Bookish Discussions

2019 in Books: Favourite Reads I


Like everybody else, I’m here to wrap up my year of reading. I thought I’d kick it off with my favourite reads of 2019. Despite not having the best reading year, with lots of disappointing and frankly quite boring reads, I’ve managed to find a fair few favourites. I’ve had to split this up into two parts – hope you don’t mind!

I haven’t any order to this really. I’ve just listed the books in the order that I read them. I have one definite favourite which I’ll make clear in part II. Let’s kick if off with the first few months of 2019:

Up first is Ruth Goodman’s How to be a Victorian – a fantastic non-fiction looking at the daily traditions, rituals and codes of conduct that the Victorians lived by. It was *sooo fascinating* to learn the routines of my favourite period, getting a look at how both the working- and middle-class lived.

Goodman is very passionate about history, which comes across in the writing of this book, making every page a pleasure to read. I couldn’t get enough of this one.

Continue reading “2019 in Books: Favourite Reads I”

Bookish Discussions

Witchy Book Recommendations:


It’s spooky season and I want to talk about it.

I thought, because I love witches so much, I would do a post tailored to witchy reads.

Admittedly, I haven’t read that many. I started making a real dint in witchy books this year thanks to my dissertation, but I have stumbled across enough to have found myself some new favourites.

Not all these are spooky, but they all look at the witch in some way. All of them question how we view the witch, and how the witch falls into a long line of literary traditions.

At the top of my list is William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It was one the very first texts I read that involved witches. It’s full of tension, prophecies, greed and despair. It may be Shakespeare’s shortest play, but I think it has the most to it. It’s so enjoyable, both on page and on stage, and I can never get enough of how the Bard depicts the witches. They are powerful forces of nature, who chant around cauldrons, thrive of the environment, and who are essentially evil.

There is no goodness to Shakespeare’s witches.

Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in response to King James’ suspicion of witches. He hated them, wanted them exiled from his land, and Shakespeare catered his depiction towards this sentiment. They represent chaos, darkness and despair. They foretell the future, but we don’t know if they control Macbeth’s fate or are merely agents in it. I think Shakespeare does some interesting things with the three witches, especially considering the historical context. Honestly? A must read.

Carrying on in the same vein, we have two books set during King James’ reign, Stacey Halls’ The Familiars and Tracy Borman’s The King’s Witch.

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Bookish Discussions

The King’s Witch: The Best Witchy Novel Yet?


Noted historian, Tracy Borman, tried her hand at fiction, writing and publishing The King’s Witch, a first in a trilogy. It follows Frances Gorges, a natural herb healer, who tended Queen Elizabeth on her death bed. Now, in King James’ court, she is a marked woman for witchcraft. Her situation grows even more complicated when she meets the mysterious Tom Wintour, who has his own agenda. Can she trust him? Is he all that he seems?

I’ve never heard anyone talk about this book before. I only stumbled across it by chance when I was browsing the book aisle in my local Sainsbury’s. Something told me I couldn’t leave the shop without buying it, and I’m glad that I did, as it’s quickly become a new favourite of mine. It combines my love for historical fiction, the monarchy and witchery all into one.

I’ve never read any of Borman’s non-fiction, although I have Witches, a tale of Scandal, Sorcery and Seduction sitting on my shelves waiting to be read in preparation for my dissertation, but I’m eager to snap up all her other books. Being a historian has worked well in Borman’s favour, as she has managed to blend together a nice balance of history and fiction. It feels deeply authentic, both to the time period and to Borman herself. I’ve learnt a great deal from this book, but I’ve also had *such* a great time with it.

Continue reading “The King’s Witch: The Best Witchy Novel Yet?”