This list is more taken up by ‘dip in and out books’, which can be a nice alternative if you’re short on time, or have just read a few novels in a go. There’s one novel nestled amongst them, too.
Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Brothers Grimm
This is a full collection of the tales, all really quite short, and some the seeds of more modernised fairy tales. The Grimm brothers were collectors of stories, and they then collected together the stories they received and heard from those people they met, hoping to save a folk tale tradition similar to that of other countries around the world.
There was a real mixture in here of stories we now know in a different form, of stories that have survived unchanged, and of tales I have never heard of. I bought this at a performance of a play, years ago, which was Carol Ann Duffy’s interpretation of some of the well-known tales. It’s a lovely little book, and I enjoyed dipping in and out of it.
The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton
In 1913, a young girl is found abandoned. In 1975, Nell returns to England to investigate her past. In 2005, her granddaughter Nell returns to Cliff Cottage, her surprise inheritance. This took a fairly common form now, of a novel that revisits one family or place throughout the years, but Morton knows how to handle that well. The intrigue was sustained, and little twists kept coming. It was partially quite predictable, but this was made up for by those elements that came more out of the blue.
This book had nice characters, and a lot of well-included historical references. I also enjoyed the stories inserted as little clues throughout. It’s the type of book I’d happily take with me on a weekend away and just enjoy letting the story wash over me.
Love Letters of Great Men and Women, ed Ursula Doyle
This book is exactly what it says on the tin: a book of love letters. Half of the book are letters written by men, and half by women, and every letter has a biographical and contextual blurb before it. The names featured range from kings, queens and writers to anonymous soldiers and their wives.
The book arranges the letters chronologically, and it’s really interesting to see how language and ideas on love and romance have changed. Some letters were quite funny, some seem a bit dismissive, and some pull at the heartstrings. It’s a nice little book to have lying around, or to give as a gift to the type of friend who appreciates little volumes like this.
True Whit, Whitney Port with Sheryl Berk
I’ve recently been clearing out my room and shelves and came across this book that I bought a good few years ago. Who didn’t love The Hills and The City? This is Whitney’s guide to life in your twenties, including jobs, love, friendship, moving away from home, and generally learning to be a grown up. I thought it might be a little bit of a spin-off gimmick, but it’s actually packed with some pretty great advice.
The pictures, as you’d expect, are gorgeous, and it was just a glossy, fun read with some down-to-earth tips. Worth a flick through if you’re a Whitney fan, or just like glossy books about being a young woman!
A mixed bag as always!
What shall I read next?