There's a gut feeling that you get when you have the right book in your hands. This year, the right book is Stoner by John Williams. It's the book I'll be taking with me to El Salvador, but I won't be reading it on the plane. Holiday reading, made precious by scarcity, has become something of a ritual. I refuse to open the book until I am at my mother's house: I'll find a sunny spot in the garden; I'll make myself comfortable; I'll open a beer - and then I'll open the book.
Coming back to the English wintry drizzle is always a shock to the system. I've earmarked Tan Twan Eng's appositely named The Gift of Rain to get me through the winter spell. Lush prose, epic scope, and the dazzling backdrop of the mountains and rainforests of colonial Malaya: it's perfect February reading.
By the time spring arrives, I'll be ready to tackle more weighty subjects. I'm hoping that this will be the year I re-read Buddenbrooks, and, having finally discovered a book on our shelves that none of us have read, I intend to become the first of our booksellers to read On the Eve by Ivan Turgenev.
I'm already looking forward to Pedro Ferreira’s new book The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity, which comes out in early February. I found his previous book such a joy to read, and this one looks just as good: it promises the story of 'possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement in modern physics', and the feuds, vendettas and ideological battles which accompanied its discovery.
I'm also eagerly anticipating the paperback edition of The Luminaries, which comes out in March. Portability is a virtue - I'm planning to carry it off as summer reading, hopefully to some remote beach in Cornwall.