So--if you ARE interested in books (or looking for gifts for someone who is), check out Sarah Laurence's Blogger Book Boost. This is my contribution, starting--since this is a garden blog--with the garden books on my Christmas list.
(Given the nature of Sarah's post, I need to say that although I use pictures below from an on-line source, support your local bookseller!--that way you can look at all the pictures in the garden books I don't mention . . .)
The Well-Designed Mixed Garden is by Tracy Disabato-Aust. Marnie at Roses and Lilacs has already posted on Disabato-Aust's The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, one of my favorite and most-(ab)used garden books. In the Mixed Garden, Disabato-Aust extends her expert advice to trees, shrubs, annuals, and bulbs, and provides 27 sample designs.
Another book I'd love is Making the Most of Shade by Larry Hodgson--lots of pictures, lots of suggestions, lots of design ideas.
And Tony Lord has published a follow up to Gardening at Sissinghurst called Planting Schemes from Sissinghurst. Not that my garden will ever look like Sissinghurst, but one can dream . . .
I've also added Tina's suggestions from In the Garden to my list. That ought to be enough garden reading to get me through January.
Salix has just picked up P.D. James' new novel, The Private Patient. I've been reading James's Adam Dalgliesh novels since I was a teenager (these are fabulous British murder mysteries; Dalgiesh is a poet as well as a detective). Word is, this one (the 14th) may be the last one. Anyway, I can't wait until Salix finishes it.
The book on my nightstand right now is John Dunning's The Bookwoman's Last Fling. Dunning's detective, Cliff Janeway, is a rare book dealer who moonlights as a detective--in this book, he's investigating forgeries he discovers in a dead woman's estate, and his investigation takes him to California racetracks, where he gets a job as a hotwalker to get behind-the-scene info. Books, murder, racing, horses--I couldn't pass this one up. (But as someone who once got a job as a hotwalker to get behind-the-scene info, I have to tell Janeway--the horses say almost nothing useful).
And on my Christmas list, Jane Smiley's latest novel, Ten Days in the Hills. Here's a blurb from the Washington Post:
"A violent war has begun, and a small group of family and friends has taken refuge in a secluded house high in the hills to escape the fighting. Actually, they are hoping to escape news of the fighting. They're in southern California. The fighting is in the Middle East. But most of them don't approve of the conflict, and, besides, the house where they've holed up has a pool and a terrific room in which to watch movies. It's March 2003, and the war in Iraq has just begun. Such is the backdrop for Jane Smiley's new novel, Ten Days in the Hills, a work modeled in part on Boccaccio's Decameron."
Smiley is one of my favorite authors--whether she's rewriting King Lear (A Thousand Acres), sending up academia (Moo), or writing about her love of horses and horse racing (Horse Heaven, A Year at the Races), she's consistently smart, funny, weird, ironic, and often eloquent.
So those are my recommendations. I haven't been doing much reading lately, but the cooler weather and some time in Arizona (and away from the garden) may give me time to catch up.