Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Monthly Muse – August

Even though I had two weeks off work in August and a lovely week in Jersey, I didn’t get as much read as I wanted too. This month’s reading was a varied selection, with everything from how they built one of the fastest and highest flying jets in the world to a man who rebuilds things just for the pure pleasure of it. These are the books I read:

Managed to read four books this month for the World from my Armchair Challenge; Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie, Walking Home from Mongolia, Land of the Midnight Sun and Cleopatra's Needle. Two of the authors were cycling different ways across Europe, and Rob Lilwall decided to walk from Mongolia to Hong Kong, whilst Alexander Armstrong visited several countries that ring the Arctic Ocean. All very different perspectives and experiences of the countries that they travel through from the different authors. I much prefer Andrew Martin’s non-fiction to his novels and Night Trains lives up to expectations as he travels across Europe at night
Read a couple of science fiction books too, Touch by the very talented Claire North which was about a ghost who could travel between people at will and the search for this ghost to avenge a murder. Rule 34 was about near future police investigation into some very strange deaths, completely mad and great fun, i.e. classic Charles Stross! Turing’s Cathedral was about the very origins of computers and the men that made them, sadly there wasn’t much on Turing. The Secret Life is an investigative journalists stories about three modern day internet people, two real and one fake. Makes for interesting reading.

The science of gender is a sensitive subject, and in Testosterone Rex, Cordelia Fine looks at the issues and the stereotypes that exist. It is one of the shortlisted books for the Royal Society Prize, which is a great way of finding new authors and titles for high quality science writing. Blackbird is a compact volume about of one of the engineering marvels of the Cold War, this plane broke a number of records with regards to height and speed as well as pushing the technology in new materials for aerospace. The English Guide to Birdwatching is a novel about two authors with the same name as the authors of the book, and a stolen manuscript. There were elements that I liked, but there were several parts that I couldn’t get along with as they jarred with the rest of the book.

Gods of the Morning is the first of John Lister-Kays’ books that I have read. He has been based at the Aigas Field Centre for many years and this is a lovely little book of his observations of the natural world around him. Limestone Country is the latest addition to the Little Toller Monograph series. These are carefully chosen contemporary works that have a strong focus on either landscape or natural history. This is about four places where Fiona Sampson has lived that she has fallen in love with that all have limestone as their bedrock.

My book of the month though was Turning by Jessica Lee. An emigre from Canada to Berlin, Lee decides to swim over the course of a year in 52 of the lakes that surround the city. It is a beautifully written book that is quite astonishing for a debut author.