Bookshelf Travelling: 6 June 2020

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times. Today I’m showing part of one of my shelves of mixed books. This shelf contains fiction but not arranged in any order, other than that of size. I’ve read all of them except for the book at the top of the pile.

From the top down they are:

  1. Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith. I saw this in a charity shop and liked the cover, which can be a dodgy way to choose a book! It’s set in a London mansion block, and tells the stories of its residents. It looks interesting but I haven’t actually started to read it.
  2. I loved Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, about Teddy Todd (the younger brother of Ursula in Life After Life). Teddy is a would-be poet, pilot, husband, father and grandfather. It looks at war and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations.
  3. A Game for All The Family by Sophie Hannah was a bit disappointing for me. It’s a book about the truth – just who is telling the truth, just who is who they purport to be, and most of all about identity. Who is real, who is making it all up? I didn’t love this book, but it certainly filled my mind and made me think both whilst I was reading it and for days afterwards – and I like that about a book.
  4. Love is Blind by William Boyd. I bought this in a local bookshop, because I liked the description on the book flap. Set at the end of the 19th century it follows the fortunes of Brodie Moncur, a young Scottish musician. Since then I’ve seen it has had mixed reviews. I’v yet to read to find out what I think of it.
  5. Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin was a ‘must read’ for me. I love his books. It’s the 21st Rebus novel. Rebus is retired but gets involved in investigating an unsolved murder from forty years ago. I’m almost tempted to go back to the first book and read them all again.
  6. And finally another book I loved – Eyes Like Mine by Sheena Kamal. The main focus of the book is Nora, her traumatic background and her search for her daughter, Bonnie, now a teenager, who she gave away as a new-born baby. Nora is shocked by her reaction when she sees a photo of Bonnie – there is no doubt that she is her daughter, with her dark hair and golden skin.

Bookshelf Travelling

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts this meme – Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times.  I’m still enjoying 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.

 

I’ve brought this pile of books together from different bookcases. They’re about crime fiction and crime fiction writers.

The book at the bottom of the pile is Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection by Chris Steinbrunner and Otto Penzler, published in 1976. It contains details not only of mystery and crime fiction authors but also ‘biographies’ of fictional detectives, including Sherlock Holmes, Perry Mason, Hercule Poirot and Margaret to name but a few. It also includes details of films, plays, radio and TV series. And there are lots of photos.

Following the Detectives Real Locations in Crime Fiction edited by Maxim Jakubowski is another fascinating book giving details of 20 crime fiction detectives in the cities and countries in which they live and work. So, there are maps featuring real locations, such as the Oxford Bar in Edinburgh where Inspector Rebus and his creator, Ian Rankin drink. It’s a beautiful book both to look at and to read, with colour photos, details of film/theatre/TV dramatisations and clear maps showing the locations, plus links to useful websites. 

The World of Inspector Morse by Christopher Bird with a Foreword by Colin Dexter is next. This is an A-Z reference detailing Morse’s and Lewis’s activities on Colin Dexter’s books and on TV and illustrated with stills from the TV series. Looking through it this morning I came across a section called ‘Literature’ – Dexter described Morse as a ‘dipper-in’ rather than a ‘systematic reader’. He loves poetry, the works of A E Houseman, his favourite author is Dickens, his second favourite Thomas Hardy. I should ‘dip-in’ to this book more often.

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards. If you enjoy the detective stories written between the two World Wars then this is the book for you. It tells the story of how the writers such as Agatha Christie and her colleagues in the Detection Club transformed crime fiction. They were interested in and influenced by a number of real crimes, both current at the time and crimes from the past, such as Dr Crippen’s poisoning of his wife. This book is crammed full of fascinating information about the period and the authors.

And finally, The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction by Barry Forshaw, another indispensable book for crime fiction lovers. This covers a variety of sub-genres from the origins of crime fiction in the 19th century with the Gothic writers to the novels of Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle to the classic mysteries of the  Golden Age and onwards into the 20th century. There are sections on spies, private detectives, professionals and amateurs, serial killers, historical crime and so on.

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. 

img_20200514_070759538

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.

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.

I’ve been collecting cookery books for years. I have all sorts – Italian, Chinese, Thai, Indian, French, Vegetarian, Diet, Low Fat, Freezer, and Microwave cookbooks to name but a few. These days I try to be selective and only buy books that look as though there are some new recipes that I haven’t tried.

These are some of my latest additions.

Cookbooks

Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes New Collection is such a tempting book for chocoholics. There are recipes for cakes, cookies, cupcakes and cheesecakes, tarts and souffles, puddings and pies, desserts, treats and sweets all using Green & Blacks delicious organic chocolate. It’s a celebration of chocolate.

Choc torte
Green & Black’s

Home Baking Cookbook, 140 recipes for making cakes, biscuits and bread, muffins, meringues, pizzas and pastries. It’s described as ‘an indispensable guide to sweet and savoury baking’ with step by step descriptions of the fundamentals of cake baking, the rules for making pastry and ‘all there is to know about yeast‘. In these days of lockdown I have been baking cakes and and puddings which we don’t normally have!

Fruit cake
Home Baking

Lorraine Pascale’s book, How to be a Better Cook, is a book ‘for complete beginners to more experienced cooks just looking for some new inspiration.’ I’ve watched her TV programmes, awed by her presentation – she is so calm, her food is so perfect and she is such a clean cook – me, the kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it when I’m cooking, all the work surfaces cluttered with ingredients, and mess everywhere.

Prawns
How to be a Better Cook

Tom Kerridge, a Michelin star chef  is one of my favourite chefs. I love his TV programmes and his food. I’ve eaten in his pub, The Hand & Flowers in Marlow – great food! His book, Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes is inspirational, although I can’t see myself cooking some of them, such as Forty-cloves-of-garlic brined chicken, but he does include a recipe for Ham and Cheese Toastie that I fancy.

Toastie
Best Ever Dishes

And then there are The Hairy Bikers, Si King and Dave Myers! Perfect Pies is as the title announces about pies! They write that ‘Pies are our passion’ and ‘pastry is our passion’. This is a gorgeous book for pie lovers – from steak pie, fish pie and apple pie to roasted vegetable tart and spicy bean hotpot pie, not forgetting banoffee pie. And they are such fun to watch!

Banoffee
Perfect Pies

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.

This is really a Friday meme, but once more I’m late writing my post!

For this week’s post I’ve been looking through some of my oldest books.

The Secret Garden

First is a book from my childhood, The Secret Garden by Frances  Hodgson-Burnett. It is now yellowing and a bit battered, but still in one piece. In the description at the front of the book the editor writes: Girls like it most, and between the ages of nine and fourteen – and, be warned, keep your copy carefully. You will want to go back and read it over and over again. I can’t remember how old I was, but the editor was right – I did read it over and over again.  I’ve wanted a walled garden ever since I read about the secret garden that Mary found at her Uncle’s house, Misselthwaite Manor in Yorkshire. It’s about the magic of nature, that makes plants and people grow and develop, the magic of the power of positive thinking and prayer, of the healing power of the mind, and of laughter and love.

Mist over PendleNext a book I read as a teenager – Mist Over Pendle by Robert Neill. Set in rural Lancashire in the early 17th century it tells the story of Margery Whitaker, an orphan who went to live with her relatives on the Lancashire and Yorkshire border. People have died, apparently from belladonna poisoning and two old crones are suspected of witchcraft. Margery and her cousin Roger investigate whether they really were witches. I found it fascinating and it was probably the book that started me off reading historical fiction.

YogaI began doing yoga when I was in my thirties and Yoga by Ernest Wood is one of several books I bought at the time. It’s not just a book about the yoga breathing practices or the yoga postures – and there are no photos demonstrating them – it’s more about the classical background of yoga and its goals – the awakening of the higher spirit, bodily and mental health and the benefits of yoga in daily life. So, there are chapters on the ethics and morality of yoga, yoga and the intellect, yoga and vitality and the basic philosophy of yoga.

Lark Rise mineAnd finally a book I read in my forties. I’d had a really bad case of flu which meant that I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow, never mind pick up a book! But when  I was recovering I read and loved Flora Thompson’s book Lark Rise to Candleford. It’s a trilogy including in addition to Lark Rise, Over to Candleford and Candleford Green. It’s a record of country life at the end of the 19th century, based on the author’s experiences during childhood and youth. It chronicles May Day celebrations and forgotten children’s games as well as the daily lives of farmworkers and craftsmen, and her friends and relations.

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 is really a Friday meme, but what with one thing and another, it is now Sunday and I have only just finished writing this post! I am so behind with everything these days.

If you were to visit our house as soon as you came in you would see a wall lined with bookshelves. The first bookcase has six shelves – the top two are filled with OS maps, then there are three shelves of biographies and autobiographies, with the bottom shelf containing random books. The photo below shows one of the shelves of autobiographies/biographies.

Biographies

I have read some of these books – those marked with an *. From the left (as you look at the screen) they are:

*Curzon: A Most Superior Person, a biography by Kenneth Rose. George Nathaniel Curzon was the first and last Marquess of Kedleston, who in 1898 became the Viceroy of India. I bought this book after we visited Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, several years ago. It’s been the home of the Curzon family since the 12th century.

Next to that is *The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir. I first read this book many years ago. In it she examined the available evidence of the disappearance of the princes in 1483 at the time her book was first published in 1992.

Then comes Boris: the Rise of Boris Johnson by Andrew Gimson, published in 2012. I bought this book secondhand several years ago after Boris had been elected as Mayor of London and it is an updated version of his earlier biography to include his time as the Mayor of London.

After that are two autobiographies that I have started reading, but haven’t finished yet. They are Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Slipstream, and Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969 – 1979: the Python YearsNext The Brontes by Juliet Barker, inspired by my visit to their family home in Howarth.

The biography of Eric Clapton by Michael Schumacher is my husband’s book. I’d probably enjoy it though as I like his music too.

I was stunned when I read *An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan, about the time he was kidnapped by fundamentalist Shi’ite militiamen and held in the suburbs of Beirut for four and a half years between 1986 and 1990.

I haven’t read the next book, Howard Hughes: the Untold Story by Peter Brown and Pat H. Broeske, although my husband has – he thought it was excellent. It’s the book that inspired Martin Scorses’s film, The Aviator.

I’ve read the next four books, John Worthen’s *D H Lawrence: the Life of an Outsider, Agatha Christie’s *An Autobiography, * Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade and *Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin.

On top of the rest, because I couldn’t fit them in anywhere else, are two more books – one I have read, a biography of *Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster and John Grisham’s The Innocent Man, another book my husband has read but I haven’t yet. It tells the true story of Ron Williamson, who was arrested, tried, found guilty of the rape and murder of a cocktail waitress. He was sent to Death Row.

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.

My post this week is about my love of word puzzles. I love doing crosswords and codewords – any sort of word puzzles too – and do a few each day, either from a newspaper or from books of puzzles, such as these.

Codeword bks

I’m not very good at cryptic crosswords but I’ve got a bit better after doing an Alphapuzzles each day. This is today’s Alphapuzzle:

AlphaPuzzle April 2020

These puzzles have one clue, usually a cryptic clue, that helps enormously if you can solve it, as it gives you more letters to get started. So far today I haven’t worked out the answer to this clue – ‘Tonal switch for a hook‘.

And these books about puzzles are very helpful too:

Word play bks

The Crossword Lists and Crossword Solver edited by Anne Stibbs Kerr contains lists of words and phrases listed alphabetically and by number of letters under a wide range of category headings such as Animals in Fiction, Clouds, Writers, Playwrights and Poets, and characters in Lord of the Rings, for example. The Crossword Solver part contains possible solutions, such as place names, abbreviations and euphemisms and technical terms, and so on.

Puzzled: Secrets and Clues From a Life in Words by David Astle is a fascinating book. It’s a manual of how to solve those cryptic clues that I find so baffling. Astle is a Melbourne-based writer of non-fiction, fiction and drama. He co-hosted Letters and Numbers, the Australian version of Countdown, as the dictionary expert and his crosswords appear in Australian papers The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

He begins the book with a Master Puzzle and leads you through each of the clues, revealing the secrets of anagrams, double meanings, manipulations, spoonerisms and hybrid clues. I’ve begun to understand … I think.

Word Play: A cornucopia of puns, anagrams, euphemisms & other contortions & curiosities of the English language by Gyles Brandreth is another book full  of surprising facts and anecdotes about words – old words, new words, funny words and ridiculous words. It’s a book you just open anywhere and get lost in – ideal for wordaholics, like me.

And here is another book I regularly use, practically everyday – it sits on the floor next to me. It’s The Chambers Dictionary.

Chambers Dictionary