Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Recently Read

An eclectic mix, as always. The above was an audio book from the local Library. I have four of the physical books and wanted to listen to one for a change. Especially useful when out walking the dog....

My first bi-lingual history textbook !

This was incredible. Everything you ever wanted to know about social history and fashionable life in Regency England !! I am currently working my way through my Georgette Heyer Regency books, so this was a great find at the local Library.

Both of these H V Morton books are absolutely wonderful reads.
I cannot recommend them highly enough. I adore travel books, but there is something particularly poignant about his books, detailing life at a point where it was changing dramatically in the areas and communities he visited. Italy in the 1960s/70s will have changed beyond all recognition, and I treasure these snapshots of life, so evocative and beautifully written. He had a keen eye for the ridiculous and a very real sense of beauty and spirituality.

I have vivid memories of reading Tim Severin's The Brendan Voyage when it was first published in my girlhood. Like so many of my books, I discarded it on a house move, which was a bad mistake, as I have regretted it ever since. This was a serendipitous replacement from a  local charity shop and I loved revisiting it.

I am lucky in that all the Round Robin Christmas letters I receive are  well-written and from people I know and love, making them enjoyable reading.  There are some Round Robin letters which are neither interesting nor well-written. The Christmas Letters reduced me to tears of hysterical laughter at the bizarre things some people feel compelled to document, often in graphic and boring detail to their unsuspecting audience. Don't read this in a public place........ 

Carol Drinkwater's superb series about how her life changed when she bought an olive farm in the South of France is something I re-read fairly regularly. Her latest update was a book I borrowed from the Library, so I felt compelled to read my own three books in their entirety as well :-)

In Stitches is not for the faint-hearted. It is a sad indictment of the depths to which the NHS has sunk, and how over-stretched  medical care has become, aided and abetted by idiots who abuse the system and clog up the emergency services by getting utterly blind drunk on a weekly basis and then requiring (AKA demanding) medical care. Sad indeed.
Up and Down Stairs is the social history of British domestic servants throughout the ages. I loved every rivetinga nd engrossing page. Imagine having to clean sixty pairs of shoes before lighting several hundred candles in the stately home Chapel for Morning Service  each and every day.......

Hvaing read H V Morton's two Italian regional books, I was thrilled to find on EBay a copy of his book "A Traveller In Rome". Wonderful stuff indeed. I simply must go to Rome one day.

I read the Bill Bryson book when it first came to the local Library and wasn't impressed particularly. Either I have mellowed somewhat or I was not in the right frame of mind to read it the first time, as this copy I picked up dirt-cheap in a charity shop and actually quite enjoyed it :-)

What can I say ?  I enjoy army books :-)
Shoot To Kill was a fascinating read about the training and selection process for the Parachute Regiment and the SAS. A sad book, particularly when the author reflects on his life.

I didn't have my own copy of A Study in Scarlet, so I simply had to buy this when I saw it for sale at 40p!

Three Men In A Float was brilliantly funny. Imagine deciding to travel from Lowestoft across the country to Land's End electric-powered milk float. Trying to find suitable places to recharge the float's battery became an obsession and the cause of much kindness and serendipity. The only part of the book which brought me up short was when the three of them felt very uneasy at the Benedictine Buckfast Abbey in Devon, despite the kindness of the monk detailed to help them. When the author read the Rule of St Benedict in his allotted guest room, he bcame outraged about the ideas it contained, which really surprised me, as I hadn't thought of St Benedict as advocating cultic like blind obedience to an Abbot. Certainly not in any of the copies of the Rule I have read, at any rate.... Despite that, a good book. Perhaps it was an eye-opener into how divorced and alien traditional Christianity actually is from the lives of many people.

At the extreme end of the Spectrum is Caldey Island, showing an exceptionally positive view of St Benedict's Rule as lived by Cistercian monks on the small island of Caldey, off the South Wales coast. Having been to Caldey several times, and loved each visit, the wonderful pictorial documentary of life on the island was very enjoyable and made me wish to return for another visit. { May 2005 archives on the blog show lots of Caldey photos}  Maybe this summer......

One word: drool !
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Athanasia said...

I love Georgette Heyer's books and was fortunate to find a few at a local book sale. Thanks for increasing my book list!!

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...


Once upon a time I had all of her Regency and historical books. When I moved a decade ago, I had to downsize, and gave them all away.

Of course, I have spent the last decade looking for replacements ! I'm currently loving The Unknown Ajax , especially where Anthea describes her irascible and tyrannical grandfather as "a medieval Bedlamite!" :-)

margaret said...

I want to read the Georgette Heyer with a cup of tea and one of the cakes from the last (or perhaps two).