The New Year Approaches…

And this is how we are:

Scenario 1: The day before yesterday, I went downstairs around lunchtime to find Mr Litlove sprawled over the sofa in front of the television. I put my hand on his head.

‘I think I’m feeling a little better,’ he said, weakly.

‘Cure’s working, then?’ I asked. ‘Keep applying television directly to the eyeballs.’

‘If the pressure’s strong enough, it seems to keep the wound closed,’ he replied (and ruined the effect somewhat by laughing uproariously at his own joke).


Scenario 2: Yesterday I settled in the sitting room in the early afternoon with a fire going and my ipod docking station ready to deliver The Goldfinch on audiobook to me. I heard the first few paragraphs, I think. Certainly there was something about a hotel room in Amsterdam. But the next thing I really knew, Mr Litlove had come into the room to bank up the fire and draw the curtains as it was dark.

‘So how are you getting on with it?’ asked Mr Litlove who has read The Goldfinch and is keen to know what I think. ‘What bit have you got up to?’

‘Umm,’ I said. ‘I may have to start over again.’


Yes, we are a little bit tired over here, at the dog end of a long, hard year. What a strange and turbulent year it has been! When I look back over it, I find it unsurprising that we have a slightly ragged, chewed air about us.

On the side of the angels there was Shiny New Books, which we began planning way back in early February. I can’t quite believe that we have put out three full editions, three inbetweenies and have another full galloping towards us at the end of January. What a team we have been! I couldn’t wish for smarter, harder-working co-editors than Annabel, Harriet and Simon, not to mention the wonderful bloggers who have written reviews and features for us. After a quick tot-up, I find I have written 52 reviews and features for the magazine myself. I hope next year we can continue to refine and shape Shiny into the perfect magazine for us and for our audience.

On the side of the furies, however, it was an emotionally demanding year. My son split with his girlfriend and suffered greatly, though from August onwards, he’s been exemplary in getting his life back on track. He’s still healing and figuring things out, and you may imagine how much I hope he gets a few breaks next year. Then Mr Litlove has had quite a few battles at work, which eventually resulted in the gains he wanted, but leave him working ever more closely with his crazy boss. It’s my job to help him keep sane within an atmosphere that regularly risks toppling into hysteria. I find that, at the end of a long recitation of his boss’ latest exploits, if I throw my arms wide, gaze to the heavens and yell ‘But he’s a NARCISSIST!’ this makes Mr Litlove laugh. I might have to come up with something new in 2015, though. And you may recall as well my friend with MS who lost her husband. I have to thank you all for your wise counsel when I was feeling guilty about not being able to rush around with casseroles and practical support. In fact, my friend was rather overwhelmed by help, which has of course now evaporated, and the short emails of support that I regularly send her she has liked receiving. I do feel I’ve been able to be useful in a way I can sustain.

When I began this year, it was supposed to be dedicated to writing the book I’m working on (everything I’ve described so far came on top of that). And despite it all, I did manage to hit my target for the year. I’ve completed half the book, and the half that required the most research. And I have just about kept this blog ticking over. WordPress informed me the other day that I’ve written just shy of 100 posts this year. Which is a lot less than I would normally write, but you all know why. In fact, when I had a quick calculate across the whole year, I think I’ve written about 300,000 words, when you add in the correspondence I keep with some virtual friends. So not too shabby.

And I’ve taken up tai chi, and become a fan of the Alexander Technique. And with the support of my family, I’ve begun tackling some of my long-seated phobias about travelling and socialising (particularly when they come together). I’ve made slow but steady progress, and I’ll keep at it next year.

So it’s been a tough and busy year, but I feel I’ve had a lot of support. Mr Litlove’s been a darling. My family has been fantastic. My co-editors, a delight. And I don’t know what I would do without all my virtual blogging friends. You’ve stuck by me through the spotty blogging months when my attention was elsewhere; you’ve bolstered my confidence and optimism and just plain put up with me when I’ve been oversharing about some personal disaster or other; you’ve left intelligent, funny, witty comments on bookish matters of all kinds. A lot of you have written for SNB, too! Thank you, dear friends. I wish you all the loveliest, most peaceful, productive and happy 2015.

And now I might just stagger back to the sofa, where I think I left that book….





62 thoughts on “The New Year Approaches…

  1. Happy New Year, happy reading and writing and thank you – for much more than you know, than I’ve been able to express.
    And you seem dubious about The Goldfinch? I loved it, raced through it, could read it again except have so much else awaiting.
    Hope Mr Litlove heals.

    • Happy New Year to you, too, Carol! May it be a healthy and peaceful one for both of us. And I fell asleep during the first listening to The Goldfinch – hence I didn’t know what had happened! But I will most certainly start listening to it again – I’m still very curious about it.

  2. Happy New Year’s wishes – it’s certainly been a year for you and so many other people I know. Next year calls for a bit more calm I think.

    • Oh I do so agree. Yes, I’ve got several friends who’ve had tough years (and some far worse than mine – really, I’ve not got much to complain about) – the heavens have not been aligned! Apparently, the year of the sheep is all about healing – about time, too!

  3. Sounds like a year to be proud of to me! Half-way through a book, co-founding and editing an excellent literary magazine while offering emotional support to both friends and family – all difficult enough when supercharged with energy, and I’ve missed out those 100 entertaining, beautifully polished posts. Much sympathy with Mr Litlove’s work trials – I frequently throw up my hands in horror at the entire institution where H works. Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for plain sailing in 2015.

    • Susan that is such a lovely comment, thank you! I much prefer your take on my year to my own! And I send sympathies galore to H (who’s in academia, yes? which can indeed be horrifying). Thank you for your kind wishes, and here’s to a very contented 2015 for you and yours too!

  4. Happy new year! Some real achievements there and well done for getting through all the trials. Hopefully books have been a bit of a solace…. 🙂

  5. Gosh – you’ve had a year … and some. I’m so glad that everything appears to have settled down a bit – you need a break! All the best to you and your family for 2015 and Vive Shiny!

  6. That is quite a year, indeed…you are all certainly entitled to more than a little celebratory/restorative unconsciousness. Wishing you and the LLove family continued sanity and unexpected felicities in 2015.

    • I like the thought of unexpected felicities. I’m always expecting the apocalypse to arrive, so by logical extension, good things really ought to happen too…. Well, maybe. I’ll definitely try to hang onto the sanity that remains! A very peaceful and productive 2015 to you, too, dear David.

  7. Happy New Year to you and yours. I look forward to more Shiny New Books and more of your blog in 2015. I’m sorry I have been so bad about commenting in 2014 but I have been reading your blog.

  8. I love your family anecdotes: if you are all really as good at turning trouble into wit as you make it sound here, you are blessed, even if sometimes it might seem that you are the opposite. What a great year for you in so many ways: I so admire and applaud you for your shiny new venture, for making such headway on your book project, and still, on top of it all, writing one of the best book blogs around. Good luck with your efforts to deal with your anxiety issues: I have some travel-related ones too and I am not doing well at changing them at all, I fear. Best wishes to you and yours for 2015.

    • Travel can be a right pain, and America is sooo huge. I have this option of travelling for half an hour at a time and getting somewhere quite different. I would baulk like mad at a 7 hour car trip, and certainly not get anywhere near completing it! I send huge solidarity – this sort of thing is really hard to fix, and can only be done very slowly and very kindly. Thank you altogether for such a lovely and encouraging comment. Does it sound too awful if I say we’ve had a lot of practice with our sense of humour as a way to combat disaster? Dear Rohan, here’s to a wonderful 2015 for you and your family, too. I look forward enormously to reading all about it.

  9. Wishing you a very happy new year ! I look forward to your thoughts on The Goldfinch. I will say no more on that. Your review of Some Luck had me rushing to the library and then lost in the pages of this very rewarding read. Thank you!!

    • Ooh I am so pleased that you enjoyed Some Luck, hurray! I will definitely be starting The Goldfinch again – I’m very curious to read/listen to it! A very happy New Year to you and yours, too! Thank you for commenting. 🙂

  10. Quite a year indeed. I’m very happy to have been part of the bit that was on the side of the angels — long may it continue. Sounds like more rest and more television should be prescribed all round. A very happy new year to you. x

    • And a very happy New Year to you, too, Harriet! You are definitely on the side of the angels. 🙂 And I will clearly have to obey you where television is concerned!

  11. 52 pieces for SNB + 100 blog posts+ half a book while dealing with other family issues! When do you get time to breathe? Hope 2015 gives you a little more opportunity for relaxation.

  12. Heh, that’s why I don’t listen to audiobooks unless I am on a road trip and driving the car so I have to stay awake and pay attention. And those road trips happen so rarely these days. I hope the cure has worked for Mr. Litlove 😉 I hope 2015 turns out to be a calm and quiet year!

    • Yes, it would be potentially very dangerous! I tend to switch off at roundabouts, too, and miss essential bits of plot. You will be relieved to know that the cure worked very effectively for Mr L, though it seemed to take several days of intense work…. 😉 And thank you for your lovely wishes – a very happy 2015 to you and the Bookman too!

  13. May 2015 be wonderful to you — peace and plenty and time for all the members of the Litlove family. I love reading here — one of the very first blogs I found when I started reading, and still one of the very best, most gracious, funniest, most compassionate, and most insightful.

  14. Happy New Year Litlove! Glad to hear things are back on track for your son–it really does get easier over time, though it is hard to believe at the outset! I hope everyone is healthy or headed that way and that you have had lots of reading time and time for relaxing after the hectic lead up to the holidays. January is always a little depressing, but isn’t it nice to get back to a routine? I had no idea you were doing tai chi–how fun. Very best wishes to you and all in the Litlove household in 2015! Looking forward to reading more of your writing and hearing about your reading, too! 🙂

    • Happy New Year to you, too, Danielle! Thank you for your comforting words about my son – I hold to them (and he is certainly much better now than he was six months ago). I am a big fan of routines, particularly ones that allow me a few hours of reading every day! What I really need is a new routine that makes sure I read and comment on other blogs daily – somehow that’s become the thing I can’t fit in. And I must fix that! And tai chi is fun and actually quite easy to do (just got to stick with it through continuing classes this year which are less fun than beginners’). Thank you for reading and commenting – it wouldn’t be right without you!

  15. What a year! I hope 2015 will be better health-wise and family-wise. I am glad that you stuck to taichi. Even though you blogged less, your posts are always delightful and eagerly awaited!

    • Aw, Ms Smithereens, you are too kind! And yes, I’m all for a quieter 2015, if possible. A very happy, healthy and contented 2015 to all the Smithereens too!

  16. You only have to change a few words in ‘stagger back to the sofa where I think I left that book’ to find a gentle way in to the new year and the way you might do, be and resolve whatever you want to do, be and resolve. I love your blog and I don’t mind whether you write 100 or 1 posts a year … they’re always thoughtful, funny and full of insight and I never think you overshare: what happens when you write about something personally difficult is you give us all a chance to face our own difficulties and understand them better through your honesty about yours. Happy, creative, resolutionary (is that a word? If not, it should be) 2015. x

    • Resolutionary is a great word – I’m adopting it immediately! Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful wishes, Angela, and bless you for this lovely comment. It’s been a great pleasure getting to know you a bit better this year. A very happy, and creative 2015 to you, too!

  17. It’s such hard work writing all those words for a book – well done, and I’m looking forward to seeing it one day, I’m sure it will be great.

    Have a Happy New Year – and long may your son’s new approach to life continue.

  18. A belated but nonetheless heartfelt happy new year to you, litlove! May 2015 be full of good things for you. And thank you for all your wonderful posts from the last 12 months, they’ve given me a great deal of enjoyment (and put a big hole in my wallet but let’s not gripe eh? :))

    • Helen, you are such a hoot! Ha. What with SNB to write for, I imagine this blog will probably become the repository of all the books I didn’t like so much – so there’s that to look forward to!! A very, very happy New Year to you and your family, too. I look forward to reading all about it.

  19. I had a really busy and disorganised year last year with family moves and childcare and rushing around.My reading was down and my blogging suffered so this year I have decided to be more organised. I have also learned that in between busy times I have to take it easy and put my feet up. I send lots of love and a great 2015 to you and Mr L!

    • You’re in the serious throes of grandmotherly duties at the moment, Elaine! We love our families, but they can have a bit of dreadful effect on the blogging… Good luck with the new resolutions. I will be trying to join you on that score – I’m sure the right routine would make a big difference. I’m right behind you on resting, too – most essential! A very happy New Year to you and your family – may it be full of many delightful memories!

  20. Happy New year, Victoria. I hope 2015 brings you much joy, more reading time, and healing for all of you. Your blog is a joy, your comments thoughtful, and it is always a pleasure to see what you have written. I am enjoying SNB by the way, and have found a few new books already to get reading this year. You all do such an awesome, terrific job there!

  21. I was asked how my day was going the other day by the cashier at the supermarket. I thought about it (for a change) and replied, “Every day we wake up is a good day.” They aren’t always great, but I always feel lucky to have another one anyway. I am wishing you only really good ones for this and any other year. Looking forward to your 2015 posts!

    • Great mantra, Grad! I will try and commit it to memory – might well come in very useful. And thank you for your lovely new year wishes. A very happy and fulfilling 2015 to you and your family too!

    • Aw, Jeanne, thank you. Every time I put up a private post, I feel I ought to take it down five minutes later. But usually everyone’s kind comments calm me down about it! I am very lucky with my blog friends. 🙂

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