Friday, January 25, 2013

What Not To Read

Lately, I seem to have been reading a lot of throwaway fiction. Unlike many book-type people, I don't de-value this sort of stuff as less worthy or less important than tortured Russian novelist's work or wordy tomes about existential angst. Nevertheless, I cannot really be bothered blogging about the easy stuff. It isn't that I am ashamed of what I have read, it's just that there isn't much to say about it.

The purpose of such writing is something I absolutely champion; an escape, a pursuit of fun, a way into reading and literature and thinking about ideas for people who may otherwise be intimidated. I think there should be as much of it in the world as we can possibly squeeze in. But to write here about the books I have read lately would feel like describing a massage in great detail: an excellent experience that nobody else is remotely interested in.


Lucky for the internet, I eventually got sick of the easy stuff, and gave me brain a little workout with Courtiers: The Secret History of the Georgian Court by Lucy Worsley. It was one of the best history books I can remember reading in a long time. The focus is on a period of English history that I knew very little about but having finished the book I now have a very satisfied sense of having a sound feel for events and people from the court of that time.

The book was written in a very engaging and lively way. I carried it everywhere for a coupe of weeks in the hope that I would have a spare 5 minutes to read another page or two.

As well as being informative, and employing a very approachable writing style, I just loved Worsley's content choices. Specifically, she uses a mural in Kensington Palace to pick her subjects for study, and by choosing both servants AND nobility, she is able to produce a picture of how the different strands and strata of society functioned interdependently. She is also able to examine the different roles different people had, which added so much to the richness of the book; it became a whole lot more than a list of the rich and famous, and who they were all having affairs with. It actually made the book anthropological as much as historical which I think is what made me so delighted by it.

I give this book five King Georges out of five.