Well goodness, it's been an interesting reading month. I kept to my decision not to try and read loads of books just to get my numbers up and have read just six books for the first month of the year. I'm very happy indeed with that.
1. A Fire Upon the Deep - Vernor Vinge
2. The Magician's Nephew - C.S.Lewis
3. A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French
4. Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys - Amelia B. Edwards
5. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
6. Mountains of the Mind - Robert McFarlane
Ostensibly this is a book about the history of mountaineering and truthfully that was all I was expecting. What I got was an awful lot more. It's more like 'The History of Everything' as McFarlane takes the reader on a wonderful trip, firstly through the geology of the planet, then on to how our mountains were formed, where they were and are now, how old they are and so on. He moves on to people's attitudes towards mountains... at first they were considered a blot on the landscape until slowly, during the 18th. century, attitudes changed. People realised that they were actually beautiful, could present a challenge found nowhere else, and that they were the epitome of the 'sublime'.
The author gives us all of this but also intersperses the history with his own experiences climbing mountains all over the world. Fascinating stuff. I mean really rivetting. Some of his adventures will make your hair stand up on end! Of the history chapters my favourite by far has to be the one that dealt with the ill fated George Mallory who became obsessed with Mt. Everest in the 1920s and died on his third attempt to climb it. But what really made this book for me was the beautiful writing. Not only does McFarlane make the historical parts very readable and interesting, he writes lyrically and magically about the mountains themselves. It's quite captivating and I found myself wishing the book was a bit longer than its 280 pages. Brilliant read, sure to feature in my best non-fiction of 2015.
Like I said, an interesting reading month and this was mainly because of the variety of the subject matter of the books. I started with a terrific science fiction adventure, read a modern comedy drama by Dawn French, and then followed those with two books about mountains which were very different to each other. In between I squeezed in two of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books which I am rereading this year, having borrowed the set from my grand-daughter. I have to say, I love a reading month that includes this kind of varied reading and am hoping to continue it throughout the year.
Favourite book of the month? Very difficult and in the end I think I'll have to call it a draw between A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge and Mountains of the Mind by Robert McFarlane.
And because I seem to be a bit hooked on books about mountains at the moment, here's a new one I just got from Amazon Marketplace:
Adore that 'poster' type cover... artist - P. Colombi apparently.
Happy - and cosy - February reading. Stay warm and safe.