The Making of the British Landscape – Francis Pryor

Excellent book explaining how features in the landscape came to be. Reading this book gives a sense of the continuity of the land since prehistoric times, and it’s amazing what has survived. Certainly makes looking out of the car window a lot more enlightening.

The Tribes of Britain: who are we? And where do we come from? – David Miles

Continuing to fill in the large gaps left by my mis-education, I decided to read this book. Not only is it an attractive one for the bookshelf (although it did violate my rule for judging books by their covers by having shiny gold print on the front), it is also attractively written. It’s informative and readable and has many interesting little facts that I’ll probably wheel out at dinner parties to bore people with. It’s long enough to get really stuck into, but unfortunately ends on a bit of a low note with an academic nod to political correctness with a kind of ‘Britain’s always been changing and therefore hadn’t we all better rub along?’ Kind of predictable, or perhaps that’s just my cynicism.

Emotional Branding – Daryl Travis

Obviously it’s more than a logo, and this book contains a lot of stuff that people should just know if they have a business. But there are some excellent examples of things that have worked, despite everyone thinking they wouldn’t. This is the sort of book that you read with a highlighter, pencil or notebook in the other. It’s highly readable, but it is the sort of book that you’d need to come back to to keep reapplying the principles.

A History of Modern Britain – Andrew Marr

Huge book to get one’s teeth into. What’s a bit scary is what’s written about in the later chapters is weirdly familiar and it’s strange to see it written about as history.

Best bit about the book? Excellent photo caption facing page 407, and brilliant subtitles such as ‘The Killer Cows of Old England’, ‘The Tartan Pizza’ and ‘The Stairs Were on Fire’. Mr Marr is wasted on TV.

Marie Antoinette: the journey – Antonia Fraser

This a beautifully sympathetic book. Well-researched, and containing lots of personal details and anecdotes to add understanding of the character and person of Marie Antoinette. What a person, and what unfortunate circumstances. Fills another gap in my knowledge of history. This is one of those books (because of the character of the Queen herself) that when finished, leaves an empty space. I don’t know what to do now.

The Warrior Queens: Boadicea’s Chariot – Antonia Fraser

An interesting and well-researched book, as one would expect. Discusses the different aspects of a ‘warrior queen’; shame syndrome, weak woman syndrome, appendage syndrome, voracity syndrome, tomboy syndrome, better-man syndrome et al.

Suckers: how alternative medicine makes fools of us all – Rose Shapiro

This is an eye-opening and well-researched book. Very readable, but at the same time shocking to consider that so much money has been spent on treatments that don’t work – just because they’re trendy and people like them. In fact, what I found was the most disturbing was that the people who lay into Western medicine as being ‘artificial’ and dangerous are precisely the same people who reject the scientific approach of randomised controlled trials (the most rigorous form of evidence) because they ‘don’t work’ on complementary therapy. That’s probably all you need to know…

Schmetterling und Taucherglocke – Jean-Dominique Bauby

This is the most beautiful book in the world.

Churches Beware (a modern edition of ‘Warnings to the Churches’) – J.C. Ryle

Mr Ryle was the first bishop of Liverpool. And a very sensible man. He said such inifinitely wise things as: ‘But it is useless ot expect attachment ot the local parish church, when the local minister is ignorant of the gospel or a lover of the world. In such a case we must never be surprised if men forsake their local parish church, and seek truth wherever truth is to be found.’ Wise words. However, writing in the nineteenth century, he could not have foreseen a time when such churches still had people in them despite the gospel not having been preached in living memory. He could not therefore have foreseen a time when the membership of some churches was predominantly made up by people who show all the signs of not being saved.

It’s a great book, but you could argue it’s out of date. A lot of the things he was warning the churches about has already happened. Still, Mr Ryle is a top chap.

Excuse Me… Your Rejection is Showing – Noel and Phyl Gibson

I’ve had this book for years and never read it because of the dodgy title. However, sometimes it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover.

This book starts with the premise that rejection has happened in some way to many or most people. And this rejection can have a major detrimental effect on the rest of their life. It’s interesting, practical, and very positive.

Revival – Charles Finney

Tiny book, but great. Some really brilliant stuff in here. It’s a collection of some of Mr Finney’s sermons and shows the best (probably) of his profound, timeless and biblical wisdom. Refreshing.

The Gunpowder Plot: terror and faith in 1605 – Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser is thorough and reliable. Previous to the book, I knew there was some gunpowder, a couple of catholics and a chap called Mr Fawkes possibly involved in said event,  but other than that, didn’t know anything. Now I feel as I have been better filled-in. Mission accomplished. Gradually my education improves.

Warfare Prayer – C Peter Wagner

This book contains a lot of biblical wisdom, the only beef I have with Peter Wagner is that he’s into church growth, which doesn’t seem bad until you consider that church growth is more about getting bums on seats (and coins in the collection plate) than it is about discipling and spiritual maturity.  Still the book addresses points that are unavoidable for anyone serious about the power of prayer.

The Weather Makers – Tim Flannery

This is an incredibly interesting book about climate change. I do feel more informed now about how the climate is changing, but feel Mr Flannery didn’t satisfactorarily explain the link between human behaviour and climate change.

What I liked, was that he provided numerous examples of how the climate is changing, and what effect it is having in various parts of the world. However, he does address ‘global warming sceptics’, but in such a derogatory way that I think perhaps they might have a point. Words he used to describe them included ‘gobbledygook’ and ‘cesspit’, and my favourite bit: ‘damaged dinosaur wreaking havoc staggering towards the grave’. Poetic – yes.  Scientific – no. He spends quite a lot of wordage attacking persons rather than arguments, but doesn’t give reasons, which made it seem more like a rant than impartial critical analysis. He also uses lots of vague words when talking about evidence he likes such as ‘arguably’ and ‘possibly’.

I enjoyed it though. It was interesting, and it made me think. But Mr Flannery’s ‘Because it is’ answer to the global warming sceptic’s doubts isn’t really OK.

Healing the Human Spirit – Ruth Hawkey

It’s only a short book, but I was a little disappointed. It doesn’t have anything more than the absolute basics in it, but what there is is good.

Roots of our Faith – Chuck and Karen Cohen

A good solid book giving the biblical position for faith. There are plenty of references, and the information is presented in a logical and well-considered manner. Highly readable.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Antonia Fraser

As usual with Antonia Fraser, you know where you are. Instead of a book about Henry VIII, this is about his wives (obviously), but the focus is strange since he’s the main character, and the spotlight isn’t on him. Lots of detail, and it’s filled another gap in my mis-education.

The Hour that Changes the World – Dick Eastman

The premise of this book is that if we all dedicated ourselves to spending an hour a day on God, then not only would we be different, but the world would be different too. Mr Eastman recommends a structure to time spent with God, and explains the rationale. Interesting and inspiring.

Breaking Strongholds in Your City – (ed) C. Peter Wagner

This book contains chapters by various people such as Cindy Jacobs, Bev Klopp and George Otis Jr and is concerned with spiritual mapping of settlements. In fact George Otis Jr is the person credited with coming up with the term spiritual mapping. It’s a good basic text to learn more about territorial spirits.

God’s Chosen Fast – Arthur Wallis

This is a sensible, biblical view on fasting. It’s inspiringly written by a holy man, who writes normal English for normal people. Thank goodness.