Wednesday 9 September 2020

Latest Greatest Books

I've really got back into reading this last few months, I suppose many of us have due to being quarantined at home. I'm a very slow reader so many books I "read" by listening to them on Audiobook. I've become a loyal fan of Audible for this reason. I was also fortunate enough to find loads of good books at second-hand shops recently. I'm always looking for recommendations, and supposing you may be too, I've decided to henceforth share with you which books I've recently read which turned out particularly topping. 

If you're a word nerd then this book is for you. It's not long, easily-digestible, and thoroughly enjoyable. Reading The Etymologicon is like listening to a long string of consciousness from someone who is really, really interested in etymology. It beautifully links one word to another to another until you've come full circle. You may find yourself uttering an "oh" aloud many times as the interesting origins of so many English words are revealed. Not only is this book fascinating, it's also very funny. For example it has a chapter called 'Sausage Poison in Your Face'. I wouldn't call it particularly educational, but more entertaining than anything. The audiobook version has a great narrator, Simon Sherpherd, who expresses the humour perfectly.

Also from Mark Forsyth, as I was so impressed with the above, I also got Elements of Eloquence. It's wonderful and important. Once upon a time everyone was taught the art of rhetoric. For some reason this stopped being a thing, despite it being an important part of speech. This book explains why we think pretty words are pretty. Why memorable phrases are memorable. It also touches on prosodic metre, if you're into that sort of thing. I don't imagine this sort of book would excite everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and now know the difference between anaphora and anadiplosis, thank goodness for that. Simon Sherpherd narrates the Audiobook once again, and again perfectly expresses the humour. It's very funny as well as educational. Perfect for the poet, writer, or orator in your life. 

I knew I would like this because I know historian Ruth Goodman from many BBC history documentaries. She's super sweet and extremely knowledgable. This book is very thorough. It covers pretty much every element of life from dawn til dusk and beyond in the British Victorian period. What I like most about it, is unlike other history books which tell tales of Kings and noble courts and battles, this describes the ordinary people. The everyday man and woman and the intricacies of their everyday existence. Food, clothes, medicine, childcare, work places, and more, How to be a Victorian breaks all these things down and talks about them at length. I can't wait to read more of Ruth Goodman's books.
£13.56 on Book Depository 

Lastly, something non-non-fiction. Made into a (rather excellent) film in 2012, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is surprisingly believable. It mixes real life events and people with supernatural gore. It's easy to imagine Lincoln saying and doing the things he does in this book, and I expect the man himself would have found it pretty funny. Like all of Seth Grahame-Smith's books (I've not read others but heard nothing but praise), it's a shining example of good historical fiction. The story is exactly as the title states; we follow the life of Abraham Lincoln from his boyhood to his death, not only his political career, but his deadly mission to rid America of evil vampires. It's not a long book, even a slow reader like me can get through it fairly swiftly. 
£17.67 on Book Depository

Have you read any of these books, and if so what did you think? Feel welcome to suggest books that you think I or any of our Belfry Bat family might enjoy, or just anything exceptional you've discovered lately. I've linked to Book Depository as well because it offers free international shipping, and is usually where I buy books from, being that Amazon is not available everywhere. 


  1. I do love historical fiction. I can recommend Margaret George & Phillippa Gregory as great authors in this genre. "The autobiography of Henry VIII" by Margaret George is a great read.

  2. I haven't read anything from your list yet. Wormwood: A Collection of Short Stories by Poppy Z. Brite is highly recommended for goths.

  3. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff; very detailed analysis of the Salem witch trials, especially good as it really gets into the mind set of the Puritans.

    Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund

    The Midnight Texas series (Midnight Crossroad, Day Shift, Day Shift) by Charlaine Harris; The same author of the Sookie Stackhouse series.

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