Saturday Saunter: 2020 books

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Monday night. My plan over the next few days is to have posts ready for the rest of the year so here’s hoping I can manage that. The rest of the year looks set to be busy so blog matters will be a low priority, sadly.

The other night I wrote the Best of 2020 post, my annual look back at the year and where I’ve been. That will appear on Boxing Day and there are a few new entries, a surprising state of affairs since venturing opportunities this year have been limited. Last year I did a Best Books post but this year I won’t bother. This might need to do.

I’ve looked through what I’ve read this year, reviews, apps and all the rest, to try and come up with a list of books I’ve read and appreciated this year. I came up with ten. A Tomb With A View, Peter Ross’s book about cemeteries and all matters death, comes high up the list for its social history, local interest and just how interesting it was. Imagine A Country, an anthology of writings edited by Val McDermid and Jo Sharp, was a valuable insight into how our country could look with the right ideas. Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall managed to talk geopolitics without condescension or agenda, a remarkable feat.

A lot of the books I’ve particularly cherished this year have been about the sea in some way. Peter Aitchison’s history of the 1881 Eyemouth fishing disaster, Children of the Sea, went far beyond that tragic event, into the history of Eyemouth itself and the fishing industry that sustained the community and much of the east coast. I had a tear in my eye as I read the chapter about the day of the disaster itself. In March, I was supposed to go to an event at Aye Write about Seashaken Houses: A Lighthouse History from Eddystone to Fastnet by Tom Nancollas but it was cancelled, naturally enough, since it’s 2020. I bought it in Stanford’s in London when I was down there in February, a place as far from lighthouses as it is possible to be in these islands. It’s a decent book, with chapters about many of the most impressive or isolated lighthouses around the British and Irish coastline. There isn’t a lighthouse on Lindisfarne but it is seen as a spiritual place, as Alistair Moffat wrote about in To The Island of Tides, following in the footsteps of St. Cuthbert by walking across the Borders to Holy Island.

Berwick Lighthouse: a lighthouse tower with a red top, white middle and dark red base. It is at the end of a pier with a wall around, with the sea on the right.​
Berwick Lighthouse: a lighthouse tower with a red top, white middle and dark red base. It is at the end of a pier with a wall around, with the sea on the right.

I have read a few football books this year but most of them were re-reads. The Acid Test by Clyde Best was one of the best, read this summer when Black Lives Matter was at the forefront of the news.

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan was a resume of books read and savoured over a lifetime, some tallying with my own. I wonder what she would have thought of the last book I read, which was actually for work, The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig, a decent children’s book about elves, Father Christmas and Amelia Wishart who do their bit to keep hope alive. It makes this list because it was decent. In more grown-up reading, I particularly laughed at Miracle Workers by Simon Rich, which was wonderfully darkly funny.

A different perspective for this week comes from a Geoff Marshall video on YouTube about accessibility on the railway, featuring Dominic Lund-Conlon.

Right, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 5th December 2020. Thanks for reading. If you want to sample any of these fine books, see if your local library has them, in person or online, if that’s an option. Another Saunter will follow next Saturday. Hopefully something else on Wednesday. Until then, keep safe, keep well. A very good morning to you all.

8 thoughts on “Saturday Saunter: 2020 books

    1. I didn’t though I see that it’s on the National Library of Scotland’s YouTube. Thanks for that! I believe that Waterstones does click and collect at the moment, if that’s an option, and other independent bookshops online may have it. No substitute for walking into a bookshop, though!

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      1. I read that too. I’ve never been to the Hyndland Bookshop though it is mentioned in the excellent Bookshop Tours of Britain by Louise Boland, which I can also recommend.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I enjoyed reading your best ten list! I’d have to think about what mine is, since I’ve read so many new books this year, but I agree that A Tomb with a View would be on it. I still think about it all the time, and I even made a special trip to London Bridge to try to see Crossbones Graveyard back in October after reading about it (it was closed, so all I could do was peer in the gates, but I’ll definitely go back now that I know where it is).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I remember reading about Crossbones, which is a superb name for a graveyard. According to Wikipedia, at least, it’s owned by Transport for London so there might be some kind of Doors Open Day for it in different circumstances.

      Liked by 1 person

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