We're just reaching the end - I hope - of our manically busy few weeks and with a bit of luck we'll begin to slide into a slower August.
I thought that this summer I'd try and make sure that even though we're not planning a 'proper' holiday, I'd attempt to do things a little differently so that it feels like a change from the usual routine. The danger of staying at home I've discovered is that I spend too much time just doing the same old things, so this year I've got a plan...
It's not a hugely outrageous plan, in fact it's probably quite tame, but having thought about what I miss most about holidays I realised it's that I don't give myself time to just sit and read. When we go away I have no problem sitting and reading for hours, but for some reason if we stay at home I just feel guilty doing it, so this August I am going to pretend I'm on holiday and catch up with some of the books I've been stockpiling by the side of the bed for the last few weeks.
Would you like to see the stack?
I suppose you could see some thread or theme running through most of these - a love ofthe English landscape and a desire to learn more about it perhaps.
I bought the WG Hoskins - The Making Of The English Landscape some months ago and I've been dipping in quite often, but most of my reading is done at bedtime and this is a book I'd really like to sit and make notes with - not easy when you're doing your best not to fall asleep.
If you've found me on Instagram you'll know that I'm an avid hedgerow-watcher, so the John Wright - A Natural History of the Hedgerow was a must when I spotted it recently in the bookshop. I've been photographing the hedgerow where I walk the dog for the best part of four years now and I'm beginning to know my way around some of the plants, but the more I get to know it, the more I realise how much I don't know - I'm really hoping this will deepen my awareness.
I'm not sure what I'll make of the Claire Leighton - Four Hedges.To be entirely honest I only skimmed through when I saw it near to the John Wright book, but it has the most wonderful illustrations and it has me intrigued - so I'll let you know what it's all about once I've read it.
The book of poetry by John Clare is another book I've been dipping into for weeks now. I can't believe it took me this long to begin to know Clare's work. It's only been in the last couple of years that I'd even heard of him, but what a remarkable poet he was. I wonder if I've come to appreciate him now as I've begun to appreciate nature at a deeper level - I do have a theory that sometimes we meet the right book at the right time and this might well be an example of that.
Nicholas Crane's - The Making of the British Landscape is almost the most recent addition to the pile and I've barely opened it at all, but having ignited the whole topic with the Hoskins I was fascinated to read a more recent take on the same subject (and anyway I like Crane's style) - I'm going to enjoy getting to this one.
So I think there's definitely some connection between those five titles, but the last two are in the stack simply because they called to me.
Kassia St Clair's - The Secret Lives of Colour was serialised on BBC Radio 4 a few weeks ago - did you hear any of it? I was hooked just from listening, but when I saw the hardback in Topping I was delighted. It's brilliantly put together, laid out in colour sections, it gives you the story around a range of individual colours. This book is perfect for occasional dipping into, but I could just as easily sit and read it cover to cover (and I very well may). If you're at all interested in colours and/or art history do have a look out for this title.
And finally...Frank McLynn - The Road Not Taken just set all my history-junkie juices flowing. It's not about roads - it's about how Britain has narrowly missed having a revolution from 1381 to 1926. Because let's face it, we've come close and sometimes when I listen to the news on the radio I wonder how close we might be coming again. And history is usually written by the winners, so it's refreshing to read about protests from a different perspective - eye-opening in some ways. So far I've read about the Peasant's Revolt and Jack Cade's rebellion - and I can't help thinking we should teach more of this in schools today.
I've never been very good at writing book reviews, so I can't promise to come back and tell you what I thought, but if you've read any of these, do let me know what you thought about them.
So that's my reading list for now - what are you reading this summer? Do you pick and choose or do you pursue a subject in depth?