The nights are drawing in, and what is better as we slope down into winter than curling up by a roaring fire, sipping on a hot toddy, and reading some fine goddamn literature about sheep? This month's book is Independent People, by Halldór Laxness, available on paper or electrons from Amazon. Set at the turn of the 20th century in rural Iceland, it's a prolonged meditation on families, farming, economics, bloody-mindedness, and the evil that cows do. It's also beautifully written, varying from intensely lyrical passages (the world from the eyes of a young child, for example, when your world is constrained to a small croft in winter), to the horror an isolated young pregnant woman can feel when threatened by demoniacally possessed sheep. Family history probably explains some of my liking for the book. My dad's side of the family comes from a crofting background. Not as squalid as Summerhouses, but when we used to visit my great aunt back in the early seventies, she had no indoor plumbing, and cut peat to burn. Shetland isn't Iceland, but there are similarities, and you haven't lived until you've been scared half to death by huge four-horned sheep - they seemed huge to five-year old me, anyway, though I'm sure in fact they'd be better described as delicious. The book is on the longer side, getting on for 500 pages of smallish text, and it really rewards attentive reading, so I'd encourage people to get an early start and take their time. I also appreciate that there are plenty of people who're not normally that into this kind of book. The Kindle sample unfortunately is half taken up with introduction (filled with spoilers, if that's a concern for you, skip it), but there are a couple of chapters in there, so you can take a look and see if it piques your interest at all. I hope it will!