Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Horse Boy (Rupert Isaacson)

Isaacson, Rupert - The Horse Boy

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Horse Boy
Author: Rupert Isaacson
Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Travel    Pages: 319
First published: 2009
Edition: Paperback, published by Penguin in 2010

The Isaacsons left their home in Texas and travelled to the plains and mountains of Mongolia – the spiritual home of the horse – risking everything – their happiness, future and sanity – on an arduous epic horseback journey in search of a cure for Rowan . . .

Trying to put my thoughts together on this book is not easy. There were elements I loved and bits that I did not. I loved the travel side of it and the idea of parents going to the ends of the world to find healing for their son.

However, the way the author spoke about his son’s autism did not quite sit well with me. I have a couple of friends who have children on the autistic spectrum and I would love to discuss this book with them and in particular the parents’ relationship to the fact that they have an autistic son. My own conclusion is that the parents needed as much healing from their negativity as their son did from his autism. Maybe that was partly the point the author was trying to make, but if that is the case it was not clear enough for me. The tone is sometimes just a touch too pretentious.

Having said that, I did enjoy this book and it was definitely worth reading. I loved finding out more about Mongolia and about the healing offered by Shamanism. Isaacson did make it sound like an amazing place and I definitely appreciated that.

Whether their son was helped by the shamans or by the fact his parents just learned to relate to him better (more positively) is a different discussion, and I guess it does not really matter. As a mother of a challenging child myself, I know how hard it can be to do the right thing for your child. Sometimes it is hard to find the right path, but I do feel these parents did just that.

5 out of 7 stars 

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Seabiscuit (Laura Hillenbrand)

Hillenbrand, Laura - Seabiscuit

★★★★★★★

Title: Seabiscuit
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography / Horse Racing
First published: 2001
Edition: Hardback, published in 2001 by Random House

I adore this book. The writing, the story, the emotions, it’s just perfect.

Hillenbrand tells the story of a washed up racehorse and the people that transformed him into a champion so eloquently and with so much heart that you cannot but root for the horse. However, this is not just a story about a race horse, it’s a story about America in the 1930s and racetrack culture at the time. I found it endlessly fascinating.

The people surrounding Seabiscuit are who make his story so extraordinary. The enthusiastic owner, the washed up jockey and the taciturn trainer. It just makes for a fantastic story. Fiction in this case could not be better than truth.

This was my second time reading this book, having first read it shortly after it came out, and I think I loved it even more this time. The epilogue had me in absolute tears. So many feels.

If you enjoy reading about sports or horses, I would highly recommend it, as this is definitely one of my all-time favourites.

7 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Foxes Unearthed (Lucy Jones)

Jones, Lucy - Foxes Unearthed

★★★★★★☆

Title: Foxes Unearthed
Author: Lucy Jones
Genre: Non-Fiction / Natural History  Pages: 253
First published: 2016
Edition: Hardback, published in 2016 by Elliott and Thompson Limited

No other animal attracts such controversy, has provoked more column inches or been so ambiguously woven into our culture over centuries, perceived variously as a beautiful animal, a cunning rogue, a vicious pest and a worthy foe. As well as being the most ubiquitous of wild animals, it is also the least understood.

This is a book as much about people as it is about foxes. It explores the relationship that the British people have had with the fox over the years.

I have always had a soft spot for the beautiful creature that is the red fox. With it’s rusty fur and catlike intelligent eyes it has always appealed to me. I photographed foxes near my then London home for a while, but I have also been present at a fox hunt (definitely not participated!) when it was hosted at a friend’s farm in the South of England. A lot of this book focuses on the fox hunt and its supporters and its opposers. Having experienced a small local fox hunt for myself, I could practically smell the centuries’ of tradition and that is explored in this book and I could relate to that. It is not something I agree with, but it is not a cut and dried situation and the author explores that very well.

Maybe I would have liked the author to explore the life of the fox in the city a bit further, but then, this book was about people and their viewpoint of the fox’s presence in our urban streets and not necessarily about the fox itself.

I really enjoyed this book a lot and I think anyone who loves foxes or is interested in nature and the way it co-exists with us humans would enjoy it too.

6 out of 7 stars 

Books · TBR

November 2018 TBR

I am not going to set myself a massive TBR for November. There are a total of six books on my November TBR.

1811 TBR

NON-FICTION

I love the idea of making an effort to read more non-fiction over November, so I think I may be participating in Non-Fiction November, which is hosted by Olive on Thebook olive on YouTube.

There are four prompts (past times/pasttimes, shelf/self, wander/wonder and micro/macro), but I won’t really follow them much. I want to set myself three books for Non-Fiction November. As I normally average about one non-fiction book per month, three will make a perfect amount for me.

So let’s start with the non-fiction books I would like to read in November:

1811 TBR NF

Seabiscuit (Laura Hildenbrand) –  This book is both about a period in American history and about a sport, so it kind of fits one of the prompts (past times or pasttimes). This will be a re-read for me. It has been about ten years since I read it and I remember loving it.

The Horse Boy (Rupert Isaacson) – This book has been on my shelves way too long and since we recently got our own ponies, I kind of want to read it now. This book is about a father who notices his autistic son improves around horses and takes him to Mongolia to help heal him. Because it has been on my shelves so long it sort of fits the Shelf prompt!

Foxes Unearthed (Lucy Jones) – I have been meaning to read this book for aaaaaages! I love foxes and when I lived in London I saw them all the time. I even photographed them in my local park for a while. So I am very interested in this book! Maybe this could fit the Wonder/Wander prompt, as foxes do wander all around and I am full of wonder for them! 😉 Does that count?!

FICTION

1811 TBR FictionI also have three books on my fiction TBR.

A Thousand Doors (edited by J T Ellison) – This is a NetGalley ARC. In the blurp for it it says: Through the unique voices of New York Times bestsellers and rising stars in women’s fiction, A THOUSAND DOORS examines how our smallest decisions can create lasting effects, and allows the thought—can we actually change our lives?

The Path of Daggers (Robert Jordan) – book 8 in my epic Wheel of Time re-read.

Quartet in Autumn (Barbara Pym) – since I bought four of her books last month, I thought I would better read one of Barbara Pym’s books. This one has a very suitable title for this time of year.

***

There are some books I might read, particularly some series sequels, but I want to wait and see what I am in the mood for. Having a small TBR this month is kind of nice 🙂

 

 

Books · Reading Challenges · TBR

Non-Fiction November & a small fiction TBR

I had already jotted down a few books to read in November when I stumbled across Non-Fiction November, created by Booktubers Olive and Gemma. Well, what finer excuse could there be to shake up my reading habits and add a bit more non-fiction to my TBR.

NON-FICTION NOVEMBER

So, Non-Fiction November includes four one-word prompts: Love, Home, Scholarship and Substance. You can interpret them anyway you want, which I like. So these are the books I have gone for:

Humble, Kate - Humble By Nature

 

Home:  Humble By Nature (Kate Humble) – Kate Humble is probably best known as one of the presenters of BBC’s Springwatch. In this book she tells about her life as she moves from the city to a small holding in Wales. I have this one on audio book, narrated of course by Kate herself.

Isaacson, Rupert - The Horse BoyLove: The Horse Boy (Rupert Isaacson) – I have had this book on my shelves for ages, so this is the perfect excuse to read it. As far as I can tell it is about a man who takes his autistic son to Mongolia in search of healing and understanding. What greater love is there than the love of a parent for their child?

Yaffe, David - Reckless Daughter

Substance: Reckless Daughter (David Yaffe) – Ok, I am interpreting this very loosely, but why not read about a woman who wrote songs of substance? I think Joni Mitchell certainly fills that category. I already started this one, but I will probably not continue until November. So yes, I made it fit! 🙂

 

Medieval Lives - Jones, Terry and Ereira, AlanScholarship: Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives (Terry Jones/Alan Ereira) – Another book that I have meaning to read for ages, but has just been sitting on my shelf gathering dust. I hope it sort of fits this category? One of the writers, Alan Ereira, is a professor and I presume there will be some mentions of ‘scholarliness’ in the book. Plus it’s only 224 pages!

I also would like to get round to reading Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots by Sarah-Beth Watkins, which is about Henry VIII’s older sister. This is a book I got for review via NetGalley and I am looking forward to reading it. This is also a book that may be pushed into December though.

FICTION TBR

Because of Non-Fiction November I have had to tone down my prospective fiction TBR.

Jordan, Robert - The Wheel of Time 3 The Dragon Reborn

I definitely want to read third book in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which is The Dragon Reborn. This is part of a buddy read on Goodreads for which I have re-read the previous two already.

 

Bronte, Charlotte - Jane EyreI also want really want to read Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë), which I hope to buddy read with Abbey from Three Cats and a Girl. I have been meaning to read Jane Eyre for ages and a while ago I got myself this gorgeous clothbound edition, which looks fantastically autumnal. I love it and I cannot wait to read it!

I also have a few more e-books from NetGalley that I want to prioritise for this month. Some of these are starting to be Christmassy!

I imagine I will pick a couple of random books from my shelves as well, but we will see how much reading I get done!

I was going to read Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel), but I think I will push that one on to December. It’s a massive book and I have too much to read already in November!

Have you got any reading plans yet? Are you participating in Non-Fiction November?