With the days getting shorter and the weather getting wilder, we can usually console ourselves with the thought of retreating, in front of a roaring fire, tea and toast to hand as we lose ourselves in another good book.
We're fortunate to have so many brilliant books so easily accessible and lots of prizes and media programmes and clubs suggesting new titles to try.
Sometimes, though, all this choice brings another problem - there just isn't enough time to read all these great books.
There are different ways of approaching this 'problem'.
One well known publisher recently sent out an email to its readers giving 'tips' on how to conquer the pile of books you've accumulated but haven't yet read - make sure they're all in one place so that you can't escape the enormity of the task, it says, or 'curate' the pile by season/subject/topicality/genre, or set a 'goal' to read at least 50 pages a day. And so the 'advice' continues. Admittedly this was compiled from comments by book prize judges (you can take a look here). But doesn't this begin to sound like a chore?!
I remember reading about the writer David Nicholls who felt he was missing out on many great books, so set his alarm an hour earlier in the morning and, before he got on with his day, he would spend that time reading. It became something rather special.
This weekend, of course, we gained 'an extra hour' with the clocks going back, so this might be an opportunity to start a new habit, dedicating time each day to escape the winter months with some choice reading.
We can remember, though, that sometimes it's good just to take things more slowly, to pause and to consider rather than rush on to the next new thing. So, in a couple of weeks, we're going to have a meeting to discuss our favourite titles - the books we return to time and again, those which have stayed with us or the books we'd like to pass on. If you'd like to join in, reply to this email with the book you'd like to nominate and I'll be sending out more details next time.
Of course tomorrow evening we'll be talking about this month's book group title, 'The Forest of Wool and Steel', a gentle, slow and thoughtful read. Let me know if you'd like the details for joining in - everyone's welcome!
Finally, though - did you catch the artist Maggi Hambling on BBC 2 last night? There was a fabulous documentary celebrating her career, as she marks her 75th birthday. Her approach to her work and her use of time is hugely inspiring and entertaining. Take a look at the programme here, or my interview with Maggi here. And her visit to Woodbridge here.