Monday, 6 May 2013

Library Books

We've been away the last three weeks to France in the motorhome.  As usual I didn't advertise our absence on this blog.  I will of course be writing about our time in and around Paris, but first I will mention the stack of reading material I took.

Vivien had saved up and given me a bunch of the magazine inserts from her Sunday papers.  I really enjoyed reading those.  Truth be known, those are always my favourite parts of the newspapers.  Frivolous of me, I know.  I also took a box of pages ripped from magazines over the past 15 or so years filed under 'General interest'.  These were less enthralling but I'm not sure why...may be that my interests have changed.  

From the new library in Whitley Bay, I took all that I was allowed.  I love the new machines where you swipe your library card and then put the stack of books on a shelf under the scanner.  It can read through all the books and print a list of items in the stack along with the due date!  This has probably been around for ages in lots of other places, but this is the first I've encountered it here and I think it's too fun!

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris


I got all the way through several books:

The Gentleman's Daughter, by Amanda Vickery.  I have to agree with the single review listed in this link.  This was published before Vickery's other book, Behind Closed Doors and is not nearly as easy or entertaining a read.  It is very much a research book and some chapters were more difficult to absorb than others.  There was, however, some very interesting information in these pages and I found it worth persevering.

If Walls Could Talk:  an intimate history of the home, by Lucy Worsley.   This is another presenter on BBC who specialises in historical material.  We always enjoy her shows and that was the main reason I picked this book.  I was right, Bill read it cover to cover.  I was astounded that she was able to write so much and not duplicate the material - at least that I recall - in Bill Bryson's book, At Home:  A short history of private life.

I found it interesting that Worsley quoted Vickery and they both quote Thorstein Veblen!  I felt quite at home in both their books.

Debts of Dishonour, by Jill Paton Walsh.  Since JPW's books about Peter Wimsey are by far my favourite over those written by his creator, Dorothy L. Sayers, I pick up anything she's written.  Even though this book was set in modern day Cambridge, I do find her writing style feels quite old-fashioned - in a good way.

How to Read Fashion, by Fiona Ffoulkes (yes, that's two 'f's).  It may be a serious fashion textbook given that it explains what history period various designers referenced in which of their collections, but I viewed it as a fun little book full of beautiful photographs...and maybe even half a dozen items I could imagine wearing.

The rest of the books I just dipped in and out of and will have to re-check them to get finished.

How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns, by Lee Hollahan.  

Sew Step by Step, by Alison Smith.  This is one that Vivien's husband gave her for Christmas and she recommends it.

Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson.  This reads very like a dictionary and I didn't get far.  It was interesting in the way that I used to get distracted in the dictionary, looking up a word and finding loads of others so fun to read about I would sometimes forget what word I'd originally sought.  Most of the few entries I read in this book were not problematic for me, but I'm sure that when it comes to conjugating certain verbs I'll find plenty to be embarrassed about.  As if 'it's instead of its' isn't bad enough.

A Force to be Reckoned With:  A history of the Women's Institute, by Jane Robinson.  I have struggled with this book, but am determined to be able to report on it to the WI sooner or later.  I read in the cover that it was supposed to be funny and that may be part of the problem, my not fully appreciating British humour.  Also, she writes in detail at the beginning about many other women's groups back in the late 1800s / early 1900s that were not to develop into the Women's Institute, even though some may have had those words in their name.  The way she tells it, and I'm sure she's correct, it's a miracle that the WI ever did get started up here in Britain given (a) it was a Canadian institution to begin with; (b) rural people were skeptical of new things; (c) women didn't have the vote and they didn't do much without their husband's permission; (d) rural men were particularly skeptical about their wives getting 'educated'; (e) there were strict class divisions and the idea of pulling everyone from all classes together was very unusual and - shock - it might not be the vicar's wife who was elected President.  I haven't got much further than the very bare beginnings, so I'm hoping that it picks up from here on.

Do you take lots to read when you are on vacation?


Carolyn said...

I love words and wordplay. I think I will have to check out that Bill Bryson.

Beryl said...

I used to take one suitcase for my books before I was given the Nook. (It's how I learned to pack so light.) Now I can have 100's of books and magazines in one small one.
I should try some of the Jill Paton Walsh books, since I was so sad when I finished all the original Wimsey books.

Shelley said...

Carolyn - Oh, I love words, too! Enough to have a category for them on the sidebar!

Beryl - I'm slightly tempted to get an electronic reader, but I still get a lot of books at the library. Do some libraries lend e-books? Not sure how that might work...or if it's available here in North Tyneside. Have you been sewing anything lately?

LR @ Magnificent or Egregious said...

p.s. I just tried posting a comment but I got an error message? Strange...

SewingLibrarian said...

Shelley, here in San Diego County I can get e-books from the library. The program runs through a connection to Amazon. The number of titles is limited, but I expect it to grow. Also, my kids love the self-checkout machines!

Shelley said...

L.R. - I'm so sorry, I've no idea why you would get an error message. I believe I've removed the capacity to comment anonymously; I got fed up with the spam, though a few bits of garbage squeeze through still. I hope you'll try again later?

Sewing Librarian! Lovely to see you here. I do wish you'd blog about your sewing... then again, I don't talk much about mine either, do I? Of course, there is a very good reason for that...I don't do near as much as I dream of doing.

Bourbon & Pearls said...

I am dying to rent a airstream for California, your trip must have been amazing.

LR @ Magnificent or Egregious said...

Trying again! I read the dictionary for fun too, most of the cool new words Tabitha uses on her blog, I have to look up. :)

I am debating whether or not to buy an e-reader this summer, I usually haul a bag of books out to the cottage but I'm getting a little tired of doing that! One of my friends downloads books from the library all the time.

Susan Partlan said...

I love my e-reader :). Bill Bryson seems to be so popular but I have trouble getting into his books.

Shelley said...

Susan - I think if him having several kinds of books. There are the travel books which are mostly funny. Some of his travel experiences when young are portrayed with questionable adolescent humour, I think. Then he goes all academic and does the everything there is to know books; I can't sustain interest in those, well written as they are. Then there are books like Mother Tongue and At Home which, to me, are 'just right'.