These are the books that I am either currently reading or have piled up either physically or virtually to be tackled next. This page will change as books are added to the stack or completed.
Four Thousand Weeks - Oliver Burkeman
It's been a long time since I've reserved and then rushed out to the local bricks and mortar bookshop to pick up a book on the first day of its release. But this title achieved that award. Oliver Burkeman, from what I have so far read, helps to wrestle time management away from the self-help circus, to a much more profound way at looking at how you and I spend our very, very limited time living. Although I've just started reading it, I feel this book aligns almost perfectly with my interest in Living Well. You need to buy this book, simple as that.
A Time of Gifts - Patrick Leigh Fermor
Just like Laurie Lee, Patrick Leigh Fermor sets out to walk from Rotterdam to Istanbul in the 1930's. I first heard about him in the excellent Natural Born Heroes and then kept noticing references to how good his writing was. This is one of my summer holiday reading books, together with the next one in my bookstack (below)
A Time to Keep Silence - Patrick Leigh Fermor
Maybe, travel writing can also be about contemplation, introspection and keeping silent? Here, Patrick Leigh Fermor experiences the monastic life in France and Turkey.
Life Moves Pretty Fast: The lessons we learned from eighties movies (and why we don't learn them from movies any more) - Hadley Freeman
With one of my favourite films of all time being The Breakfast Club, I couldn't resist buying this little gem. I expected it to be frothy, but Hadley Freeman makes some pretty solid points about why many of the classic 80's films carry so much weight and fondness now. I'm loving revisiting happy memories of Saturday nights browsing shelves of the high street video shop and choosing from the titles such as Fame, Pretty in Pink, Ghostbusters, The Princess Bride. Nostalgia, fun and life lessons all rolled into a lovely paperback. Finished - Loved it!
Grandpa's Great Escape - David Walliams
The latest bedtime story for the 9 year old. A tale of Jack and his Grandpa, a veteran World War II Spitfire pilot. I've not always been a huge fan of David Walliams books, but this story has laughs and a huge dollop of compassion in dealing with a plot line that includes dementia.
The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life - James Martin, SJ
A practical, spiritual guidebook written by a funny and wise Jesuit priest. This book gently encourages you to think about your faith, connecting with God, prayer and living a good life. Not just for Jesuits or Catholics (as I am neither) but a book full of new insights, guidance and comfort.
Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
I can see why this novel often tops the lists of bestselling books. This is one of the most human sets of stories I have ever read. At times I have felt emotionally battered after reading some of the terrifying and nihilist descriptions of trench warfare in World War I. At times I felt exalted at the beautiful and erotic love affair that develops in 1900's France. Weaving different threads from different times adds to anticipation of how everything will tie together in this epic narrative. It's a story about the human spirit. You really should buy a copy and savour it. Finished - review to come soon
Kensuke's Kingdom - Michael Morpurgo
After tackling Swallows and Amazon's we seemed to hit a bit of a nautical theme for my 9yr old's bedtime stories. Now we are really enjoying this modern day Robinson Crusoe tale of a young boy, Michael, who washes up on a tropical island. Despairing of ever seeing his family again, cold and hungry, he curls up and falls asleep, hoping to die. But when he wakes, beside him he finds a plate of fruit and fish and a bowl of fresh water. He is not alone... Finished - review to come soon
Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
Current bedtime reading for the 8yr old, which I wasn't sure if he would enjoy. The language is quite arcane, the idea of any parent letting their children disappear off in boats to camp on islands for days at a time now seems alien, even though it's something that I experienced somewhat in my childhood, but despite all of this, what we have is a grand adventure. Summer holiday fun in the lake district, seen through the imaginative pirate-life lens of four siblings. Finished - review to come soon
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
This book is so good. I can see why it is often recommended in those lists of the best fiction. I'm reading this before bed to help unwind and clear my thoughts. A funny but also in places tragic story, told through the experiences of occupied Greeks and occupying Italians and Germans in WWII. Rich, poetic language paints pictures of hot Mediterranean days as Corelli falls in love with Pelagia, the doctor's daughter. To me, one of the reasons I love this book, is that the cast of characters is so real, and so unique in the way that small, isolated communities allow. This book is a joy. Finished - review to come soon
The Almanac - A Seasonal Guide to 2021 - Lia Leendertz
An impulse buy. A small hardback book listing wonderful things to look out for, to cook, see and read throughout the unfolding year. Recipes, nature, moon and tide data. As something to improve my engagement in the world around me, I'm glad to be dipping into this little gem.
Brendon Chase - BB
This is the current bedtime story book for my son. Originally published in 1944, Brendon Chase is a cross between Lord of the Flies and and PG Woodhouse farce. Three boys bunk off and live wild in the forest as outlaws, outsmarting various adults, aunts, vicars and policemen. Some references are very much of its time with the boys shooting animals, catching wildlife and even smoking pipes with "Smokoe Joe", an old charcoal burner who lives alone with his dog. I stumbled upon this from a recommendation and my son is loving this odd little tale. Finished. Review to come soon, but in one word, brilliant!
The Inheritors - William Golding
Another dip into prehistory with this tale of Neanderthals (or similar pre-homo sapiens) trying to make sense of the world around them and to the emergence and discovery of modern men. It's written from the primitive humans point of view and the language takes a while to become easily read, but I'm sticking with this novel after a failed attempt to read it last year. The reviews are pretty positive and it is written by William Golding (I studied Lord of the Flies at school) so I'm hoping to get into this classic tale. Finished. Review here
Mudlarking - Lara Maiklem
Subtitled "Lost and Found on The River Thames" this book is all about the "Mudlarks" - people who sift through the silt and mud of the Thames at low tide to unearth coins, buttons and all manner of interesting objects that tell the story of this amazing city. I saw it heavily discounted on Kindle so made an impulse buy. I can't wait to dig in to this.
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