Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Little book round up – what I’ve been reading lately

My last post on the books I’ve been reading recently was much more popular than I expected, and I even got a couple of tweets asking me to include some of the ‘heavier’ books I read! I don’t know that I can quite bring myself to go into all of those but I did think I’d give you a few of my highlights from the last couple of weeks in case there’s anything you’d like to pick up.

Can you even imagine if you had this in your house...

The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon
I think I actually read about this on somebody else’s blog, and I wanted to pass it along, because this is SO FUNNY. Bryony basically was a single 30-something journalist for the Telegraph and this is about her life growing up and looking for love in London. So far, so boring, but it’s a properly hilarious, honest account of how her life began to spiral out of control, and for anyone who has ever woken up on Monday morning with bloodshot eyes and a desperate feeling of ‘I need to get my life together,’ this book is for you. Plus the end is very uplifting and ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ It’s so honest that at times, you find yourself kind of hating Bryony, but I think that’s part of it’s appeal. Bits of it made me laugh out loud in Pret, it takes about a day to read, and I immediately texted my sister and told her to buy it. Praise indeed.

It’s Only Rock’n’Roll – Thirty Years Married to a Rolling Stone – Jo Wood
As I mentioned before, I like rock n roll autobiographies and having made my way through all the actual rock stars, I’m now picking through their wives, girlfriends and hangers-on. I read this at Green Man festival in my tent with a hangover (I know, I’m so sad, but everyone else was asleep and I was bored and had no phone signal okay) and although I thought it might be a bit of a money-making exercise I was actually pleasantly surprised – I really liked this. Jo just comes across as such a nice girl, and if you also, like me, spend half your life moaning that you wish you’d grown up in the sixties, it’s a pretty vicarious read. Ronnie Wood comes across appallingly, but then by all accounts he’s a pretty appalling man, so I’m not surprised. Bits of it are clearly romanticised, but it’s still a thorough history and leaves you wanting to play ‘Gimme Shelter’ at top volume.

Tricurious, Laura Fountain
After my husband’s sister came to stay with us to complete a triathlon, I started vaguely wondering if this might be something I could ever be interested in. To get more info I downloaded Laura’s book. I’d already read ‘Lazy Girl Running,’ which really helped me when I first started jogging round the block, and loved it, and this was similarly excellent. It’s funny and light hearted but also informative and gives great advice, and it inspires you to get your trainers on, which for me is always a tough feat!

Shakespeare: The World As a Stage  - Bill Bryson
I LOVE Bill Bryson. If I got stranded on a desert island and could only have one book with me, it would be a Bill Bryson book (don’t ask me which. Probably A Brief History of Everything, but it’s a tough call). I read his books over and over and have even been to listen to him speak. I’d read this particular book before, but long enough ago that I’d kind of forgotten most of it. It’s a thorough history of Shakespeare’s life – which is very vague and full of unknowns – written in Bryson’s wryly humorous, ineffable manner. Afterwards I decided to reread some Shakespeare (not on this list, because, oh come on, you all know Shakespeare exists, so go and read some if you want) but you know what – if I had to pick between Bill Bryson and Shakespeare, I know who I’d choose.

The Blitz: The British Under Attack- Juliet Gardiner
Right, firstly – this book is seriously long. That’s partly why it appealed to me – it kept me going for ages. Secondly, it’s very interesting – it’s an incredibly thorough account of life during the Blitz, the different roles played by various parties, the positives and negatives of how those parties behaved and the after effects of these terrible events. On the negative side, it’s insanely depressing. After a while all those lists of the dead become a bit numbing, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend you read this all in one go. However, it is excellently done, and really worth reading if you’d like to be better informed on wartime Britain.

The Black Death – Philip Ziegler

Another history one and another long list of deaths – starting to feel like my interests are a bit morbid! But this is a fantastic book that really gives background into how it must’ve felt to live in medieval England, knowing that the plague was coming, as well as during it when up to one third of the population perished. There’s a particularly brilliant chapter where Ziegler creates a model village and goes through an imaginary scenario where the plague arrives and departs. His writing is excellent, and although again it kind of leaves you wanting to watch the Simpsons and cheer the hell up, it’s a really interesting read.

What have you been reading lately?


  1. I have been reading your blog for ages but have never commented before. I have read the book about the Blitz. I am fascinated by that time period in history and have read a bit about it. She wrote a few other books about that time as well. I have also read a book by Philip Ziegler that I believe was called London at War. The book about the Black Death sounds interesting. I think I will have to read that. And yes, Bill Bryson is wonderful though I have to admit I haven't read the Shakespeare book.

    Hmmm, my reading interests are starting to sound a bit morbid as well.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting! I've downloaded one of her other books to read (I agree it's such an interesting time in history) but I think I need a little break before I start it - it's intense!
      I would say read the Bill Bryson book on Shakespeare, because his reference to the theatres closing due to the plague was actually what made me pick up the Black Death book as my interest was piqued - the same might happen to you! It's a similar style to the Blitz book, very well written!


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