Part of me is still on my Greek Island. It rained for five minutes in seven days. My skin is full of sun, my brain rested and still refusing to come to heel. I read four stunning books: 'Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller, 'State of Wonder' by Ann Patchett, 'At Mrs Lippincote's' by Elizabeth Taylor and 'Stoner' by John Williams. I recommend all four unreservedly. They are all life-enriching stories, each as different from the other as one could imagine. I read hard copies. They are scattered around me now on my desk, the corners beaten, the pages fat with pool-splashes and drops of sun lotion; looking as books should look in my view, each a package of memories that extends far beyond the remit of the stories they contain. I may be a romantic ( I * am *a romantic!) but I offer that observation as a fact not a sentiment. Electronic reads are efficient, worthy conduits of the written word, but as a replacement for books there is an added human dimension that they can never deliver.
I am in wistful mood then. My tanned feet are cold beneath my desk. (In a state of post-holiday denial about the UK weather, I am still wearing flip-flops.) But the beaten books remain a comfort. Glancing at 'Stoner', my thoughts drift back to the high, hot, smooth slab of rock in the Ionian Sea on which I finished reading it. I was lying on a towel on my back in the evening sun, my beach bag a comfy pillow, the backdrop of sky around the pages a rich flawless blue through my sunglasses. It has been a tough year. But by the closing paragraphs a peace had filled me, the like of which I had not thought to know again and which makes the book a friend, a fellow traveller, safely returned.