Books

Category archives for Books

Skeptical Sir Richard

Yesterday I finished reading the first volume of Sir Richard Burton’s 1855 Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah (in the public domain). Here Burton recounts his travels in the summer of 1853, when he disguised himself as a wandering Persian physician and performed the Muslim pilgrimage. At the time, if a non-Muslim…

Machen’s Impostors

Arthur Machen’s 1895 book The Three Impostors, or The Transmutations, is a delightfully strange read. It consists of a short frame narrative interspersed with six standalone stories told inside the frame. Spoilers and musings follow. First the background to the events, which the reader learns only in the sixth and last story inside the frame.…

Best Reads Of 2015

Here are my best reads in English during 2015. My total was 55 books and 16 of them were e-books. Find me at Goodreads! The Summing Up. W. Somerset Maugham 1938. An old writer and traveller looks back on his life and turns out to have settled upon pretty much the same philosophy as myself.…

This is the definitive study of English cruciform brooches. Now and then a study comes along that is so comprehensive, and so well argued, that nobody will ever be likely to even try to eclipse it. It is my firm belief that future work on English cruciform brooches will strictly be footnotes to Toby Martin.…

Poet and Spy

Reading a good book, Charles’ Nicholl’s The Reckoning. The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (1992, 2nd expanded ed. 2002), about the 16th century playwright. It’s a bit overloaded with asides and covers far more characters and factions than anyone can keep track of without extensive note-taking. But quite intriguing withal. I find it fascinating how rich…

Pickwick Afterlife

The final third of Stephen Jarvis’s upcoming novel Death and Mr Pickwick continues in the same rather kaleidoscopic fashion as before. The asides and Chinese boxes are innumerable. We never do get an important female character. The frame story is never developed much. In fact, the book only really has Robert Seymour the artist and Charles…

Sketches of Boz

In the second novel-length third of Stephen Jarvis’s hefty Death and Mr Pickwick, artist and caricaturist Robert Seymour starts in earnest to put ideas together for the Pickwick Papers. Yes, that’s right: here (as maybe in reality) it is the illustrator who comes up with the concept for the book, but being dyslexic and proud…

Google Play Books Ate My Apostrophes

Update 10 April: It pays to report problems like the one described below to Google’s customer support. Seven weeks ago I discovered the problem. One week ago I reported it. Today the problem was suddenly gone, probably because Google updated the two ebooks involved and pushed new versions of the files to my phone. I…

“Matilda”: Class Perspective

In Roald Dahl’s last book, Matilda (1988), we are invited to laugh at the main character’s parents. They hate books, love TV, dress tastelessly and subsist on microwave TV dinners. Yet only when I saw the musical at the Cambridge Theatre in London this past Tuesday, where the mother additionally practices competition ballroom dancing and both…

My Bronze Age Book Is Out

Dear Reader, it is with great pleasure that I announce the PDF publication of my fifth monograph,* In the Landscape and Between Worlds. The paper version will appear in April or May. Here’s the back-cover blurb. Bronze Age settlements and burials in the Swedish provinces around Lakes Mälaren and Hjälmaren yield few bronze objects and…