Thursday, February 12, 2009

4 x 10 Reading Challenge: Update

My reading so far, which has already mutated a bit from the original list. Books I have finished are in blue, books in my current reading pile are green.

Biography

Nella Last's War: the Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49 (ed. Richard Broad) - this book had me mesmerised. It is a series of extracts from the diaries kept by a middle-aged north country housewife during WW2 for "Mass Observation", a social research organisation for which a wide cross-section of people kept diaries from the 1930s to the 1950s. Nella Last had a writer's gift which gave her Mass Observation diary vivid immediacy. Imagine reading a detailed blog written during the war, if such a thing had existed then. Riveting. The sequel, Nella Last's Peace, is on my reading list.

Flora Thompson: the Story of the Lark Rise Writer (Gillian Lindsay) - waiting to be collected from the library. I have been loving the TV series of Lark Rise to Candleford, and I'm intrigued to see just how autobiographical the Lark Rise books are.

Crafts

A History of Hand Knitting (Richard Rutt) - nearly finished with this one, so I am counting it as read. The author, the former Anglican bishop of Leicester (somehow I have never imagined a knitting bishop!), treats his subject seriously, with lots of technical detail. A light and easy read it is not. It is informative and often interesting, but I skipped some sections rather than get bogged down.

Faith

The Shrines of Our Lady in England (Anne Vail) - our library system rarely holds recent Catholic publications so I was delighted to spot this on the shelf. About a quarter of the way through and loving it. Part history and part travel guide.

Geography and Travel

Beatrix Potter At Home in the Lake District (Susan Denyer) - waiting to be read. I was hoping to see Beatrix Potter's home when we visited the Lakes but it was still closed for the winter, so I will have to content myself with the book.

History

The Road to Wigan Pier (George Orwell) - a book of two parts. The first part is a series of descriptions of the conditions suffered by the poor and unemployed in northern England during the 1930s; the second is a long and rather tedious essay on the iniquities of the English middle classes and the necessity for the inevitable victory of socialism. Part one was an interesting piece of social history; looking back from the perspective of a world in which communism has been seen to have failed, part two was a curiosity, but I confess I gave up a chapter or two before the end.

Science and Nature

Electric Universe (David Bodanis) - a survey of the history of scientific discoveries in the field of electricity (ouch! bad pun!). I found the book a mixed bag. The historical aspect was intriguing, but the scientific explanations were frustratingly limited. Or maybe my understanding was frustratingly limited. Whichever, I felt I should have finished the book understanding more about how the various electrical discoveries worked than I did.

2 comments:

Melanie B said...

Nella Last's War sounds very interesting. Might have to see if I can find a copy on this side of the Atlantic.

Meredith said...

I agree, the Nella looks really good! Now I need to go and update my page too ;)