I think I was a little bit ambitious when I set my goal of reading 10 new books. To date, I have read four. However, I loved all of them.
I read two history books. They’re both massive, so I think they should probably count for more.
The first book of the year that I read was The Inheritance of Rome. A fantastic history of early medieval Europe. It’s pretty dense, and I found the most interesting chapters to be the ones based on geographical areas I knew better. So, for me, the chapters on the UK and Italy were the most interesting. I found the Spanish chapter to be a bit slow going but that’s because I know next to nothing about Spanish history. I’m glad I stuck it out though!
More recently, I read another European history book, Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half- Forgotten Europe. This is another book that’s broken up into distinct chapters, each one focused on a former and almost unknown state. For some reason, the chapter on Byzantium was about 5 pages (a big disappointment) and the chapter on Aragon (in Spain) went on for what seemed like forever. Again, I’m glad I stuck it out though. The author cleverly references earlier chapters later on when discussing related kingdoms or states. (A teacher never misses an opportunity!) These books with distinct chapters are really good for commuting. I can usually get to a natural stopping point before I have to change trains.
I read one book on the Tube (whilst on the Tube). (This may come as a surprise.) Called Underground, Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube, it is a fairly new addition to the great body of varied quality literature on London Underground. I really liked it and found it to be a fast read. Broken up by line, it covers its interesting history with some anecdote thrown in. I learned a lot of new facts, which can be quite a feat to achieve. This is not to say that I’m an expert,but that most books on such subjects, because they’re so popular, tend to say the same things.
Finally, I read a book on murders in Paris. Crime Album Stories is a strange mix of fact and fiction. Based on a small archive of early police photos of murders in Paris, the author wrote a somewhat factual story about each one. Full of gory photos, it also has some great, albeit heartbreaking stories about the sad lives of murdered and murderer. I would recommend taking it slow to avoid the paranoia that comes with reading about murders/serial killers/ etc. or watching too much CSI.
And for the record, which might bring my goal a bit closer, I’ve read a lot of travel books for reasons that will soon become clear, in fact I will be officially on holiday as of tomorrow. See you upon my return.