Logo: A Beautiful Miniature Book

Reading for the Quiet Hours

December 2021

"Colour. Travels through the Paintbox" by Victoria Finlay.
495 absorbing pages, these on the origin of various pigments throughout history.
Backed up with travel adventures to various remote source locations, and then rounded out with an extensive Bibliography, Notes, & an Index.
Anyone interested in Art History should find this an absorbing read.
Coming next from this author: "A Biography of Precious Stones".


November 2021


Just occasionally a book comes along that knocks you for six.

It’s Ishiguro’s latest: "Klara and the Sun". See above left.
Klara (far right) is an early series AF (Artificial Friend) and she gazes out of her shop window at the passers by (above center)....
The passers by constantly study their "oblongs", which puzzles her.

It's one of those books that one just does not want to end.

August 2021


We have just finished Nick Hunt’s third title: “Outlandish” (see above right). His second Title on the left.
It was read over June/July, as it is one of those books to read slowly.…(as against our normal habit of skimming through new titles).
Books are read here for a different reason to most. 
It’s mainly to get the flavour of a book, so we can comment about them, following a customer inquiry.
Normally, about a dozen such a week. We were particularly pleased to learn (Page 231) of  “The Death
of Grass”.  This title was new to us. Copies on order.
Also, anyone interested in place-name etymology will be fascinated. Our pink reference markers for these, can just be seen on the far right of the third image).
So, all in all…a terrific read, detailing Nick’s exploration on foot (above center) of several areas most people would never had heard of:
(including: Poland’s Bialowieza, The Tabernas Desert in Spain and Hortobagy in Hungary).

July 2021


Now and again a book surfaces where one has a personal connection.
So it was with the publication of Brian Garfield’s “The Meinertzhagen Mystery. The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud”. Potomac Books. 2007.

Adventurer, ornithologist, legendary military man, here we have a gripping biography culminating in evidence of serious ornithological fraud.
In Roger Moorhouse’s “Killing Hitler” (2006 Cape), pp 159 to 162 we find that Geoffrey Household’s “Rogue Male” was thought to be based on Meinertzhagen. And it is here that the connection becomes twofold. In the concluding chapters of the book, the protagonist holes up, to escape his Nazi pursuers, in a dugout just north of Chideock, a village some 7 km from us in Lyme Regis.

In fact “Rogue Male” has enjoyed great success over the years and we highly recommend it.
We were also pleased to discover it was Peter OToole’s very first 1976 appearance in film.
He is quoted as saying that it was his favourite role.

June 2021


I vividly remember reading "The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas" when young, while researching Picasso's first arrival in Paris age 24 (he was "discovered" c 1905 by Gertrude Stein). On coming to the last page, last paragraph, there being told to my astonishment, that the book was in fact written by Gertrude Stein!
No clue on the dust cover. The famous couple shown center above.

Stein's "A Rose is a Rose is a Rose" passed me by...but "What other people think of me is none of my business" has clung to the memory and served me well.
So it was with delight, while reading Patience Gray's "Honey from a Weed" (above right) this week, that I came across Stein again:
"I Write for Myself and Strangers" she tells us. Ah-Ah! Spot on (maybe there's a collection of Stein aphorisms somewhere?).

"Honey from Weed" is a cracker...full of delicious recipes from Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia.
Thank You James Winrow of Lyme Regis for that recommendation.

May 2021


Those following our Sanctuary Bookshop Diary will recall that our long-time colleague Jean Vaupres retired recently to his home in the southern border area of Bulgaria.
This is after twenty-three years of enjoyable collaboration. He is sorely missed.
He brought to our attention Kapka Kassabova (above center), who both originates and writes of the same area of her childhood upbringing.

Historically a deeply troubled and divided land, she writes with sensitivity and compassion.

Her two books "To the Lake" and "Border", are polyphonic narratives of two extraordinary human geographies where complex borders and ecosystems converge: the southern Balkans. Border won a number of major awards including the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, the British Academy Award for Global Cultural Understanding, and the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year.

Interested readers are recommended
this TLS review of Border by A.E.Stalling: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/kapka-kassabova-border/ 


April 2021


Just occasionally, along comes a book that is so extraordinary, so unusual in its theme, that it is destined to be widely read.
It’s Sophy Roberts’ “The Lost Pianos of Siberia”. Doubleday. 2020.
Peter Francopan writes: “A brilliant guide to Russia of the past and the present, set around an extraordinary search for the heart, soul, and lost keyboards of centuries gone by”. Helen Rappaport writes: "One of those magical books that captures the imagination and draws you into the beauty and majesty of Siberia".
This is a 435 page-turner, dotted with fascinating early maps and archive photographs (see images above).

March 2021


Agatha Christie crime novels are steady sellers here.
Many of her best-loved and most well-known novels featuring Hercule Poirot, such as Murder on the Orient Express (1934), Murder in Mesopotamia (1935), Death on the Nile (1937) and Appointment with Death (1937), take place in the Middle East and feature settings of archaeological sites. So, this month’s treasure is Agatha Christie and Archaeology, edited by Charlotte Trümpler, which celebrates Christie’s relationship with archaeology, exploring what life was like married to archaeologist Max Mallowan (above left), working and travelling around archaeological digs in the Middle East in the 1930s to the 1950s (above centre), and detailing the extraordinary relationship between Christie’s books and the field of archaeology. In fact she wrote a light-hearted book herself on these adventures, which we are just readingCome, Tell Me How You Live? (See front cover image right, above).

"All knowledge, the totality of all questions, and all answers is contained in a dog", so wrote Franz Kafka in 1931.

February 2021


Steve Elsworth, one of our Book Club members, having just returned from the Galapagos Isles, tipped us off about "The Galapagos Affair", a book written in 1983 by J E Treherne. Over half-a-century ago fanciful and exotic stories began to appear in the world's press about settlers on the remote Galapagos island of Floreana. The tales were of nudism, free love communes, stainless steel dentures - a latter-day Garden of Eden. But the truth was even stranger. Friedrich Ritter, an eccentric German intellectual, and his long-suffering companion Dora Strauch, were the first arrivals. Usually, day-to-day life on the remote Galapagos Islands is as uneventful as it gets. Time is measured in geologic eras (above center) and even the human interlopers find life there to be sleepy and laid-back. That all changed in 1934, when the world's attention was drawn to the distant archipelago as a drama of murder mystery and sex, played out among the colorful inhabitants of Floreana Island.

Not long after Freidrich & Dora arrived, they were followed by "The Baroness:" a young Austrian woman named Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet. She was accompanied by Rudolf Lorenz (above left...Lorenz's mummified body as found later on the beach of the uninhabited neighbouring island of Marchena), and Robert Philippson, her two German lovers: they announced their intention of building a grand hotel on Floreana, the Hacienda Paradiso.
She was an attractive but highly strung woman and greeted passing ships wearing a skimpy outfits (above right), complete with whip and pistol.
You could not make it all up!

January 2021


There is something particularly magic about a fully rigged four-masted barque, under full sail and with the wind behind.
And so it was we came to read Alfred Basil Lubbock's "Round the Horn Before the Mast".
First published in November 1902, ours was a was a battered eleventh printing dated October 1923!
What a read! Seventy-five technical terms to follow (see above), just for the rigging alone! 375 pages, and read cover to cover in one go.

December 2020


Finding unknown unknowns!
Browsing through a rummage box May 19th at West Bay's 7.00 am Sunday morning Boot Fair, one came across a tiny little printed essay by Mark Forsyth.
Titled "The Unknown Unknown" (see above), it is a 23 page riff on Donald Rumsfeld's now famous aphorism:
"There are things that we know we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things that we do not know we don't know".
Mark's delicious trope is to apply this to...browsing for books in bookshops!
The unknown unknowns? Well, these are the books you never knew existed (like this one!)..!
Breakfast passed in a haze of rapt enjoyment.
Try and find a copy!


"All knowledge, the totality of all questions, and all answers is contained in a dog", so wrote Franz Kafka in 1931.
...and often also in a good book. For example, the delight of sharing with an author a walking adventure..?
So, our most enjoyed reads over the past few months were, for...

November 2020

"A Time of Gifts".  P. Leigh-Fermor.
"Where the Wild Winds Are". Nick Hunt.
"Walking the Woods and the Water". Nick Hunt.


To read further about the author Nick Hunt...click here...

...and here for The Dark Mountain.

While in
October 2020, we re-read...


"Hermann Hesse. The First Biography". Bernhard Zeller.
"Ideas That Matter". A C Grayling.
The Reason of Things". A C Grayling

Here is Prof. A. C. Grayling’s wonderful take on humankind's perverse attachment to non-rational impulses...

"I think they are failing in their responsibility to themselves as intelligent beings by not being sufficiently reasonable. If you really press them, just ask them...


...Aren't you glad that the people who built the aeroplane you fly in used reason?”. “Aren't you glad that the pilots were trained according to reason?”.

“Aren't you glad that your doctor or train driver thinks about what they do and uses reason?”.

And they will say “Yes”.

Then you say:

 “Well, OK, if that's the case then how about applying it to your own life as well?”


If you haven't discovered Hesse...you might care to try this...

But in
September 2020, after a pause...new discoveries were in store:


"On Being". Peter Atkins.
"Tuesdays With Morrie". Mitch Albom.
"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". 40th Anniversary Edition. Robert Pirsig.

And in January 2019...we read for a second time...


"Scale". Geoffrey West.
"The Double Helix". James D Watson.

"The Selfish Gene". (The new edition). Richard Dawkins.

While in
December 2018, in the precious quiet of evening hours,  we discovered...


"Flight Behavour". Barbara Kingsolver. Climate change fears are given wings...
"Food for Free".
Richard Mabey.
"Self Suffiency".
John Seymour.

So perhaps you can understand that this quip below, and the one we have just discovered at the top of this page, both give us cause to chuckle (and still do...)....

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend, but inside of a dog...it's too dark to read!”
Groucho Marx.

If you would like to Return to Our Home Page...please click here...

Other pages:

This is the text-only version of this page. Click here to see this page with graphics.
Edit this page | Manage website
Make Your Own Website: 2-Minute-Website.com