September 2020 Review

September was a strange month, my youngest two went back to school for the first time in five months, and a week later there was a positive COVID case in my sons class so he was off for two weeks. My company then said that they would prefer me to work at home, so my work commute was a few steps from the kitchen to the office. Didn’t get to read quite as much as I wanted to but it was a very good reading month with two five star books. First some stats after reaching three-quarters of the way through the year.

So far I have read 147 books and a total of 36792 pages. 102 of the authors were male and the remaining 45 were female (31%). I have read 69 review books, 31 library books and 47 of my own.

Top five publishers are:

Eland – 10 Books

Faber – 9 books

Elliott & Thompson – 6 books

Little Toller- 6 books

Canongate – 6 books


Top five genres are:

Travel – 32 books

Poetry – 19 books

Natural History – 17 books

Memoir – 12

Fiction – 11

So onto this months reading. Haus Publishing was kind enough to send me a copy of DH Lawrence in Italy by Richard Owen. He was a fascinating character and he adored being in Italy. I have never read any of Lawrence’s fiction, but having read this I want to read his book on Sardina.

One of the shortlisted books on the Wainwright Prize was the beautifully written Dark, Salt, Clear by Lamorna Ash. It is all about her time spent living in Cornwall and out on the fishing boats with the locals. Well worth reading just for the prose.

I read three books on environmental concerns, the first Losing Eden is about the science behind how we react to the natural world and how it can help heal us. The second two were concerning the current subject of rewilding. Both had a certain amount of overlap and were advocating the various ways of doing this. All worth reading.


Isabelle at Fly on the Wall Press kindly sent me a copy of these short stories by Graeme Hall. Set in Macau, these are slightly surreal and unreal stories of the place and people there. I was also sent the new Peter Ackroyd from Canongate, Mr Cadmus. I thought that the first half of this was really good, but it lost me a little in the second part.


Ther is a new publisher out there called Chroma Editions. Their first book is by  David Banning and it is called Boundary Songs. This is the account of his journey around the Lake District national park as he recounts what he sees as he walks and cycles. It is a very good start and I am looking forward to seeing what they publish next.

I was offered The Gospel of the Eels by the publisher and accepted a copy. It is a family memoir with ells basically. I thought it was good, but not exceptional. Dancing with Bees is very good, Brigit Strawbridge Howard tells of the bees that she finds in her garden and around her North Dorset Home.


My two poetry books could not have been any more different, the first, How to Make Curry Goat by Louise McStravick is a poetic response to her mixed-heritage, working-class identity. Tongues of Fire by Seán Hewitt is very different; its dedication to life, hope and renewal as seen through the natural world.


People who decide to head off around the world without going anywhere near a plane are a special breed. Elspeth Beard is one of those and Lone Rider is her account of a 35,000-mile journey taken on her trusty BMW motorbike in the early 1980s. A really good travel book and if you like motorcycle travel, then Read Bearback by Pat Garrod too.

Now for my books of the month and there are two of them this month. The first is Unofficial Britain by Gareth Rees. This is about the things that are on the fringes of society, industrial estates and electricity pylons, motorway service stations of roundabouts and flyovers. Places that most people don’t notice, but still have the capacity to collect stories. The second is about a man that I had never heard of until I picked up this book, Bruce Wannell. He was a great traveller and orientalist and this is a collection of tribute from those that knew him.


Have you read any of them? Or do any take your fancy now you have seen them?

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  1. Liz Dexter

    Unofficial Britain was excellent, wasn’t it, and I look at certain things in a new way now! I am sorry about your son at school – one of my friends works in a school and managed a few days before the year group was sent home. So frustrating!

    • Paul

      It has taught me that there are stories everywhere in the landscape. It was inevitable really…

  2. Jackie Law

    I too enjoyed Unofficial Britain. Tongues of Fire sounds tempting 🙂

    • Paul

      I really liked it and I do struggle with poetry, especially when it comes to reviewing it.

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