I don’t know about anyone else but I find the stories held in memoirs are sometimes more enthralling than any fictional story. Certainly this is true I feel in the case of Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth, Sisters In Arms: British Army Nurses Tell Their Stories by Nicola Tyrer and Yes Sister, No Sister by Jennifer Craig. All nursing memoirs but they take us back to a time when nursing wasn’t all degrees, etc. It was about vocational training, hierarchy and the care and respect that seems to have been lost in the intervening years. Certainly, if you believe many of the stories the British news recounts about the NHS.
I also rather enjoy Belle de Jour’s books. Very different from the ones above but still a memoir.
As well as the many novels I want to read, I also love to plunge into a well-written factual book, one that introduces me to a really interesting topic. One source of fascinating reads is the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction: there is always something to catch my fancy on the list. Previous winners include ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ by Kate Summerscale, ‘Nothing to Envy: Real lives in North Korea’ by Barbara Demick and ‘Into the Silence:the Great War, Mallory and the conquest of Everest’ by Wade Davis.
The shortlist this year is
Empires of the Dead: How one man’s vision led to the creation of WWW1’s War Graves by David Crane
Return of a King by William Dalrymple (the story of the first Afghan War)
A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson (reintroducing and protecting bumblebees)
Under Another Sky by Charlotte Higgins (what Roman Britain has meant…
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