The books I am currently reading
I love books . . . I was a late reader, it wasn't until I was 10 did I pick up a book and read it all by myself. From that point onwards I have not put one down. I use to read a wide selection of novels . . . some of which I would like to forget as they were not very nice! But like most naughty teenagers, I wanted to "find out" why I wasn't allow to read "those" books, by reading them. Anyway, I grew out of novels and now mostly read non-fiction. I am drawn to historical non-fiction, the lives of people past. I am fascinated about the lives of others, how they lived, what they did, their choices in life, who they mingled with and how their lives have changed ours.
My choice of books may not be to everyone's taste, so I am always reluctant to recommend a book to others. Not all my of selection are about Christians or missionaries or about people who led up-right lives, in fact some mostly certainly didn't. However, I still find their lives interesting and worth reading.
A book I recently finished and most enjoyed was "Singled Out" by Virginia Nicholson. By the end of World War I, two million British women became known as "The Surplus Women". They either had lost loved ones (spouses, fiances, boyfriends) or could not find a husband due to the number of men who had so tragically died during the war. As a result most of these two million women never married. Some of the women were so heart-broken after loosing their future husband that they vowed never to marry and others simply couldn't find a husband within their own society. This books looks at their lives and how the war changed things so dramatically for them, some for the better, others for the worse.
Having so many single women changed British society. Who was going to look after them . . . no one. These women had little choice but to become independent women. The church wasn't there for them, their families couldn't support them for their entire life and there was no welfare system. Only those from wealthier families could have some financial security.
I hear so often the "evils" of feminist movement . . . however these women didn't become independent be choice but by necessity, and out of this necessity, the labour force and welfare system in Britain was forced to change. Some of these women did push for change . . . but for no evil purposes, simply so they could survive - the fight for equal pay and the need for the government to provide financial support to elderly spinsters. Married men were not happy with these "spinsters" in the workforce, but there really wasn't any other choice, not for such a large number of women.
I am not recommending this book to all, as some chapters cover topics that may not be areas of interest to some readers, however overall this is a very interesting part of British history. This is not a feminist book, rather a historical examination of changes in British society as a direct result of war.
Lizzie Siddal (link) went from a working class girl to a super model. If she lived today her face would be in every magazine. She was not beautiful as such, however she had a mass of red hair, and during the Victorian era, red hair was not fashionable until the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood discovered her working in a hat store. She is best known as the model for Millias painting "Ophelia" and for being the love-interest for the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti (whom she later married). This book tracks her life from an unknown to a famous model. However it has no happy ending, as Lizzie, along with many Victorians was addicted to Laudanum and died at the age of 32. If you aren't into art, then this book isn't for you. If you are interested in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood then you might find this an interesting read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but I am a little arty!
What am I about to read . . . something very different. I am about to start "The secret life of Bletchley Park: The WWII codebreaking centre and the men and women who worked there" (link) by Sinclair Mckay. I have watched a number of documentaries on Bletchley Park and always fascinated by the code breakers, this book looks very promising. I will let you know when I have finished it. As you can see, I like diversity in my reading and tend to read quite a wide selection of non-fiction as these three books show.
What types of books do you like to read?
What are you reading at the moment?