I tore myself away from Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies to do some reading of a very different kind this week – a day by day account of the South Wales Borderers during World War 1. This was a continuation of my attempt to unravel the story behind a series of photographs he took while on service in Egypt. Apart from camel trains and mosques he also photographed a very large military funeral and what looks like the result of an attack. No-one in the family knew he had even been to Egypt – he never spoke of his experiences apparently – all my mum remembers is the medals he wore every Remembrance Day. Imagine her surprise to find out that not only had he been to Egypt, he’d also served in France and Salonika. It’s been fascinating to read these diaries kept by the battalion commander – full of details of days training with rifles that they know don’t work and days of marching through fog and snow in Salonika.
On the literary front, I had yet another disappointing experience of using my local library. The day after the long list for the 2012 Man Booker prize was announced, I took the list to the library hoping to at least read a few of them before the short list gets announced late on in September. Not only didn’t they have any of the books on the shelves, they hadn’t even ordered these for stock in any of the county library branches. So no-one in my part of Wales will be able to read what are considered to be the pinnacle of this year’s new books without having to borrow from another county. Ok, so with budgets tight, it would be unrealistic to expect them to have all of these titles – especially those by first time authors. But it’s rather disturbing that they didn’t think a new novel by established authors like Will Self, Michael Frayn or Andre Brink would be of interest to local readers. I know they can’t buy every book published but it seems more and more of their new collection revolves around ‘autobiographies’ by C list celebrities.
Also in my Blog…
- The organisers of World Book Night 2013 announced this week that nominations are now open for titles to be included in the next big give away. I’ve started to put my ‘long list’ together – would love to know what titles you would all suggest.
- More ideas came this week for books to take with me while I travel. Given the focus on London, Abe Books have put together a list of novels set in the city. I was a bit alarmed to see how few of them I have read ……..