Sunday, March 23, 2014

Books read 2014#1

I'm going to attempt to keep track of all the books I read this year... although not sure how long I'll manage to keep it up for! I generally track what I've read using LibraryThing, which you can see in the blog sidebar. I'm definitely not reading as much as I did when I was a London commuter, with a three hour commute every day - I was getting through 1.5 books a week then, as well as a daily paper and a weekly one! Now I seem to have managed 6 books in 12 weeks, not so good...

#1 City of the mind by Penelope Lively
This was slow to get started, but I was eventually absorbed by it. It's about an architect in London in the 1980s, who has just got divorced. It's all about how he makes a future for himself, but is much more than that as there are echoes of London through the ages in the places he goes to. As London is a place where I've lived, worked and studied I enjoyed reading about places I know, many of which I now have a different perspective on.

#2 Square metre gardening by Mel Bartholomew
This is an introduction to square metre gardening, and covers everything from why you'd want to do it, constructing raised beds and accessories to planting them. I thought it would be a very useful book, but it's written in a really patronising style, and the author makes it sound like he knows everything (perhaps he does, but it didn't come across very well). He also uses peat, which I don't agree with. Although it is written for a British audience (courgettes and aubergines!), it does read like the author is used to vast spaces for gardens - I thought this was a method for saving space, and it is, but there doesn't seem to be much content for the gardener who can only fit one or two of these raised beds in. Presumably it's based on his square foot gardening books, written for an American audience?  It does have very clear illustrations however, and if you want to construct raised beds from scratch this would be a good place to start.

#3 Faithless by Karin Slaughter
I read a review of this by Greensideknits, then happened to see a copy at the library so picked it up. It's a fast paced thriller, about a  police chief sort of married to a doctor/coroner who happen to find the body of a young girl buried in a box in the forest, and who appears to have been buried alive. I haven't read anything else featuring the same characters, so did have a few problems keeping up with who was who in the plot, but it's an interesting read.

#4 The Lady of the Rivers by Phillipa Gregory
This is the story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, and so fills in a lot of the background to The White Queen. It's an interesting historical novel, and not a period of history I'm that familiar with, but I kind of wish I could have read it before doing A Level History as it helped me untangle what was going on before the Wars of the Roses (my A Level syllabus started with the Tudors). As usual Gregory focuses on what is happening to the women, so there isn't as much boring stuff about battles which you get in some historical writing. I thought she portrays the uncertainties of the time very well, and the pulls on the loyalty of the people. 

#5 The Rosie project by Graeme Simsion
Don is a genetics professor working in an Australian university. He also probably has Asperger's Syndrome. The Rosie project is the hilarious story of  how he attempts to find the perfect partner, and how he meets Rosie, who really doesn't appear to be compatible with him at all. I really enjoyed reading this. Serious subject matter, but dealt with very well, and with a great deal of humour.

#6 Planting plans for your kitchen garden: how to create a vegetable, herb and fruit garden in easy stages by Holly Farrell
A very clearly laid out, methodical book, that provides plans for a variety of modular vegetable, fruit and herb growing layouts. There are plans for all kinds of gardeners, from the serious grower, with plenty of time and space, to those just wanting to make the most of the amount of space they have. It also takes into account soil type, what sort of produce you might want to grow, and growing to encourage wildlife and pollinators. I found this incredibly helpful (it's much better than the Bartholomew book I reviewed above), and easily adapted to your own gardening circumstances. 

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