Category: Book Musings (Page 1 of 18)

My Books of 2021

Well, that was quite a year. Again. Kind of longing for a return to normality, but I can’t see it happening any time soon. Anyway, you’re hopefully here for the books and these are the favourites that I read during 2021. First up are some honourable mentions that I gave 4.5 stars to:

Fire, Storm & Flood – James Dyke

Fox Fires – Wyl Menmuir

Where – Simon Moreton

Thin Places – Kerri ní Dochartaigh

How To Be Sad – Helen Russell

Skylarks With Rosie – Stephen Moss

Shearwater – Roger Morgan-Grenville

Much Ado About Mothing – James Lowen

Light Rains Sometimes Fall – Lev Parikian

On Gallows Down – Nicola Chester

Springlines – Clare Best and Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis

The Heeding – Rob Cowen & Nick Hayes

Red Sands – Caroline Eden

Summer In The Islands – Matthew Fort

Slow Trains Around Spain – Tom Chesshyre

Water Ways – Jasper Winn


I can now reveal my books of 2021:

First are two books on books. The Book Collectors of Daraya is about people seeking out an existence in the war-torn country of Syria and how they collected books for others to read and find a little bit of inner peace. My second is White Spines; the story of Nicholas Royle and his obsession with collecting the Picador White spined books.


I finally finished the Discworld series this year. I had intended on doing it in 2020 but didn’t read these four. They are here because I think that he is a genius, his ability to shine a light on our world and the peculiarities of our society and make us laugh about it are unlikely to be equalled.



I read several books on London in 2021, but these two were outstanding. They are very different, but each has that special something that makes London such a different city compared to others in the UK.  Budden captures the surreal nature of the place in his book and Chivers shows how the very bedrock the city is built on can be traced if you know where to look.


Two of my favourite natural history books this year were The Screaming Sky and the Circling Sky. Charles Foster is obsessed with the swift and he has distilled that into this short volume. Neil Ansell’s book is more wide ranging, but equally well written. He takes us on many journeys into the 1000-year-old landscape that is the New Forest, recalling past trips there when younger. I was lucky enough to spend some time with him there this year too.


We live in a biased world and that bias is particularly prevalent when you look at how men and women are treated. Most things are designed for the male mind and body, which means that when women come to use them they are often put into danger. Not only could they hurt themselves, but some of these examples that Criado-Perez uses show how these poorly made product have killed. Eye-opening stuff and an essential read.

My final two books are travel. You didn’t think that I would not have any travel books on this list, did you? First is a book on the extraordinary Island of Madagasgar, written by John Gimlette. It is lavishly illustrated and his prose is top-notch as ever.


My final travel book and my book of the year for 2021 is The Bells of Old Tokyo. Anna Sherman has captured a part of Japan that I knew nothing about and her prose is sublime. Just get a copy and read it. A friend call Jeremy who runs Travel Writing World has an interview with her here.

Thank you to those that have read, commented and shared my post all this year. I know that there are not that many of you reading this, but I appreciate every one of you.


Favourite Book Covers of 2021

These are my favourite covers of the books that I have read over the course of 2021. They are in no particular order, but the one at the bottom is my cover of the year. The way I see it, the cover of the book has one job only and that is to be catching or attractive enough to make me want to pause, pick them up and then make me want to read it. In my opinion, all of these covers do that.














And my book cover of the year is:




December 2021 Review

The build-up to Christmas starts in August so by the time it comes around, I am a mix of bored and fed up by it. That said we had a nice quiet Christmas with a couple of family members over and met up with small numbers of other families too. Ate too much, but that kind of goes without saying really. I was only given one book for Christmas, but did get a new bookcase! Anyway this is mostly about my December reads, so here we go. I only read 12 books which I needed to get to the 190 books I needed for my Good Reads challenge, and then started pre-reading for 2022.

The books are a right of mix of types and genres and the first is David Howe’s, Extraction to Extinction which is about the way we have exploited the minerals from the surface of our planet and the impending ecological crises coming from these extractions. Bleak but worth reading.

Possibly the most surreal book that I read this year is Mordew by Alex Pheby. It is about a boy who lives in this magical world that has echoes of Victorian London about it and the story concerns his growing powers over his Lord and master. It is an immersive fantasy story.

A Christmas book, but not the sort that has any mention of tinsel within the covers. Rather these are stories that will give you goosebumps.Ii liked all the stories bar one and whilst it wasn’t scary, it was slightly unnerving!

A subject that is capturing my interest more and more is folklore. This was a library book by two of the contributors of #FolkloreThursday on Twitter and in here they look at folk stories from the rivers and seas around the world. It is not an in-depth study, but a overview.

The Vikings are portrayed as a grim, violent and brutal bunch of reprobates that raped and pillaged their way along the coastlines of Europe. They did do that, but they were also capable of fine art, cultural nuance and were in contact with peoples all over the middle east and even further. Well worth reading.

Most people don’t think about maths again after leaving school, but modern society is built on maths, equations and numbers. Brooks takes a number of concepts that you might or might not have come across and explains their significance to modern life.

I am not a big reader of philosophy but decided to give this a go after being sent it by the publisher. I struggled with some parts of it but found other parts that were absolutely spot on. May need to have another read of this at some point.

The two natural history books that I read this month could not have been any different. The first, Mistletoe Winter is another collection of essays from Roy Dennis about some of his favourite subjects and a reminded of the mess we are making of the environment. To say he is livid would be an understatement. The second is the debut by Nicola Chester. In this memoir, she takes us through her life in the natural world and the political stance that she has taken against the damage being done by various organisations. Compelling reading.


The Black Sea is surrounded by a number of countries that have been through or are still going through a significant upheaval. To find out what life was like in these places Jens Mühling circumvented the region and tried to find out what made these people tick. Really enjoyed this and it is a great companion book to Caroline Eden’s Black Sea cook book and travelogue.

I have two books of the month for December and they are the final two books in the Discworld series, Raising Steam & The Shepherds Crown. Needless to say, I loved them. R I P Terry Pratchett, thanks for everything



Has anyone read any of these? Or are there some now that you now want to? let me know in the comments below

January 2022 TBR

Can someone tell me where 2021 went? How it went so quickly and also why it took sooooo long? I thought that I would be a little more ahead, but I am not. Again…

Suddenly it is TBR time again. You know the drill, he is an unfeasibly large list that I will be picking my books from:


Finishing Off (Still!)

Lotharingia – Simon Winder

Sea People- Christina Thompson

On The Marsh – Simon Barnes

Another Fine Mess – Tim Moore

Elephant Complex – John Gimlette

Opened Ground – Seamus Heaney

Thicker Than Water – Cal Flyn

Tall Tales and Wee Stories Billy Connolly

Nests – Susan Ogilvy

A Thing Of Beauty – Peter Fiennes


Blog Tours

None this month


Review Copies

The Fairy Tellers – Tales Nicholas Jubber

The Cure For Sleep – Tanya Shadrick

Astral Travel – Elizabeth Baines

The Germans and Europe – Peter Millar

Britain Alone – Philip Stephens

We Own This City – Justin Fenton

Spaceworlds –  Ed. Mike Ashley

The Power of Geography – Tim Marshall

Finding the Mother Tree – Suzanne Simard

The Four Horsemen – Emily Mayhew

The Spy who was left out in the Cold – Tim Tate

The Devil You Know – Gwen Adshead & Eileen Horne

Letters from Egypt –  Lucie Duff Gordon

The Sea Is Not Made Of Water – Adam Nicholson

Above the Law – Adrian Bleese

Somebody Else – Charles Nicholl

Scenes from Prehistoric Life – Francis Pryor

The Turkish Embassy Letters – Mary Wortley Montagu

Survival of the City – Edward Glaeser & David Cutler

Wish You Weren’t Here – Gabby Hutchinson Crouch

Black Lion – Sicelo Mbatha

The Babel Message – Keith Kahn-Harris

Biography of a Fly – Jaap Robben

The Heath – Hunter Davies

An English Farmhouse – Geoffrey Grigson


Library Books

The White Birch – Tom Jeffreys

Planetfall – Emma Newman

After Atlas – Emma Newman



Opened Ground – Seamus Heaney

History of Forgetfulness – Shahe Mankerian


Challenge Books

Wintering – Katherine May

An English Farmhouse – Geoffrey Grigson

Biography of a Fly – Jaap Robben

Nests – Susan Ogilvy

Thirteen Ways to Smell a Tree – David George Haskell

The Night Lies Bleeding – M.D. Lachlan

Divided – Tim Marshall

The Wonderful Mr Willughby – Tim Birkhead

The House of Islam- Ed Husain

Asian Waters – Humphrey Hawksley

Blue Mind – Wallace J. Nichols

21 Lessons for the 21st Century- Yuval Noah Harari

The Restless Kings- Nick Barratt

To Obama- Jeanne Marie Laskas

What We Have Lost – James Hamilton-Paterson


Clearance Books

Our Game –  John Le Carré

The Tailor of Panama – John Le Carré

Year of the Golden Ape – Colin Forbes

Dreaming in Code: – Scott Rosenberg


Photo Books

Lost Dorset: The Towns – David Burnett


All Year Reads

Word Perfect – Susie Dent

A Poem For Every Night Of The Year – Allie Esiri


Er. That’s it. I think…

My 2022 Reading Intentions

These are my reading intentions for 2022.


I have always tended to think of myself as a reader who blogs rather than just a book blogger. This is partly why not every single book that I read gets a review written for it. And in the past year, there have been occasional moments when I have thought about stopping blogging. There have been various reasons for this, partly it sometimes feels like a job, where I think that reading should be a pleasure, secondly that I am not sure if I am having that much of an impact when I see others who have 10,000 plus followers on their various social media platforms. That said, I have been doing this for five years now (in April 2021 and I missed it) so I am going to keep going.

Review Copies

I am grateful for every single review copy that lands on my doormat. Thank you to all publishers and publicists that keep filling my bookshelves. I am sorry that I can never read them as quickly as I would like, hence why I have quite a big backlog. I am going to try not to ask for too many this year, partly because of space issues, but also because it is not fair on them to send me a book and I take waaaay too long to get around to reading it.

My Own Books

I have a lot of books at home and I mean a lot. Nine bookshelves in total as well as lots of Tsundoku around… I seriously need to make a list of the books that I want to read and pass on to family, friends and donate to the library and start reading them to relieve some of the pressure on my creaking bookshelves. I really need to stop buying books too, but can’t see that happening any time soon… This is something that a fellow blogger, Lisa of Owl Be Sat Reading, ( is doing this year, Follow the hashtag #BeatTheBacklog on Twitter to

Library Books

I do have far too many library books out, and I am finding that having a full card means that you don’t get that chance to pick things up at random as there is no room. I would like to get from 100% to around 75% or ideally 50% full on my two library cards

Female and BAME Authors

I have been hovering around the 35% mark of female authors read each year and I am hoping to get to 40% this year. I am aiming to read more by BAME authors too. I have a number at home lined up, but I kept a list from the Observer that I will be picking others from.


I didn’t manage to read twenty-four poetry books in 2021 so I am aiming to read eighteen poetry books in 2022. If I read more that will be great. I found a copy of A Poem For Every Night Of The Year in a charity shop and I am aiming to read a poem from that every day too.

Literary Awards

Last year I was a bit rubbish at reading some of the shortlisted books from my favourite prizes (again). I get too distracted by other books! Would like to have read all the books from the past three or four years on both the Stanford and the Wainwright prizesby the end of 2022.
Royal Society
Baillie Gifford
Arthur C Clarke
I would like to read some of the winners from other prizes too, including:
Republic Of Consciousness Prize
Rathbones Folio Prize
Women’s Prize for Fiction
Jhalak Prize
The Portico Prize


I quite like book challenges. It is a way of finding new books that you might not have come across before to fit a particular brief. It kind of follows my philosophy of reading widely and reading deeply.

The World From My Armchair Challenge
My ongoing challenge is to read a travel book set in or that passes through every country, sea and ocean in the world. I and about a third of the way through and even though I thought I could complete it in four years, I didn’t. It is not a problem, I am going to keep going with it and if possible I’d like to read another 20 books towards it.

Nature Challenge
I recently joined a nature book group on Facebook and they are setting a challenge for 2022 to read 45 books that meet particular categories or themes! I have a spreadsheet. The scary thing was that I already have 37 books that meet the challenge

Read the Decades Challenge
This is for a group that I kind of still run on Good Reads. At the moment, I haven’t got the mental time and energy to keep it going and the other moderators have to a certain extent dropped by the wayside too. But I do set up a challenge each year for the few members that still participate. All this is, is to read a book from each decade from the 2020s going back as far as you like.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Aiming again to average at least one a month for this. Science fiction is good for expanding the mind and as Terry Pratchett says: Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.


I have bought an awful lot of art & photobooks in the past year (some of which are shockingly valuable) and I want to read some of these books next year. Aiming to read at least six.

Other Bookish Stuff

As I mentioned above, I have a lot of books around the house. Even though I know a lot of what I have read in the past, when I am perusing charity shops and second-hand books shops, I have been known to buy the odd duplicate. Sometimes this is deliberate, it is in better condition or signed etc, etc. Sometimes I do not realise that I already have a copy and then find the earlier purchased copy… So, what I want to do this year is to actually catalogue my books, partly so I know what I have at home, but also, I have an idle curiosity to know just how many books are sharing the house with me. Does anyone use a book cataloguing app that they can recommend?

The main way that I manage my reading is through Good Reads, but as a backup I use spreadsheets. This is mostly for security, so I don’t lose records of all that I have read and want to read. The way I have configured them means I can extract a lot more data than I get from Good Reads. At present I must have around 30 different spreadsheets that all do different things and what I want to do is start to combine them to get down to about five or so. I have always tried to keep the layouts very similar so I can cut and paste between them easily and that is another thing that needs a little bit of tinkering…

2021 Book Stats

I finished 190 books in 2021, the same as 2020 and many other years. I did reach my Good Reads Target again.  Here are my stats for the last years reading.

My total pages read was 50665  and my monthly average of books was 15.8, the same as last year. This broke down into these monthly totals:

January – 17

February – 16

March – 17

April – 17

May – 16

June – 16

July – 18

August – 17

September – 16

October – 15

November – 13

December – 12


The split of books read

Male Authors – 124

Female Authors – 66 (35%)

BAME / BIOPC – 2% (5 authors in total)



Review Copies – 112 (last year was 94)

Library Books – 45 (last year was 42)

Own Books– 33 (last year was 54)



Non-Fiction – 137 – 72.5%

Fiction – 37 – 19%

Poetry – 16 – 8.5%


Random Stats

Longest Book – Behind the Enigma – 823 pages

Shortest Book – The Less Deceived – 32 pages



Most Read Author

Dervla Murphy – 5 books


Stars Awarded:

5 Stars – 13
4.5 Stars – 16
4 Stars – 74
3.5 Stars – 45
3 Stars – 32
2.5 Stars – 8
2 Star – 2
1.5 Stars – 0
1 Star – 0



I use a spreadsheet to keep a note of the types and genres of books that I read. There are detailed below:

Natural History 32
Travel 29
Fiction 22
Poetry 16
Fantasy 11
Miscellaneous 8
Science 8
History 8
Memoir 7
Books 6
Technology 5
Food 5
Mental Health 4
Environmental 4
Landscape 3
Science Fiction 3
Social History 2
Business 2
Information Society 1
Archaeology 1
Spying 1
Britain 1
True Crime 1
Economics 1
Maps 1
Politics 1
Conspiracy Theories 1
Maths 1
Folklore 1
Language 1
Architecture 1


These are the number of books read by each publisher. The top eight are all independent publishers. Eland were top last year.

Eland 11
Bloomsbury 10
Faber & Faber 9
Elliott & Thompson 8
William Collins 7
Little Toller 6
PIcador 6
Saraband 6
Canongate 5
Head of Zeus 4
Corgi 4
Fum D’Estampa Press 3
September Publishing 3
Pan Macmillan 3
Salt 3
Particular Books 3
Unbound 3
Headline 3
Haus Publishing 3
Sandstone Press 3
Profile Books 3
Octopus Books 2
John Murray 2
Oneworld 2
Liminal 11 2
4th Estate 2
Penguin 2
Jo Fletcher Books 2
Chelsea Green 2
Quirk Books 2
Europa Editions 2
Summersdale 2
Icon Books 2
Indigo Dreams 2
Chatto & Windus 2
Century 1
Duckworth 1
Eland 1
Michael O’Mara 1
Pelagic Publishing 1
Rodrigues Court Press 1
Quadrille 1
Gollancz 1
Wood Wide Works 1
Liliput Press 1
Scribe 1
Leaping Hare Press 1
Trapeze 1
Melville House 1
Salt Publishing 1
Penguin Classics 1
Burro Books 1
Hutchinson 1
Transworld 1
Paper + Ink 1
Virago 1
Quartet Books 1
Dead Ink 1
Hamish Hamilton 1
Bodeian Library 1
White Fox Press 1
Granta 1
Tinder Press 1
Michael O’Mara Books 1
Emma Blas Publishing 1
Orbit 1
Harvill 1
Reaktion Books 1
Two Roads 1
Penteract Press 1
Mudlark 1
Octopus Publishing 1
Jonathan Cape 1
Eye Books 1
Batsford Books 1
Mortimer Books 1
Route Publishing 1
W.W. Norton 1
Brewers 1
Allen Lane 1
Portobello Books 1
Bradt 1
Bodley Head 1
Yale University Press 1
Monoray 1
Galley Beggar Press 1
Exisle Publishing 1
Chroma Editions 1
Sagging Meniscus Press 1

So How Did My 2021 Reading Intentions Go?

A review of my intention that I laid out last year and how I did underneath it.

My Own Books
Sarah has said again that I have too many books piled up (Tsundoko) around the house. (Note to self, try not to buy so many books). Did manage to read 25 of my own books, but that isn’t enough. That said, I am allowed to get some more bookshelves! So that is a new year project to sort that all of that out and unhaul some books. I am looking forward to having all my Little Toller and Eland books together in one place too!

Partial failure at this. I did buy and immediately fill two new bookshelves. And bought way too many books this year. Again… Ho hum…

Review Copies
According to my spreadsheet, I have 124 outstanding review copies to read. Even though there is a lot of books on the two shelves that I have for them, I’m not sure if this is right as I counted way less than that on the shelf!!! I am grateful for every book I receive through the post from publishers, so thank you to you all. I fully intend to read and review as many of those as possible as soon as I can, but also see the blogging post below.

In total, I read 110 review copies this year and I am proud of that. I still have lots and lots left to read and I am slowly working my way through the backlog and passing them onto the library or others when they have been read. Thank you once again to the publishers who are brave enough to send them on for my thoughts.

Library Books
As I said last year, these places are a precious resource. Sadly, our present government seems hell-bent on eradicating them from our cities, towns and villages. I still have too many library books out, and will still keep getting them out too. The author gets a small amount every time a book of theirs is borrowed and for the reader, most books are free or have a nominal reservation fee. I am fortunate that I have two library cards, and I am going to try not to max each one out…

Still have too many library books out, but I think I need to use them to keep them going. Support your local library

Female and BAME Authors
In 2019, 35% of my reading was by female authors. Had intended to raise that for 2020, but have dropped back to 33%. So will be aiming for 40% in 2021. I want around 5% of my reading to be BAME authors too.

In the end, 34% of the books I read were written by female authors. Less than I wanted so aiming to try and read more in 2022. This may mean that I end up reading more fiction as sadly publishers are slower moving to publish women in some of the genres that I read.
I read books by five BAME authors this past year, which equates to 3% and not the 5% I was aiming for.

Last year I managed to read a poetry book each and every month and sometimes read more than one. I like poetry, even though I don’t always get it, so am going to try to read around two books a month in 2020.

In the end, I managed to read 16 poetry books this past year. Less than I wanted to but I am happy with that. I do find poetry difficult to review, it feels like I am back at school again with the teacher getting me to look for meaning which I can’t really see. So I think I am going to change the way that I review poetry next year

Literary Awards
I will be aiming to read all of these again (Next year I might get to the Baillie Gifford list as I didn’t this year)

Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards (I am judging the Adventure Travel next year)
Royal Society
Baillie Gifford
Arthur C Clarke

Failed at this to a certain extent, but have managed to read most of the Wainwright bar five. Same with the Stanford’s prize where I have all the books from the shortlist but still not got to five of them. Have read two from the Baillie Gifford Prize and non from the Arthur C Clarke. 🙁

The World From My Armchair Challenge
Managed to read 13 more books for this long term challenge bringing my total read so far to 65. I have been acquiring books for it though, and have a further 41 books on various bookshelves scattered around the house to read for other countries. I am still looking for travel books (or non-fiction) that are set in or pass through these countries, below. So if you know any, please do let me know.

Antigua and Barbuda
Brunei Darussalam
Capo Verde
Central African Republic
Persian Gulf
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sao Tome and Principe
Trinidad and Tobago
Balearic Sea
Ligurian Sea
Alboran Sea

I read another eight towards this challenge and this brings my total to 73 now. Still a long way to go but I have decided not to set a deadline on it at all and just keep going.

Managed two more from the Discworld series, but these are still to go:

I have finished Discworld!!!!! And it made me sad. Really sad.

Science Fiction
Only read two (yes two) science fiction books this year which I am ashamed of really as I had high hopes of getting more than that read. Aiming to read at least one a month.

I did really poorly at this and only ended up reading three in the end. That said, I did read eleven fantasy books so I am going to take that as a win.

I have always been a reader first and foremost and I get immense pleasure from reading and talking about books. It was reading that introduced me to NB magazine and the blog came off the back of that. After a lot of thought, I have decided that I am going to change the way that I am blogging. I am going to still be reading and reviewing on here and Good Reads and so on, but will be drastically reducing the number of review copies that I request as I can’t keep up. I am still happy to receive a book if a publisher or publicist still wishes to send them to me, but will not guarantee when I will get to read it. Instead, I have decided that I will either get the newly released books in 2020 from the library or buy them myself to read as and when I can. I will still take part in Blog Tours, but only a maximum of once a month as I don’t always like reading to a deadline.

I managed to usual 190 for my challenge this year. That seems to be my natural limit for reading, but I could get through more if I spent less time on Twitter. I requested far more books than I could get through as usual… I did buy a lot more new books than usual, partly to support my great local bookshop and partly because I can. More importantly, I am still blogging and when I get told things like this by a publicist then it makes it all worthwhile:

you’re one of the most respected bloggers around… you cover such an interesting range of books too. And your BTR pile is probably even higher than mine!

Thank you to all those that have commented and engaged. Here’s to 2022

Anticipated Books for Spring 2022

I have been through all of the 2022 publishers catalogues for the books they have coming out in spring that I could lay my hands on (28 so far and still a few missing too). I have extracted all the books that I really like the look of. Most are non-fiction, as you have probably come to expect by now, but there are a smattering of fiction, sci-fi and the odd poetry in this list. What has staggered me a little is there are 194 books in this list below. That is more than I normally read in a year which is ominous as there are more books to follow for the latter half of the year and I still have many others to read. The pain of a reader…


4th Estate

Trust the Plan: The Rise of QAnon and the Conspiracy That Reshaped America – William Sommer


Allen & Unwin

Dalvi: Six Years in the Arctic Tundra – Laura Galloway


Allen Lane

Emotional: The New Thinking About Feelings – Leonard Mlodinow

Kingdom Of Characters: The Language Revolution That Made China Modern – Jing Tsu

Worn: A People’s History Of Clothing – Sofi Thanhauser

Otherlands: A World In The Making – Thomas Halliday

How To Stay Smart In A Smart World: Why Human Intelligence Still Beats Algorithms – Gerd Gigerenzer

Regenesis: How To Feed The World Without Devouring The Planet – George Monbiot

The Playbook: Protecting The Corporation From The Risks Of Scientific Knowledge – Jennifer Jacquet

Fantastic Numbers And Where To Find Them: A Cosmic Quest From Zero To Infinity – Tony Padilla


Atlantic Books

The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires that Run the World – Oliver Milman

In the Camps: Stories from China’s High-tech Penal Colony – Darren Byler

Masters of the Lost Land: The Untold Story of the Fight to Own the Amazon – Heriberto Araújo

Dead in the Water: Murder and Fraud in the World’s Most Secretive Industry – Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel

Covert Action: The Global Story of Subversion, Sabotage and Secret Statecraft – Rory Cormac

The Line of Sight: How Vision Made Us Human – Andrew Parker


Basic Books

A Natural History Of The Future: What The Laws Of Biology Tell Us About The Destiny Of The Human Species – Rob Dunn

Hidden Games: The Surprising Power Of Game Theory To Explain Irrational Human Behaviour – Moshe Hoffman & Erez Yoeli



The Perfect Golden Circle – Benjamin Myers

52 Ways To Walk: The New Science And Timeless Joy Of How, When, Where And Why – Annabel Streets

Don’t Trust Your Gut: Using Data Instead Of Instinct To Make Better Choices – Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

The Trespasser’s Companion – Nick Hayes

The Great Experiment: How To Make Diverse Democracies Work – Yascha Mounk

The Catch: Fishing For Ted Hughes – Mark Wormald

Motherlands – Amaryllis Gacioppo

The Digital Republic: Taking Back Technology – Jamie Susskind

Racing Green: How Motorsport Science Can Save The World – Kit Chapman

Growing Up Human – Brenna Hassett

Forget Me Not: Finding The Forgotten Species Of Climate Change Britain – Sophie Pavelle


Bluemoose Books

Ghost Stories by Stu Hennigan


Bodley Head

Cloudmoney – Brett Scott

The Journey Of Humanity – Oded Galor

An Immense World – Ed Yong


British Library

The Philosophy of Curry – Sejal Sukhadwala

The Book of Book Jokes – Alex Johnson

Shadows on the Wall: Dark Tales by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman – Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

The Ghost Slayers: Thrilling Tales of Occult Detection – Mike Ashley

Our Haunted Shores: Tales from the Coasts of the British Isles – Emily Alder, Joan Passey & Jimmy Packham

The Philosophy of Whisky – Billy Abbott



Time On Rock: A Climber’s Route Into The Mountains – Anna Fleming

The Unusual Suspect: The Remarkable True Story Of A Modern-Day Robin Hood – Ben Machell

No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy: Memoirs Of A Working-Class Reader – Mark Hodkinson

How To Be Animal: What It Means To Be Human – Melanie Challenger

The Instant – Amy Liptrot

Explorer: The Quest For Adventure, Discovery And The Great Unknown – Benedict Allen

The Fire People: A Collection Of Black British Poetry – Ed. Lemn Sissay

More Fiya: A New Collection Of Black British Poetry – Ed. Kayo Chingonyi

Things I Have Withheld – Kei Miller

Blood Legacy: Reckoning With A Family’s Story Of Slavery – Alex Renton

The Secret History Of Here: A Year In The Valley – Alistair Moffat


Chatto & Windus

Bless The Daughter Raised By A Voice In Her Head – Warsan Shire

Nine Paths – Lexi Stadlen

Unearthed – Claire Ratinon



We Need Snowflakes: In Defence Of The Sensitive, The Angry And The Offended – Hannah Jewell

A New Science Of Heaven: How The New Science Of Plasma Is Shedding Light On Spiritual Experience – Robert Temple


Custom House

Wahala – Nikki May



Wild Fell: Fighting For Nature On A Lake District Farm – Lee Schofield



Nice Is Not A Biscuit: How To Build A World-Class Business By Doing The Right Thing – Peter Mead

Vagabonds: Life On The Streets Of Nineteenth-Century London – Oskar Jensen


Elliott & Thompson

On the Scent: Unlocking the mysteries of smell – and how losing it can change our world – Paola Totaro and Robert Wainwright

A River Runs Through Me: A year and a life of salmon fishing in Scotland – Andrew Douglas-Home

A Village in the Third Reich: How ordinary lives were transformed by the rise of Fascism – Julia Boyd & Angelika Patel

Beside the Seaside: The Story of the English Coastal Town – Ian Walker


Europa Editions

In the Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing – Elena Ferrante Tr Ann Goldstein

The Passenger: Rome – Various

The Passenger: Ireland – Various


Faber & Faber

Wild Green Wonders – Patrick Barkham

The Stasi Poetry Circle – Philip Oltermann

Shadowlands – Matthew Green

Black And Female: Essays – Tsitsi Dangarembga

Iconicon – John Grindrod

Sounds Wild And Broken – David George Haskell

The Premonitions Bureau – Sam Knight

Exiles: Three Island Journeys – William Atkins

Beyond Measure – James Vincent



The This – Adam Roberts

The Flight Of The Aphrodite – S.J. Morden

Eversion – Alastair Reynolds



Grounding: Finding Home In A Garden – Lulah Ellender

Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender – Frans de Waal

Refractive Africa – Will Alexander

Garden Physic – Sylvia Legris

The End Of Bias: How We Change Our Minds – Jessica Nordell


Grove Press

Endpapers: A Family Story of Books, War, Escape and Home – Alexander Wolff


Harvill Secker

Africa Is Not A Country: Breaking Stereotypes Of Modern Africa – Dipo Faloyin


Head of Zeus

Furious Heaven The Sun Chronicles 2 – Kate Elliott

Dirty Work: Essential Jobs And The Hidden Toll Of Inequality – Eyal Press

Death By Nature?: Understanding Wildlife Diseases – Ben Garrod

Water Always Wins: Going With The Flow To Thrive In The Age Of Droughts, Floods And Climate Change – Erica Gies

A Feather At The Feast: Thomas Morton, America’s First Nature Writer And Falconer – Ben Crane



Chivalry – Neil Gaiman

Butter: A Celebration – Olivia Potts

The Mercenary River Private Greed, Public Good: A History Of London’s Water – Nick Higham

These Bodies Of Water – Sabrina Mahfouz


Hodder & Stoughton

When The Dust Settles: Stories Of Love, Loss And Hope From An Expert In Disaster – Lucy Easthope

Firmament: The Hidden Science Of Weather, Climate Change And The Air That Surrounds Us – Simon Clark

Escape From Siberia – Yoann Barbereau Tr Maren Baudet-Lackner

Dust: A History And A Future Of Environmental Disaster – Jay Owens

Where The Wildflowers Grow My Journey Through Botanical Britain – Leif Bersweden

After They’re Gone: A Love Letter To The Lost Species Of The World – Peter Marren


Hurst Publishers

Another World Is Possible: How To Reignite Radical Political Imagination – Geoff Mulgan

China Unbound A New World Disorder – Joanna Chiu

No Shortcuts: Why States Struggle To Develop A Military Cyber-Force – Max Smeets

Edge Of England Landfall In Lincolnshire – Derek Turner

Work Won’t Love You Back How Devotion To Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted And Alone – Sarah Jaffe


Icon Books

Hurricane Lizards And Plastic Squid: How The Natural World Is Adapting To Climate Change – Thor Hanson

Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes From A Small Island – Ben Aitken

Game Theory: Understanding The Mathematics Of Life – Brian Clegg


Jo Fletcher

Momenticon – Andrew Caldecott


John Murray

The Fairy Tellers: A Journey Into The Secret History Of Fairy Tales – Nicholas Jubber

Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World – Nicholas Jubber

Extraterrestrial: The First Sign Of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth – Avi Loeb

Futureproof: 9 Rules For Humans In The Age Of Automation – Kevin Roose

Free To Go: From Orkney To New Zealand On A Motorbike – Esa Aldegheri

Rebel With A Clause Tales And Tips From A Travelling Grammar Guru – Ellen Jovin


Jonathan Cape

The Treeline: The Last Forest And The Future Of Life On Earth – Ben Rawlence

Pilgrim Bell – Kaveh Akbar

Ephemeron – Fiona Benson

Dreaming The Karoo – Julia Blackburn

Birdgirl – Mya-Rose Craig


Little Toller

Millstone Grit – Glyn Hughes

Shalimar – Davina Quinlivan

Brother Do You Love Me – Manni Coe & Reuben Coe

The Loveliness Of Ladybirds – JC Niala



Alice’s Book: How The Nazis Stole My Grandmother’s Cookbook – KARINA URBACH Tr. Jamie Bulloch


Michael Joseph

Small Island: 12 Maps That Explain The History Of Britain – Philip Parker

Prized Women – Caroline Lea

The Lost Paths – Jack Cornish

One Place De L’Eglise – Trevor Dolby



A Brief History Of Timekeeping: The Science Of Marking Time, From Stonehenge To Atomic Clocks – Chad Orzel

The Elements Of Choice: Why The Way We Decide Matters – Eric J. Johnson

How Minds Change: The Science Of Belief, Opinion And Persuasion – David McRaney

The Biggest Number In The World: A Journey To The Edge Of Mathematics – David Darling and Agnijo Banerjee



Wild City: Encounters With Urban Wildlife – Florence Wilkinson


Pan Macmillan

Wild Flowers Of Britain And Ireland – Roger Phillips

The Greatest Escape – Neil Churches

Too Big To Jail: Inside Hsbc, The Mexican Drug Cartels And The Greatest Banking Scandal Of The Century – Chris Blackhurst



The Voltage Effect – John A List



In Defence Of Witches: Why Women Are Still On Trial – Mona Chollet

The Vulture – Gerard Woodward

Tomorrow’s People: The Future Of Humanity In Ten Numbers – Paul Morland

Lurex – Denise Riley

The Greatest Invention: A History Of The World In Nine Mysterious Scripts – Silvia Ferrara

Who Are We Now? Stories Of Modern England – Jason Cowley

The Book Of Minds – Philip Ball

Sea Of Tranquility – Emily St. John Mandel


Profile Books

The Social Lives Of Animals: How Co-Operation Conquered The Natural World – Ashley Ward

Tickets For The Ark: From Wasps To Whales – How Do We Choose What To Save? – Rebecca Nesbit

Strandings: Confessions Of A Whale Scavenger – Peter Riley

How To Live With Each Other: An Anthropologist’s Notes On Sharing A Divided World – Farhan Samanani

Tenants: The People On The Frontline Of Britain’s Housing Crisis – Vicky Spratt

Everybody Hertz: The Amazing World Of Frequency, From Bad Vibes To Good Vibrations – Richard Mainwaring

Geography Is Destiny: Britain’s Place In The World, A 10,000-Year History – Ian Morris

Chums: How A Tiny Group Of Oxford Tories Took Over Britain – Simon Kuper

Mathematical Intelligence: What We Have That Machines Don’t – Junaid Mubeen

The Celts: The Fall And Rise Of An Idea – Simon Jenkins



The Chaos Machine: The Inside Story Of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds And Our World – MAX FISHER


Reaktion Books

Hope and Fear: Modern Myths, Conspiracy Theories and Pseudo-History – Ronald H. Fritze

Polling UnPacked: The History, Uses and Abuses of Political Opinion Polls – Mark Pack


Sandstone Press

The Year the World Went Mad: A Scientific Memoir – Mark Woolhouse



Ring Of Stone Circles – Stan L Abbott

North Country – Karen Lloyd



Riding Out – Simon Parker

The Best British Travel Writing Of The 21St Century – Jessica Vincent



Eyes Of The Void – Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Kaiju Preservation Society – John Scalzi


Two Roads

An Atlas Of Endangered Animals – Megan McCubbin

Devorgilla Days A Memoir Of Hope And Healing – Kathleen HartWindswept: Walking In The Footsteps Of Remarkable Women – Annabel Abbs



How The World Really Works: A Scientist’s Guide To Our Past, Present, And Future – Vaclav Smil

A Black Boy At Eton – Dillibe Onyeama

This Way To The Universe: A Journey Into Physics – Michael Dine

Birds And Us: A 12,000 Year History, From Cave Art To Conservation – Tim Birkhead



Pharmacopoeia – Derek Jarman



The Cure For Sleep – Tanya Shadrick

Control: The Dark History And Troubling Present Of Eugenics – Adam Rutherford

Spring Tides: A Story From A Small Island – Fiona Gell

The Ballast Seed: A Memoir Of Motherhood, Nature And Staying Afloat – Rosie Kinchen


Wellcome Collection

Dark And Magical Places: The Neuroscience Of How We Navigate – Christopher Kemp

This Book Is A Plant: How To Grow, Learn And Radically Engage With The Natural World – Various

Am I Normal: The 200-Year Search For Normal People (And Why They Don’t Exist) – Sarah Chaney


William Collins

The Sloth Lemur’s Song: Madagascar from the Deep Past to the Uncertain Present – Alison Richard

Origin Africa – Jonathan Kingdon

Black Holes – Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw

Enough: The Violence Against Women and How to End It – Harriet Johnson

Where The Seals Sing – Susan Richardson

In Search Of One Last Song – Patrick Galbraith

To Cure All Ills – Camper English

Platypus Matters – Jack Ashby

How To Speak Whale – Tom Mustill

Where My Feet Fall – Duncan Minshall

The Social Machine – Justin Hampston-Jones

Nazi Billionaires – David de Jong


Any that take your fancy? And are there any that you know about that you think that I should know too? Let me know in the comments below.

November 2021 Review

November came and went really quickly as it always does and now we are headlong into the season of good cheer, oversized credit card bills and eating too much. If you were to look carefully you might still see a religious festival in there somewhere, but maybe not… Anyway, you’re here for the books. I hope. I only managed to get through 13 last month and I am not sure why, some books that I would have normally read in a day or so took three or fours days. However, it was a good month for reading with two books of the month and I even managed t do a whole week of reviews for an author, Dervla Murphy.

First up is a book about the much-overlooked Index that is often at the back of the books that I read. I do use them occasionally, but mostly not. How they came about is quite fascinating, but this did feel a bit like an academic paper to be honest.

I am not a great fan of gothic fantasy, but was fortunate enough to receive this from the publisher, so I thought that I would give it a go. It is a fictionalised account of some real events and people that took place in Ireland in 1914. It is not bad book overall and it you love this type of book it will be right up your street.

As a species we are defined by what we discard. Every other one on the planet manages to ensure that everything is useful and can be consumed or used by everything up and down the food chain. In this book, Lisa Wollett tells the story of her family and their work collecting rubbish and ties it in with a strong environmental message. Though it was really good for a ‘rubbish book’…

The very word witch is enough to strike horror into the minds of some people, but in the very readable book, Jennifer Lane takes us through her year as a witch and some of the rituals that she uses to maintain her balance with the natural world.

In a similar vein, Fex Inkwright uses all sorts of plants to heal and perform folk magic. This is her guide to the mysteries of plants and it is a beautifully produced book.

100 Poets is a really good introduction to the work of a large number of different poets. I have several now that I want to read, but I did think that it was lacking more modern poets.

I would highly recommend this book by Tharik Hussainif you want to expand your reading to see Europe in another light and understand what a melting pot of people, cultures and religions that it has been for hundreds of years. It is about his trip around the Balkans learning how the Muslims of Europe are living today and as he has his family along too, it is a refreshingly different travel book.

Dervla Murphy turned 90 in November and as a mini tribute to her, I wrote a little piece here and reviewed five of her books, four of which I read in November. Each of these books below tells us a lot about her as well as the places that she travels to. I can recommend all of them.




My two books of the month could not be any different. First is London Incognito, a sideways look at our capital peering through the gaps where some people would rather you wouldn’t look..

My second is by the master, Terry Pratchett, his take on a crime that is unforgivable with the usual cast of characters.


Any that take your fancy here? Or have you read them before? Tell me what you think about them in the comments below

December 2021 TBR

December is flying by already. This was supposed to come out a few days ago, but last week was Dervla Murphy week on the blog, hence why this is delayed.

So this month is a much shorter TBR. I have 10 books to go on my Good Reads Challenge of 190 books for the year and then I want to start getting ahead for next year by reading some of the monsters that I have around the house. So these are the final books of the year below. I have two seasonal / Christmassy books in the pile and then a list of the big books that I am hoping to make some inroads too. The only spanner in the works is library reservations as when I went to renew last time four others were reserved, so they have gone on the list…


The Shepherds Crown – Terry Pratchett

The Intimate Resistance – Josep Maria Esquirol Tr. Douglas Suttle

Extraction to Extinction –  David Howe

Troubled Water – Jens Mühling Tr. Simon Pare

The Art Of More – Michael Brooks

River Kings – Cat Jarman

Treasure Of Folklore: Seas And Rivers – Dee Dee Chainey & Willow Winsham

Nests – Susan Ogilvy


Christmas Books

Mistletoe Winter – Roy Dennis

Sunless Solstice – Ed. Lucy Evans & Tanya Kirk


BIG Books

The Sea Is Not Made Of Water – Adam Nicholson

Finding the Mother Tree – Suzanne Simard

Mordew – Alex Pheby

Putin’s People – Catherine Belton

The Border  – Erika Fatland Tr. Kari Dickson

Elephant Complex: Travels In Sri Lanka – John Gimlette

Lotharingia – Simon Winder

This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends – Nicole Perlroth

Concretopia – John Grindrod

The Night Lies Bleeding –  M.D. Lachlan

Opened Ground Poems 1966 – 1996 – Seamus Heaney

Survival of the City – Edward Glaeser & David Cutler

The Metal Heart – Caroline Lea

Britain Alone – Philip Stephens

The Germans and Europe – Peter Millar

Tweet Of The Day – Brett Westwood & Stephen Moss

Women On Nature – Katherine Norbury

Any here that you have heard of or that take your fancy?

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