Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts this meme – Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times.  I am enjoying this meme, looking round my actual bookshelves and re-discovering books I’ve read or am looking forward to reading. The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

1. Home.
2. Books in the home.
3. Touring books in the home.
4. Books organized or not organized on shelves, in bookcases, in stacks, or heaped in a helter-skelter fashion on any surface, including the floor, the top of the piano, etc.
5. Talking about books and reading experiences from the past, present, or future.

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun basically.

This week I’m showing more biographies and an autobiography. This is the shelf below the one I featured in this post a few weeks ago. 


The books on this shelf are all books I’ve had for a long time but I have only read some of them – those marked with an *. From the left (as you look at the screen) they are:

Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now by Barry Miles, based on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews undertaken over five years and on access to McCartney’s own archives.

Next to that is Long Walk to Freedom: the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. I have read part of this long and detailed book.

Then comes Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir. I have started this book, the first of two I have about Mary (the other is by Antonia Fraser).

After that is David Starkey’s biography of *Elizabeth: Apprenticeship. This is an account of her life from her birth in 1533 to her accession to the throne in 1558. I read this many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next is The Sovereignty of Good by Irish Murdoch. I’ve read several of her novels, but this is book of philosophy, a collection of three papers on the nature of goodness. I have not got round to actually reading it yet.

But I have read the next three books – *Iris: a Memoir of Iris Murdoch by John Bayley, *Iris: A Life by Peter J Conradi, and *Iris Murdoch As I Knew Her by A N Wilson. Bayley’s book is inevitably partly autobiographical as it is about their marriage and about living with Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most moving books I’ve read. I read these before I began blogging and really can’t remember much about the Conradi and Wilson biographies. I remember more about Bayley’s book, maybe because I watched the film, Iris, a film that had me and most of the audience at the cinema in tears.

I’ve also read *L S Lowry: a Life by Shelley Rohde. Lowry is one of my favourite artists, well known for his urban paintings of industrial towns and ‘matchstick men’, but his work covers a wide range of themes and subjects, from landscapes and seascapes to portraits.

I bought *Shakespeare the Biography by Peter Ackroyd in Stratford-upon-Avon some years ago after going to the theatre there. I’ve several of Shakespeare’s plays and seen productions at the Barbican in London and at the Stratford. Structured mainly around the plays, this biography places Shakespeare within his own time and place, whether it is Stratford or London or travelling around the countryside with the touring companies of players.

I haven’t read the next four books on the shelf, yet. They are Virginia Woolf: A Writer’s Life by Lyndall Gordon. I bought this because I’ve read some of Woolf’s books and wanted to know more about her.

And then there are three books about Marilyn Monroe, none of which I’ve read. First Marilyn Monroe– a biography by Barbara Leeming, It looks remarkably comprehensive, with lots of photos. Then there is Marilyn: the Ultimate Look at the Legend by James Haspiel, a memoir of James Haspiel’s eight year friendship with the Marilyn Monroe, and Marilyn in Fashion: the Enduring influence of Marilyn Monro by Christopher Nickens and George Zeno, full of even more photos.

14 thoughts on “Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

  1. I do like a well-written biography, Margaret. And those are some interesting people, too, and such a great variety! I’ve wanted to read the Mandela for some time now and just…haven’t yet. I appreciate the nudge about it.


  2. Extremely varied! I also own the Peter Ackroyd and several books about Mary Queen of Scots that I have not read yet. I am thinking about my shelf but also have to do budgets for work today which may take most of the day. When I brought my mother groceries yesterday she gave me her library copy of The Dutch House. It was meant to be a 7-day book but as the libraries have been shut for more than two months, I expect it will circulate among the entire family. I really liked Bel Canto but have not got into anything since.

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    1. I had The Dutch House on reserve at the library before it closed so I decided I couldn’t wait and bought a copy. I have a copy of Bel Canto but haven’t read it yet – so I’m glad you really liked it.


    1. I was very keen on Iris Murdoch’s books years ago and read quite a lot of them. I’d like to read some more. I’d forgotten we’ve got the Paul McCartney book. You’d think now would be a good opportunity to read all these books, but I think my reading has slowed down a lot during this pandemic.


  3. Elizabeth: Apprenticeship sounds good. Soon I plan to read Young Bess, a historical fiction book. I got interested in Elizabeth and how she got to the throne when I read the first two of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series.

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  4. What a great shelf full. I’d be interested in Elizabeth: Apprenticeship too and also the Alison Weir. I really enjoyed the Antonia Fraser Mary, Queen of Scots biography.

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    1. Mary Queen of Scott is such an interesting and tragic character I think. I’m looking forward to reading both these books about her.


  5. I’ve been following the meme and am amazed at what wonderful recommendations have turned up. Iris Murdoch now that is someone I’ve not looked at for ages. Time to go dig one out.

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  6. Margaret, I love the looks of this bookshelf. I’m so interested in the biographies and nonfiction about Iris Murdoch. Have you any novels of hers you’d recommend? I’m also drawn to the Alison Weir, for sure, even though I have read lots about Mary Queen of Scots. Such a tragic life.

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  7. Judith, it’s been years since I read any of Iris Murdoch’s books, but these three stick in my mind – The Bell, The Black Prince and The Sea The Sea – maybe start with The Bell.


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