It’s been quite a while since I posted anything about what I am currently reading. I really have been doing something besides taking pictures and crocheting! This is the pile of books that I have read in the past four months (minus one that has already been traded back through PaperbackSwap.com) and includes two that I am currently reading.
In January I read two books that greatly influenced my reading choices for the next several months. One of these, The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (copyright 2009), led me to read several books about the same topic, Richard III and the lost Princes in the Tower from England’s Plantagenet Period.
I am an avid reader of European history and English history in particular, so I was already familiar with the story of the Princes in the Tower and aware that most people believe that King Richard III, their uncle, was responsible for their deaths. Philippa Gregory’s version of the story was intriguing because she told the story from the viewpoint of Elizabeth Woodville, wife to Edward IV and mother of the Princes in the Tower. Historians seem to pretty much agree that Elizabeth was not popular with her husband’s family and most of the peers of the realm, and that is probably an understatement. Likewise, she had no love for Edward’s family, and that included Richard, who usurped the throne from her oldest son, Edward V. Yet in Gregory’s book, Elizabeth Woodville does not believe that Richard killed her sons and presents a very compelling argument for the deed having been done through the combined efforst of the Duke of Buckingham (cousin to both Edward IV and Richard III) and Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, later to become Henry VII (father to the infamous Henry VIII).
The White Queen (remember the War of the Roses, a series of civil wars for the throne of England between two branches of the House of Plantagenet, Red Rose is Lancaster, White Rose is York) intrigued me so much that I decided to read two other books about Richard III that I had on my bookshelf. While The White Queen is historical fiction, Alison Weir’s The Princes In The Tower (copyright 1992) is non-fiction and even though it is a factual account, Weir successfully creates a riveting account of the lives of Edward IV, Richard III and the times they lived in. Weir definitely does not agree with Gregory, though, and most emphatically states that the historical evidence points to the guilt of Richard III concerning the disappearance of his nephew in the Tower.
The third book I read about Richard III was Sharon Penman’s historical novel The Sunne in Splendor (copyright 1982). I am a big fan of Sharon Kay Penman and have previously read this book, along with all her other books. I was hesitant about starting one of her books, since doing so usually makes me want to reread all her books and they are all very long books! Penman is definitely in the innocent Richard III camp, citing the Richard III Societies in the United States and England in her Acknowledgements page.
I loved reading several books about the same topic; it was interesting to view the same characters from the different author’s perspectives. Usually I discover one book by a particular author and then read many books by the same author (see below), so this was a new adventure, reading various books about the same topic. I definitely found it worthwhile and will do so again.
The second book I read recently that sent me off on another reading spurt was The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman. I so thoroughly enjoyed Mrs. Pollifax and the other characters created by Gilman that I went on a Paperbackswap.com shopping spree and picked up several more Gilman mysteries. Since then I have read The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax (copyright 1970), The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax (copyright 1971) and A Palm For Mrs. Pollifax (copyright 1973). These have been a nice change of pace from Richard III, light-hearted with interesting settings and very quick reads. Instead of one 900 page book that takes a month to read, I can zip through a Pollifax novel in two or three days. Even though the geo-political map has changed a bit since these books were written (the breakup of the Soviet Union, etc.) the mysteries are still wonderfully constructed and the characters still intriguing.
I have several more Mrs. Pollifax books on my PaperbackSwap.com wish list, two more on my bookshelf, and another on its way to me. At first I was not reading them in any particular order (actually I read #1 first, then #3, then #2), but when I picked the next one off my shelf, Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station (book #6 in the series), I quickly learned that Mrs. Pollifax acquired up a romantic interest in book #5, Mrs. Pollifax on Safari, so I decided to read #5 first and am awaiting its arrival in the mail. Eventually I hope to read all of the Mrs. Pollifax series.
The last book that I finished recently was a slim Sedona Arizona Pictorial Guidebook that I picked up last week when we were in the Sedona area. The pictures were beautiful and I enjoyed reading about the geological and political history of the area around Sedona.
Currently I am reading Heat Wave by Richard Castle, the book written after the television program Castle became a hit. I am sixty-some pages into the book and, while it’s a good read so far, I am not finding it as interesting as the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries, nor as good as the television show. I’m not sure if that is because I prefer reading spy novels than murder mysteries; maybe I’ll figure out the reason why by the time I finish the book.
One last book mention, Was it something you ate? Food intolerance: what causes it and how to avoid it, by John Emsley and Peter Fell. I began reading this back in January with an online group and I’m sorry to say we’ve not gotten very far into the book. I think everyone got busy with life and forgot about it. I know I did. I am partway through Chapter 1: Monosodium Glutamate and have reread those first few pages at least twice, as there are so many scientific terms and explanations. It is interesting, but I definitely have to take my time to decipher and consider and process the information.
So, what have you been reading?