I'm very excited because there is a new AS Byatt out! It's called The Children's Book, have justed started reading it and will report back later.
In other news, something that I would recommend checking out at the moment is Triple J's Hottest 100 of all time which can be found here in list format, and on the radio over the weekend if you want to listen to them count down. The top 20 are being revealed on Sunday. Hearing the ads for this on the radio, asking listeners to vote, I was incredibly dubious of the idea. How can you create something that tries to be so definitive? Reading the list however, I am sold. Not so much because I think they have actually managed to find the hottest 100 songs of all time, but because I think the execution is pretty impressive.
The concept is designed to celebrate 20 years of Triple J, playing on their annual Hottest 100 countdown. I'm relatively impressed with the range so far- there are quite a few decades represented, and we have punk, metal, grunge, rock and pop, electronica, reggae... But the thing I really like about it is the description of each song- drawing on historical backgrounds, interviews with band members and other information to give a snapshot of the song, it's significance etc. There's also a section on 'History', which gives an overview of musical developments from the 60's, which is quite fun.
I don't really want to rate the list at all, I myself have no idea what I would put into a 'Hottest 100 of all time', and I think that personal taste will play a very large part in what people think should be there- everyone will be quite critical. A few points though, it is very male dominated (someone pointed this out in the comments) with only around 2 female singers, both part of male dominated bands. Very men-in-bands-with guitars, although there are a handful of solo artists (including Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley). It also reads to me like a list for my generation- The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Clash feature, but I think these are bands we see as influential. The '90s is very over-represented, and grunge in particular- there's a bunch of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Silverchair features too.
While I think this is a list that will please no-one, it is an interesting concept, and I think they've executed it well, and this is why I think it is worth checking out if you have an interest. And you are welcome to come back here afterwards and complain that they don't have your favourite song/do have a song you hate. But bear in mind that I don't have to agree.