Guys. On the day this list pops up on this blog, I will be across the ocean in the U.K.!!! SQUEEEE!!! I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m kind of excited. It will be the first “real” use of my passport (Canada and Mexico don’t count ;)), and it’s going to be fun. First, I’ll be in London, then Edinburgh with a quick stop in York on the way, then a quick jaunt to Dublin before I head home. If you are planning a trip across the pond, or if you wish you were, check out some of these reads about the British Isles.
London: the biography by Peter Ackroyd (942.1 Ac58): A very thick tome of lists and anecdotes covering 2000 years of the history, commerce and culture of one of the world’s great cities.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith (Smith): An ambitious and impressive debut novel, White Teeth follows the lives of two London friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal as they tackle issues of race, gender, class and sex in 20th century England.
Something by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, or one of the Brontes (Austen, Dickens, Bronte): Which author you choose is probably just a matter of taste. I love Jane Austen (Persuasion is my favorite), I think Emily Bronte is a surprisingly modern novelist for the Victorian age (Wuthering Heights), and I prefer Dickens on PBS than on the page (Little Dorrit)–but that’s just me.
Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland by Neal Ascherson (941.1 As24): Ascherson takes a close look at his native land during a time of transition.
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson (914.104): Before returning to America after spending twenty years in Britain, the author decided to tour his second home and presents a look at England’s quirks and its endearing qualities.
The Yeats Reader (821 Y24): A compendium of poetry, drama and prose from one of the great Irish poets
Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin (Rankin): In Edinburgh, Detective Rebus must put together conflicting clues to find a psychopathic killer and finds his own life threatened.
44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (McCall Smith): When you think of Alexander McCall Smith, you probably think of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. But this series is set in Smith’s homeland. An eclectic cast of characters lives and works on Scotland Street in Edinburgh.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (Simonson): Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) leads a quiet life in the village of St. Mary, England, until his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But will their relationship survive in a society that considers Ali a foreigner?
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (T Dowd): I’m an advocate for YA books, and this is a favorite of mine. I read it and loved and would read it again, and since I’m ending my trip in Ireland, this one’s gonna end the list! In 1981, the height of Ireland’s “Troubles,” eighteen-year-old Fergus is distracted from his upcoming A-level exams by his imprisoned brother’s hunger strike, the stress of being a courier for Sinn Fein, and dreams of a murdered girl whose body he discovered in a bog.