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Thread: From My Bookshelves

  1. #1
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    From My Bookshelves

    I once knew someone who in response to my browsing his bookshelves claimed I "had leafed through his mind". I thought this was quite smart, so I will repeat the exercise here, starting with a post on the works of Ellis Peters.

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    Ellis Peters is the name under which Edith Pargeter wrote the stories about Cadfael, in the Cadfael Chronicles. I bought about five of these. The series was televised by the BBC some decades ago.

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    the other short series of books I bought was by the Scottish author Nigel Tranter who wrote some 50+ historical novels (including several 3-volume studies about Scotland (One was on Robert the Bruce). I bought some 7 books by him and read them all, in addition borrowing books from libraries where we lived. Tranter did a great service to Scotland for this work and he had several awards and honours for it, including an OBE for services to literature.

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    Scotland has always been a major interest of mine. In the late 1960s I had a lectureship at Aberdeen University, King's College. I learned to ramble and go up mountains, especially in the Coolins of Skye. Never got to the top but the book by W.A. Poucher The Scottish Peaks proved to be invaluable as a guide, complete with maps and photos showing the ways up.

    Diane Morgan published many books on Aberdeen, The Spital being one of my favourites, as I rented a flat there. I have several of her books, including Lost Aberdeen and Aberdeen's Granite Mile.

    Also of interest is the history of Old Aberdeen, edited by John Smith. This was the auld toon, where King's College is located, between St. Machar's Cathedral and the Chanonry down to King's College.
    Last edited by Dreamwoven; 01-25-2017 at 06:15 AM.

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    Places of the Soul

    Christopher Day Places of the Soul: Architecture and Environmental Design as a Healing Art Aquarian Press (1990)

    This book had a dramatic impact on my life. It was an anthroposophical book drawing many of its lessons from the Steiner kindergarten Nant-y-Cwm in Wales.

    It focuses on making buildings fit with nature, for example, by taking care to place the building in such a way that it isn't just plonked down like a lump of jelly, but grows out of the ground, as, for example a rock does, naturally. The same is achieved by nooks and crannies created in a building.

    These images of Nat-y-Cwm give a sense of what this involves: nant-y-cwm Steiner school:

    Finally, positioning windows plays an important part in creating both comfort and relaxation.

    It is impossible to give a detailed description of this in one short post. So this will have to do.

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    Like so many 1940s people I enjoyed reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I read it several times and also the other books associated with Tolkien's work.

    But my favourite is Journeys of Frodo by Barbara Strachey (Grafton 1992), an atlas of maps, hand-drawn and with a feeling of simplicity.

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    Another Tolkien book is Master of Middle-earth: the achievement of J.R.R. Tolkien by Paul Kocher (Penguin, Harmondsworth 1972).

    Short but packed with insights.

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    Three books which made a huge impact on many of us as students at Aberdeen University are by John Prebble, The Fire and Sword Trilogy which traces the destruction of the clan system in Scotland: Glencoe, Culloden, and The Highland Clearances.

    If you have ever wondered why the valleys of the Scottish Highlands are so de-populated, this trilogy of books will help you understand why. It was about breaking the loyalty of the clans to the clan leaders, a task that involved both military and economic measures. I will look at further books by James Hunter on the economics of the Clearances, but the Clearances were the result of the spread of sheep-farming to replace the more labour-intensive small-holding farming.

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    James Hunter The Making of the Crofting Community (Birlinn, 2010) is s study in the revival of crofting in the 21st Century. We had shortly before bought and moved into a croft in Sweden. It is small (2 bedrooms), and on a small piece of land, and I came across this book by James Hunter, tracing the re-development of the crofting tradition in the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It demands physical fitness to manage the land of a croft. And for us it is a home, so we don't try to grow crops for ourselves, nor had the previous owner done so. She just lived there.

    But it discusses the struggles to create the legislative framework for this form of land tenure in the UK.
    Last edited by Dreamwoven; 01-26-2017 at 10:15 AM.

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    James Hunter A Dance Called America: the Scottish Highlands, the United States and Canada (Mainstream Publishing Company, Edinburgh, (2006 Edition)

    "A new dance was devised in the Isle of Skye in the Eighteenth Century. An exhilarating dance. A dance, one visitor reports, "the emigration from Skye had occasioned. The visitor asks for the dance's name. They called it America he is told." (preface)

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    Who Will Write Our History?: rediscovering a hidden archive from the Warsaw Ghetto Samuel D. Kassow (Penguin, 2007). Today (27th January) Dagens Nyheter (p.4) mentioned that this day is the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I would add to the newspaper text that it was the Red Army that was the liberator.

    Reading about the Warsaw Ghetto was painful and difficult.

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    I never really enjoyed Dorothy Dunnett books and only have two: Nicollo Rising (1986) and Spring of the Ram (1987). I used to have some of the Lymond Chronicles but didn't bring them with me when we moved into our house in 2010. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doroth...f_Niccol.C3.B2

    The House of Niccolò is a series of eight historical novels set in the late-fifteenth-century European Renaissance. The protagonist of the series is Nicholas de Fleury (Niccolò, Nicholas van der Poele, or Claes), a talented boy of uncertain birth who rises to the heights of European merchant banking and international political intrigue. The series shares most of the locations in Dunnett's earlier series, the Lymond Chronicles, but it extends much further geographically to take in the important urban centres of Bruges, Venice, Florence, Geneva, and the Hanseatic League; Burgundy, Flanders, and Poland; Iceland; the Iberian Peninsula and Madeira; the Black Sea cities of Trebizond and Caffa; Persia; the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Rhodes; Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula; and West Africa and the city of Timbuktu. Nicholas's progress is intertwined with such historical characters as Anselm Adornes, James III of Scotland and James II of Cyprus.

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    Am impressed with this, I now. Really belive that people still read alot

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    Thank you, Amura!

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    Christopher Hibbert: Redcoats and Rebels: the American Revolution through British Eyes Norton Paperback (2002).

    We tend to assume that the birth of the USA was somehow almost automatic. Not so: as this book demonstrates. In the first place it was not just the birth of the USA, albeit a strip of country which in 1775 stretched from New Hampshire to Georgia, it was also the birth of Canada, or at least the Francophone part. Reading this, one is struck by the extent to which George Washington, leading the rebel army, preserved his small force by withdrawing westward, refusing to commit it against a larger and well-armed British force, other than harassment and sudden strikes at a weaker force.

    This is classic guerrilla tactics, but you have to have enough space in your rear to do this. The other fact to bear in mind is that telegraphy had not been invented then, a crude semaphore system was first developed in France in 1790, but it only worked on land not over a large ocean, such as separates Europe from North America - 3,000 miles of it.

    This book has stimulated me to read more of Hibbert's work.

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