One of life's great pleasures is reading, and so it's been great to have been given so much time through the lockdown to be able to sit and read.

My favourite spot is on the hammock in the front garden, it's such a comfy spot under the trees and with the dogs coming to keep me company it makes for a very pleasant break from reality for a while.

Some of the books I've read over the last few weeks have been sitting on the bookshelves for a couple of years (like Roller-Coaster - Europe 1950 - 2017) waiting patiently for their turn. Others like the Louis De Bernières' So Much Life Left Over have to be read almost as soon as they arrive in the house.

Roller-Coaster is the follow up to To Hell And Back - Europe 1914 - 1949 which was a masterpiece of history, and Roller-Coaster is pretty fine too, especially as Ian Kershaw steps out of his comfort zone to examine a period of history he isn't normally concerned with (he is the pre-eminent writer on Adolf Hitler). I had never read anything by Kershaw prior to To Hell And Back but I wouldn't hesitate to read anything else he's written.

Louis de Bernières is quite possibly my favourite fiction writer and I have yet to find a book of his that didn't entertain me. Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord is my favourite read by him.

This book was great and set in a very different context to his previous works, though two of the main characters were first encountered in his previous book The Dust That Falls From Dreams.

It's quite a tragic tail about Daniel and Rosie and their fragile marriage which falls apart. Having said that Daniel is quite a character and his adventures are very entertaining.

All in all it's another quality offering from De Bernières.

Paula has raved about Sebastian Faulks for years and given that we have ten of his novels on our bookshelves and the fact that much of his writing is set in a period of history that I read a lot about, it's a bit of a mystery as to why this is only the second Faulks book I have read. It is also a mystery as to why it took so long to get around to reading my first Faulks novel; Paris Echo just before the lockdown began.

I thought Birdsong started too slowly and wasn't sure we were going to get along too well, but it develops in to a rip roaring story of love and survival in the context of World War One and after the first few chapters I was unable to put it down.

I may be a latecomer to Sebastian Faulks's work, but I have every intention of making up for lost time!

Another favourite author, if you've never read any of Kazuo Ishiguro's books you've missed out!

I first encountered Ishiguro's writing in his novel When We Were Orphans which was deservedly shortlisted for the 2000 Booker Prize and it's a travesty that he didn't win it.

Shortly after reading that, I learnt that he had written The Remains Of The Day which was also a brilliant film starring Anthony Hopkins. But as is always the case with films and books, the book is a class above the film and well worth a read.

Nocturnes is a a collection of five bitter sweet stories about music, love and the passing of time with some of them intertwining with each other. It's an easy read but still well worth it. This is probably a good read to be introduced to his work.

This was a Christmas present so it hadn't been waiting too long for its turn.

I love autobiographies and generally read more non-fiction than fiction and this was quite entertaining.

I've always enjoyed Elton John's music, particularly his earlier stuff before he became the queen of England.

What I particularly enjoyed about his autobiography was his relationship with Rod Stewart and how they have spent most of their careers pranking and winding each other up, sometimes with great comedic effect.  Elton also doesn't shy away from speaking plainly about others and that can be quite amusing at times.

This is another easy read but if you have any interest in the man's music it's worth the read.

So that's what I've read so far and once I've read a few more I'll follow this post up with Part 2.


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