My All Time Favourite Top-Ten Non-Fiction History Books

Advertisements

Here's a collection of some of the non-fiction I have reviewed in the past, ranked as a top ten. The subject matter and time periods vary, but I really like the history of medicine, psychology, symbolism, medieval history, animals and more. 1. The Book of Symbols by the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS)…

Comforting Thought: Whistling in the dark

Advertisements

"Art would not be important if life were not important. And life is important. Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to them from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible.…

Book Review: Flights by Olga Tokarczuk

Advertisements

Genre: Fiction, essay, creative non-fiction, travel. Publisher: Text Publishing Rating: Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk won the Man Booker International Prize for this novel in 2018 along with a Nike Award, Poland’s highest literary honour. Tokarczuk is a thrilling and exhilarating writer who effortlessly criss-crosses genres and conventions, Flight is part…

Book Review: The Fashion Chronicles: Style Stories of History’s Best Dressed by Amber Butchard

Advertisements

Genre: Non-fiction, Fashion, History. Publisher: Hatchett Publishing Rating: 1/2 Stars Amber Butchard Amber Butchard is the charismatic TV host of the BBC’s ‘A Stitch in Time’, a fantastic show about the history of fashion told in several outfits. She is also a fashion historian and author. She has blazing red hair in…

Book Review: The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris

Advertisements

Genre: Non-fiction, medical history, medicine. Publisher: Allen Lane, Penguin Rating: * No Spoilers This is an electrifying book about the history of surgery from the point of view of one of its pioneers, Joseph Lister. A humble and unassuming Quaker, Lister managed to rise up through the ranks of Edinburgh’s…

Book Review: Standing At the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet by Joan Halifax @jhalifax

Advertisements

Genre: Non-fiction, spirituality, Zen buddhism, psychology, philosophy. Publisher: Flatiron Books Rating: Halifax with the Dalai Lama Standing At the Edge is a once in a lifetime kind of book. I don’t say that lightly either. It’s a life-changing and life-affirming book that combines philosophy, Zen Buddhism, psychology, and much more…

Book Review: Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment & Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte

Advertisements

Genre: Non-fiction, Spirituality, Philosophy Rating: 1/2 stars *Contains no spoilers In this slim and elegant volume of philosophy and inspiration, writer David Whyte tackles the big topics and words that rarely get any airtime in our society, the kinds of things that haunt people but that are difficult to resolve and so…

Book Review: The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of 70,000 Ordinary Lives by Helen Pearson

Advertisements

Genre: Non-fiction, social sciences, history, public health Publisher: Counterpoint Rating: The Life Project is published by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books that focuses serious non-fiction from different realms like history, politics, science and philosophy. I really expected a lot from this book and it didn’t deliver. The Life Project is written…

Book Review: Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Advertisements

Genre: Japanese fiction, fantasy, Magic realism. Publisher: Granta *No spoilers Rating: This one is mindblowing, a solid 5/5 This is the second and much awaited fictional novel by the Japanese author of Convenience Store Woman. A book I have also reviewed and absolutely adored in the past. Earthlings traverses familiar…

Artists & Writers in their Own Words: Jonelle Patrick

Advertisements

Inspiring author Jonelle Patrick weaves webs of literary magic in her five novels set in Japan. She has been writing about Japanese culture and travel since she first moved to Tokyo in 2003. In addition to The Last Tea Bowl Thief and the Only In Tokyo mystery series, she produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and…

Book Review: The Pregnancy Diaries Vol. 1 by Googie McCabe

Advertisements

Infused with the vast and never-ending love of a mum for her unborn daughter, The Pregnancy Diaries Volume 1 is an absolutely hilarious, witty and enjoyable romp through pregnancy from conception to birth. Any woman who has given birth (or any supportive man who has gone along for the journey) will be able to relate…

Book Review: Words of a Kaumātua by Haare Williams

Advertisements

A compelling, rich and lush blend of essay, poetry, reflections and personal stories by one of New Zealand's most preeminent Māori writers. I have to admit that I didn't know much about Haare Williams before picking up this book in Te Papa Museum in Wellington. This is a definitive collection of Māori wisdom that is…

Comforting thought: A 10th century Japanese poem about courage

Advertisements

Although the wind Blows terribly herethe moonlight also leaks between the roof planksof this ruined house ~ Izumi Shikibu, 10th Century Japanese poet Izumi Shikibu More inspiration Remember that if you wall up your house too well you will stay dry, but you will stay moonless. We should strive to let the world into our…

Book Review: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Advertisements

*Contains no spoilers Right from the start I was hooked on this novel by the celebrated author Michael Ondaatje who wrote the classic The English Patient which won the Booker Prize in 1992 and was turned into an equally successful film. His follow up, Anil's Ghost failed to hit the mark, at least for me.…

Comforting thought: The World of Terrifying Beauty By Karl Ove Knausgård

Advertisements

I remained where I was, standing with one hand in my pocket and the other around the handle of the pram. The triviality of the ketchup and mustard bottles, the blackened hotdogs. The camping table where the soft drinks were lined up, was almost inconceivable there beneath the stars, the dancing light of the bonfire.…

Book Review: Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss

Advertisements

*contains a few spoilers (sorry I couldn't resist) Iceland has always held a unique fascination for me. Driven by a love for Sigur Rós and Björk, along with the vague romance of going to a remote and icy place. In Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss, you get to actually explore the nuts and…

Ancient Word of the Day: Hooly

Advertisements

Hooly or Huly: Adv. 'To proceed gently or softly, with steadiness or caution.' Scottish/Irish The word Hooly first appeared in English in the 14th Century. It was found in the Scottish expression Hooly and Fairly, meaning 'to proceed slowly, carefully and cautiously.' Over time, the word came to have negative connotations and hooliness or hulinesss…

Ancient Word of the Day: Lacuna

Advertisements

Lacuna \ lə-​ˈkü-​nər a little lake. Or a pause, gap or break in a text, painting or musical work. Latin lacūna: “little lake”. Word of the day: “lacuna”- in a manuscript, an inscription, or the text of an author: a hiatus, blank, missing portion (OED n.1) A word borrowed from Latin in the 17th Century…

Book Review: Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Advertisements

*No spoilers A book about experimental archaeology and family violence that’s brimming with glorious dread and that closes in around you like a vice. The novel's short 160 pages are absolutely electrifying and seem far bigger. Best enjoyed during the witching hours of 11pm and 3 am. Ghost Wall opens with an ancient hair-raising scene,…

Book Review: The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

Advertisements

*No spoilers "We all live in patterns we do not see. We are all following magic ravens, even when we are lost. Otherwise there would be no story." ~ Sarah Moss, The Tidal Zone. Sarah Moss is now my favourite writer. She seems to be a occupied with the lives of women. However in this…

Seven suspenseful and unforgettable historical novels

Advertisements

Great historical novels are fully immersed in time, place and have a tangible effect of bringing you into a time period that you may otherwise never know. This is what’s truly exhilerating about the historical novel. The setting and surroundings become like a fully formed character in the novel. Whether we’re talking about a British…

Book Review: Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky: A London Trilogy by Patrick Hamilton

Advertisements

*No spoilers Patrick Hamilton isn't really as well known as he should be, which is a crime and a shame. He is a fantastic and yet underrated British writers of the post-war era. You may recognise his work in the play Rope which was turned into a well-known Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name.…

Ancient Word of the Day: Vellichor

Advertisements

Noun: Vellichor from the Latin Vell (paper) and ichor (essence). An ethereal perfume that is extruded from the earth and infuses old book stores with mystery, wistfulness and nostalgia. Books are worlds unto themselves that reveal tiny and huge universes all co-existing side-by-side. The aroma of books is the smell of the passage of time.…

Seven Unique and Moving Fictional Books Set in Japan

Advertisements

Japan is a country close to my heart and since I first went there a few years ago, I have become a big fan of Japanese fiction and Asian fiction translated to English. Japanese fiction tends to emphasise the liminal and fantasy aspects hidden at the edges of everyday reality and also exploring the inner…

10 Interesting Things I Found on the Internet this Week #14

Advertisements

1. Nick Cave performing Stagger Lee in Copenhagen is electrifying I have seen Nick live three times so far and his live performances of this song Stagger Lee are always a big highlight. The song escalates and gets harder, darker and more intense as it goes on. This is definitely my favourite Nick Cave song…

Ten Quirky and Mind Expanding History Books

Advertisements

Here’s a collection of the best and treasured history books that I don’t think I could ever part with. They are quirky and delve into a little known aspect of history making them delightful lazy weekend reading. I hope you can get a hold of them, if you do...please let me know what you think…

Book Review: Lost Wisdom by Una McGovern and Paul Jenner

Advertisements

Lost Wisdom and its two other companion books Lost Crafts and Lost Lore are beautifully typeset and laid out. Their contents are a cabinet of curiosities - a wunderkammer of the same sort as the Book of Barely Imagined Beings, which I have mentioned in the past. Although in this case Lost Wisdom runs the…

10 Interesting Things I found on the Internet #13

Advertisements

1. Chilled out hip-hop grooves from Emapea - Seeds, Roots & Fruits https://youtu.be/uGZJ2UALHME 2. These book-rescuing heroes don't wear capes https://www.reddit.com/r/interestingasfuck/comments/hjey9s/turkish_garbage_collectors_open_a_library_with/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x 3. François Schuiten’s steampunk cityscapes 'Les Cités obscures' Immense skyscrapers and towering monoliths dwarf the citizenry in François Schuiten’s 'Les Cités obscures', a graphic novel series (1983–present) that captures the steampunk modernist aesthetic. Read…

Book Review: All that Remains: A Life in Death by Sue Black

Advertisements

Scottish Forensic Anthropologist and Professor Sue Black's memoir about her life confronting death won the Saltire Book of the Year in 2018. Forensic anthropology (in case you are wondering) is the study of human remains in order to solve criminal cases. I was very excited to read this book. Yet the first few chapters of…