It’s Sunday, and I don’t have anywhere I have to be, so I shall finally talk about those days of books!
183. The Kingfisher Atlas of the Medieval World by Simon Adams. Illustrated by Kevin Maddison
Unlike many such books, this really does mean the World in Medieval times, rather than Europe. Every continent gets at least a few pages, dependent on how much the empires and nations are known to have changed during the timeframe. The book is beautifully illustrated, with hand-drawn maps of the area and empire(s) under discussion on each double-page spread. Each map features small pictures and captions of interesting events and places within the larger area and period, and there is a paragraph or two of general overview on the page as well. There are also a few pages of more general introduction with more text and some photographs as well.
184. Remembered: The History of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission by Julie Summers and Brian Harris (photographer)
One of those books I would surely never have picked up and read cover to cover, but it was worth it, as it’s well written and fascinating. I’m trying to cultivate the sense of being interested in, roughly, everything, while retaining the discrimination to not have to put myself in the way of what will only desensitise me.
The history part of the book is not over-sentimentalised, but still brought tears to my eyes when facing up to the sheer scale of death and destruction of individual lives, families and stories. The historical photographs are well chosen and contextualised within the text, and the new (full page) pictures of the cemetaries as they are today are both beautiful and informative, as well as often informative. One thing I did not find out from either the book or the CWGC website is what part, if any, they play in the burial and commemoration of soldiers of more recent conflicts than the First and Second World Wars.
185. International Organisations: UNICEF by Deborah A. Grahame
Informative and well produced, with an American focus.
186. Patricia Lynch: Storyteller by Phil Young
My mother read Patricia Lynch‘s books when she was a child, then got me some of the reprints when I was, and has now passed on this new biography. The first section is very heavily based on the autobiography, A Storyteller’s Childhood, which to me is the most memorable of the books I read, but I really didn’t know anything about Lynch‘s adult life. I hadn’t realised she was quite so prolific as a children’s author (nor did my mother), – it unfortunately seems she’s out of print – nor that she was so involved in the politics and struggle for women’s suffrage and Irish independence as a young woman. Hopefully this book will awaken enough new interest that some new editions of the books will come out.
187. Wildlife Monographs: Polar Bears by Dr. Tracey Rich & Andy Rouse
This one has also made me think again about children’s fiction, but this time books I’ve read far more recently: Chris D’Lacey‘s Icefire series. (Polar Bears, squirrels, hedgehogs and dragons.) (I am purposely not linking first to his own website, as it opens up with noise, which I hate, but now you’re warned, at least.) Anyway real polar bears are fascinating and beautiful in their own right, and this book, as the others in the series, displays and explains them very well.
188. Wildlife Monographs: Puffins by Heather Angel
The new author is noticeable in the style of the book, although the structure is the same. When I was a child I thought puffins were young penguins, not a similar but separate species of bird, from the Northern rather than the Southern Hemisphere. (Because of these people, of course.) Anyway, this misconception had previously been cleared up, but I still knew very little about the northern birds, so it’s good to learn more about them.
There is one more book on the list already, but I’m leaving that to the next post for a reason. I might even get it up today.