A run of good books

Last year I wrote about a run of good books I had read, books that I enjoyed, were gripping and well-written, informative and satisfying, and I seem to be on another winning streak. Included in my last year’s list, which seemed to follow on one from another were:

  • ‘Beast’ and ‘A North Sea Tale’ by Chris Speck
  • ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • ‘All Rivers Run Free’ by Natasha Carthew
  • ‘Starve Acre’ by Andrew Michael Hurley
  • ‘A Kind of Vanishing’ by Lesley Thomson

There were more, but I’ve written about them before. Now I seem to be on another enjoyable reading ride. Just this morning I finished reading Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art by Rebecca Wragg Sykes. The title says it all, but what it doesn’t tell you is that this is a beautiful book – the actual hardback as opposed to an eBook is beautiful to hold, beautiful to feel – the quality of the paper, beautiful to look at – not just the line-drawings and photographs, but the font chosen, the way it is set out on the page, the colour of the paper – a lovely lovely book. It is an interesting subject, summed up in the title, and it is quite scientific and scholarly, and to be honest I didn’t follow or quite understand everything she wrote – but that didn’t matter. Rebecca writes so well, so scholarly and yet engagingly with wonderful turns of phrase and choice of language. She engages by addressing the reader – for example she might say  you know when you do something or another… or it’s the sort of thing any of us might do, or this is what we see or think about when we… Sometimes she uses a colloquial or comical phrase or idiom which doesn’t trivialise but draws the reader closer. The way she writes about the physical evidence that has been found of Neanderthals and other ancestors is respectful – they aren’t specimens or remains but the boy, the mother, the hunter, bringing them to life so vividly in our imaginations. I could write more, much more, but on to the other books which I have recently enjoyed.

The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes, is another non-fiction book which has been a most enjoyable as well as interesting read, which stirred many emotions, anger and outrage among them. This book is a celebration of the countryside, a history of the land and it’s enclose and ownership, the rights of ordinary people, and also a wonderfully descriptive account of the wild, of nature in its broadest sense, and of creatures, plants and trees large and small. I have also enjoyed the books by Simon Beckett, a series about a forensic anthropologist who is called in by the police to examine the remains of victims of crime. I have a few niggles with  some aspects of the books, but only my personal opinions – Beckett is a lovely writer who is particularly good at scenes and scenery, something I feel is a weak spot for me. Sometimes you (or I, maybe this is just me!) can enjoy a book and yet be quite critical of it. A series of books by J.D,. Kirk featuring a team of detectives lead by the usual maverick cop, this time DCI Logan. Despite myself being irritated by aspects of his writing, I’ve read – and yes, enjoyed his novels, and think he gets better and better, so maybe I shouldn’t be quite so tight with my praise.

I’ve just finished Kindred, but as I mentioned yesterday I am also reading an Australian novel, Scrublands by Chris Hammer, and I have a feeling it’s going to be added to my ‘great reads’ list!

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