Quick Review: Mysterious Britain by Homer Sykes

Summary (from Goodreads)

Throughout Britain’s length and breadth, ancient tribes, druids, Celtic saints, medieval knights, and 18th-century landowners have bestowed upon future generations a wealth of astonishing sights, structures, and landmarks. These awesome sights appear in evocative color photographs, richly enhanced with the history, legends, and folktales that surround them. Imagine dancing maidens and unfortunate princes turned to stone in Devon and Cornwall; water made holy in Wales; and the witch who milked the giant cow in Shropshire. These are treasures worth cherishing.

My Thoughts

This is a very beautiful coffee table style book to look through, full of inspiring, evocative photography. The photos are accompanied by explanatory text, helping to highlight the mysterious charms of the British landscape and folklore.

It’s not the sort of book I would read from cover-to-cover, but rather one I would pick up and flick through. And it’s mainly for the stunning photography that I enjoyed this book so much.

If you’ve an interest in British folklore, landscape and history, you might find this book worth a read.

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Quick Review: The Art of the Maze by Adrian Fisher & Georg Gersher

Summary from Goodreads:

One of the world’s leading maze designers displays his most spectacular and complex mazes, and reveals their powerful psychological secrets, mathematical structures, and how to solve them quickly. Over 150 illustrations, including 100 color photos, cover Greek minotaurs, Roman mosaic labyrinths, medieval Christian pavement mazes, Amazon Indian myths, remote island tribal mazes, aerial shots of modern mazes, and hedge mazes you can build. “Explains the mystery of mazes, from the simplest to the most complex.”–Publisher’s Weekly.

My Thoughts:

This is a very beautiful book, full of beautiful photography. The history of the maze, as well as that of the labyrinth, makes for interesting reading.

However, I found this book more suitable for picking up and flicking through rather than sitting down to read it from cover to cover, making it a perfect coffee table tome. Indeed, I’ve had a copy in my reading nook for a few years, and the brightly covered cover alone is often enough to catch the eye and persuade me to pick it up.

If you like mazes and / or labyrinths, you’ll like this book.

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Book Review: Mick’s Archaeology by Mick Aston

Quick Review (read on for the full review)

A fascinating, engaging book, and a treasure to read. Highly recommended!  5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

For Professor and Channel 4 personality Mick Aston, landscape archaeology remains his first love, because it provides so much information about how ordinary communities lived in the past. Environmental archaeology, experimental archaeology, the archaeology of buildings, and his great project at the village of Shapwick in Somerset are just some of the other subjects brought excitingly to life in Mick’s colourful and action-packed pages. Reading this book, it is easy to share the author’s basic conviction that “Archaeology is fun.”

Favourite Quote

I found it very hard to choose just the one, but in the end I went with this from the chapter “Monasteries”:

All of these monasteries were of course dissolved and most demolished, and their inhabitants pensioned off and dispersed in the decade 1530-40, in an act of privatisation (and vandalism) that makes Margaret Thatcher’s government look like a bunch of bungling amateurs.

Review

I have flicked through this book many times (a habit I have with non-fiction books where I read random chapters that grab my interest), but this is the first time I have read it from cover-to-cover.

I loved this book.  It was a fascinating, engaging read.  Professor Mick Aston’s love for archaeology was infectious, and helped to inspire at least one generation’s interest in the subject.  He’s a much missed character.

Full of photographs and anecdotes, as well as information on different aspects of archaeology, this was a treasure to read, and I hated having to put it down.  Having watched Professor Mick Aston on TV since I was a teenager, reading this book was almost like listening to an audiobook – something I don’t think I’ve experienced before. Wonderful!

The chapters covered a variety of topics, from the author’s early years in archaeology to his favourite subjects – buildings, monasteries and medieval settlements.  The final chapter on “Favourite Books and Recommended Reading” was a delight to peruse – who doesn’t like book lists? – and I’ve found a number of interesting titles to add to my reading list.

What I found most endearing is that for a book written to document his own love of the subject and career in it, he is quick to mention other people, be they colleagues, friends and students.  It’s not all about him, but what they achieved together.

If you enjoyed / enjoy watching Time Team, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you.  I am certain this is a book I will return to read, cover-to-cover, again and again.

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