Category Archives: Non Fiction

Book 19 – Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

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I spotted this one in Waterstones while casting around for a Mother’s Day present, and knew instantly that I had to read it my Mum would love it. So I did the decent thing; bought the book, gave it to Mum, and borrowed it back once a decent interval had passed (I actually waited three weeks, turns out she hoovered it up on the day I gave it to her).

Lucy Mangan is just a few years younger than me and there is a huge amount of overlap between her reading childhood and mine. It’s not total; she seems to have missed out on the historical fiction novels that had me in their grip around the age of 10 (Joan Aiken, Barbara Willard, Rosemary Sutcliffe). And I never encountered what must have been the early YA genre, so no Judy Blume, Sweet Valley High etc. Also.She.Doesn’t.Like.Tolkein. But apart from that I’d say it’s an 80% match. So I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone who wasn’t also a bookworm growing up in the South East of England in the 1970s/early 1980s


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Filed under 2018, Childhood Books, Non Fiction

Book 18 – An Englishman Aboard (Discovering France in a Rowing Boat) by Charles Timoney

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One from the sub-genre of eccentric epic journey travel books. This one is OK, I quite enjoyed the asides on various aspects of French life and culture. But the journey didn’t really generate sufficient suffering to be fully eligible for this particular canon. Also there was one significant flaw…..NO MAPS!

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Filed under 2018, library book, Non Fiction

Book 10 – The Old Century by Siegfried Sassoon

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A gentle autobiography of a happy childhood. All I really know about Sassoon is his character as portrayed in Regeneration, plus his Wikipedia page. This book was most interesting for the reflective way it describes the growth of a poet.

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Filed under 2018, Non Fiction

Book 9 – How Bad Are Bananas by Mike Berners-Lee

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A useful reference book, analysing the carbon footprint of all manner of activities from sending a text to a war.

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Book 8 – 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick

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Another offering from the Really Quite Interesting shelves of my young niece, who is indeed now an architecture student. I’ve finally learned how to draw a line.

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Filed under 2018, Non Fiction

Book 5 – The Uses and Abuses of History by Margaret Macmillan

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I was disappointed by this book, but am not really sure why. The author is an academic historian, who wrote it on the back of a lecture series she gave in 2007. The overall premise is to illustrate how historical events and situations are continually redrawn and reinterpreted to suit the purposes of changing political interests.

She gave lots of examples, most well known, some others more obscure, but I struggled to identify any clear argument beyond “History needs to be handled with care”.

I found myself wanting to read less about how this or that politician has manipulated (or ignored) the history of Iraq, or the Cultural Revolution, or the Balkans, and more actual history.

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Filed under 2018, Non Fiction

Book 3 – The Intellectuals and The Masses by John Carey

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This one best categorised as an extended brainy rant, and reading it gives me a rationale for why I disliked¬†this book¬†so much. Essentially, modernists were completely up themselves. And they didn’t like other people very much either.


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Filed under 2018, Non Fiction