I keep telling myself I should go back to reading one book at a time, as I used to, but we always take up some habit of the people with whom we share our lives, and I’ve ended up reading three or four things at the time like my husband, plus maybe a couple of books that never go beyond chapter 1. The sofa and the dining table are permanently scattered with the books we are reading.

So here I am, stuck in a forest in a place that could be Northern Italy or  Norway, arch-angels roaming the woods, but I can’t resist the calls of other books: I am very slowly approaching the end of A time for everything ( sixty more pages to go) I have finished the essay on independent radios in the ’70s by a friend and colleague,   I have started a beautifully written handbook on language and linguistics (How language works, by David Christal) and the essay on Zero, by Charles Seife. Both well written and intriguing. I could stick to them and keep one upstairs, one downstairs.

Transtromer’s The half Finished heaven has progressed little since Christmas, and I have dropped the Hardy collection as it was really gloomy – though very good. Hardy is a great poet.

Before the holidays (which consisted in a trip to Yorkshire with my fifth-years, my husband and two ex students , now friends) I had picked up again Pullman’s The good man Jesus and the scoundrel Christ, but only went on for a few pages. It’s not as brilliant as The fire gospel, by Michael Faber. There are a couple of novels I just browsed when my husband bought them which I’d like to read – The handmaid’s tale (Margater Atwood’s), and The wedding, by Dorothy West, but no, no I can’t start two more books. And I have loads of back-log for school.

Is there a way to resist the lure of books? Something to avoid the call of an unopened volume which is growing restless on a shelf?

It could be worse – I may be stuck somewhere, without a book to read.