I have finally started reading The Elements of Eloquence, the third book by Mark Forsyth (aka the Inky Fool). It's been sitting on my bedside table for more than six months, waiting patiently. I've been reading Alexandra Horowitz's On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes for most of this year; even though it's interesting, it was taking me ages to get through it because I wasn't reading it every day - or even every week.
Then a week or two ago I watched the episode of Australian Story about young Victorian Brooke Davis, whose debut novel has caused a huge stir in the literary world. She wrote Lost and Found seven years after the sudden death of her mother to help her answer the question: How do you live knowing that anyone you love can die at any moment? Sounds morbid, I know, but it's a question that's exercised my mind over the past few years too.
The book isn't morbid. It's been described as heartwarming, quirky, and a "fantasy fable that asks big existential questions with a very light touch".
While I was at it, I also bought Burial Rites by another Australian, Hannah Kent. Like Lost and Found, Burial Rites was Hannah's debut novel, written as part of a university writing course, and threw the literary world into a tizzy. I decided to buy it because it's set in Iceland (a recent fixation of mine) and a friend highly recommended it.
I'm keen to start reading them, but I made myself finish On Looking first and I knew I couldn't keep neglecting The Elements of Eloquence any longer. I wouldn't have expected to laugh out loud at a book about the figures of rhetoric, but I have several times so far. (The chapters are brief which makes it perfect for bedtime reading when you're tired!)