What We're Reading: November 2016

By Katherine Woodfine | 28 November, 2016

Ahead of this month's show, find out what the DTRH team have been reading this month!


This month I’ve been reading When the Astors Owned New York by Justin Kaplan which is giving me a delightful insight into the wealth and privilege of one of Manhattan’s most prominent families – as a fan of Edith Wharton this sort of thing is very much up my street. I’ve also been dipping into Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga and am hoping to catch up with the TV programme too.

I was also quite poorly earlier on in the month and managed to re-read three Enid Blyton books and The House at Pooh Corner; the only books I could tolerate that week and highly recommended as a panacea.


Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Post-election, my colleague and I formed an exclusive HRC book club to read her two memoirs and then lament her defeat all over again. I decided to read Living History first, which covers her life up until she WINS THE ELECTION (as senator, but if you read that as a misprint for ‘president’, it just feels right). The woman is a saint. I wish her nothing but happiness in the wild woods and assorted bookstores of Chappaqua.

Personal History by Katharine Graham. Yes, this month’s reading has a theme... Personal History, not to be confused with Living History although both authors feature in both, is a double-decker of a memoir by the woman who, much to her own surprise, ran the Washington Post through the (second?) most turbulent era in modern American politics. Graham came from an incredibly wealthy family, and I will never tire of reading about incredibly wealthy families in turn-of-the-century America; her dazzling husband committed suicide, leaving her to step into his shoes and forge a career she never expected to have; and then came Watergate.


My hands-down favourite read this month was The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken - a complete collection of her brilliant Armitage family stories. I’m a huge Aiken fan so I don’t know why I’ve never read this book before, but it’s a delight. Spilling over with unicorns, dragons and ‘old fairy ladies’, it is weird, witty and wonderful. The title story may also be one of the saddest things I’ve ever read.

I’ve been enjoying dipping in and out of Reflections by Diana Wynne Jones - an intriguing collection of her essays touching on her life, her writing and her views on fantasy and literature. The chapter on school visits makes a particularly entertaining read for children's authors!