May 2021 Review

May seemed to rush past. I didn’t get quite as much reading down as I wanted as I spent an inordinate amount of it up a ladder decorating. But we are nearly done now in the hall stairs and landing now so I can get fully back to the books. I still managed to get around to reading 16 books in May and here is a roundup of them:

I read three books that had mental health as the central focus. In Finding True North, Linda Gask tells of her move to Orkney and coming to terms with a lifetime of depression and the lessons that she learnt by helping others overcome their issues. Moving to a smallholding was supposed to be the ultimate dream for Rebecca Schiller, however, as she tells us in Earthed things didn’t go quite as planned until the medical profession finally diagnosed her condition. Phosphorescence is very different. Julia Baird has long been fascinated by the natural light that is given off by creatures and she sees that as a metaphor that we can use to inspire us to do better and greater things.


My three poetry books this month could not have been any different. One was my first Seamus Heaney and whilst I didn’t love it, I did really like the way that he crafts words into these poems about the rural culture he is steeped in. Very different is watery through the gaps, rather than the connection via the land, Emma Blas is looking for a connection via water in her prose. Different once again is Victoria Bennett’s pamphlet, To Start The Year From Its Quiet Centre which is about the loss of her mother. Very moving poems.


Just two natural history books this month, one of which is my book of the month at the bottom of this post. First though is Empire of Ants which is about those amazing little creatures that have been creating societies for millions of years and the research that Suzanne Foitzik has been undertaking on them. A very interesting book,

Not quite natural history, but still very much well worth reading is Helen Gordon’s new book, Notes from Deep Time. this is a deep-time view of the forces that create and still have the power to change our planet.

Where possible I am trying to read themed books together. This month the theme was technology and I have five different books on how were are using and coping with technology in the modern world. Fred Vogelstein’s book is a bit like ancient history now as it looks into the rivalry between Apple and Google. It was an interesting read though. My now teenage kids have grown up with broadband and online access. They have never had to suffer dial up! Born Digital is a look at how this new generation is coping with the always online permanent connection to the worldwide web. Really well done and worth reading. Tracey Follows comes at this from a different angle and looks at the things we need to do and have in place to maintain a strong and balanced online presence.


Everybody Lies is about the data that we generate every time we do something online and how looking at this metadata can show trends before they are visible in the real world. More worrying are the revelations revealed in Reset, this is how the surveillance industry tracks what we are doing and how less than honourable companies are turning that to their advantage.


My two travel book could not have been any more different this month. Westering is the account of Laurence Mitchell’s walk from Norfolk to Wales. Paul Theroux’s book is about the time that he spent in Mexico finding out more about the country that borders his and the pressures that people are under to move to America to eke out a living.


My book of the mo(n)th is Much Ado About Mothing. Moths are one of those insects that have bad press but in this book, by James Lowen aims to set the record straight. He is a teenie bit obsessed by moths and he does a really good job of conveying that in the prose.

Have you read any of these? Are there any that you now want to? Let me know in the comments below

Spread the love


  1. N@ncy

    Such a wonderful variety of books in the month of May!
    My Natural History book was “Entangled Life”…I’ll never look at a mushroom in the same way!
    I expect you feel the same about ants.
    I haven’t read any of your books….but am drawn to the technology books…especially Reset.
    I experimented with 2 CF this month, 4 poetry and 3 short story collections.
    Most impressive books in my month of May were NF: “The Betrayal” in depth look at US bungled actions during the Vietnam War (published 1968…but oh, so informative!)
    NF: Catch and Kill (Ronan Farrow) …his bombshell exposé (oct 2017) about Harvey Weinstien sexual abuse of many young women and how Farrow’s article was blocked by NBC News ,spied upon by ex Mossad operatives and finally published in the brave magazine The New Yorker. Weinstein? powerful man…but still brought to his knees by the truth!

    • Paul

      Thank you, Nancy. I liked Entangled life a lot. I can see him writing more in the future. Not read any of the books that you mention

  2. Dorothy ~Jane McLachlan ~ Wortley

    Just ordered EARTHED by Rebecca Schiller at my favourite Independent Bookshop as I got there today!
    They were stunned they did not have it , honestly I was surprised but they are rushed off their feet!
    It will be good to have something waiting for me on my wee space shelf – lets me know I’ll get back.
    Reading your review was perfect timing.
    Thank You.

    • Paul

      Thank you, DJ. Hope you like it when you read it

  3. Liz Dexter

    I’d read the Moth one and 16 is still not a bad total! Happy reading in June!

    • Paul

      I know, but I look at my looming pile of books and fret about it! Thank you, on book 5 at the moment

Leave a Reply

© 2024 Halfman, Halfbook

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑