Book Musings – June 2019

Halfway through the year. It seems to go faster Didn’t read quite as many as May but still had a very varied month with regards to the books that I did read. I am not going to do a favourites so far through the year as others are doing, but I am going to do a few stats.

Books Read so far: 108

Male authors: 66

Female authors: 42 (39%)

Review Copies: 54

Library Books: 47

Own Books: 7

Top Five Publishers:


Jonathan Cape



Simon & Schuster

Top Five Genres:




Natural History


I am really pleased to almost reach 40% female authors. in my reading. Having that variety adds further depth to my reading.

Anyway onto the books that I read in June. Dixe Wills is carving himself out a very small genre and Tiny Churches one of his books that have covered subjects as diverse as campsites, islands and stations. Informative and enjoyable and quirky.

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read, was a book that my wife spotted in a bookshop one day, and the library had it.  Philippa Perry writes about how we need to learn from what our parents did and improve on it. Our relationships are as good as the effort we put in at the end of the day. Very much focused on new parents, it had a little suitable for my three teenagers.

I rarely read crime fiction, because it is not really my thing. However, Benjamin Myers is another thing. As Rebecca from Bookish Beck says, he could make a shopping list interesting. These Darkening Days is about a series of attached in a northern town and the race to find the perpetrator after one victim is killed. Very good as I have come to expect by Myers.

The Wolfson history prize looks to celebrate the very best in historical non-fiction each year and Trading in War by Margarette Lincoln is her book about London’s docklands in the Age of Cook and Nelson. She has included an immense amount of detail in here and has still made it very readable.

I have been a fan of both Tony Hawk and Tony Hawks for years. The latter has been inundated by fans of the former asking all manner of skateboarding questions, that to put it frankly he is ill equiped to answer. The A to Z of Skateboarding is his slightly (ok very) sarcastic repsonse. Hilarious.

Most people are fed up with the news now days, it is a relentless stream of violence, politics and is just grim. Jodie Jackson  has a different take on it and in You Are What You Read: Why Changing Your Media Diet Can Change the World she advocates taking a very different approach to the way that you consume it.

I love being alongside the sea and this book by Isobel Carlson is a celebration of all things wet, sandy and rocky. Not a bad gift book and has some beautiful photgraphs.

I also managed to read the five on the Wainwright Prize longlist that hadn’t got to.  I have been vaguely aware of Kate Humble via Springwatch but Thinking On My Feet is the first book by her that I have read. In this, she champions taking time each day to get outside and go for a walk and she takes us through a fairly hectic year in her life and the walks that she enjoyed all over the world. Marc Hamer spent a lot of his working life killing moles for people who wanted pristine lawns until one day he decided that he no longer wanted to do it anymore. How To Catch A Mole And Find Yourself In Nature is an exploration of his life being outdoors. It is a really nicely written book.


Lynne Roper discovered wild swimming when she was recovering from breast cancer and she swam in the sea, rivers and ponds until she died from a brain tumour. This diary of her favourite swimming was put together by Tanya Shadrick who couldn’t find anyone to publish it, so she formed her own publishing company and it ended up on the Wainwright. I had the privilege of meeting her last week and she is an amazing woman in her own right. People underestimate urban wildlife, thinking that to get that experience in the natural world you need to be in the wilds of Scotland. You don’t and Ghost Trees by Bob Gilbert proves that. He lives in the East End parish of Poplar and he discoveres the wildness that our capital city has evry day of the year. A charming book.


My poetry book this month was The Sea That Beckoned by Angela Gabrielle Fabunan. It is an interesting collection exploring those places we’ve sought to call home.

Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer is partly sport and partly travel. In this, she describes her participation in the World’s Wildest Horse Race across the Mongolian Steppe. I am not a big horse person, so initially wasn’t sure on this, but it was a really good read.

I also read a couple of travel books and both walking. Kathryn Barnes does not consider herself a walker, but there was something about the Pacific Trail that appealed. In, The Unlikeliest Backpacker is her story of the walk she undertook with her husband and the characters that she met on the way. I have read a few of Hugh Thomson’s books before, Green Road into the Trees and the excellent, Tequilla Oil. One Man And A Mule is the account of his journey across the North of Britain accompanied by Jethro the Mule and Jasper Winn. It isn’t about the journey though, rather about the people that he meets on the way. Really enjoyable book.


I had two books of the month. First up is the magnificent Underland by Robert Macfarlane with his accounts of heading deep underneath the surface of our planet. Secondly is a searingly honest account by Joe Harkness from stepping away from the twisted blanket around his neck and his slow recovery aided by rediscovering his love of bird watching. Bird Therapy is a force for the good that the natural world can bring to our mental health.


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  1. Penny

    Very interesting as always.
    Agree with Underland, absolutely superb!
    I think Ghost Trees has surprised me the most. Picked it up not expecting much and it has turned out to be fascinating and very well written.
    I like the way you’ve listed your ‘top’ publishers too.

    • admin

      Ahh, thank you. Wasn’t it, though my favourites of his are still the Wild Places and Landmarks. I do love a good stat, Penny. Unbound have come from nowhere to being a top publisher. I met one of the founders of it on Tuesday night.

  2. booker talk

    i’m choosy with my crime fiction reads too. There are so many around that are just ‘me-too’. Of all your highlighted books the one that appeals most is the Jodie Jackson – mainly I suppose because my background is in communication and though I’m retired I still have an interest in the field

    • admin

      I had stopped watching and listening to the news a long while ago, but she makes some very good points in here. It is well worth reading Karen.

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