Posts Tagged ‘book list’

Sophie’s autumn books 2015

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

During the autumn months of September and October 2015, I’ve been reading my usual eclectic mix but also trying to read some of the books that have been on my chest of drawers for a while. Look forward to hearing if you’ve enjoyed or hated any of them and what you enjoy reading. They are in no particular order. Looking at them I seem to have been reading quite a lot of the Man Booker Prize shortlist for 2014, this wasn’t my intention, but last year lots of them really appealed to me (although it may have taken me a while to get round to them), which isn’t always the case.


Some of the books Sophie has read this autumn.

Some of the books Sophie has read this autumn.

My Brilliant FriendElena Ferrante (the first in the Neaopolitan novels) Loved this first novel of friendship, look forward to reading the rest. Waterstones and my local independent bookshop – the Little Ripon Bookshop have been very pro this series but read a great review of the last in the series of 4, when it was published earlier in the year.

UnprocessedMegan Kimble (one person’s determination to live for a year eating unprocessed food, from making her own bread to working out what was possible)

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – great psychological thriller – kept me guessing until the end

On the Black HillBruce Chatwin (this was recommended in Susan Hill’s book – Howard’s End is on the Landing A year of reading. I hadn’t read any Bruce Chatwin since his amazing book Songlines, but I did enjoy this book on Welsh rural life)

The Children Act – Ian McEwan (brilliant, short, but definitely felt connected to the judge and her decision making – the September Little Ripon Book shop book club book)

Us – by David Nicholls, author of One Day – empty nesters rediscovering themselves – much preferred this book to One Day, partly because I liked the characters more. Long listed for the Man Booker prize 2014.

The Museum of Things Left Behind – Seni Glaister – a charming book about a fictional european country that grows tea and how development is not all about big things, often it can be about collaboration and working together.

Chop Chop by Simon Wroe – restaurant hell but genuine love of what they do. Short listed for the Costa First Novel Award 2014.

A spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015 – the October book for the Little Ripon Bookshop book club) family secrets and dynamics. Hadn’t read any Anne Tyler for decades so was delighted to read her again and enjoy it.

Emma – Alexander McCall Smith (the modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic, part of the Austen Project) Emma is not my favourite Austen novel but i enjoyed this retelling

The Honest Trust – by Dan Gemeinhart – a teen book recommended by my daughter about a boy’s determination to complete a project, even when he’s terminally ill

Why we took the car – Wolfgang Herrndorf, another teen book about an illicit road trip in Europe. A coming of age book.

Madame Bovary – Flaubert (went to the lovely Ripon Curzon cinema and saw a trailer for the new film Gemma Bovary – realised I had never read the original, although it was beside my bed – so thought now was the time. A tail of woe where no one ends up happy)

The Tiger in the Smoke – Margaret Allingham – (listened to Woman’s Hour in the summer talking about the Queens of Crime. I had never knowingly come across Margaret Allingham before – enjoyed this very much)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan – winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Not for the faint hearted and definitely had to be in a strong mood to read this book about the Burma Railway in World War II. Very glad to have read it though.

How to be Both – Ali Smith – winner of the 2015 bailey’s women’s prize for fiction, also short listed for the Man Booker Prize for fiction 2014.

Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Opel – a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankinstein aimed at the teen market. Read it after our daughter had finished it to see what themes have come up. Not even sure though that I’ve read Mary Shelley’s book. Another one for the ever increasing pile.

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley. This book covers the eldest of at least 6 adopted daughters discovering her origins. A great read.



More of the Sophie's reading list from autumn 2015

Some Good Books on the Environment

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

I have recently read Al Gore’s “Earth in the Balance” which is a pretty good overview of the environmental issues facing the world.  It is lucid and comes up with some sensible political strategies to managing the potential ecological issues impacting our planet.  It is a pity that while it was written in 1992, little progress has been made and a current review of the situation would be “little has changed”.

So here are the very few books that have had an impact on the way I see the planet and our impact on it:

  • Carson, R. “Silent Spring” Hamish Hamilton 1963
  • Gore, A. “Earth in the Balance” Earthscan 1992
  • Lovelock , J.E. “Gaia:  A New Look at Life on Earth” Oxford University Press 1979
  • Schumacher, E.F. “Small is Beautiful” Blond & Briggs 1973

What I am really disappointed by is that there are no good books that I have so far come across about the environmental impact mankind is having on water.  This is poor, since the amount of chemicals that we are pouring into our oceans and rivers and lakes is truly frightening.  There are books of course, but nothing that offers any profound insight into the damage we are causing, nor how we should address this major environmental issue.

Some of the books that have inspired us

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Both of us (Sophie and Axel) are avid readers of books – both fiction and non fiction. This is the first in an ad hoc series of books that have made us sit up and think. We would be interested in hearing books that have influenced you and also your views on the books chosen here.

1) “Not on the Label”: what really goes into the food on your plate by Felicity Lawrence.

This was an interesting book not least because of the different things we both got out of it. There was one particular chapter on salads which equally appalled us both but for different reasons – Axel, because of the complete lack of nutrition from the pre washed via chlorine salads, and Sophie because of the complete lack of hygiene and sanitation and living habitats of the workers.  After reading this book, I tried an experiment at home; I took a packed of prepared vacuum-packed washed salad from Morrisons and Sainsburys (I rarely, if ever, go to Asda, Tesco or Waitrose because they are not near us) and the same salad ingredients from our local grocer, The Fruit Basket, and put then on a plate in the kitchen and waited to see how long they took to go off.  The leaves from the supermarkets started turning brown on the first day and were rotten within 3 days whereas the leaves from the local grocer lasted a full 10 days.  What this tells me is that much of the food that is chilled and/or packed with inert gases is simply controlling or delaying the rot of the physical structure of the food, while the goodness is probably just decaying inside the cells.  Perhaps we are kidding ourselves about the nutritional value of the chilled and gas-packed foods.

2)  “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson.

Sophie quite by chance discovered this book when visiting a friend who is a keen fundraiser for a school in Namibia.  Sophie happened to see it and picked it up intrigued by the title which relates to one of the customs of the Balti people, then bought it for Axel as a birthday present.  The book is a celebration of what can be achieved through pioneering grit and sheer determination, particularly when you realise that Greg Mortensen is an American and Baltistan is in Northern Pakistan just beside the Afghanistan Border.  He was even kidnapped for a time.  It is incredibly humbling and has taught us more about the political and social issues of the Middle East, inspiring us to direct our personal charity towards education in the developing world.  Find out more at or buy the book.

3) “Imperfectly Natural Women” by Janey Lee Grace. 

 A few years ago a friend of ours came to lunch and mentioned this book which had been given to her by her sister.  We were intrigued and bought a copy soon after as it appeared to be very in line with our own personal aims – and so it is. Janey Lee Grace appears on many TV and radio items including Steve Wright in the afternoon (Radio 2) and is great at pointing the way and the pitfalls of living a greener (but fairly normal) life.  Since we first read this book we’ve met Janey Lee Grace and have often been interested and inspired by our research.  She’s since then written two other books – Imperfectly Natural Baby and Imperfectly Natural Home.