lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
[personal profile] lost_spook
(I found I already had a title for this sort of not-too-belated post).

May was a month full of rl tirednesses and causes of being ill, so inevitably my reading suffered, or at least the precarious novel-reading part of it, did, so there are a lot of started non-fiction books, some of which will undoubtedly fall by the wayside presently, plus those I was doggedly note-taking from. There was not much reading for three weeks, and then I had a sort of burst of birthday books!


What I've Finished Reading

I finally finished In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars 1793-1815 by Jenny Uglow! I was reading it for family history note-taking purposes, but it was very good and readable and I was sorry to come to the end. (If she wanted to do the previous twenty years or next twenty years in a book, I would read that as well!)

I also re-read my birthday Chalet School books, Jo to the Rescue and Joey Goes to the Oberland - always easy reads. I liked the second one best, and was reminded how much I'm not so keen on the holiday books in general, though. But, yay, collection completed! \o/

Having finished In These Times, I then realised that perhaps it was about time I went back through The Workhouse by Norman Longmate for family history note-taking. I read it quite a few years back, and realised after reading it and Pamela Horn's Rise and Fall of the Victorian Servant, that I should probably note-take from things. I always intended to go back and do those two, except I sort of thought it would magically happen somehow, or the power of having read it once would suffice? Anyway, it is an account of the Workhouse system and the lives of people working and living in it and so interesting, appalling and angry-making by turns. And now I have notes from it instead of just being permanently unable to understand why notes from it aren't in my notebook.

Also on a family history theme, I read My Family and Other Strangers by Jeremy Hardy, which is a humorous book about Jeremy Hardy (who is on the radio show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue) doing his family history. The problem with this is that it's not all that funny (there's a lot about death in family history and this leads Jeremy to think about other deaths; also he wrote it while his mother was suffering from Alzheimers and Humphrey Lyttleton died), and he's also fairly hopeless at doing his family tree. He doesn't know what he's doing. He doesn't really ask relatives about stuff till the end, and then sort of looks someone up on the census, drives off to visit their house if he can, gets lost because he has no map, finds a map, eventually hopefully finds the house (or grave) often with further assistance, and then wonders why on earth he bothered, for which you can't really blame him. He also discovers that he hates archives and gets immediately lonely, oppressed and depressed in them and runs away from them as soon as possible if he's not accompanied by a more useful friend or relative. The bits that come alive are when he's talking to other people, visiting archives with people (and therefore actually finding stuff and understanding what he's finding) and by the end, he's got the hang of it and might have written a better book.

I still enjoyed reading it anyway, because I only know of two books that are actually about people family detective-ing and this is one of them. The other is also flawed, but very enthusiastic and obsessed. If you mushed them together, you'd get a perfect chatty genealogist's journey in print. Maybe one day someone will write it.


What I'm Reading Now

I keep sort of starting things, so I am currently at least a few pages into about six books: I haven't really read any more of H.M.S. Surprise since last time, because reading fiction is hard. I need another terrible Regency to rescue me again!

I am now note-taking from the also very readable and interesting The English Marriage by Maureen Waller and reading another birthday purchase, Common People by Alison Light, an academic's account of her family history (with a framework of her researches, but mainly a history of her family), which is, as the title suggests, full of working-class people who left little behind them, and it's very good and (to me) inspiring.

The others can wait till I see which of them stick and which don't.


What I'm Reading Next

I probably really do need another Regency to rescue me, alas, but I have none. Maybe the library will oblige again. I am planning to note-take from either London in the 19th Century or the aforementioned Rise & Fall of the Victorian Servant by Pamela Horn, because that didn't magically get into my note-book either & will have to be done, as with The Workhouse.
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