I’ve been reading a couple of books a week this year, well, most weeks and given that books are one of the most popular Christmas presents, plus there’s the fact that Christmas might be the only time of year that farmers really get to sit down and relax, I thought I’d share my favourite reads with you. Hopefully providing you with some gift inspiration too!
I loved Irish Farming Life: History and Heritage, a?record and analysis of Irish farm history and heritage, concentrating so much on oral testimonies, popular culture, literature, film and yes, even ploughing matches. I particularly enjoyed the chapters dealing with farm women, the Irish farm mammy and the lives of servants and workers. It’s a exploration of Irish farming for the last 300 years but concentrates on the 19th and 20th centuries.
I’ve reviewed Irish Farming Life?here. Written by Mervyn Watson and Jonathan Bell. I really enjoyed meeting them at the launch last week too.
Do You Remember by Alice Taylor
I recently read a couple of Alice Taylor’s memoirs and reviewed them here. I see her latest book is out –Do You Remember? – ?and skimming through it recently in a bookshop, it looks quite similar to To School Through The Fields although obviously with added material. If you know someone who loves reading about Irish life during the 1920s and 1930s, this is one for them. Told with good humour as well as being an interesting read.
I loved all the James Herriot series as a teenager and recently reread all of them, and they didn’t disappoint. I reviewed them here. They offer such a thorough and fun exploration of human and animal personalities, all within the wild beauty of Yorkshire. Herriot is never afraid to laugh at himself either and his portrayals of himself, Tristan and Siegfried make for very funny reading. Perfect reading for farmers as well as anyone interesting in rural living in the 1930s-1950s.
His son has written a biography called The Real James Herriot: and it’s on my own Xmas reading list!
The Yorkshire Shepherdessby Amanda Owen
This was an interesting autobiography, the tale of bringing up a young family in the bleak Yorkshire dales, running a tenancy farm of 2,000 acres but yet having to move sheep to rented land lower down where the climate is milder. It’s a good look at contemporary living, yet is going to be a social history book in the making. I particularly enjoyed reflecting on my own memories of the Foot and Mouth crisis. That’s the beauty of these books, they evoke your own memories too. I reviewed it here.
Over The Farmer’s Gate by Roger Evans
Roger Evans has written a couple of memoirs, both told in a relaxed and easy-to-read style, sharing stories of his farm in Shropshire, the comical activities of various farm animals and the exploits of villagers – mostly in the pub! I reviewed it here.
I enjoyed the 18 short stories in the The Lie of the Land?and reviewed it here. Told mostly about his boyhood, it’s a nostalgic and sometimes humourous look at Irish farming in a bygone age. The Long Acre has just been published but I haven’t got hold of a copy of it yet.
So many books …. so little time!
Of course, if you are looking for a fun look at farming from a marriage perspective, do check out my book ‘Would You Marry A Farmer?‘ too 🙂
What books would you recommend? My Xmas reading list is long but I’m always open to suggestions.