Tag Archives: Catharine Arnold

Simon’s Bookish Bits – An Easter Special

Ahhhh… and relax! Here in the UK it is the second day of a lovely long extended weekend because it is of course Easter. I have to admit the closest thing to a religion I have is my books, but I do always find Easter a very calming time of year and this weekend nothing has been planned, no volunteering has been scheduled and it’s a rare thing at Savidge Towers. The main agenda, apart from some services (as The Converted One is Catholic) at the church, is mainly books and movies (such as Clash of the Titans in 3D).

Before I go on to mention my possible reading plans over Easter I wanted to draw your attention to a post this week that I think you can all help with. The lovely Polly of Novel Insights as she goes on a quest to find long forgotten books by authors we love. Do pop over and leave some suggestions, I am interested to see what this list ends up being and am sure we will all want to give some unknown-to-us titles a whirl.

So then, Easter reading plans. I always have a nice little pile of maybes on my bedside (or actually on my bed in the case of the picture below) that I have been meaning to read a while or have just come in and are instantly tempting that I might just give a go over the break. This four day weekend I will be finishing off some pesky books I have meandered through but am enjoying, so not actually that pesky, and seeing if I can get along with any of these…

  • Skin Lane – Neil Bartlett (at the top because of next weeks NTTVBG)
  • I’m Not Scared – Niccolo Ammaniti (for my unchallenging sort of challenge ‘Lost in Translation’)
  • Necropolis – Catharine Arnold (because I start my tours next weekend at Highgate)
  • The Seamstress – Frances De Pontes Peebles (it’s a tome of a novel, I like to try and read something mammoth over a break, plus its Brazilian which I resolved to read more books from)
  • As The Earth Turns Silver – Alison Wong (new in and sounds very me, Evie Wyld’s boyfriend sent me it so I have a feeling it must be good… or else, ha)
  • The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver (haven’t read her before and do really want to, also want to get through my hardbacks and it’s an Orange contender)

There you have it a short-ish post from me as have so much reading I want to do. Do pop by to Polly’s post and leave some suggestions and also let me know what you are planning on reading over the next few days, or books that you have started and are reading right now.

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All About Those Victorians

I actually wanted to call today’s post ‘All About Victorians and a Little Bit of Death’ but I thought that the second half of that sentence would either put people off or possibly attract the wrong sort of attention and so I toned it down somewhat. There is a reason behind my post today though, its not just being slightly macabre for the sake of it. I mentioned to you on Saturday that it was a big day for me at Highgate (and I was appallingly nervous) as it was the important tour guide training. I actually took a picture of a very newly uncovered tombstone that I thought might interest all you fellow book lovers because of whats carved on it…

Anyway the good news is that (hip, hip hoorah and a huge sign of relief) I am now officially one of Highgate Cemetery’s Tour Guides!! So should you happen to venture there on a weekend after the 10th of April then you might get me taking you around. Naturally I now want to be the best tour guide ever, unlikely as some of them have been there for a decade or more and know so much it makes me feel quite vexed, and so I am on the hunt for more reading matter that can bump up my knowledge of the Victorian era and even all things deathly, which means I need to face one of my reading weaknesses… Non fiction!

As you can see above I have dug out a few non fiction goodies I already own that might help me. ‘Necropolis’ by Catherine Arnold is a book about ‘London and its dead’ that I mentioned a while ago, dug out of the TBR and then promptly forgot to read. ‘Stiff’ and ‘Six Feet Over’ are the two of Mary Roach books that I have been meaning to read for ages, the first is all about what happens to your body after you die and latter is all about the afterlife which the Victorians were very into. ‘Underground London’ by Stephen Smith is about what lies underneath London that you might be missing out on and discusses some of the cemeteries etc. Finally Jessica Mitford’s book ‘The American Way of Death’ might be slightly off track and in the wrong country but it might have some relevant bits and we do get a lot of American visitors to the cemetery and I have been told ‘engaging with your audience is key’.

I need your help though. Not only do I think that there are more books on this subject I am more than likely missing out on I have a huge gap in my knowledge and that’s the in’s and out’s of Victorian life and the history of 1800 – 1900. I did get sent both ‘The Victorian House’ and ‘Consuming Passions’ by Judith Flanders in the post but they went missing which was very vexing and the publishers didn’t send a second set. I have heard these are marvellous though. What would you recommend? I can guarantee many of you will have wondrous recommendations of books that I should give a read and if you do I would be thrilled.

You might also know some places to go that I haven’t thought of. I dragged The Converted One and my friend Michelle round Brompton Cemetery yesterday (they filmed some of Sherlock Holmes there, so a sort of tenacious bookish theme there too).

I have also already done Kensal Green, which I previously shared with you, and aim to do the rest of the Magnificent Seven in due course. But apart from cemeteries where else might I go and visit? I know I live in London but I often find people who don’t hear or secret places those of us living here pass by. So that’s your mission today, to recommend places of Victorian interest to visit that I might have missed and even more importantly books on Victorians that I must, must read.

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Armadale Admition…

Well I have always said that I will be 100% honest with this blog and so I need to fess up. I havent come close to finishing Armadale… well am only 240 pages off, but I simply can’t give you my book thoughts with that much left to go, it’s just not the way that I like to do the blog.

Now I do feel that I am allowed to be a bit behind as it is the longest Wilkie Collins of the lot and I think I can also say that it’s actually, for me at least, been the hardest one to get into. I am now gripped so I know that I will have finished it after today (have lots of tube rides ahead to various Victorian Cemeteries and Jack The Ripper walks – or the cinema for Dorian Gray again if it rains) and so should have something delightful later this evening when have finished it and can compile all my thoughts and cannot wait to hear all yours? I also blame Catharine Arnold and her wonderful book ‘Necropolis‘ which I forgot I had and found on a ‘sensation search’ (more on that Monday or Tuesday) this weekend and now can’t put down, it was only meant to be along-side reading!!! It’s just brilliant and perfect timing for the weekends events and all things sensational really.

So for now I thought would ask you all a non book question. I am celebrating my 10th anniversary with London (it’s now been a decade since I moved here aged 17 this very week) and am having some dates with London of places in ten years I really should have been and am appalled I have neglected. Funnily enough they all have a late 1800’s vibe/link to them, can’t think why? So what are you all up to this weekend, or what have you been doing that doesnt involve reading at all? It’s like a getting to know you exercise, do let me know.

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