Monthly Muse – June

That was a month of changes for me. On the 1st of June I finished my job after being made redundant. I had been there 13 years and was a little emotional.  They had been a great bunch of people (mostly) to work with. On Tuesday the 5th June, I had a second interview at another local company and was offered the position just be 6 pm that day. Had two weeks off and then started on the 18th. So far it seems to be going well.

In the two weeks that I had off, I didn’t get as much read as I had hoped, but I did go and see the lovely people at Eland and Elliot and Thompson, sorted three bookcases out and got all my natural history and landscape books together after being spread around the house. In the end, I did manage to read 17 books.  All sorts of subjects and here they are:

William Collins had kindly sent me a copy of this to read. It was a true story about a girl growing up in a fairly dysfunctional family and who in the end put herself into care. She survived her childhood of precious little food and lots of books. It was an interesting read and the end part was quite powerful, but a lot of it felt surreal.

I read a fair amount as a child but would have never considered myself a bookworm, though others may disagree with that. Lucy Mangan though was an utter bookworm; she spent every available hour in imaginary worlds ignoring the other members of her family unless she really had too. This is her recollection of that time and a little about trying to turn her son into a bookworm too. A very enjoyable book even though our overlap is small in terms of the books that we read as a child.

A nice coffee table book about just under 100 different fictional lands. Some really nice artwork in it but be aware that there are lots of spoilers.


Parts of Syria are war-torn and ravaged and yet the capital is still functioning relatively normally. This book by Kassem Eid tells of his story being persecuted by his own government and why he joined the Syrian Free Army. Very moving.
Marc ‘Elvis” Priestly wanted to work in Formula 1 for a long time and one day he got that chance and started at McLaren as a mechanic. It is a high-pressure job swapping wheels on a multi-million-pound racecar in under 3 seconds and this is his story of working hard and playing hard in the echelons of F1. One for the petrol head.

Another war-torn country and another set of people displaced and persecuted. This time it is Iraq and Nadia Murad of the Yazidi community. ISIS took over her village, shot all the men and took a lot of the girls to be sex slaves. This is her story. Horrific and moving and a must read to see the way that the region has changed since the war there.

Eighty-two years ago around 200 men set off from the Tyneside town of Jarrow to march to London. The reason for this was to protest at the closure of Palmer’s shipyard that had affected everyone’s livelihoods in the town. This is Ian Maconie’s story as he follows the route in 2016 speaking to those he meets of the journey and seeing what is left of their legacy. Another great book from Maconie.

London has a history going back 2000 years or so, but the people that made most impact of the look and feel of the city was the Victorians. In this book, Winn takes you on a series of walks to see the things that are left behind from that era. I tried part of one of the walks and the detail he has compiled is impressive.

I love a good quiz, but the ones in here are another level up on the sort I can answer. Thankfully the answers are in the back.


If you’re bored of Suduko, then this might be the book for you. Bellos has been over to Japan and has returned bearing puzzles galore. There are tips on how to do them, a potted history and lots of examples for you to try that vary from the easy to the bloody difficult.


The British have for thousands of years have been inventing various ways of getting drunk. We have had fruit wines, Even the Romans had vineyards. We have made apples and pears into ciders and perry’s made all types of grains into beers. But for a real kick, you need a spirit. Bought over here by monks, once we had learnt what to do there was no stopping us and this book is about the various ways people have avoiding the tiresome effort of paying tax on it…


Lots of people love a pub crawl, but the one Pete Brown embarked on for this book was epic. 300 pubs in 27 cities across four continents. Sounds like a plan. Hilarious at times, this was a well-written eulogy to the magic created from malt, hops and water.


Hipsters. Love them or hate them they are not going anywhere soon. This parody brilliantly rips the piss out of hipster culture in London in such a clever way.


I really enjoyed the Hidden Life of Trees by this author, so when I received a copy of this I was really looking forward to it. Wohlleben does talk about the weather, but that only makes up around the first part of the book. The rest is in the same vein, but about all sorts of other subjects. interesting, but a little disappointing overall.


Smell is one of our least understood senses, but it is also one of the strongest, one smell can take you instantly back to childhood and a loved or hated food. This is a fascinating book that was prompted by the question from the author’s son, what does three o’clock in the morning smell like. Well worth reading.


Natural history poems are very personal and this collection is no different. There are some lovely poems in here and I like what she did with the word by using them in a graphical way, however, I feel that I need to read more poetry, but I find it such a difficult thing to review.
Finished this a day or so ago so haven’t written a review yet. the part about the building of the White City for the Chicago World Fair is interesting, but the fascinating part is the horrific story of the murder committed by Holmes. Even today they still don’t know how many he killed in the building that he made with its airtight rooms, gas chambers and crematorium. Compelling stuff.
Apologies about the formatiing this is my first post with WordPress. I will get the hang of this.
So that was what I read. What did you read in June?
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  1. Jackie Law

    Quite a month! Hope the new job continues to go well for you. Of all these books feel quite sheepish that want to read The Bespokist Society (daughter’s London conditioning may be a factor) Oh, and welcome to WordPress 🙂

    • admin

      It was Jackie and thank you. I am more than happy to stick it in the post to you

      • Jackie Law

        That is a very kind offer 🙂

  2. Annabel Gaskell

    I’m amazed you got so much read with all these changes. Best wishes for the new job.

    Funnily enough, we just read The Devil in the White City for our book group and we all loved it. I loved the architectural story, but the serial killer one was enough to keep you up at night!

    • admin

      Thank you, Annabel. I thought there was too much on the fair, but to be fair they probably didn’t know the entire story behind Holmes and never will.

  3. Linda

    Here’s to a new and exciting time in your life x

    • admin

      Thank you Linda

  4. Liz Dexter

    Glad you managed to slot into a new job so quickly and hope it continues to go well. I loved the Maconie book and have that literary maps one on my wish list.

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