‘Ali Smith is just the best’: A fire-side chat about Winter

In the heady days immediately before Christmas, Jan@whatIthinkwhenIthinkaboutreading (one of my favourite bloggers but whom I’ve never actually met) and I decided to do a joint review of Ali Smith’s most recent book Winter.  We read the first of her seasonal quartet, Autumn, at around the same time (see here for that review), both loved it and through instant messaging found ourselves having something akin to a fire-side chat about Winter.

As a result of the time it took to get the internet connected in my new house (think of light years), I’m only now able to post this.

As you’ll read, at the time we chatted I was knee-deep in moving house, starting a new job, living in a new town for half the week, with patchy internet. As a consequence my thoughts are sketchy and superficial. Meanwhile, Jan poured forth insight after insight about Winter.  She puts me to shame.

The fact that I was in Melbourne and Jan was in her native Manchester added an interesting layer to how we each appreciated Winter. We also chatted about A Christmas Carol, Christmas shopping strategies, Brexit (of course), summer storms, SI units and whether Smith is a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’. And we both come to a similar conclusion about whether Winter lives up to Autumn

Hard to review, beautiful to read: Ali Smith’s Autumn

I’ve been wanting to read Ali Smith’s Autumn for months, simply because everything she writes is gold.  But I forgot about it for a bit, and in July it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Must read Autumn, I said to myself, then forgot again. In September it was shortlisted for the Prize. Really must read Autumn, I repeated to myself and actually remembered to request it from the library. It came into my possession, poetically, just as the Man Booker Prize was announced earlier this month. Autumn didn’t win, but it doesn’t matter – this is a beautiful book. I love it to pieces. I want everyone to know how great it is, but I’ve realised that it’s a really hard book to review. So bear with me*.

107 Books Later, or, Nine Years and 5 Months with Glasgow Women’s Library

I’ve been a member of Glasgow Women’s Library pretty much for as long as I’ve been in Glasgow.  Over that nine and a half years, I’ve endured the most brain crushing boredom of being paradoxically unemployed whilst in a full-job; sobbed with the grief of a failed relationship and skipped through the butterfly tingles of a new one; wept at the difficulties of breast-feeding; had half a dozen different hair cuts/ hair colours/ glasses;  delighted in the neighbourliness of our street; shed tears at the school gates on the first day of primary one and tried a plethora of different diet regimes but largely stayed the same size. In sum, I have lived my thirties as many women do – it’s been a decade of change.  Possibly the one thing that has stayed constant over this time has been the Glasgow Women’s Library Book Group. Friends, addresses, priorities and ambitions have all morphed, but the last Thursday of each month predictably and solidly is our Book Group.