Having a bad cold is fairly rubbish, but it is at least a good excuse to stay indoors with a book. And my cold is well-timed, as I’ve got The Goldfinch out of the library and it has to be read at home because it’s simply too massive to be carted about on my commute (almost 800 pages, hardback). So I spent the bulk of my weekend spluttering and sniffling and trying to garner some sympathy, whilst struggling to hold up the heavy, bulky tome and make some progress with it. Despite the weight issue, I am firmly anti-Kindle. Give me a real book any day of the week. I’m especially keen on library books because I just love it when I get one that’s been marked in some way by a previous reader – not vandalised, but annotated perhaps.
I’m a self-confessed grammar Nazi, but whoever had The Goldfinch before me takes it to another level. In the dialogue in the novel, Donna Tartt sometimes ends a sentence with a question mark to show the rising intonation some people use that makes statements sound like questions (I do this all the time and hate myself for it). The previous reader has gone from bewilderment:
She (I feel oddly confident it’s a she) also takes offence when the dialogue uses “who” instead of “whom”. The correct form is used in the actual text of the novel, just not in the dialogue, which makes sense when you consider the speaker. But no, this kindly reader has gone through making corrections, scribbling in the overlooked ‘m’s with inspiring dedication.
In Hong Kong it was pretty common to get translations in library books:
Or perhaps notes, which I like to imagine were written by a student:
But I fear we have to draw the line at smiley faces:
That’s just a step too far.
I don’t know that I can claim the book is helping to cure my cold, but I’m always convinced that anything orangey is good when I’m under the weather. This weekend I got my vitamin C fix from these homemade Jaffa Cakes. They are so good I feel like I ought to eat at least one every day for the rest of my life. Purely for medicinal purposes, of course.
Makes 15, from Ms Cupcake
100g self-raising flour
60g caster sugar
100ml soya milk
50ml rapeseed oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
50g dairy-free margarine
grated zest of 1/2 orange
15 tsp shredless marmalade
1. Grease a muffin tray and preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Mix together the flour and sugar.
3. Add the milk, oil and vanilla and beat together.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin.
5. Bake for 8 minutes.
6. Cool in the tin for 2 minutes, then carefully pop them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. You might need a palette knife to help loosen them, then they should just slide neatly out.
7. When the bases have cooled, melt the margarine and chocolate over a gentle heat. Stir in the orange zest.
8. Put a teaspoon of marmalade on each base (I turned them upside down so I put the marmalade on the flat side).
9. Spoon over some chocolate. Leave them to set in the fridge for 20 minutes, then devour them all. All, I say!