In addition to all the fiction I read last month, there was some non-fiction as well as a couple of haiku collections, the latter delivered right to my inbox. Fun!
A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan by Fintan O’Toole
To be honest, I would not have pulled this book from the charity shop shelf had it not been for the author. The title would have put me off and I would have passed it by, but I have read several of O’Toole’s books and essays and I have always found them informative and well-written, so I picked it up and had a closer look. When I saw that it was a biography as indicated by the subtitle, I decided to buy it. I did not recognize the name, but I figured I’d learn something. I am so glad I decided to buy this book, because it was fascinating! Not only was it a biography of this one Irish-British person, but it also described Irish and British history in the second half of the 1700s and the first decade and a half of the 1800s, because Sheridan was at the heart of a lot of the political stuff that was going on in both places. He was a member of parliament and at the heart of power through his connections, particularly with the prince regent, so political culture of the time was necessarily part of the narrative. Because he was a playwright, and owner of the Drury Lane Theatre, I learned about the culture of the theatre and the role of the theatre in the larger culture. This book was a really good read—well-written and almost novel-like. This isn’t a book I would have ever known about or sought out, but that’s the thing about libraries and charity shops—I never know what happy surprises I will find.
Why Are We So Angry and What Is It Doing to the World? by Oliver Burkeman (audiobook read by Oliver Burkeman)
I came across this in the e-audiobook section of the library website and it seemed worth listening to, so I borrowed it. It was quite interesting. The author talks to various experts in psychology, sociology, and tech to explore various aspects of anger, how it works, and how certain aspects of life today serve to exacerbate the problem of widespread anger and its consequences for us all.
Calm Waters During the Storm: Donegal Tales from a Pandemic by various authors
One day, I noticed that the library e-book website had a new tab called ‘local content.’ I clicked on it to see what that was about. There were only a few books, two of which were about gardening, and this one. I borrowed it at once. It’s a collection of writing done by some retirees who live in County Donegal. They came together for an online writing workshop during the pandemic to document some of their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I was quite taken with this book. I could personally relate to what some people described. I could empathize with others. I laughed sometimes. And I thought how valuable this and other documents like it will be for people in the future.
La nuit d’eau / The Water’s Night: A Book of French Haiku by Micheline Beaudry, translated by Mike Montreuil
This was a Book of the Week from The Haiku Foundation. There were some gems in this one. For example,
The maples have left
their leaves at my door
it’s raining again.
Between Two Waves by H.F. Noyes
I get a daily email from The Haiku Foundation and one day it included a link to this e-book (they have several books available on their site). Great collection. I love this one:
shooting the rapids--
even the back of his head
Who knows what happy bookish surprises await in May! Looking forward to finding out.