In the High Peaks

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in Books!

Thinking of you, everyone, out there this Christmas Eve. I'm hoping that all of you are celebrating with loved ones, in whatever ways you can during this time.

We are very well here, though we're having torrential rains on top of more than a foot of snow that fell about five days ago. We'll be fine here, despite the deluge, but other areas of our region that received much more snow face severe flooding in the next 24 hours. It's been a strange late fall--early winter season so far. Severe cold followed by unusual warmth, then back in the deep freeze, and warm again, like a see-saw.

I'm in the midst of my customary December lull (read: FUNK), and hope to be back up to speed after New Year's Day.

I'm currently trying very, very hard to read The Mirror and The Light , the third and final volume about Thomas Cromwell during King Henry VIII's reign, by Hilary Mantel. I'm reading it in hardcover, and I must say the publisher has made the book very difficult to read. The paper of the pages is a poor newsprint quality, and each page is lighter  and more flimsy than newsprint, and a dull beige in color. The print itself is a light gray and does not stand out on the page. The font is tiny, with very little leading between the lines. So I tried to hang tough but struggled for two hours today to read only 38 pages of a 757-page book. And what has made this novel even more difficult--there are dozens and dozens more characters, although fortunately there is a five-page list of who they all are at the beginning of the novel. I made it fine through the first two novels in the series, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. But I was unprepared to be so challenged.  I know some of you have read this--so I will hold on. Frankly, I need MORE LIGHT to read. Perhaps I should have waited for summer light to read this. 

Now WHY COMPLAIN on Christmas Eve, really? Especially when I've read so many wonderful books this past year, and particularly this past fall.  I just finished John le Carre's final novel Agents Running in the Field, and loved it. I thrilled to Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, Monogamy by Sue Miller, and most compelling of all, the incomparable memoir Notes on a Silencing by Lacey Crawford.



  1. Merry Christmas Judith.

    I'm so disappointed when I get a book that if too hard on my old eyes. Thats why I love the Kindle these days but, I still love holding real books.

    BTW: It's been windy and pouring here since after midnight but, at least the wind has died down....57 degrees.

    1. I love e-books, too, and have read oodles of them this year, but sometimes, especially for denser and more difficult reads, I like a hardcover. This usually works, but this time, well--.
      Our temps are plummeting now. If the road freezes up that will improve the walking, because it's a spongy, soggy, muddy mess at the moment.
      I wish you loads of great reads in 2021.

  2. I hate that I've now become an old codger who has problems with print size in books. And it must be doubly annoying because generally hardbacks are easier to read than paperbacks.

    Our friends in Pittsburgh report a total of 17 inches of snow so far, making life quite difficult as she is a stroke victim and he has heart problems. It makes me annoyed with myself for moaning about trivialities.

    Merry Christmas to you, Judith. Goodness I hope that 2021 will be better, if not immediately then eventually.

    1. Hi Cath,
      We had a 13 inch snowfall around the 20th of December, but then RAIN--like 2 inches of rain on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with a high temperature of 50 degrees. Made our dirt road a mud pile. But, better today, as it is only in the low 20s, way below freezing, so we can walk again, though our road has washed out in many places. A gentle snowfall today, very gentle, just enough to make things more Christmasy.
      I have been having an okay time with hardcovers all year, until this one. A very poor choice. Newsprint with a light grey print. Ridiculous. Actually, it's just plain CHEAP, I say.
      Ken Follett's 970-page The Evening and the Morning was beautifully done. So readable. The paper was ecru and stout, the print large, lots of leading, and it read like a dream. So it can be done.
      And a very merry Christmastide to you and your family, and a Happy New Year, and let's hope that by mid-summer we're in a much better place.

  3. Merry Christmas, Judith.
    I struggle so much with some of the fonts in books. At the same time, I’m still not keen on reading on the kindle.
    It sounds like you read some very good books. I hope next year will bring many more.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with you. I still enjoy hardcover books so much despite the fact that I do read quite a number of e-books.
      I hope to report more about some of the wonderfully fulfilling books I read this year.

  4. That's such a shame about The Mirror and the Light. I had a look at my own copy and it's obviously different from the US version. The font is a decent size with plenty of space in between the lines, there are 875 pages plus the author's notes, so I found it easy to read.
    We've had such a lot of rain which is depressing, but it isn't very cold.

    1. Yes, Katrina, if they had taken the 750 pages of my copy and made it 875 pages, with a slightly larger font and darker print, it would have made a world of difference.
      I will persevere, however!
      We had a depressing rainstorm as well, from midday Christmas Eve through Christmas Night. So muddy that I could not take the dog anywhere. Better today, but by late week we're supposed to have more rain. Ugh.

  5. Hi Judith, I'm only just catching up with reading blogs. Like Katrina we've had lots of rain and not much cold weather.

    I was so keen to read the Mirror and the Light when it came out, but still haven't read it. My copy is a hardback like Katrina's but I found it too heavy and cumbersome to hold whilst reading in bed - or even sitting in a chair, so I didn't get very far,but I'm determined to read it soon.

    I hope you had a Happy Christmas and I'm hoping for a much better year next year for all of us.

    1. Hi Margaret,
      Our Christmas was happy enough, though naturally, far from ideal, thanks for asking.
      I'll be very, very interested to hear what you think of The Mirror and the Light. I'm still struggling with it. (up to p. 66 only). I really think there's something wrong with me that I'm struggling with it. Had no problems with the first two. But?? Now I wonder.

  6. I am sorry to hear you are having problems with reading The Mirror and the Light and that does not bode well for me, since I have problems with reading too. And I probably have the same copy you do. Even when I was younger I had to have plenty of light to read. I just struggled through a very short Agatha Christie paperback book because it had very light print (an old edition). I won't do that again.

    I wish we were getting torrential rains. We do expect rain tonight but we haven't had any for months, so we need lots more.

    Have a happy new year!

    1. And a Very Happy New Year to you and your family as well!
      Tracy, I'm beginning to think my problems grappling with The Mirror and The Light is due to my lack of faculties. I can't understand it. I must read it, because after reading the first two, which I had no problems with, I must know how it ends! I'm up to p. 66 now. I would love to say more, but want you to read it first.
      I WILL look forward to what you're reading in 2021, for sure! Best wishes to you!!

  7. I'm struggling with The Mirror and the Light as well. I'm midway through and just not motivated to finish it. I never thought that it might be the quality of the publication that was impacting my response to it, but maybe that coupled with the impending doom are just making it a struggle for me.

    Yes, more light, but the story just doesn't end well.

    1. Hi Jane,
      Yes, the fact that we know the doom-worthy outcome does play a factor, I think.
      I also think the prose is nowhere near as polished as in the other two books. I'm finding the prose a bit turgid--. But unfortunately I cared enough about the first two books to really want to finish. I'm really torn.