3 more books I read in September 2020

The three books reviewed in this post are library books, one digital and two physical.

The Kreutzer Sonata and other stories by Leo Tolstoy

I borrowed The Kreutzer Sonata from BorrowBox. I really wanted to read Anna Karenina (for the second time), but it was out on loan. The Kreutzer Sonata is not a full length novel, perhaps it might be novella-length, but the subject matter is rather heavier than I’d expect of a novella. The book also includes an explanation of Tolstoy’s views on matters dealt with in The Kreutzer Sonata. The other stories are Ivan the Fool, A Lost Opportunity, ‘Polikushka’ or, The Lot of a Wicked Court Servant, and The Candle.  All these stories were written after what Wikipedia describes as Tolstoy’s ‘spiritual awakening’. They reflect his interpretation of Christianity. All of them are thought-provoking. The descriptions of the gulf between the aristocracy (of which Tolstoy was part) and the peasants were very telling. Some of the stories are happier than others. I particularly enjoyed Ivan the Fool.

My views about marriage do not altogether match Tolstoy’s as set out in his explanation. Having read his biography on Wikipedia, I realised that the main character in The Kreutzer Sonata is an exaggerated version of himself. That story is mainly made up of a single character telling his unhappy tale. Most of the other stories could be considered to have a deeper meaning (dare I say moral?).

Various editions are available, but they do not all include the same stories.

Spying on Whales The past, present and future of the world’s largest animals by Nick Pyenson

Cover Spying on Whales

On a visit to the library I noticed Spying for Whales displayed in the nature section. It is an attractive hardback volume with illustrations. The text is very well written, explaining many facts in an accessible easily-read manner. There is the excitement of the quest for knowledge and of making discoveries, both of fossils and of deductions from the available data. The text is in three parts dealing with the past the present and the future. The next section gives corroborative references for phrases in the text. Then there is the Reference section proper followed by an index. The illustrations are helpful to the interpretation of the text, having been created by an expert on whales. (One of the reasons I borrowed this book was that I had recently written a poem about a whale for a challenge about endangered species. I was aware of how little I actually knew about them – Challenge 36 on Paint Chip Challenge) It is a remarkable book by a scientist (paleontologist) from the Smithsonian Institution.

A paperback edition is also available.

My Summer of Magic Moments by Caroline Roberts

Cover My Summer of Magic MomentsAnother library book I borrowed was My Summer of Magic Moments by Caroline Roberts. This is a romantic novel with a serious back story. The protagonist is a cancer-survivor, whose story emerges a little at a time. She is also a journalist and blogger with a positive outlook. The parts about writing were of particular interest to me. There is plenty of suspense. The chapter headings are all different ‘Magic Moments’. I read it a few chapters at a time between fairly short chunks of the nonfiction book. The settings are Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Bamburgh – a place I have visited. I enjoy reading books, where I can recall a place as well as imagining it from the descriptions.

These library books were the other two I mentioned in my previous post. All my book reviews may be accessed from my pages – Authors A to M and Authors N to Z.

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What I read in July 2020 (Part1)

So far in July I have only read one book! I began reading Lakeland: A personal Journey by Hunter Davies in June. It was an ebook on BorrowBox. I have not yet mastered navigating around BorrowBox and found myself skim-reading pages I had already read. When I stop reading part way through a chapter, BorrowBox seems to restart at or near the beginning! There is probably a bookmark, which I have not yet found.

Having lived in Cumbria outside the Lake District National Park for over 30 years I found Lakeland (published in 2016 by Head of Zeus) very interesting. Hunter Davies compiled it from documents he had collected over a much longer time of living in the area. Much of the content was familiar to me, but there was also plenty of information I had not read previously. I enjoyed Hunter Davies’ sense of humour in the way he presented what might otherwise have been dry facts.

An irritating feature of reading the book electronically was that most of the illustrations were split between two pages. As with the bookmark above, there may have been a solution to this problem, but I didn’t look for it. Give me a printed book any day!

More of my book reviews may be found here.

What I read in June 2020 (Part 2)

There are two book reviews in this post.

I won a paperback copy of Breaking the Mould: Learning to thrive as a Ministry Mum by Jules Middleton from the publisher SPCK* on Twitter . I was excited about winning it as I have been following Jules Middleton on social media (including her blog Apples of Gold) since we both reviewed Bible to go! for the Big Bible Project.

Both sentences in Kate Bottley’s endorsement: ‘Will make you laugh and cry along with her. Not just for ministry mums.’ are true. The target readership is women thinking of becoming ministers in any Christian denomination, those training or serving especially mothers, mothers-to-be and those hoping to have a family. Much of the content is also applicable to lay people. Middleton uses innovative analogies to make her points.

Other ministry mums have contributed their own stories to the book, which has an introduction by Sharon Prentis. Some of the contributors were familiar to me from Twitter. They have enhanced the book explaining, for example, how a physical disability or mental health condition is not a barrier to serving in the Church.

I found the explanation of the context and background to the passage about the perfect wife in Proverbs 31:10-31 particularly helpful.

Surprisingly, when I had finished reading it hubby picked it up and is finding it very interesting and readable, proving the point that this is a book which is attractive to a wide readership.

Highly recommended!

The second book was To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf which I read as an e-book from BorrowBox. I had not read any of Virginia Woolf’s writing previously. I did not find the story particularly gripping. It was told in an unusual way, concentrating on the thoughts and feelings of the characters as much if not more than the action. I didn’t find a contents list or a way to flip back to earlier parts of the story, but that might be due to my unfamiliarity with the BorrowBox app.

The first part of the book was a description of life in a large household over about a day. The chapter numbers began again at 1 with a jump forward in time. Some of the insights into character and motivation were interesting, but I won’t be rushing to read everything Woolf wrote. The story was followed by a biography of Woolf, which I might have liked to read first. In a printed book that would have been easy! It took me a long time to finish reading it.

I have been unable to find the cover image used on BorrowBox. It was an edition published by A Word to the Wise. This link is interesting.

My other book reviews may be found from the links  Authors A to M and Authors N to Z.

* not IVP (UK) as I originally stated.