Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Bedside Table

Discussing the charms of 'this vile politician, Bolingbroke' has taken me for a trip down memory lane. When I was writing Within the Fetterlock, I often found myself toning down Constance's rants about her dear cousin Henry, when I thought she was running on a bit too much. Sorry dear, you were right, I was wrong. We should have let the bugger have both barrels.

Anyway, thinking about Bolingbroke and his scummy tricks is doing nothing for my mental health, so I'm taking a hint from the excellent Lady Despenser's Scribery wherein it is suggested that bloggers might usefully describe the content of their bedside table. This sounds fun, so here's my write-up:

The Table:

It's a redundant TV stand, actually, wedged incongruously between our gigantic medieval-style bed and the desk where I write. Value 50p. Its main qualification for the duty is that it just about fits into the space available.

The Method:

I just grab a book and try to get comfortable, and read until I'm too tired to carry on.

The Books:

Reading at the moment:

A somewhat nominal statement. More true to say they are there. Some have been hiding!

The Three Richards - Nigel Saul
The Heron's Catch - Susan Curran.
Locomotives of the LNER- Tender Engines Classes J1-J11 - RCTS
The Poem of the Cid - (Trans. Hamilton and Perry.)
The White Rose of Langley - Emily S. Holt
The Church of St Mary, Burford - (Official Guide)
J.G. Robinson, A Lifetime's Work - David Jackson
Malory - Christina Hardyment

This is an extraordinarily eclectic collection, but it does actually summarise me quite well. (For anyone interested J. G. Robinson was locomotive engineer of the Great Central Railway, the best of our old pre-grouping companies. The White Rose of Langley is a Victorian novel about Constance of York, obtained for me at great trouble and expense in the USA by Rania Melhem, a debt I can never repay!)

Couldn't Put Down

Four books that absolutely gripped me and I would re-read again and again are:

The Heron's Catch - (See above). One of the most realistic and down-to-earth novels of the 15th Century I have read. And, trust me, I've read a lot!

The Reckoning - Sharon. K. Penman. Very bleak indeed at times, but possibly Penman's finest.

Drif's 1992-3 Guide to the Secondhand Bookshops of the British Isles - Drif Field. A surprise choice you may think, but one of the funniest books I have ever read.

The Scarlet Lion - Elizabeth Chadwick. An excellent novel.

Gathering Dust

Books I've not been able to get into for one reason or another.

War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy. I'm not proud of it, I know it's a great book and all that, but I've never got past page 150.

Having the Builders In - Reay Tannahill. I think it was meant to be funny. If so, it wasn't.

The Lords of the North - Bernard Cornwell. I usually like Cornwell's work, but the hero of this series cheesed me off, and I kept hoping he'd get an axe through his over-sized head. Unfortunately, he didn't.

Crown of Roses - Valerie Anand. Just didn't like it. Odd, as I've read other books by Anand that were just fine.

Secret Indulgence

A subscription to Model Railway Journal and an annual purchase of the latest Wisden. I'm not 100% medieval in my tastes!


Lady D. said...

Nice one Brian!

It's so interesting to get a glimpse into the book habits of fellow bloggers!

And I hope your state of mind improves soon! Mine is similar after trawling through the Gen-Medieval board for Despenser genealogy!

Brian said...

All in all, I'm not too bad Lady D!
Thank you anyway. It was an interesting exercise.

Alianore said...

Funny, I've been reading Elizabeth Chadwick's Scarlet Lion lately, too, and really enjoying it! Agree with you about The Reckoning - my favourite Penman, which is really saying something - and the Tannahill. Very disappointing - I thought it was going to be really funny, and it wasn't, in the slightest.

Lady D. said...

I think I'd better put that Chadwick book on my (lond and getting longer) reading list!

BTW, Brian - I've just got the brochure for this year's Chelt Lit festival and there's a talk on Richard II by Terry Jones on Sat 11th Oct - I thought of you! I will, of course, be going ;-)