Any minute now – in fact almost certainly by the time you read this – the summer holidays will have broken out around here – hooray! It’s been a tough old year one way or another and I’m sure we’re not the only family relieved to have a few weeks away from the usual routine.
For most of the year, I do the main part of my reading at bedtime, but during the holidays, I feel no guilt whatsoever about reading whenever I like, so I’ve started putting together my reading list for July & August.
And the books I’ve chosen are…
The Celtic Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods & Legends – Miranda Aldhouse-Green
In recent years, I’ve become increasingly interested in all things Celtic, and I keep coming across names and stories that I know nothing about. Ironic isn’t it, that I could certainly tell you much more about the Ancient Greek gods and heroes, than anything about those of our native countries. When I saw this book last week, it practically screamed at me from the shelf, to buy it. And I’m so pleased that I did – it’s a lovely ‘beginner’s guide’ – complete with pictures and – get this – a guide to pronunciation!
And it’s timely too. In September, the British Museum is opening a new exhibition featuring Celtic art and identity – I’ve booked my ticket already!
Next, I chose…
Thomas Traherne: Selected Poems & Prose – Penguin Classic.
I have Phil Rickman to thank for introducing me to Thomas Traherne. References to Traherne crop up in several of his brilliant Merrily Watkins novels and it took me some time to find any of Treherne’s works in print. Then, on a day when I wasn’t particularly looking for it, there it was, on the shelf of the Oxfam bookshop in Berkhamsted – definitely there waiting just for me.
If you like William Blake’s work, Treherne might be for you too.
My third choice is the recently published…
Field Notes From The Edge: Journeys Through Britain’s Secret Wilderness – Paul Evans
Now, this is a book I intend to consume in small amounts, it is so beautifully written and the mental imagery so rich, that it would be a shame to read it too fast. It’s like a fine wine that deserves to be savoured. I downloaded a sample onto my Kindle, but although I knew straightaway I wanted to read it, I felt sure I needed a hard copy. Fortunately, when I visited Toppings in Ely last week, (possibly the best bookshop outside Hay that I know), I found one to bring home with me.
Paul Evans is on Twitter if you want to find him there.
My fourth choice is…
God’s Traitors: Terror & Faith in Elizabethan England – Jessie Childs.
I’ve actually been reading this for a while now, but things have been so busy around here lately that instead of reading at bedtime, I’ve been crashing out as soon as my head hit the pillows. But I am delighted that Jessie has written this book. Having been brought up in the West Midlands, right in the heart of Elizabethan recusant territory, and on the doorstep of Harvington Hall, one of the existing Elizabethan houses where you can still see numerous priest’s hiding-holes, I was excited to finally hear more of the story of that period in English history.
For anyone familiar with the area and the many houses linked to Catholic recusancy, it’s wonderful to have a whole book describing events, and not be confined to a few footnotes.
And my final choice doesn’t have a picture, because I have it loaded on my Kindle – it’s Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I absolutely loved watching the recent TV series, I remembered reviews from when it was first published, but somehow didn’t get around to buying it, so now I have! I think it should keep my fantasy levels suitably inflated over the summer…
Have you read any of these? Do let me know what you thought of them, or tell me what delights you’re planning to read over the hopefully long, hot summer.