Whenever I need a little nonfiction comfort reading, I pretty much always head to British history. I have no idea why. They've got a history as imperialistic, as warlike, as completely bloodthirsty as most countries. But I can't help it. I just find it interesting.
So this week I've had a tough choice of which book to read when I go to bed. On the one hand, I have Jane Austen's England, by Maggie Lane. Now, anything "Jane Austen" is always a crowd-pleaser here at Chez Citizen Reader. It's not a new book, but it is a very interesting one, giving the history and architectural details of every place in England that Austen stayed or lived, as well as how she worked those details into her own writing. Very good stuff.
On the other hand, I have Peter Ackroyd's lovely Thames: A History. It's a cultural and geographical history of the Thames River in England, complete with pictures, and it's also good stuff. I've never read any of Ackroyd's works (he typically writes historical biographies, like Chaucer and The Life of Thomas More), but I'm enjoying this one, and I might have to pick up some of his biographies. Check out his writing:
"The general riverscape of the Thames is varied without being in any sense spectacular, the paraphernalia of life ancient and modern clustering around its banks. It is in large part now a domesticated river, having been tamed and controlled by many generations...It is a work still in slow progress. The Thames has taken the same course for ten thousand years, after it had been nudged southward by the glaciation of the last ice age. The British and Roman earthworks by the Sinodun Hills still border the river, as they did two thousand years before. Given the destructive power of the moving waters, this is a remarkable fact. Its level has varied over the millennia--there is a sudden and unexpected rise at the time of the Anglo-Saxon settlement, for example--and the discovery of submerged forests testifies to incidents of overwhelming flood." (p. 5-6.)
Sigh. Now I want to go to Great Britain and sit by the Thames.
This just in: Just found this at RickLibrarian's blog; I'm all over that!