My 2018 reading indulgences…

There’s not much room for indulgent book reading when one is writing an historical fiction novel. In most cases, it’s all about research. Research, research, research. And my research books of choice are always mentioned in Author’s Notes in the back of each novel.

In terms of indulgence though, there were some stand out books for me this year with an amusing and informative one thrown in at the end. Here they are, in no particular order…

Caligula by Simon Turney. Brilliant rendition of a Roman emperor’s life from the standpoint of his sister. So very different to other novels on the same man.

CJ Archer’s Glass and Steele series. I’ve read the first three thus far. Such refreshing historical fantasy. Set in Victorian England and revealing a cadre of magical watchmakers, mapmakers and much much more.

Re-read of Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. A reminder of what gentle, atmospheric writing can be and why I always list her as one of my iconic writers.

Palomino Sky by Jan Ruth, a writer who consistently shows how good contemporary fiction can be. She writes effortlessly and with verve.

Re-read of Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane, simply because I love the idiosyncratic way that places can be named. A tremendous resource filled with detailed research.

Botanical Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland by Lisa Schneidau. This book was reviewed in one of my gardening mags and I was intrigued on a number of counts. I’m a gardener, I love reading legends and I am a fan of legend-based fantasy. This is a tidy, informative book detailing the quaint legends around such things as foxgloves and ferns to name just two. It’s a book that was worth the expense.

Kate by William J Mann. Another re-read because Katharine Hepburn is a legend in her own right, and I’ve been a fan since my parents used to watch her movies on black and white TV. This biography details the tempestuous depths of her life and I enjoyed the re-acquaintance.

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel. I attended a talk by de Hamel on his life with manuscripts and it was enlightening. I have a fascination with not just illumination, but also the art of written communication. This book is like a door opening.

The Queen’s Corgi by David Michie. He has written three other engaging novels that get to the nub of Buddhism (The Dalai Lama’s Cat, The Power of Miaow and The Art of Purring) in a unique way and this little book is no different. I enjoyed it because I have long held an interest in and fascination with Buddhism, but the novel (because it is a novel) may not appeal to everyone.