Looking back through my posts recently, I was amazed to see that it’s over six months since I last wrote about books. For this particular ex-librarian and lifelong bookworm this is so long a gap that you might be forgiven for thinking that I had completely stopped reading books in favour of blogs. I will admit that my book-reading time is somewhat eaten into by blogs nowadays, but thankfully I possess neither a laptop nor an iPad, so that in bed, at least, books are my sole source of reading matter.
This morning, while drinking the tea which always starts my day, I finished the last tense pages of a really excellent crime novel by a author I first discovered last year. No Escape is the second novel by Natasha Cooper that I have read, but it won’t be the last. Well characterised and expertly plotted, it gripped me from the first page to the last. That book will go back to the library tomorrow, but I still have a substantial pile of others on my bedside table.
Being nothing if not eclectic in my reading tastes, the next book in the pile is a non-fiction book, published by the National Museum of Wales. Things Of Beauty: what two sisters did for Wales is a fascinatingly illustrated study of the Davies sisters, Margaret and Gwendoline, who used the enormous wealth inherited from their Victorian industrialist father, to build up a wonderful collection of Impressionist and other paintings, which they bequeathed to the National Museum of Wales.
My interest in them is not simply artistic, but comes from the fact that they were local people, born in the village of which I was once vicar, as was their remarkable father, who worked his way out of deep poverty to become one of
’ richest and most influential men. It would be difficult to live in Mid-Wales and not be intrigued by the Davies family and their achievements. Wales
Below this in the pile is Louisa May, a biography by Martha Saxton of the 19th century American author, Louisa May Alcott. I was inspired to request this from the library by posts on Lifeonthecutoff's Blog about her life and work. As a girl I read and reread her most famous novel Little Women until my copy almost disintegrated, and having an enduring affection for children's literature, I still return to it and her other novels from time to time.
One of the things I only recently learned about Louisa May Alcott is that, like her heroine Jo in Little Women, in the 1860’s she published a series of sensational Gothic thrillers under a pseudonym in order to make the money for which the Alcott family always had dire need. These were rediscovered and republished in two collections in the 1970s and thanks to our library’s capacious store, one of these collections, entitled Plots & Counterplots, is also in my pile of bedtime reading.
Finally, as one of those books one can dip in and out of when too tired to read a continuous narrative, I have All Wound Up, the latest collection of very funny and perceptive essays on knitting and life, written by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the inimitable Yarn Harlot.
So, with reading tastes as varied as my taste in music, and all your blogs to read too, I don’t think I’m likely to be bored. And of course I know I can always rely on you for interesting suggestions as to what to read when I've finished my pile. J