What I read in July (Part 3)

In this post I am reviewing three more interesting books.

Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington

As part of my nature book reading binge I found Owl Sense on a shelf at the library. It was longlisted for the Wainwright book prize in 2018. This is a fascinating book. I limited myself to reading one chapter at a time in order not to muddle the various species. There is a tension in the book between the author’s family responsibilities and her desire to travel and study owls in the wild. The two threads make an interesting story. I have learned a lot more about owls through reading this book than in visits to an owl centre a few years ago.

(Observant followers of this blog will have noticed that my gravatar is a photo of a wooden owl; the original is becoming increasingly weathered at Sizergh Castle.)

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda Macdonald

Linda Macdonald is an author I am aware of through Twitter. It turns out that I know some of her extended family, but I haven’t met her. Visiting a library I found this stand-alone novel, The Man in the Jacket, which is in a series about some of the same characters. It is an interesting story about relationships between over-fifties. The ending surprised me – in a good way.



Storytelling by Martin Goldsmith

I bought this book in a clearance sale. As a writer I am always trying to improve my storytelling skills. As a member of the Association of Christian Writers, this book was particularly relevant: its tagline is ‘sharing the gospel with passion and power’. The storytelling traditions of a number of different cultures are discussed with suggestions about how to make stories relevant to different audiences. It is a very useful book. There are some memorable stories in it too.


What I read in July 2019 (Part 2)

The excellent book I am reviewing here is one I received in a package from IVP as I was lucky in a Twitter giveaway before Easter. Perhaps a better title for this post might be “What I finished reading…”

In May I began to read Men and Women in Christ: Fresh light from the biblical texts by Andrew Bartlett. I found that I could only read a few pages at a time, but I did read all the way to the end, including the seven appendices elaborating on particular chapters. Some of the references to scripture were also essential reading, although I have to admit that I skipped others deeming that I am familiar with, for example, the stories in Acts. When I bothered to read the passages I felt blessed.

In Men and Women in Christ all the evidence from the Bible about the roles of men and women in marriage and in the Church is sifted and weighed. The historical views of their roles are also discussed. Where scripture is unclear the author referred to other contemporary sources to compare the use of Greek words or expressions. A list of Bible references is included.

This must be the most painstakingly researched book I have ever read! However, it is written in an accessible style. At the end of each chapter there is a summary of the discoveries made. The final chapter is entitled: Taking stock and moving closer together. The views of egalitarians and complementarians had been set out in the earlier chapters. Andrew Bartlett found points he disagreed with in both parties’ arguments.

This book is well worth the time it takes to read it. Very highly recommended.

The other two books I received were Emma Scrivener’s A New Day and Borderlands by Mark Brickman.


What I read in July 2019 (Part 1)

Ghost Trees: Nature and People in a London Parish by Bob Gilbert was on a display of books shortlisted for this year’s Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize. Having returned a book about woods, I picked one about trees!

The author had moved to the East London parish of Poplar as his wife was appointed rector there. He conducted research both on the ground and from written records in order to write this very readable and informative book. There is information about the time of writing, the past, people with connections to the area, people with connections to the flora of the area, traditions and beliefs both past and present. The language is poetic without being pretentious.

I do not know the area around Poplar. It was only when I had read all but three chapters that I decided to look at online maps (including satellite images) of the area. There are no maps included in the book, but with so much information readily available, that is not a great loss. Maps would have increased the production costs. The hardback volume is relatively light to hold and well set out. Chapters are divided into sections. The seasons of the year, the local people, wildlife, plants, waterways and much more have been carefully observed.

I learned a lot about the history of urban tree-planting, how some plants were named and more besides. This is a fascinating book with an index and bibliography.