The Year in Books: May


It’s all been in the mind this month…

There have been two reading highlights for me this month, one pure escapist fiction, the other not fiction at all, both have given me and my imagination a great deal of pleasure. Fiction first…

The Good Knight Sarah Woodbury

This was another Kindle late night purchase. The reviews said it would appeal to Cadfael lovers and I was ready for a mix of history, mystery and a light touch of romance.

So, it’s set in Wales in the 1140’s, a similar time period to the Cadfael novels, and the hero and heroine – Gareth and Gwen are out to solve a murder mystery, but I’m not sure that’s enough similarity to endear it to Cadfael aficionados. I’m a huge fan of Ellis Peters and I don’t think we’re on the same page as far as literary style goes – but and it’s a big but, despite the sometimes awkward Americanisms that crop up, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. (Let’s put it this way, if you liked the film A Knight’s Tale with Heath Ledger, with its modern speech and soundtrack, then this book won’t offend – if you prefer your history more in period, it will probably annoy you).

Anyway, this is all a bit beside the point, because what kept me up reading wasn’t the plot, but one of the characters, Prince Hywel. I managed to fall in love with him! Fancy that, a middle-aged woman going gooey over a character in a book. Just goes to show what the brain is capable of given the right stimulus.

Needless to say, I’m already reading the next in the series…

My other favourite for May, was unexpected. It was…

Sane New World: Taming the MindRuby Wax

This is really an exploration of depression and her views as a sufferer on ways to treat it.

I came to mindfulness and meditation via a different route to Ruby, a much more esoteric one, and one she’d probably have no time for, but  what I enjoyed were her facts about the brain and it’s function and the research results that have led to mindfulness being used as a treatment. It was a bit like being given a factual explanation for what you already knew on trust or faith.

It’s written in a very accessible style, not aimed at neuroscientists, but doesn’t dumb-down. It doesn’t give you the techniques in detail, but there are many sources for taking up a mindfulness or meditation practice if you’re persuaded to try yourself. Even if you’re lucky enough not to experience depression, I’ll bet you know someone who does – it’s an interesting read and anything that helps make mental illness less of a stigma has to be good.

Right, off to find out what Prince Hywel is up to…

Happy reading.


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8 thoughts on “The Year in Books: May

  1. I love the Cadfael books so i’ll have to look out for The Good Knight. may just have to add it to my kindle during springwatch – during the bits that focus on bugs!

    1. The way I look at it, is that these books cost less than a coffee at Costa, so it’s worth a try. I agree about the bugs – but we won’t be watching – our half-term entertainment is series three of Sherlock and trying to watch the Marvel films in chronological order! (It’s not just my daughters who like a superhero!)

    1. Good grief Annie, that’s not what you want! The idea of lying around having grapes peeled sounds decadent, but having no choice in the matter is a real pain. Get well soon.

  2. Anny I heard Ruby Wax talking at the Festival a couple of days ago. She was, of course, very entertaining, but also managed to get a lot of information across, and it was a good introduction to the whole subject. And she will reach a lot of people, which can only be good.

    I’ve been reading Steve Peter’s book The Chimp Paradox. He’s the psychiatrist who worked with Team GB cycling for the Olympics, and it’s a mind management book, which looks at how we behave, and why. It’s having an enormous effect on me. Again, so much of this we already know, but haven’t thought about. Interesting.

    1. I’ll look into The Chimp Paradox, the whole question of how our brains work fascinates me. I hope the whole subject opens up generally, because I know so many people who I’m sure would benefit from understanding more about themselves, but end up on a medication route without knowing about alternative ways or who simply feel too stigmatised to pursue different solutions.

      There’s been a lot of interesting coverage from Hay this year – sounds as if even if the weather was terrible, the quality of the event was high. Hope it’s gone well for you.

  3. I bought The Good Knight for my Kindle, not started it yet, but looking forward to it. Will definitely be picturing the late Heath Ledger as the hero- wonder if he’d have got the Welsh accent?

    1. Oh what a sweetie he was, I love the scene where they dance to Golden Years… yes, I often ‘cast’ my own heros in these books.

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