I am constantly reading. I somehow feel like I have even more time for it now that I’m in college…mostly because I make time for it. Whether it’s five minutes before I’m off to class, or even a few snatched hours with a cup of coffee and a candle warmer on the weekends, I always seem to find a minute to fit in the new favorite book. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to summer is continuing my ever growing reading list. I am looking forward to applying for a Rhodes Scholarship in the next two years, and with that comes a pretty dramatic British literature reading list. So needless to say, this summer will be spent soaking in some English gardens and countrysides. Here are some of the British history books I’m crushing on that aren’t on any approved reading list, but will be filling up my bedside table nonetheless.
Below Stairs, by Margaret Powell
This is the book that inspired both Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey! I’ve been reading bits and pieces every time I’m at Barnes and Noble, and I’m obsessed. It’s filled with delicious little tidbits about the lives of servants and the gentry in British manors at the turn of the century. Both moving and hilarious (Margaret has quite the dry sense of humour), you’ll devour it in a few days. And then go flip on netflix for a little time with the Crawleys.
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
I am obsessed with this book. I read it at the start of the year…and lost my copy. Sigh. But I love it so much that I believe I will be buying it again on my Nook. It is just that good. The book follows the life of Thomas Cromwell, a lowly peasant raised up to the nobility during the time of King Henry the Eighth. Mantel follows his thorny path, twisting from regime to regime while trying to keep his head on his shoulders–literally. This is an inspiring book for writers; I’ve never read anything quite like it!
Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
I had been meaning to read this book for ages, and finally got around to it this year. Bill Bryson is one of the funniest authors you will ever have the pleasure to read, and this book is both charming and realistic. It goes past our view of Hogwarts and Beatrix Potter England into the realities of industrialization and commercialization, but still leaves you wanting to hop on the next flight to Heathrow. A great ride through the British countryside for those of us stuck on a North American couch.