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What I read in September 2018 (Part 1)

A Sky Full of Birds: In search of Britain’s Great Bird Gatherings by Matt Merritt

I think it is true to say that I have always been interested in birds. I am not a twitcher or even a regular bird-spotter, but when there are birds about I listen to them, watch them and try to identify them. In the first interview I ever had (for a posh school, which fortunately did not offer me a scholarship place) my reply that I watched birds in my back garden, did not seem to satisfy the panel. There was a pyracanthus with berries outside our living room window and blackbirds regularly nested in it and in the hawthorn hedge. Starlings flocked to the lawn. Sparrows and occasionally other birds were also to be seen. My mother waged war against the wood pigeons as she tried to protect her vegetable crops!

A Sky Full of Birds is another library book, which appealed to me for its subject matter and for having been short-listed for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize. Chris Packham’s endorsement, “Prose from a poet” proved to be correct. (I must remember to look at his A People’s Manifesto for Wildlife)

I found this book well-written and easy to read. I learned a lot more about birds and their habits. I recommended it to hubby, who agrees. My only disappointment with the book is that it does not have any direct link with the area where I live now, although I am within easy reach of an RSPB reserve (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and on a migration route for geese. The geographical area covered is mainly on the east side of the country. The Wirral and York are the nearest places to here as the crow flies!

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What I read in August 2018 (Part 2)

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is a book I borrowed from the library. I had seen a lot of posts about it on social media around the time it was published. Reading library books often means that I am behind the latest trends!

I found this prize-winning book well-written and very interesting. Apart from being autobiographical and about falconry, it is a book about grief and about TH White both as an author and a person. I read several of his books in my youth and have reread The Once and Future King as an adult. I liked some of his books very much, while others left me feeling that I had missed something. Learning about his struggles helped me to understand how his writing could vary so much.

Eye Can Write: A memoir of a child’s silent soul emerging by Jonathan Bryan

I was having a conversation with a small group of people, when one of them put a book into my hand without saying anything. I had heard of the book and thought I’d like to read it. It didn’t take long, because the print was a good size and the story was gripping. It is a truly inspirational book. I recommended it to hubby, who was more reluctant to read it because of the subject-matter. However, he is also finding it very interesting. Profits from the book go to a charity (Teach us too) to help youngsters with special needs to access a proper education. This book could be described as an antidote to Me Before You, which I wrote about in my previous post in this series.

Cousins by Salley Vickers is a book I found in the library. I have enjoyed other books by this author. I hadn’t heard about her latest titles. Strangely Cousins has some back-stories, which are similar to some in my own family. Also there are aspects of the story, which are not dissimilar to some other books I read recently. It was a good read. (I have read at least 6 of Salley Vickers’ books and am looking out for the ones I have missed.)

The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith was a book I bought second-hand at a coffee morning. Readers of this blog may remember that I have read many other books by this prolific author. I particularly like the Isabel Dalhousie series, to which this belongs. It is set in Edinburgh and I was part way through it when Hubby and I travelled to Edinburgh for a day. As I read the rest later, I could envisage some of the places where it was set. Recognising a place adds to the enjoyment in my opinion. It was a light-hearted read after some more serious books. As usual all the loose ends were tied up satisfactorily, while leaving scope for the story to continue unfolding.

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What I read in August 2018 (Part 1)

I bought the first two books I read in August second-hand at a fund-raiser.

The Red House

The Red House by Mark Haddon attracted me as I had enjoyed his better-known book “The curious incident of the dog in the night-time”. The Red House is quite different. It is quite a complicated novel with lots of characters. Some of the material is what I regard as TMI (too much information). I kept reading because there was a character, who was a Christian. I was interested in how Christianity is portrayed in a mass-market paperback. Many of the books I read and review have been written by practising Christians, whose beliefs inform their writing. All the characters in The Red House were changed in some way by their holiday there.

The book is on its way to be sold by a different charity as I am unlikely to read it again. Reading group questions may be found here.

I had heard quite a lot about Me before you by Jo Jo Moyes, not all of it complimentary, so was interested to read it for myself. It is extremely well-written. For once, I think I had read a spoiler and knew how the story would end for one of the characters. One thing, which I noticed in the way this story was told, was the author’s accurate portrayal of people from different social strata. The way that the exact circumstances of Will’s day-to-day life were revealed as Louisa became better acquainted with him, was a particularly good example of accomplished storytelling. Although the ending was not perhaps what I’d have hoped for, I shall be looking for the sequel in the library.

I had previously read The girl he left behind by Jo Jo Moyes.