Holidays and Christmas are the only real chance I get these days to settle down with a good book, so I was determined to make the most of this rare opportunity during our recent trip to the peaceful resort of Los Gigantes, on Tenerife.
The first of the two books I took away with me was Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy which I last read as a student more than 25 years ago.
It's hard to say what it is I love about this book, which is probably the literary equivalent of listening to The Smiths. It is set against the grim backdrop of 1970s Britain in all its drabness, mundanity and loss of influence in the world, and deals with the painful themes of personal and political betrayal.
The re-read was partly inspired by the fact that's being repeated on BBC 4 at the moment - the last episode is tonight but if you've missed the preceding six, don't watch it as it will give way the ending. Read the book instead, and then buy the DVD.
Also on my reading list was God's Politics by Jim Wallis, the American Christian leader. It's a brilliant analysis of how the so-called "religious right" in America has hijacked Christianity for its own political ends and how a truly Biblical understanding of Jesus's teaching would lead one to very different ideological conclusions.
Wallis correctly identifies the current political consensus as socially liberal and economically conservative, whereas a Christian approach would tend to produce something socially conservative and economically liberal. This moreorless summarises my own disillusionment with modern politics, so it was good to find someone else taking a similar view.