Reading List (2/1)

Happy New Year all! I do hope you had a happy December and a very good New Year. I spent a lot of it asleep, recovering from a particularly hectic year. This reading list was a few weeks in the making so there may be a few things that seem ‘old’…


If you are still adjusting to the new year, Maria Popova wrote eloquently on how taking a longer perspective might help us deal with the present moment. Look up at the stars, and wonder at our insignificance.

A list of inspiring women.

Motivation porn‘.

Being a minority in an elite university.

Being a person of colour in the hospitality industry. A pastry chef on restaurants.

Rachel Roddy’s recipes for Christmas feasting. I’m including this because really, we should be able to eat trifle at any time of the year. Plus, the recipe for bean and bacon casserole seems appropriate for these colder days. And her recipes for the New Year.

The Guardian’s best food books of 2017. Saveur’s best food reads of 2017. (If you read only one from the list, make it Helen Rosner’s essay on Mario Batali.) The Food Programme reviews their favourite cookbooks of the year.

The story of Hodmedod’s.

Why food appeals at Christmas obscure the structural factors that result in people being unable to afford to buy food.

Ideas of how to cope with the academic publishing complex. Work-life balance in academia.

Coping with anxiety.

Monkey bread. These shortbreads. (Today is soooo grey these seem like a perfectly sound option for dinner).

On tamales.

It is coming up to Epiphany, January 6th, which means galette du rois

A French chef giving back his Michelin star.

Barbara Cartland’s Cookbook. (Thanks Jo for bringing this to my attention!)

I did a fair amount of non-work related reading this past month. Apart from re-reading Harry Potter (currently busy with The Goblet of Fire), I read some truly wonderful books:

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore. I read this in a scant 24 hours. I could not put it down. The writing is eloquent and I loved Lizzie, the narrator. But I really loved Dunmore’s notes at the end of the book. This was her last novel before she died and the novel is all about what remains after we leave this world. She writes, “only a very few people leave traces in history, or even bequesth family documents to their descendants. Most have no money to memorialise themselves, and lack even a gravestone to mark their existence. Women’s lives, in particular, remain largely unrecorded. But even so, did they not shape the future?

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. This is another novel that is technically YA but should be read by everyone. It has stayed with me long after I finished it, thinking about Calum and Sephy, and their relationship. I haven’t read more of the series yet, although I will this year.

The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick. I just loved this book. It jumps around in time, deals with ancestors and ghosts, magic and stars. It moves from France to Ireland to Antarctica. It is a strange and wonderful book.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie. Because it isn’t the festive season without a bit of murder mystery in a grand house right?

The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater. I’ve read this like a memoir and I want to make all the recipes…

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. My god, this book! Another about silenced women. Well, not exactly. It is a book about a young woman, Faith, who travels to an island with her family and natural scientist father. He is hiding a specimen and the story revolves around Faith, the tree, her father, and the secrets and lies people tell. I found myself wanting to yell at the men keeping Faith from pursuing science, telling her she couldn’t know anything and is absolutely not as important or as intelligent as her brother – it is set in the mid-1800s so women are supposed to be silent, and are definitely not clever (they are measuring people’s heads to prove it!). In one chapter, Faith is in the church and reads some of the marble plaques on the walls, full of women’s names. “Who had they been, all these mothers and sisters and wives? What were they now? Moons, blank and faceless, gleaming with borrowed light, each spinning loyally around a bigger sphere. ‘Invisible,’ said Faith under her breath. Women and girls were so often unseen, forgotten, afterthoughts”. In a year of #metoo, this book, along with Birdcage Walk, draws attention to the way women are regarded (and have been regarded) in our societies.

Have a good week! x