May 2020 Review

May has come and gone, and we’re already into June. It seems to drag, but also passed really quickly in other ways. It was an interesting reading month too with a wide variety of books being read too. And here they all are:


The art and craft of stone masonry has always fascinated me and in the lovely book, Andrew Ziminski takes us through the stone monuments and buildings from the Neolitic period right up to the present day. Really enjoyable reading



Two very different fiction books this month, A Tall History of Sugar was set in Jamaica and England and is the story of a boy and man who never really fitted in either place. Didn’t really get along with this one.  I did like A Good Neighbourhood though which is a story of conflict between neighbours over a newly built home and the damage it caused to a tree. As the parents argue, they don’t notice their children are falling in love


I love books about language and The Cabinet of Calm by Paul Anthony Jones is a book of words that he has found to offer us comfort in these difficult times. Fascinating, as ever, from this word master.


I had read one of Nicholas Royle ‘s novels before, which I liked but didn’t love. I was offered his new book, Mother: A Memoir and found it to be a touching portrait of a proud lady. Well worth reading if you want to read a book about life in the 1960s



I read four natural history books this month, the first of which, The Birds They Sang is a wonderful book by the Polish author Stanisław Łubieński about his love for our avian friends. Paul Evan is a quality author and his first book for the Little Toller Monograph series, Herbaceous is a series of experimental essays on plants



Even those people who don’t like insects tend to like butterflies. The convoluted way that they got their names is explored in Peter Marren’s book, Emperors, Admirals and Chimney Sweepers. Beautifully produced and a wonderful read. Another plant book, The Brief Life Of Flowers by Fiona Stafford is the follow up to her book on trees. Small potted histories on a variety of different flowers.



Still managing to read two poetry books each month. I have only read Paul Farley’s non-fiction and was fortunate to win a copy of this. The Mizzy was the first of his collections that I have read, it is a contemporary take on the natural world and I can thoroughly recommend it. Poetry and photography is a powerful combination and Simon Corble has done a grand job of showing the landscape he loves in White Light White Peak.


Ignoring nasty things that happen to other people seems to be a thing at the moment! In The Bystander Effect, Catherine Sanderson considers just why we as humans we choose to walk on by, and discusses strategies for dealing with it better. Interesting reading.



The Silk Road is legendary now for the trade and ideas that flowed back and forth along it. Kate Harris and her friend decide that they want to cycle the route and experience the places and people. Not too bad a book overall, but didn’t have that extra something to make it a great travel book.

Being stuck on an island in the south Pacific has quite a lot of appeal at the moment. This travel classic by Eland, The Book of Puka-Puka is the story of Robert Dean Frisbiefalling in love with the island where he set up a trading post. Great insight into the people who acknowledged the external Christain Western influence, but never fully accepted it. Another by Eland is Mortiz Thomsen’s book written after he had been devoted off his farm in Ecuador and took a boat ride up the Amazon. he is quite introspective as a writer as he relives most of the pain of his life.


My book of the month is written by the youngest author I have ever read a book by.  – Dara McAnulty began this at the age of 14 and it was published last week a couple of months after his 16th birthday. He is autistic and is equally passionate and besotted about the natural world, life can be tough at times for him with bullying and the general nastiness of kids, bu wandering along a beach or finding insects in a field give him the peace and solace he needs to cope with the modern world. This is his story so far and he has a lot more to tell.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    This has reminded me that I have The Bystander Effect TBR and need to pull it out of the Kindle at some point! I need to get Diary of a Young Naturalist, too. A good month, I’d say!

    • Paul

      It was indeed, Liz.

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