January Reading

Stone Pine by Rebecca Hey, 1849

For each of these favourite posts, I’ve tried to include a regular email or newsletter.  This month I’ve got two to mention.  The first is one that I included in my mid-month email update – you can sign up for this here.  Brain Pickings is a weekly email sent out by the writer Maria Popova.  She truly has an eclectic and adventurous mind and it’s a delight to hear her thoughts and ideas each week.  This week she focused on a wonderful ‘Encyclopedia of Trees’ written by Rebecca Hey in 1849.  It details thirty six tree species found in British forests.  They include coloured plates of all featured species and Maria has restored and digitised a number of them and made them available for purchase with the proceeds going to Time for Trees programme that aims to plant 100 million trees by 2022.  You can sign up for a Sunday treat at https://www.brainpickings.org/

Another newsletter is really quite different.  The Kindle Daily Deal offers a handful of books in the kindle format for 99p, that’s £0.99 or $1.29.  What I like about this is that I will buy and enjoy books that I possibly wouldn’t buy if they were at full price.  Recent reads have been – Ben McIntyre – Operation Mincemeat, the true story of a deception that enabled the allies to successfully invade Sicily in 1943. It’s very well researched with a lot of detail, that gives you a back story for just about every participant, starting with the unfortunate, who was found dead in Whitechapel and then used to convince the Axis Powers (Germany and their allies) that he was an important British Marine Officer. A totally different but hugely enjoyable purchase was The Shell Seekers, by Rosamund Pilcher.  This was written in 1987 and for anyone who was around at that time, you can sort of tick off the various cliches that the book encompasses.  Having said that, it is a triumph of story telling, narrative and a portrait of complex conflicting family allegiances.  I loved it and have since bought more of her work, which I imagine is the object of the whole ‘Kindle Daily Deal’ promotion. Other book formats obviously benefit from this also as my other purchases have been in book form not as digital downloads.

Other reading in January includes the treat that is Alan Bennett’s Diary for 2019 for the previous year.  This appears early in the year in the London Review of Books.  The LRB deserves a blog post all of its own, so I’ll save that for another day – perhaps when I actually have a subscription.   I don’t currently have a one, as I’m not sure I could ‘do it justice’.  Perhaps I’m just being a bit of a wimp?  

My current reads include the first volume of the ‘Neapolitan Novels’ by Elena Ferranti.  These were books lent to my by a friend.  What a treat these have turned out to be. I loved it as it took you to a post-war poor district of Naples and the growth and experiences of the narrator and her ‘brilliant friend’.  Although their experience was far different from mine in both geography and time, there were a lot of instantly recognisable experiences, feelings and challenges.  I’m very much looking forward to the other three.  A totally different focus is my current book – Me, by Elton John, that one of my daughter’s bought me for Christmas. I was a massive fan of his in my teens and loved his music. The book doesn’t disappoint, is funny, insightful and very self deprecating and is probably a good accompaniment to the movie, Rocketman – not that I’ve seen that either. 

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