October 2019 Review

Another month passes, and there are a few more books read from Mount TBR. Only sixteen this month, which I was a little disappointed with, to be honest. Ho hum, this is a hobby at the end of the day and I primarily read for pleasure. I did read some really good books though, and here they are:


Who Owns England? is a loaded question, and it is a question that Guy Shrubsole has been trying to answer for years. Believe it or not, not one really know exactly who owns what for around 15 – 20 % of the land, but modern technology is starting to address this blank space. It is a polemic on how the elite and landed gentry have had it their own way for far too long and I would say it is an essential read for anyone interested in landscape.


I read two excellent fiction books this month, first up was Cynan Jones’ near future book set in the UK. It is suffering from freshwater shortages. Razor-sharp writing and almost poetic in its style. You can’t go wrong with a Benjamin Myers book, and the Offing continued that. Set just after World War II it is the story of a sixteen-year-old boy who doesn’t want to work in the pit and sets of from Durham to the Yorkshire Coast. It is there he meets Dulcie and she sees his potential and they form an unlikely friendship.

Effing Birds was one of my blog tour books, and you need to be pretty broad-minded to read this as it is a bit (sorry, a lot) sweary. Aaron Reynolds does not hold back and it is hilarious though.

This was one of the Royal Society Shortlisted book and it is a maths book. Some of you will run with horror from the room at the thought of maths, but I like reading them. In Infinite Powers, Steven Strogatz has written just how much the understanding of Calculus affects us in modern society.


I read three very different memoirs this month. First up is Lowborn by Kerry Hudson. This is a story of her childhood in poverty and at the very fringes of society and of returning to those places and memories. Well worth reading. The very slender book, Of Walking in Ice, is the story of Werner Herzog’s walk to Paris to see a friend who was very ill. Surreal at times, but I can see why it is a classic. Danie Couchman is one of the many who could not afford to buy a property in London, but she did make a home in a small boat on the London canal system and Afloat is her memoir about life there.

I was sent a copy of Tempest by Patrician Press. This is an anthology of short fiction, essays and poems about our present political ‘tempestuous’ times.


I read one book on The Making Of Poetry by the great Adam Nicolson. this book is about the short period of time that Coleridge and the Wordsworths were together in the West country and the creative force that this unleased. My poetry book this month was the acclaimed Hannah Sullivan’s Three Poems. Very different from other poetry books that I have read, this year.

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, there is quite a lot of politics going on at the moment. The root of what is going on though is very concisely summed up in The Three Dimensions of Freedom by Billy Bragg. Bit short, but still an interesting discourse.


Ross Barnet’s book, The Missing Lynx, is about the lost megafauna of the British Isles and contemplates the possibilities of bringing some of the larger predators back as part of a rewilding programme. Clearing The Air by Tim Smedley is the full story about what’s happened to the air we breathe.  the pollution and particulate matter and more importantly what we can do to bring back better quality air.

From the author of The Way of the World, Nicolas Bouvier, Eland has pulled together a collection of travel writings translated here for the first time into English. From the Aran isles in mid-winter to Xian, Korea to lowland Scotland, these essays are a flavour of a travel writer of the highest quality.

My book of the month was the fantastic Ring the Hill by Tom Cox. Loosely about hills, it is as wide-ranging as you’d expect from Tom as he writes about maps, hares and even ventures as far as the beach. Of course, we have a visit from his LOUD DAD too. Highly recommended. Read it soon.

Any of these that you have read? Or now want to read? Tell me in the comments below.


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  1. Liz Dexter

    Afloat and The Missing Lynx are the ones I take away from that list as needing to go on my own wishlist (Ring the Hill is already on the e-TBR).

    • Paul

      I liked them both. If you like Afloat. then you will like Circle Line too

  2. Bookertalk

    Stillicide is the one I most want to read. The story of how he was commissioned to write the pieces for radio and how he went about the construction is fascinating .

    • Paul

      It was really good. I am just about to listen to the radio episodes.

    • Paul

      I really liked it. I am just about to listen to the radio episodes

  3. Fantastic round-up! Lowborn sounds like “the one” for me, I’m already hooked!

    • Paul

      Well worth reading, Sheree

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