Back to Books Main

Read in 2016



Previous Page
Canterbury Tales Wind in my wheels Yoga Pilates
Kabbalah Can we live here Ghost Wars Pickwick Papers Charles Lamb Meat
Next Page



Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
 - translated by Nevill Coghill

I first picked up a copy of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer this from a charity shop and because the old English was a challenge for me to read I used the translation at: Reading it out-loud also seems to help. I'm absorbing it in small doses in between reading the Children's Encyclopedia (see below). Then I acquired a Penguin Classics translated version which I'm mostly reading instead.

buy from
Brian's Little Library


Children's Encyclopedia vol. 4

Since I’ve owned a 10 volume set of these old encyclopdias since my childhood, but never read them, I thought I would read one volume a year – I’m on target by reading 1/12th of a volume each month.

buy from
Brian's Little Library


The Desiderata of Happiness by Max Ehrmann
 - Poems of Inspiration from the Author of Desiderata

buy from
Brian's Little Library


The Wind in my Wheels by Josie Dew
 - travel tales from the saddle

I was given a collection of books by Josie Dew, to read following a recent little cycle tour of my own. I find the tales of adventure to be charming and entertaining.

buy from
Brian's Little Library


Yoga by Howard Kent
An Illustrated Guide

I'd been trying out a few yoga sequences on Youtube and found this book at my local library to provide me with some background information. I found it insightful and bought a copy.

buy from
Brian's Little Library


The Anatomy of Pilates by Paul Massey

I borrowed this book from my local library because I'd been doing some yoga and many of the poses seemed similar. The illustrations and step-by-step movements looked helpful enough, but for some reason I couldn't follow them; moving into the positions being described was hard enough while referring back to the book at each stage. My solution was so read the steps and record them, and then play them back. Then each description made sense.

buy from


Understanding the Mysteries of Kabbalah by Maggy Whitehouse
Exploring the Ancient Esoteric Heart of Jewish Mysticism

I would describe this as an illustrated reference guide, and it is very nicely illustrated; a lot of care has been taken here. While I found it ideal from a 'beginner's' point of view, it also goes into enough detail too, with each pair of pages dedicated to a particular aspect.

buy from


Can we live here? by Sarah Alderson
 - Finding a home in paradise...

I picked up this book from my local library because its title reminded me of the books I've read by Thor Heyerdahl such as 'Green was the Earth on the Seventh Day' (read in 2010), when he ventured off to some Pacific islands in search of some untouched paradise... I think he was much closer to the mark though, in mindset, attitude, and application. Alderson is more the branded-coffee-drinker and pedicure-seeking type.

buy from


Ghost Wars by Steve Coll

This book was a hard slog to read but I'm sure I absorbed some nuggets of interest. I read this following books by James Bamford.

buy from
Brian's Little Library


Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

This is the second book I've read from my collection of the works of Dickens, the first being Bleak House.

Brian's Little Library


English Men of Letters by Alfred Ainger
 - Charles Lamb

I picked up this little book in Ulapool when I was cycling up and around Scotland [read more here].

Brian's Little Library


Meat by Simon Fairlie
A Benign Extravagance

“This book is an exploration of the different environmental, ethical and health issues surrounding the human consumption of animal flesh… At the heart of this book [the author] argues that society needs to reorientate itself back to the land, both physically and spiritually…”

The main thing I took away from this book was that we need animals in order to provide our food crops with manure, in order to avoid the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, therefore, naturally, meat has a place in our diets. However, only enough animals should be reared to do this and no more and on average the consumption of animals needs to be reduced and where we do breed (and slaughter) animals this should be done as humanely as possible. We should always be mindful of where our food comes from.

buy from


Crystals for Health by Cassandra Eason

buy from


Taliesin's Travels by Michael Dames
 - a demi-god at large

I picked up this book from my local library thinking it was about 'the Taliesin', the "sixth-century bard" as referred to in the book about Merlin I read recently (see below), but it turns out this is about another Teliesin but referring to the Teliesin.

"Taliesin's Travels is based on the Welsh folk tale named either Hanes Taliesin, or Chwedl Taliesin, both meaning 'The Story of Taliesin'... that in Sir I. Williams opinion, evolved in North Wales in the ninth century. It takes a wry view of military heroics and the flattery of princes, while raising archaic yet timeless issues concerning human dealing with the supernatural and natural worlds... As a demi-god, Taliesin is a half-and-half character. Straddling the sacred-profane divide... Yet he keeps one foot on the ground by borrowing the name of a mortal, sixth century Welsh poet, Taliesin. Thus a collection of the mythic Taliesin's gnomic utterances and poems, found in the fourth century Book of Taliesin, is interspersed with some verses attributed to the mortal bard."

Some of those references, from Skene, Book of Taliesin, 1868, are as follows:

I sang before a famous lord in the meadows of Severn
Before Brochual of Powys who loved my muse.

Dames says here that Taliesin "had been a notable glorifier of warfare and the above lines were boasted after "serving the bloodthirsty King Brochwel of Powys."

Teliesin "disparages monks for their lack of elemental understanding":

Monks congregate like dogs in a kennel...
They know not when the deep night and dawn divide,
Nor what is the course of the wind, or who agitates it.
In what place it dies away, on what land it rear.

At another time he wonders:

Do you know what you are When you are sleeping?
Whether a body or a soul, Or a secrecy of perception?

"Eventually rousing himself, he decides to invite Merlin to stay with him on Enlli [Bardsey], since that wizard of a thousand faces is said to be his third self.... The isle is shaped, they imagine, as a goddess of knowledgeable fruitfulness, seen in a mountainously pregnant condition. Through her 'radiant door' they will witness the rebirth of each sacred dawn, season by season, while Taliesin sings to his cousin-suns, the ever circling stars."

buy from


Finding Merlin by Adam Ardrey
 - The truth behind the legend

I originally read this book in 2008 but when I spotted this book again at another library this year, I didn't recognise it at first or remember, but it caught my eye so I borrowed it again and re-read it with renewed interest and a slightly different perspective (as we generally gain from reading books at different points in our lives).

The main new perspective was that I had just returned from my first trip to Scotland (I'd borrowed the book just before I left, but didn't read it until my return) and since this author places Merlin in Scotland, many of the place names were now familiar to me.

Coincidentally the "6th century bard" Teliesin also talked about and recently I've come across mention of him a couple of times whereas originally I didn't know who he was and thus glanced over his name with next-to-no interest.

buy from


In the Footsteps of Adam by Thor Heyerdahl
 - An Autobiography

It was in 2002 that Thor Heyerdahl passed away, but it was not until 2010 that I leaned who he was, after I'd discovered his book 'Green Was the Earth on the Seventh Day' (a rewrite/reflection of his first book 'Hunt for Paradise' written in 1938).

I gleaned a lot of insight from that book so it wasn't really possibly for me to pass up the opportunity to read his autobiography when I saw it on the shelf at my local library.

I don't usually read autobiographies - I suppose they really only work if I want to know more about a particular person; this one gave a good review of each of the key points of his life and the expeditions and projects he was involved in (with each project given its own chapter more-or-less). Sometimes reading got a bit bland with just the uninteresting recounting of situations (which I suspect is why I avoid this genre) but overall I found further insight to complement my first read.

buy from


Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

buy from
Brian's Little Library


Pointers to Eternity

buy from


Nature Spirits

buy from


The Art of Memory by Francis Yates
(1966 hardback version)

buy from


The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel
 - Understanding Self-control and How To Master It

buy from


The Hemlock Cup by Bettany Hughes
 - Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life

buy from


The Lost Cyclist by David V. Herlihy
- The untold story of Frank Lenz's ill-fated around the world journey

Being an 'avid cyclist' and watching with keen interest when Mark Beamont cycled around the world, when a fellow blogger mentioned this book was keen to read it too.

buy from


The Element by Ken Robinson
 - How finding your passion changes everything

To watch a TED talk by Robinson on similar topics that feature in this book, click here:

buy from


Because some of my reviews on books have increasingly included vast notes and quotations, I would like to point out that I do recognise that these books are protected by the Copyright act. I put my views online to share with other internet browsers in the hope that little snippets of information may be useful and my views interesting. I have always included links to the online retailer Amazon and encourage anyone that finds any title particularly interesting (thanks to what I have to say) to either buy a copy or borrow one from their local library.


more recent

pre 2016