Off to a good start

Well now, hello blogland! My mind just boggled at the many events that have happened on  the 9th January over history – really quite something. Not the most important, but Steve Jobs introduced the iphone 10 years ago today and that HAS had a direct impact on my life and my photography (I just uploaded all my most recent photographs and we’ve recently had varying degrees of struggle to set three different iphones up…). Anyway, this is the photo that inspired today’s post: img_1622This little pile has accumulated on my coffee table so as I can say something about each one, I thought I’d take advantage!

  1. The Idea of North by Peter Davidson – I haven’t delved into this one, yet, but was attracted by the title and the introduction blurb on the back. Among other things Nordic, from “hygge” to knitting patterns, I’ve recently read The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen (which I highly recommend, incidentally – a comparison between life in Finland/Scandinavia and the USA in so many areas including birth, education, health…) and have long had a hankering for Scandinavia/Northern Europe/the North generally; it seems like it’s going to be a good choice and promises “cultural history at its best”…
  2. Peacock & Vine by A.S. Byatt – This is a beautifully written essay comparing man-of-all-trades William Morris with the Spanish fashion designer Mariano Fortuny, who spent much of his life in Venice. Very much a “compare and contrast” work, A.S. Byatt explains where these two men had similar inspirations and in which respects they were very different. It’s a small book, a fascinating read and I read the original recommendation on Cornflower Books’ blog at
  3. Mit Kindern durch das ganze Jahr by Peter Gogen – Apparently something of a classic children’s book in the 1970s, there are dozens of copies for sale second-hand (I probably picked it up at a Brockenhaus years ago) but I can’t find anything about the author. It’s one of those books with an activity for every day of the year, relatively few illustrations and where the tone expects that children between around 8-12 (my personal estimate) are independent and curious readers and are getting a thorough education – I’m afraid it is that which dates it most, as I imagine that age group these days has most often been dumbed down and is used to everything in digital multicolour comic style. Sad. I still think it has loads of interesting information and lots of ideas of things to do, make, experiment with and so on, and I like to look at it now and again. Occasionally I filter something from it to use with my grandchildren. I’ve always loved this kind of book myself, an only child who spent hours of the 1970s poring over something similar in English. I’m old-fashioned like that!
  4. SPQR by Mary Beard – Obviously, this is going to be about the Romans. Mary Beard is well known as a specialist in this field and I’ve enjoyed several TV series of her enthusiastic explanations of all things Roman. My mother and daughter have already got through this tome and now it’s my turn – I hear it’s very “engaging”! Quite apart from the subject matter, I sympathise with Mary Beard, who is criticised by the media for believing that appearances aren’t everything and lets her long grey hair blow around (as I do)!
  5. The Vikings by Jonathan Clements – Ah now, this one I have already listened to as an audiobook several times. Alone, with my daughter and son-in-law while they painted the house in Brittany, with my husband, daughter again, alone again – and again and again. There is so much in it and I can’t seem to remember it from one listen to the next so I got hold of a paper copy to give my daughter and now I get to borrow it and hope that reading a real book might make the stories sink in better (I have a very visual memory, especially for names – this is why I actually read The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan while I listen to it and knit, which freaks my husband out a bit but it’s the best way for me to retain even a fraction of the myriad stuff going on! If only the two texts were identical…). In my view, history books are enormous value for money! This one is well-written and entertaining and in the audiobook version, so well read you don’t doze off (my opinion of the reader of the Silk Roads is less charitable, since he doesn’t seem to recognise punctuation :o).

Well, that is 5 for January – let’s see how well I do with them this month, alongside everything else! We do still have snow (and more forecast!), the evenings are still dark, but some of the days have been stunning – I caught this behind the station just as the sun went down last Friday on my way home from an excellent exhibition in Zurich about the Japanese artist Ito Shinsui ( and img_7574



5 thoughts on “Off to a good start

  1. I shall just have to come and install myself in your library … super pic btw, today has been real postcard views day here and on the Walensee. Trying to get some higgle feeling at home now. xxx

  2. What a gorgeous photograph! I have just added the Nordic Theory of Everything to my reading list. I’m always curious how my country and our way of living compare to others.

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