Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review(s)

What can I say? Guess I must have a secret corner in my soul of a geek because I often find myself picking up books on weird science/history........

I just started How to Mellify a Corpse by Vicki Leon this morning and reading the Foreword realized that I'd already read a couple of her books before - a couple of the Uppity Women series.

"In Latin, the root of our word 'destiny' meant 'that which is woven or bound together with threads.' " - reference to the Fates that spin our lives, measure them, and cut them thus ending our lives.

Anyway, I had a conversation with a potential customer at the craft fair. Turns out he was an engineer and we got started talking about books and I gave him a short list of books I'd enjoyed beginning with Jacquard's Web, which has been around for a few years and I read long enough ago I don't recall the author.

From there we went on to Ken Alder's The Measure of all Things - the history of the development of the metric system during the French revolution. Penny Le Couture's Napoleon's Buttons, a layman's (woman's?) introduction to everyday chemicals in our lives was equally fascinating to me.

When I started reading Leon's book this morning I started thinking about other 'weird' science/history I've enjoyed.

There was Honey, Mud, Maggots and other Medical Marvels by Robert S. Root-Bernstein. He's written other titles and a quick Google or search on Amazon will give you a list of those.

Simon Winchester has written many titles, of which I've only read a few but enjoyed them all. Of particular interest was The Madman and the Professor. Again Google for a complete list.

I also enjoy historical fiction, especially those authors that have taken the time to get the culture and technology correct. The most recent of course was Laurel Corona, but also Lindsey Davis and her Falco series. I love Davis' sense of humour and have learned so much about the technology in use 2000 years ago.

If you like layered stories, Dorothy Dunnett is one of the few authors I've actually re-read and would do so again if I could get all of the books in the two series so that I could romp through them one after the other and had about 3 months in which to do so. I first encountered her with her stand alone book King Hereafter which gives enormous insight into Viking culture in around ad 900 or so. Her Niccolo Rising series profiles Nicolaus, who begins as a dyer's apprentice in Bruges and then takes him on an amazing journey throughout the then known world and parts of the 'dark' continent - into Timbuktu and darkest Africa. If you're at all interested in the role alum played in European economy, the first in the series deals with that. Other books look at commodoties like sugar and gold. The time frame is around 1460-90 or thereabouts and one of the books takes place in Iceland around the time of the huge volcanic eruption and the race away from the pyroclastic flow.

The Lymond series takes place in the years preceeding Elizabeth's accension to the throne in England. One of the books uses textiles as trade goods with Russia as part of its plot line.

Sharan Newman has a series set in 1100's Europe, and of course there is Ellis Peters, around the 1300's if memory serves. It's been a while since I read her series.

There are other titles niggling round in the back of my brain, refusing to come out. Needless to say, I'm a very good customer of my public library!

(A Perfect Red and Travels Through the Paintbox - two more titles that may be of interest to weavers/dyers.)


Freyalyn said...

I managed to get a full set of Dorothy Dunnett's by hanging around on eBay and exercising patience. They all turn up sooner or later, but I have a very eclectic set - some paperback, some big hardback, few matching. I came across her with 'King Hereafter' too. Her research is impeccable.

I share a lot of your other books too.

Laura said...

If you have other titles I haven't mentioned, I'm always on the look out for a good read. :)

Sherri Woodard Coffey said...

Thanks for the book list. I'll be on the lookout for them. I keep a list of books on my "smart" phone, just in case.