Was dreading August as I had two daughters getting exam results… Turns out they did really well, and are moving onto their next things with A levels and an apprenticeship. Spent a week in Jersey, as we do every year, and had a really good time. Didn’t get as much read as I had hoped as we seemed to be busy there every single day and I had to socialise… I did manage to read two books in two days though which helps keep the totals for the Good Reads challenge up.
It was a reasonable month for books too, managed to read 16 books, but not as much variety as last month, however, I had three books that I awarded five stars to this month. More on that a little later.
First up is a memoir called The Chronology Of Water by the author of The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch. This is her memoir of a troubled early life and how she overcome abuse, drugs and alcohol to become the person she is now. It has an unusual writing style, with short punchy sentences and chapters. You have to be pretty broadminded when reading this too, it is quite some book.
Really liked Erling Kagge’s book on silence, so when I realise that the library has his new book, Walking: One Step At A Time, I reserved it straight away. I really like his writing style and philosophical outlook on life and thoroughly enjoyed this little book.
Two natural history books this month, first was The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds by Stephen Ruttabout his passion for the seabirds that inhabit our coasts and islands. Really nicely written. The second is an extracted book from The Worm Forgives the Plough by John Stewart Collis. Located just north of me in Cranborne it describes his time spent clearing an ash wood with his axe and billhook and his observations of the woodland life.
Two poetry books this month instead of one. The new Simon Armitage was reserved by someone else so ended up reading that one too. I liked both of them but connected to Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic more than Human Chain. This is the first Seamus Heaney book I have read and have others of his to read at some point.
This is not Hannah Critchlow’s first book, that was a little Ladybird science one I read a while back. The Science Of Fate is looking at how we are not free to shape our own ‘destiny’, rather our futures are determined by our genetic makeup and past family histories. Made for an interesting read.
I ended up reading a pile of travel books this month too. I have only read Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy in the past but had picked Between River and Sea up in the library as it is an Eland Book and I am trying to read (and collect) all their books. In this, she spends a lot of time with the people of Palestine trying to understand just how difficult their lives are as they try to move around their country. In Just Another Mountain, Sarah Jane Douglas tells her story in the context of climbing Monroes and other mountains around the world. It is tragic and heartwarming at the same time. For Love & Money is the fourth Jonathan Raban book that I have trad. It is not all travel writing, that is the final part of the book, but mostly concerns him earning a living from writing.
Peter Owen Jones’ real job is a vicar in the Sussex Weald, but he enjoys the outdoor life. This is a series of walks that he has compiled to allow someone to ascend the same vertical height as Everest in just 12 Days without having to leave the shores of this country nor risk life and limb climbing in the Himilayas. David Roberts is a man who has climbed countless mountains and after being diagnosed with cancer realised that he had to take it easier. Limits of the Known is about looking back over his own adventures, asking why others have had the same drive as him and meeting with other adventurers who tell their stories. On the Road to Babadag is about travels in a part of Europe that very few write about and even fewer read about. Andrzej Stasiuk where possible trys to avoid cities and likes to find places that very few seek out. Surreal at times and equally fascinating.
I have three books of the month for August and they are Hunting Mister Heartbreak by Jonathan Raban, Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents and Enclosure by Andy Goldsworthy. All brilliant for entirely different reasons, Raban because he writes about America so well, Goldsworthy because he is my favourite artist and Pratchett, well because he’s Pratchett.