Wednesday 10 August 2022

Recent Reading - The Old and The New

 Two of the library books read recently were quite different


Adrian Bell -  Sunrise to Sunset. 
Adrian Bell was born in 1901 and became a farmer and then a rural journalist. He was also the compiler of the first Times crossword.Many of his books are loosely based on farms that he worked on and where he lived in Suffolk
The library copy of Sunrise to Sunset that I borrowed was published in 1944 during the war on austerity paper and is kept in the Local Interest section of the Library reserve.
In May 1940 during the  fear of invasion on the East Coast of England,  Nora Bell took her three children to a rented home in the Westmorland village where her sister was a teacher. This little book is about Adrian Bell's visits from Suffolk up to Westmorland and his tales of helping on the farm there, which he was able to do as the harvests were about 4 weeks earlier in the South. The differences between a small stoney farm in the Cumbrian Fells and the flat fertile lands of Suffolk are many. A fascinating insight to how hard those farming families worked to earn a living on sloping, poor land through the war. 
It's funny to think that Martin, his son just little boy in the book became a war correspondent and an MP and is now a very old man himself .
John Bevis - An English Library Journey. "One man's eccentric quest to obtain a membership card from every library authority in England". . John Bevis started  this tour of libraries when, unable to continue his job after an operation, he began driving his wife around the country for her work. While waiting for her he found he would have to  join the library in the town to be able to use the computers for his writing and editing work (a sideline to his main job). So in 2009 the quest began in Shropshire. I was most disappointed to see that his visit to Suffolk was to Sudbury library, when apart from the architecture (one of his main interests in each library) all he talks about were the people having trouble using the computers.
 In his 2010 visit to Norfolk he went to the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium  library in the Forum in Norwich - the most used library in the country. But he fails to mention this library sprung from the fire that destroyed 1000's of books in the previous library and this is despite  his story of helping to rescue books from a library at Guildford Grammar School when there was a fire then in 1962.
An interesting little book if you want to know about the library tickets, the buildings, the changing use of libraries and the people using a few of the countries libraries.
 Unfortunately after the Brexit referendum in 2016 he gets into politics a bit too much!

Back Tomorrow



  1. These two books sound like treasures, one about libraries (I am a librarian) and one about the small farms during WWII. I always read a mix of new and older books, right now its an Anthony Trollope book, Castle Richmond, written in the 1850s.

  2. Living here in a farming area and seeing what they do, I have a lot of respect and admiration for farmers. How farmers in rough terrain with bad weather manage is beyond me - they don't know any different and have a 'just get on with it' attitude I suppose.

  3. Fascinating books - I particularly love the sound of Sunrise to Sunset - although I'll probably be ear-worming that song from 'Fiddler' all day now! :-)

  4. I've got a few Adrian Bell books here still I think, though more will have gone in my pre-moving cull. Certainly another time when he was working the land.

  5. The Library Journey book would've attracted me but your comment about politics put me off.

  6. Very interesting reads , shame about the politics!
    Alison in Wales x

  7. Interesting books. It is impressive that you have good access to books written long ago. Farming/growing varies greatly with the soil and slope of the land. For example, my Massachusetts property features lots of rocks of all sizes. I've brought in some good soil for growing but even today to dig a hole for a new tree requires a pickaxe, a shovel and soil/compost to replace the rocks. (Needless to say, I do not require a gym membership.)

  8. My great uncle was a farmer and we would go for our holidays so that my Dad could help with the harvest. My gran would walk me down to the beach where I would entertain myself whilst she read her book. Catriona

  9. The need for farms and farmers will always be with us.

  10. You read some really interesting books. Do you just stumble on them or are they recommendations from others?

  11. Those sound really fascinating.

    God bless.