More book stuff (sorry!): I know it’s a bit silly (and it’s just for my benefit), but I’ve been keeping tabs on the books I’ve read each year. Over the past few years, especially in retirement(!), I’m conscious that my reading “intake” has increased hugely… from perhaps half a dozen books a year to more than one a week. I’ve just totted up my books for 2014 (that’s what blog posts are for, right?) and I rather think that this year has been just a little excessive when it comes to reading – a total of 70 (seventy!)! Think I need to get a life!Miss Mapp (EF Benson): My third Benson “Mapp+Lucia” book (I’m hooked!). Written in the 1920s and set in Rye – on which the fictional Tilling was based. Elizabeth Mapp is the town’s outrageous snob – forever scheming to be seen in the best possible light herself whilst, at the same time, sneering at her potential rivals. As noted in one of my previous posts, it’s “beautifully observed, it’s an outrageously pretentious and excruciatingly farcical account of one-upmanship and class in a society where all the main players don’t need to work for a living. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek, amusing and very readable”. Precisely.
Shrapnell (William Wharton): This book, published in 2012, is about Wharton’s WW2 experiences. Born in Philadelphia in 1925, Wharton had previously written the classic wartime novels “Birdy” and “A Midnight Clear”. However, he was apparently a very private man and rarely gave interviews - so this book represents his own account of wartime events that influenced his best works. It’s a brave, illuminatingly-frank and, at times, pretty terrifying memoir.
A Shot In The Dark (Saki, aka HH Munro): This is another of Saki’s books of short stories. It been ages since I last read any of his stuff and I’d forgotten just what a clever writer he was (he was killed in WW1, aged 46). A brilliant observer of life and people. It’s a very impressive skill to be tell a compelling tale in a matter of a few pages. Frequently surprising and often funny.
Lucia In London (EF Benson): With a Mapp+Lucia mini-television series being screened leading up to the new year, I couldn’t resist reading yet another of the books (my fourth!). The action here takes places between London (as the book title suggests!) and Riseholme (this fictional Elizabethan village in the Cotswolds is thought to be based on Broadway in Worcestershire!). Benson’s vibrant satire is just wonderful. This book, like the others in the collection, make perfect “holiday” reading (ie. light, amusing and very readable).
We Who Still Wait (Chris Goan, Ian Adams, Steve Broadway+Si Smith): This seems very strange to include one of your own books in a book post! This was an Advent resource book (published by Proost). Si Smith came up with the initial concept; Chris Goan wrote the beautiful poems and Ian Adams produced the thought-provoking daily reflections (I just provided the photographs!). This might sound a little strange in the circumstances but, although I’d read all the poems and reflections during the course of the book’s compilation, I didn’t really use the book fully this Advent. So, I’m looking forward to re-reading it next Advent!