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About willoyd

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  • Reading now?
    Almost certainly!
  • Location:
    Wharfedale, Yorkshire
  • Interests
    birding, cycling (mainly touring), running, walking, family history.

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  1. Actually managed to squeeze in one quick read before this: Mark Kishlansky'sfluent contribution to the Penguin Monarchs series, Charles I, An Abbreviated Life. These are excellent introductions, employing some top notch biographers/historians, and Kishlansky is no exception. A very readable overview - I will follow up with a more detailed biography later (probably Leanda de Lisle's The White King). Kishlansky certainly pust the knife to traditional views of the unfortunate king, showing rather greater sympathy than previous historians (and tradition). It'll be interesting to see what other modern biographers make of the subject. 4/6.
  2. It was a great series too, one of the best I can recall (from what I can recall!). It certainly made a huge splash at the time - Wood literally burst on to the TV scene. For a long time there was no DVD available of it, much to widespread disappointment (including mine!) but I've just found out that one was issued in 2015 - the delay owing to license issues for some of the music used. I'm ordering it. I gather it's inevitably somewhat dated (Michael Wood in flares!) and not perfect quality, but most reviewers suggest that the programmes are as good as they remembered.
  3. I think the reality is a bit more positive! Apologies if the following is a bit long-winded, but I hope it's of some interest, and helps explain. I belong to two book groups, the selections for which are done in different ways. Even without considering the detail of those selections, it's probably inevitable that a higher fraction of the books I don't like are group selections, simply because I don't have any say in most of them - I'm not likely to select books for my own reading that I'm likely to dislike after all! Then, there's the method of selection. One group (A) is an independent group which I joined a few years ago that meets in members' homes. Selections go in cycles: at the start of a cycle, each member nominates two books to the book co-ordinator (which happens to be me at present), who makes sure there aren't any duplicates, repeats etc. I then allocate a book to each month (mainly out of a hat!) and circulate a reading programme to the end of the next cycle (about 15 months at present). The other group (B) is a more recently formed one based in my local library, and using the library system's stock of reading group books. Every cycle we each select one book off a list of these. Each month, central services sends out a set of one of these for us to read next month. A highlight of each meeting is opening the box and discovering which book we're reading next month (only the group co-ordinator - not me in this case! - has the list of our choices). Both groups have fun trying to guess who selected that month's book! The result is that Group A has more control over the books being read, and there is distinctly more variety in the genres and authors too (the list for the second group is dominated by fiction, of which most is literary fiction). The result of that is that I find I enjoy a higher proportion of Group A's books - more consideration is given by each nominator too. Having said that, there's been a fair amount of 'good' reads from both groups. In the last year the distribution has been: Group A: read 10, ****** 1, ***** 2, **** 2, *** 2, ** 3, * 0, average = 3.6 Group B: read 11, ****** 0, ***** 1, **** 3, *** 3, ** 1, * 3, average = 2.8 Having said all that (!), the fact that All the Pretty Horses provided a good score, may partly be down to the fact that it was my nomination (Group A)! Of the books above, my nominations scored a 6 and a 5 in Group A, and the 5 in group B, undelrining the biases outlined above (I am glad to say they proved popular with other members as well). I ought to emphasise that I absolutely don't mind there being a higher proportion of books I don't like - half the point to a reading group for me is to be introduced to a wider range of authors and books (which is why I do find the Group B list a bit frustrating at times I have to admit). And every year there's at least one major discovery for me: this year it was George Mackay Brown, whose book for the group (A) I loved - I'm exploring more of his writing this year - and who more than compensated for some of the 'dross'!
  4. Completed my second book of the year, All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy,a book group choice. Outstanding: 5/6. Now moving on to my other group's read for this month, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, which looks rather substantial (to seriously understate the case!).
  5. Willoyd's Reading 2020

    New Year acquisitions A few books acquired in first three weeks of the year: Charity shops The White King by Leada De Lisle (biography of Charles I) Everyman for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge (hardback, 1st edition) * Among Muslims by Kathleen Jamie Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (Everyman Classic) * The Prize of All the Oceans by Glyn Williams Close Ranges, Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx * Kindle Sale 1989 The Berlin Wall, My Part in It's Downfall by Peter Millar Early Season sales Underland by Robert Macfarlane * Lotharingia by Simon Winder * Books on my Big Read list On that note, Big Reading list is now collated: 773 books in total, roughly evenly split between fiction and nonfiction. However, noteable how few nonfiction books read (47) compared to fiction (148), so aim to make some progress on the former this year. List is fluid though, and subject to revision.
  6. Oh, dear: I didn't think your list was that huge - looked quite respectable to me! Nice mix too. Unlike Raven, I'm not much of a sci-fi fan (although I'm looking forward to War of the Worlds as well),so can't comment on your selections there, but there are others on your list which I loved. The three standouts for me are The Essex Serpent, Of Mice and Men, and The Name of the Rose, all on my favourites list. Adams almost goes without saying, and have to mention Agnes Grey as it's Ann Bronte's 200th birthday today (haven't read Tenant yet). Good luck with your goals for this year!
  7. Is that Peter Ackroyd's book topping the list? Your whole to-read list looks really interesting. If I had just one book to pick out as a particular favourite from those I've read on your list, it would probably have to be Barbara Vine's King Solomon's Carpet, but there are other goodies as well (Rebecca, for instance, was a recent 'discovery', far better than I had anticipated from previous du Maurier reading when read with my book group last year). Looks like we've got quite a few Victorian novels in common on our TBR lists, so I'm looking forward to following your thoughts on them. Equally, will be interested in what you make of the Ackroyd, plus the Hobsbawm books, as both have sat on my shelves for years, but I've never got around to them; Hobsbawm in particular is rather daunting. Although I own, use and enjoy a Kindle, I seem to have gone back more to reading physical books - although the Kindle is very useful when travelling! Anyway, all the best with the year's reading.
  8. Shelving books

    I wish I could be so relaxed, but it would drive me mad to have books unsorted. As it is, I drive my wife mad instead with the degree to which they are (we are defnitely splitters not lumpers - as so accurately discussed by Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris - and her books are much more on Tribe Hayley lines, including the value bit!).
  9. Willoyd's Reading 2020

    The Summer Isles by Philip Marsden ***** A Christmas present, this is an account of a sailing voyage the author, who had never before skippered anything more than day trips before, made from Cornwall to the Summer Isles, via the west coast of Ireland. It was made in memory of his aunt, who was killed in a walking accident on Ben More Assynt, and with whom he had always intended to visit the islands. This could have been a fairly standard account - there is a myriad of similar books - but the quality of writing, the fascinating people he encounters, and the deep sense of how personal this was that pervades both narrative and journey, all makes for something distinctly greater. My only 'complaint' is that there is, in fact, very little about the Summer Isles themselves, barely a couple of pages, if that; this should have been entitled 'Journey to....'. Oh, and whilst there are a couple of illustrative maps at the front, yet again a book about something so spatial is completely inadequately mapped. What is it about publishers - are we so map illiterate nowadays that they are almost completely forgotten, and even when not, so inadequately developed? It's not as if they require any further expense, unlike photos. Although, on that subject, a few illustrations wouldn't have gone amiss either, particularly of people mentioned. But nothing should take away from the writing, which made for a superb start to the New Year's reading. Next book: All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (Book group selection)
  10. Shelving books

    Fun article in latest Penguin email newsletter (one of the few commercial ones I don't filter out!) on shelving tribes here. Trouble (or not!) is that I don't fit into any of them: my fiction books are certainly shelved alphabetically, but my biographies are shelved chronologically (by date of death of subject!), and others are done differently again (basically Dewey, but with variation). Which means I'm probably even more geeky than the Penguin editors have allowed for! Anybody else got a tribal affiliation?
  11. First book of the year completed, one of my Christmas presents: The Summer Isles by Philip Marsden. The story of his solo sail up from Cornwall up the west coast of Ireland, and on to the Summer Isles. Beautifully written. 5/6.
  12. How many books have you read this year?

    Final total was 75, far more than I anticipated after completing only one in January. Second half of the year was particularly strong.
  13. EReader or Tablet? Better Reading Tool?

    Dedicated E-reader every time - tablets are awful for eyes. Spoke to my optician about it too a couple of years ago, and he strongly recommended these in preference to tablets.
  14. Willoyd's Reading 2020

    Thank you. And first read of this year is non-fiction too: Philip Marsden's The Summer Isles, the story of his journey up from Cornwall to the Summer Isles off the west coast of Scotland, via the west coast of Ireland. Only 70-80 pages in, but this isn't one to rush!
  15. A Book Blog 2020 by Books do Furnish a Room

    Wow, that's a strong selection. Recently read The Five, non-fiction runner-up and third overall for the year in my awards. The Pinecone did similarly well a couple of years ago - I think this is one of my favourite Uglow books (herself a favourite author of mine), although I know that's not a universal opinion. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Haven't read others, but there's several with very strong reviews behind them. Will be interested to see what you make of them.