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      January Supporter Giveaway   01/16/2019

        I'm thrilled to (finally, sorry for the delay!) announce the January giveaway, with a Sherlock Holmes theme! Supporters can win a beautiful little hardback edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as a stylish a5 print by www.thestorygift.co.uk/, featuring some witty advice from the great detective.     As always, if you support on patreon or if you supported before patreon (and did so less than twelve months ago), you'll be entered into the giveaway automatically. If you're not a supporter but want to take part, you can support for this month here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum .   The winner will be selected at random on January 31st. Good luck!  


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About willoyd

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  • Reading now?
    Who knows, cos I don't?
  • Location:
    Wharfedale, Yorkshire
  • Interests
    birding, cycling (mainly touring), running, walking, family history.

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  1. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    Yes - a male. Woman from the BTO was on Radio 4 Today programme this morning, talking about their Tawny Owl survey. Trying to better establish how many there are as there is a fear that numbers are falling (as most of bird population in the UK is).
  2. All of these are non-fiction books, and therefore, at least theoretically, not eligible for this list. Freakonomics does appear in James Mustich's 1000 Books To Read Before You Die, whilst Bryson is cited for his book A Walk in the Woods, but that book includes non-fiction (and, for me, as I've said, is a more interesting list). Each to their own! Personally, having tried computer gaming, I found it thoroughly addictive and distinctly the opposite of life enhancing. I now prefer engaging with aspects of the real world, but then others think I'm geeky about reading, wildlife, birding, and the outdoors too! Of course, one could say that reading fiction is anything but engaging with the real world!
  3. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    We're lucky in having really good views 5 or 6 miles across the Wharfe valley near Otley so we get to see a fair bit. Red Kite is ubiquitous round here -we see at least one from the house every 2 or 3 days, quite often more, often drifting directly over the house. Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel have all flown over or within sight within the past year, whilst neigbours had a pair of Tawnies roosting in a tree in their garden last winter - they've been known to sit on our chimney pot (the owls, not the neighbours)! We're plum in the middle of residential housing, although fields and moors are nearby. Really excited to see a pair of Barn Owl in the fields last spring, but sadly they didn't breed successfully.
  4. The Last Film You Saw - 2019

    Went to see The Favourite today. As good as the reviews suggest. Great to see a film with 3 strong female leads,and the men supporting. The three are goooooood!
  5. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    I am writing the local area bird report,which essentially involves pulling together all the observations made in the group's area (about 8000 records!) and writing a report on each species, around 150of them. It's a fairly chunky job, but fascinating. In between, I've got various surveys to do and a couple of visits to lead. All much more fun than the teaching I used to do! Not really. I spent an hour or so watching birds out the bathroom window (the best viewing spot of the gardens and distant views behind the house) this morning, mostly various tits and finches, and found it fascinating; usually get around 15-20spp. I obviously enjoy seeing something rare (for instance, managed to see only the second ever Yorkshire Iberian Chiffchaff last year), I'm not a twitcher, as I don't travel to specifically see a bird - it's what's where I am that I find interesting (the IC was only 5 miles from where I live!) Nuthatches are georgeous birds, and I never tire of seeing them. Although the garden list is now up to 42 species, including 5 raptors, it doesn't include Nuthatch, so lucky you! Sounds like they are Tawnies (you're right about the calls) - hope you get a look at them. I'd be surprised if they were Barn Owls, unless you live out in the country. BTW, you probably know, but the 'kerwick' is made the female, and the 'hoohoo' by the males. Thank you - same to you!
  6. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    Reading update, Jan 14th A fairly slow start to the year, not least because I've got my head down in a fairly major birding project, but having started The Cuckoo's Calling and found it wanting - it's perfectly OK but just didn't grab me - I've now started Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, for the next meeting of my book group. At the end of the week, I'm just over 100pp in, and it's proving a remarkably smooth read. At 800pp it probably needs to be! Books acquired since the start of the year: Asquith by Roy Jenkins (large format paperback, Oxfam) Aspects of Britlsh Political History 1815-1914 by Stephen Lee (paperback, Oxfam) The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane (hardback, Oxfam) Fishing; How the Sea Fed Civilisation by Brian Fagan (hardback, local independent sale)
  7. Well, I can't say I'm inspired to pick it up again! Anyway, it's gone back to the library, and I've started my book group's choice for our February meeting - The Way We Were by Anthony Trollope. It's a biggie (>800pp), but, just over 100pp in, I'm finding it a very easy read. It'll still take a while though!
  8. I've been trying to read The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling. It strikes me as quite a good book, but I really can't get into it, or excited about it - just another crime story with a damaged detective. Or am I missing something? Anyway, sent it back to the library today; I might try again some time, but definitely not in the mood at present. Not sure what I'm in the mood for though!
  9. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    The Wren by Stephen Moss **** A Christmas present, this is a companion volume to the author's earlier book on the Robin. It's fairly short, just over 180 pages, with chapters based on the months of the year, through which the evolution and life-cycle of the Wren is discussed, along with asides on the bird's place in tradition, literature, on our coinage (uniquely so in in Britain) etc, whilst the whole is extensively illustrated with samples of old prints, drawings and book illustrations, mostly in colour. It's a cracking little read, bouncing along like the energetic bird it portrays, full of insight and anecdote, with much that was new to me - I didn't know, for instance, that the Wren is the one British (actually it is resident in the whole of Europe and Asia) bird that originally evolved in the Americas, and expanded westwards across the landbridge that is now the Bering Straits, until it reached the Atlantic. It now occupies 97% of all the 10km OS grid squares and is (I did know this) the most populous bird in the British Isles, representing 10% of all birdlife here. Moss writes with a light but sure touch (I find Simon Barnes rather more heavy handed on this front), with enough (very) gentle humour to keep the reader entertained whilst not over-egging it (Which reminds me.....apparently a clutch of six eggs will weigh almost the same as the female incubating them, that's one-sixth of her bodyweight being laid every morning for almost week!). It's a book I will definitely keep on my shelves to be able to dip back into it - there's too much to absorb in just one reading. I will also definitely read its companion, and hope that more are in the pipeline - this has the makings of an excellent series.
  10. Round Robin Challenge 2018

    Well, given the response to my last post, I suspect there's not been much going on, and several of those who took up the initial challenge haven't posted since the board started up again earlier in the autumn (thanks for your response @Madeleine. I certainly stuttered when we lost the forum in the summer, and finished up the year having not made any progress in the last month, so have read 6/9 in the main challenge, and 4/9 of those I challenged others with, making a total of 10 / 18. That's another 10 from my TBR pile that I suspect I wouldn't have got round to, which is what the challenge was all about, so definitely something achieved there, even if not finishing them all! I'm going to make a real effort to read the others, but I'm not sure I'm going to suggest doing the challenge again this year, not because I wouldn't be up for it (I would), but because there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm otherwise. It was worth a try though, and I'd still be interested to know how people got on.
  11. Willoyd's Reading 2018

    Wilding by Isabella Tree ****** The seventy-third and last book of the year, and what a book to finish on! The author is married to Charles Burrell, and they own the Knepp estate in Sussex. At the end of the twentieth century, they came to the conclusion that continuing to try farming it in the conventional high-intensity style was a dead end, and that it would lead to financial ruin. They swapped track completely and started a programme of 'rewilding' the whole estate (although they actually avoid using that word as it has connotations which they want to avoid), inspired by work they observed in the Netherlands, intervening as little as possible and as much as possible letting nature take its course.. It is this programme that Wilding is about, twenty years down the line. It's an absolutely fascinating insight, and very thought provoking, not least because of the number of prejudices, givens, and theories that they have helped challenge and break down. An awful lot of conventional environmental thinking has been turned completely on its head! The section on how Britain's natural vegetation is a mixed landscape, with 'messy' scrubland playing a vital part, and not just neat closed canopy woodland was one particular highlight, another the chapter detailing the issues of grain-fed as opposed to grass-fed cattle, but at virtually every turn of the page I needed to pause to absorb, and to rethink much of what I've either learned or accepted. I loved picking up little snippets, such as when, near the start of the project, the newly introduced Tamworth pigs were allowed to roam free, and started digging up all the verges and public footpaths (neatly along the lines!) simply because they were the only 'unimproved' areas of soil - all the cultivated land was too poor to attract them. Britain is one of the most (if not the most) nature-deprived countries in Europe, perhaps the world. At a time when this deprivation is accelerating ever faster (the last 20 years have been a disaster environmentally and for health in this country, not least with farming encouraged into ever higher intensity practices), it was good to read about a practical project that shows that we can do something about it beyond the simplistic creation of small nature reserve islands, although it was scary to see quite how far gone we are. What made this book particularly outstanding though is the combination of what I learned and the readability, passion, and background science with which it was put over. I just hope we are prepared to learn in time.
  12. Currently reading my first book of the year The Wren, A Biography by Stephen Moss - a Christmas present - and thoroughly enjoying it.
  13. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    My review is here. There are no signficant spoilers - other than my rudeness about the book! I read it in January for my book group, and it's been favourite for Duffer of the Year ever since. Sorry!
  14. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    Welcome to my reading blog for 2019. This thread is now open!
  15. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    Accolades for 2018 Non-Fiction and Overall Book of the Year East West Street by Philippe Sands Non-Fiction Runner Up (and Overall Third Place) Battle Cry of Freedom by James Macpherson Non-fiction Shortlist Wilding by Isabella Tree Bookworm by Lucy Mangan The Pursuit of Victory by Roger Knight Fiction Book of the Year (and Overall Runner-Up) A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor Fiction Runner-Up Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh Fiction shortlist O Pioneers by Willa Cather At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison The Surgeon's Mate by Patrick O'Brian Reread of the Year Coot Club by Arthur Ransome Duffer of the Year I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes Duffer Shortlist Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks Pendulum by Adam Hamdy Darke by Rik Gekoski The Lighthouse by Alison Moore Most Disappointing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou