Joy of the year was re-reading Jane Gardam’s 2006 novel Old Filth (Abacus) based on Sir Edward Feathers QC, then to read the follow-up, The Man in the Wooden Hat (2009).
The wonderfully illustrated book, The Roots of Civilisation (Pier 9) by John Newton is about the best Christmas book gift you could find for a book-loving friend while Harvey Sachs has written a stunning account of Beethoven in The Ninth—Beethoven and the World of 1824 (Faber & Faber, 2010).
Leo Damrosch does a great job with Tocqueville’s Discovery of America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010) as does Geoffrey Luck in his review of the book in the November Quadrant.
The Rational Optimist (Fourth Estate) by Matt Ridley will ensure a brighter Christmas for those weary of the dying-planet industry.
Other holiday reading: Christopher Hitchens’s Hitch-22 (Allen and Unwin), John Howard’s Lazarus Rising (Harper Collins) and Roger Scruton’s Beauty (Oxford University Press).