). I’ve started compiling my list, and am trying to keep a bit of variety in the mix, to reflect the things I love and that help me keep the long view. A bit of post-war fiction, a bit of domestic wisdom, a bit of political savvy, and a bit of fantastical escapism. But as you can see below, there are a lot of gaps in my list, so I’m hoping a few good friends might point me in the direction of the books they’ve loved lately!

Jx

(PS – I’m a big fan of ‘book pairings’ – a little bit of deliberate savouring of the last chapter in a especially good book. I wore the Sorting Hat my brother gave me when I finished HPDH. I was given a parcel of Ceylon Silver Tips with my copy of The English Patient, which was much anticipated by the end, because it took  me a VERY long time to read). The book I’m reading now is set in Prague, so I’m going to try my hand at a Czech dish when I finish it. So… Add those recommendations too, if you have them!)

books&snow

ALPHABET SOUP BOOKLIST

A – Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

B

C

D – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby 

E – Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

F

G – The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

H – Heroic Australian Women in War by Susanna de Vries (starting over, after losing and finding in my last move)

I – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

J – The Judge’s Wife by Ann O’Loughlin

K

L – Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

M

N

O – The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama

P

Q

R

S – The Satanic Verses by Salmon Rushdie

T – Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard

U

V

W – The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb

X

Y – Yates Garden Guide

Z

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