26 Books in 2017 Books 9, 10 and 11

Gone With the Wind, The Ladder of Years, and the latest Rebus…

I know three posts for the price of one! Those of you who know me/follow me elsewhere will know I’ve recently moved house. Therefore there’s been a bit of slippage in the 26 Books in 52 Weeks posting. So it’s a bit of a catch-up today.

Book number 9 had to be a book that was made into a film. Lots to choose from here, but it was Gone with the Wind, set during the American Civil War, that came to mind first – so I’m going with that. This is the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Margaret Mitchell first published in 1936, and made into a film in 1939. I was given it as a Christmas present in the 1970s and at around a thousand pages long it was the longest book I’d ever read. I didn’t see the film until after I’d read the book. I loved both. I was a teenage girl and it was one exciting and epic romance. Nowadays the book’s portrayal of slavery and of African Americans is controversial. As an adult, I can see why that is, but I can’t deny that as a naive teenager it had me gripped.

Back Cover Blurb:Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as Gone With the Wind does, creating haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of characters so vivid that we remember their words and feel their fear and hunger for the rest of our lives. In the two main characters, the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Margaret Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.


Book number 10 had to be a book published in the twentieth century. Again lots to choose from, and again I’ve gone for the one that sprang to mind first. Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler was published in 1995. It’s the book that confirmed for me that I’d like to have a go at writing a novel. It’s the kind of novel I aspire to write and it’s the kind of novel I love reading. It’s a wonderful example of contemporary fiction that is not only literary, but also tells a good story.

Back Cover Blurb: One warm summer’s day at the beach, forty-year-old Cordelia Grinstead, dressed only in a swimsuit and beach robe, walks away from her family and just keeps on going. After hitching a ride with a stranger to a new town where she knows no one, she reinvents herself as a single woman with no ties and begins living a new life altogether. But how long can she keep this up before her real life finds her?


And book number 11 had to be book set in my home town or region. No contest here. I love Ian Rankin’s crime fiction and I love his (now retired) police detective, John Rebus. So I’ve gone for the latest, the twenty-first in the Rebus series – Rather Be The Devil. Like all the books in the series, the novel is set in the city of Edinburgh where I was born and grew up and lived and worked in for many years. Rebus is a superb creation and Rankin’s writing is just fab. His portrayal of Edinburgh is one I recognise – somewhere between Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting and Alexander McCall Smith’s The Sunday Philosophy Club.

Back Cover Blurb: Some cases never leave you. For John Rebus, forty years may have passed, but the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand still preys on his mind. Murdered in her hotel room on the night a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there, Maria’s killer has never been found. Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs. A young pretender, Darryl Christie, may have staked his claim, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable, and an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatens his position. Has old-time crime boss Big Ger Cafferty really given up the ghost, or is he biding his time until Edinburgh is once more ripe for the picking?

What would your choices for these three categories be?



26 Books in 2017: Book 8

Philips Essential World Atlas

Book number eight in the 26-books-in-52-weeks challenge has to be a book by someone who isn’t a writer. It was a bit of a tricky category for me. After all, how can you produce a book without being a writer? But after looking through my book shelves I came to my collection of reference books. And beside my various dictionaries and thesauruses, there it was, my Philip’s Essential World Atlas.

I love maps – and by maps I mean ‘old school’ paper charts. Google maps and sat navs are all very well and yes, they’re useful when driving, but you can’t beat the real thing for really getting yourself orientated.

I have no sense of direction whatsoever and get lost very easily so to be able to spread out a proper, paper map and learn by heart where one place is in relation to another place is invaluable for me.

Nowadays, I have a large collection of Ordinance Survey maps for when I’m out on long walks but my love affair with maps began when I was a child. When I was around seven-years-old, I had a world map on my bedroom wall complete with all the flags of the world printed around the edge. I was fascinated by it and memorised as many flags and capital cities as I could. It was also around that time that I got my first atlases – a UK one and a world one – and oh how I pored over them.

And my fascination has continued until now. So my book number eight is not by a writer but by a cartographer. I’ve had my Philip’s Essential World Atlas for many years now so it’s probably high time I updated and got a newer edition. Boundaries and country names will have changed over the years. And of course what fun it would be to have a new collection of maps to get metaphorically lost in.

What book not written by a writer would you choose I wonder?