In the past two-and-a-half years, I have written four of these, spelling out the reasons that I fell for four books:

When did you last fall in love with a book?

Z.Z. Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere (2003)
Michael Crummey’s Galore (2009)
Hiromi Goto’s Half World (2009)
and Sarah Waters — the impetus was The Little Stranger, but I spelled it out more generally.

It’s not quite the same as a favourite book, although each of these would have been numbered among the year’s favourites when December came around.

Nor is it quite the same as loving a book, which can exist with a good dose of admiration alongside (say, with Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table or Suzette Mayr’s Monoceros).

When I Spell It Out, I have to take a breath.

I have to try to pull my reader’s heart aside for a serious talk.

Because really what I want to do is G – U – S – H, but simultaneously I want to prove to my mother (or anyone who might cast glances at my romantic life) that this is not some quick fling.

I started this book on May 17th of this year, and I admit that, on May 17th, I was gushing, just 75 pages into the work.

I was still gushing when I finished it (reluctantly, but having spun it out as long as I could) on June 5th.

Part of me is still gushing. But the other part is going to Spell It Out.

All the reasons why I am so smitten, so impressed, so overwhelmed.

As soon as I’ve had that serious bookish talk with myself…