My holiday reading used to involve nothing more demanding than the odd glance at the rum punch recipe. This year I decided to broaden my mind and gain entree to that exclusive "What book did you read during your holiday?" club, frequented by my well-read colleagues.
Desirous of a painless initiation, bearing in mind the befuddling effects of too much sun (and alcohol), I lay back and soaked up 150 exhilarating pages of energetic sex and raucous drinking with a dash of black poverty and fervent spirituality in the badlands around East Texas as Easy Rawlins, hero of Walter Mosley's fast-paced mystery series, comes to manhood.
Gone Fishin' (Serpent's Tail) portrays with realism and humanity the relationship between Easy and Mouse, his loyal, funny and sometimes violent friend as they find their way in the world.
My plan to read Alice Walker's collection of essays, Anything We Love Can be Saved (Women's Press), in stages interspersed with snoozes fell by the wayside as I eagerly followed Ms Walker on her journeys around the world.
During the course of her book she embraces many causes including delivering medical supplies to Cuba. She visits Jung's summer retreat on Lake Zurich and a human rights awareness workshop in Northern Ghana which tackled the matter of female genital mutilation.
Walker exposes her softer, more personal, side in describing the joy of growing dreadlocks, her pleasure in her daughter and the whirlpool of events and emotions in her inter-racial marriage.
Maureen McTaggart is an editorial assistant at The TES