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Three library books I read recently

As I didn’t review any books in April due to the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge, and I am hoping to take part in some blog tours over the next few weeks, I have decided to catch up by posting three short reviews today.

Racing the wind by Patricia Nolan

Cover of Racing the wind

In Racing the wind: A Cumbrian Childhood Patricia Nolan recounts the story of three memorable years from her childhood in a remote village in Cumbria. I borrowed this book from the library and found it well-written and very interesting. As well as descriptions of many diverse characters, the way of life for country folk without access to most of the modern conveniences available in towns and cities is the backdrop for this memoir of a 20th century childhood.

This hardback book is published by Merlin Unwin Books and includes photographs.

The Pavilion in the Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith

Cover of The Pavilion in the Clouds

This novel by the popular and prolific author Alexander McCall Smith is not part of any of his earlier series. The Pavilion in the Clouds is set in Ceylon as Sri Lanka was known at the time of the story. It is a historical novel set in the 20th century. The twists in the story surprised me. There is mystery, deception and all the loose ends are tied up.

This book is also available as an audiobook and for Kindle.

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Cover of Confessions of a bookseller

Like Shaun Bythell’s earlier book, The Diary of a Bookseller, Confessions of a Bookseller is in diary form. It covers the year 2015. Although I couldn’t keep track of the numerous characters, I found this book entertaining and informative. It is available in paperback, audiobook and Kindle.

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What I read in November 2018 (Part 1)

The Art of Coorie How to Live Happy the Scottish Way by Gabriella Bennett

This book was promoted by its publisher, Black and White Publishing, on #TheTalkoftheTown in September. The Talk of the Town is a biweekly link-up for book bloggers. I have been linking posts there for several months. The bloggers co-hosting the link-up are Lindsay (Bookboodle) and Shaz from Jera’s Jamboree. Each month there is a giveaway. I was surprised to learn that I had won this book.

Gabriella Bennett is a journalist and the book has a similarity to glossy magazines, although the pages are matt. It is a very handsome hardback volume. The theme of the book is living cosily in spite of the Scottish climate and the midges!

I am not Scottish, but after England, where I live some fifty miles from the border with Scotland, I have spent more time in Scotland than in any other country. I also have some lovely Scottish friends.

I read the book from cover to cover and found much of interest. It is well-organised, well-designed and quirky, perhaps aimed at younger people. Once the idea of having a custom play list while entertaining friends had been mentioned, the book itself had a “Now playing” accompaniment. I found all the tracks on YouTube later. Some of them were more to my taste than others.

The linguistic style uses Scottish dialect words, as might be expected from the title. A glossary is included part way through. I found it much easier to follow the text than to follow the speech of some Glaswegians, whose company I have had on intercity trains. (They tend to speak rather quickly. One of the joys of reading is that the reader sets the pace and can reread anything, which needs extra thought.)

There are many aspects of The Art of Coorie, which match my own interests – walking, textiles, language, tradition, countryside, and beautiful photographs. It is a gentle book with ideas for places to eat, buy books and go camping (not my idea of fun!). There are even recipes for food and drink.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Scotland. There is sure to be something to catch the imagination, even if some sections are skipped. It would look well on any coffee table.

Books I read in December 2016

I read one book from cover to cover in December and began reading another book or two, one of which I’ll write about here.

Book CoverThe book I read from cover to cover was one I won on Twitter. It wasn’t really what I expected. The Parish Nativity Play by Kevin Carey didn’t seem to me to be just what the parish where I live needs. We didn’t have a play this year, due to a shortage of children among other things. Before that the same play has been performed by different children every year for over twenty years – possibly longer than that. This new play is in the style of a modern mumming play. It is designed to be read (by adults?) with little rehearsal. I am not good at visualising how a play might be interpreted. However I suspect this one could be made into something spectacular with the use of multimedia effects, but not where where tradition is strong (and change is resisted!).

The second book I began, but did not finish until I had renewed its loan twice, was The Highland Clearances by John Prebble. I realised over a decade ago that the versions of history taught north and south of the Scottish border are completely different. I had heard of the highland clearances, but knew nothing of the details, the length of time over which people were forced to emigrate and the cruel conditions on the ships they sailed in. The book is well-researched, with extracts from other writings quoted in a slightly smaller font size. What happened is yet another example of man’s inhumanity to man. While people were campaigning about the slave trade, something equally horrific (but hardly noticed) was happening within the realm. This is a book which should be read by anyone, who wishes to understand the history of the British Isles and why there are so many expatriate Scots. People of Scottish descent abroad, particularly in Canada and Australia might also find it interesting.