Sunday, 20 May 2018

A Few Good Reads

I had the photos loaded and was all ready to write something after our book club meeting this week, determined not to leave it so long between blog posts but then suddenly it was all systems go! Youngest son viewed a room in a flat last weekend, decided he was moving out so it involved a trip into South London to sign contracts etc. Then we viewed a house too, the first we've seen and have decided we love it so it has become a matter of urgency to get ours on the market. The horror of the extent of our downsize is gradually hitting us... so much stuff to sort and get rid of!


Today I'm driving Jacob and some of his 'stuff'' to the south London flat (I'm not even thinking about everything that he's leaving behind)... but tensions are running high so I'm keeping out of the way and thought I would make a start on this while I wait for him to sort himself out. We were meant to be leaving twenty minutes ago but unusually for me, I'm keeping myself busy and my mouth shut! Instead I'll tell you about our bookclub book for this month, The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel.

The book is part diary and part nature book and is in many ways lovely. Full of beautifully written prose it tells of a year where John cultivates a small field, Flinders, using traditional methods without chemicals. He introduces long forgotten wildflowers and wildlife to his wheat fields. I enjoyed the descriptions of his farming metods and his day to  day activities but the book is also full of lists and literary references that I found interrupted the flow of the book, so I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I would have liked.


His list of different birds that came to Flinders was breath taking and made me realise that despite living in the countryside for nearly thirty years I am hopelessly ignorant. I can recognise some very common birds and this time of year I am familiar with the sound of larks soaring above the fields when I'm out walking... but could I recognise a lark? Not a chance!


He also constantly references corncrakes and to be honest not only do I not know what one looks like but I'm not sure I've even heard of them before. I guess the book made me feel a little bit stupid... ignorant of my surroundings and although I'm happy to learn more I guess none of us like to be made to feel ignorant. So yes a good book, especially if you are interested in the effects of intensive farming and wildlife but not a great book for me.


I seem to have read a lot this month, much of it easy reading escapism that I have obviously needed. I finished Hygge and Kisses which was very light and frothy but enjoyable enough and I immediately followed it up with another chick lit 'Faking Friends' by Jane Fallon. I admit, I couldn't put this one down! It is about getting revenge on a cheating boyfriend... one who was cheating with a best friend. I just happened to have a few heated exchanges with my ex husband at the time I was reading this so lets just say the thought of revenge was indeed sweet!


I've also managed to read a couple of somewhat more serious novels - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was excellent and eye opening. It tells of the many Japanese American citizens who were evicted from their homes and sent to camps in the US during the second world war, which I found quite shocking. It is a fictional love story set in Seattle where some of these atrocities took place and I can definitely recommend it. The Patrick Gale book The Whole Day Through centres on a single day in the lives of Laura and Ben, a couple reunited and given a new chance of happiness together after twenty years apart. It is about caring - Laura is living with her ageing mother, Ben with his gay Downs Syndrome brother - and about the choices we make. Again I can recommend it.


But sometimes what you need to read for pure escapism is a page turning crime thriller and I confess to be rather addicted to Mark Billingham's rebellious detective Tom Thorne. I couldn't put this one down!


I am now back home after my trek south of the river and Jacob is set up in his room in his flat. There was a a slight panic as we headed down the A12 through Stratford to be faced with signs saying the Blackwall tunnel was closed. Jacob tried to find an alternative route on Google maps while I stressed ever so slightly about how I was going to get south of the Thames but it turned out that the tunnel wasn't closed at all and we got there without too much of a hitch. 

Tonight it feels strange that he's not here and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious about how he will cope on his own given the difficulties he has had over the past year but I need to let go. And maybe this will be just what he needs.

19 comments:

  1. Do hope all goes well with Jacob. Feel in need of some light reading here.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hope all will be well with your son. Good luck with your downsizing and hope you are lucky and bet the new house you like. Keep saying to DH that we need to downsizw but as we live in a bungalow with ample off road parking, he’s not keen to move to a flat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Catriona. Not sure I would be keen to downsize to a flat either!

      Delete
  3. Good luck Jacob, I hope he is happy. And good luck to you as well, it's a big change, and moving as well will be a lot to deal with. But I'm sure you'll make a lovely job of it all. I completely agree about reading for escapism, I love it. I'm making a note of the Mark Billingham book, I don't think I've read any of his so I shall give him a try. I hope you have a good (and not too frantic) week. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. Best of luck with Jacob's new abode. Maybe you need a bit a of a break, too? I imagine it being difficult to let go, particularly when your child has mental health problems and has struggled with independence before. Thinking of you.

    You have read a lot lately! I am going to add some of these books to my to-read list. I now have a Kindle, which seems to be used well. I have never heard of a corncrake either. I thought I had in one of Margaret Atwood's novels but I was wrong (the book is called Oryx and Crake....). I am learning more about local birds, I am quite a keen but hopelessly uneducated bird watcher. I am reading lots, too. Must write it up soon. x

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wish Jacob well in his new surroundings and can sympathise with you over his decision to spread his wings. One of my grandsons has slightly similar problems but seems to be coping well.
    I have read The Running Hare and loved it. Having grown up in the country it took me back to my childhood.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ooh, lots of change afoot. Hope your boy settles into his new home without a hitch. Still adjusting (after 5 months) to the absence of my boy. Fingers crossed for your move, too. Thanks for the reading round-up. Knee deep in Jo Nesbo here.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I hope everything goes well for Jacob and his flat. Its hard when your chicks start to fledge especially when he's had a bit of rocky road of late. I'm sure all will be well and he will always have you at the end of a phone line. Now for you to start sorting out yourselves for your downsizing house move.
    Good luck with that one:-)

    Mitzi

    ReplyDelete
  8. Of course you're going to worry...you're a mother but hopefully as you say this will be just what he needs, I wish him (and you) well!
    I love the image on the cover of The Running Hare which I know is totally the wrong way to judge a book!! I must admit I'm not much of a reader but I have a read a book recently again with a lovely cover called 'The Sewing Machine' as it turns out it was a lovely book inside too, one which I think you might like Gina with all the sewing references.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This might be the turning point to set Jacob on the road to full recovery; I hope so, anyway.

    I loved The running Hare, possibly because I was brought up in the countryside and it broght back memories of childhood as it did for Heather.

    Don'f forget to be kind to yourself! Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  10. If you want a series of books that touch on corncrakes, try Crowdie & Cream; Croatal and White; and The Corncrake & the Lysander, by Finlay J MacDonald. A series of books about the author's childhood in the 1920s and 30s, brought up on Isle of Lewis. Light and wholesome. If you like social history of people's individual stories, you'd like it. I loved them when I found them 20 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the sound of your recommendations and will look out for them!

      Delete
  11. Thinking of you. Great post as ever Gina and am in awe of the breadth and quantity of reading fodder you manage. Really hoping that new beginnings are successful for all x

    ReplyDelete
  12. I loved The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.I am a huge fan of Patrick Gale so will look our for the one you recommend.Have you read A Place called Winter by him?I hope Jacob settles well.My granddaughter has had recent mental health problems .She took A levels following this and did very well.She is off to Uni in September and we will all worry .She has just come back from seven weeks travelling in Laos,Cambodia etc with three friends and coped remarkably well.This move might be the making of Jacob but I can fully understand your concern.keep us posted on how he is getting on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you... and thank you too for the Patrick Gale recommendation. I really like his writing style.

      Delete
  13. Luckily for me our botanical ramble includes one or two birders and I might learn a few more birds. At least the list of birds is WAY shorter than the flowers and flowers!

    Wish you and Jacob happy in your new homes and that you settle in quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Must have missed this post, only just catching up. Good luck to Jacob's new venture. Often independence is the only way to go. Like the look of those books particularly the Patrick Gale. Will add them to my list. Have a good weekend. B x

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hoping Jacob settles in well and fingers crossed for your move too.

    ReplyDelete

I love getting your comments and I love to read what you have to say so thank you for taking the time! I reply directly here in the comments when possible.