Monthly Archives: September 2009

Writing Worth Reading

I hadn’t realised it had been quite so long since I had posted here. I have, of course been keeping my reading list up to date, but somehow seem to have lost interest in writing full length reviews. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t do the occasional batch of mini reviews, which is what this post is all about. So, going back to the start of this year, here are five books that I think are worth reading.

1. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. Great literature it ain’t, but this light novel keeps the attention for a few hours. Witty, well written, and well researched this historical romance is a classic of the genre.

2. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Any historian knows that going back to the primary sources is essential. Thus with Darwin. So much has been written and said about what he wrote, both good and bad, that it makes sense to read the original. It’s not easy reading – he was a Victorian gentleman after all – and his sentence structure and language are complex, but it is worth the effort.

3. In search of the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple. I’ve read a couple of Dalrymple’s books before – he writes really insightful travel books. This one is about a trip from Turkey through Syria, Jordan, the Lebanon, and Israel recreating the journey of a 5th century saint. In it he examines the destruction of various middle eastern Christian denominations, particularly in Turkey over the last century, and uncovers yet another tragedy of that tragedy struck region. I’ve travelled in the area and have been to many of the places he mentions, but even if you haven’t, it’s a good, thought provoking read.

4. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Diamond is always good for answering the big questions of history. In this case why did the West industrialise first? Bringing in geography and ecology, this is a fascinating read, and well worth the effort as it’s very long and the print minute.

5. The Sacred Cut by David Hewson. Another Nic Costa thriller from Hewson. I discovered this hugely enjoyable contemporary Italian set crime series when I worked in a library, not previously having been much interested in contemporary crime. As far as I can tell, it’s well researched and the main character is sufficiently different to keep one’s attention. Good stuff.