Books for July

 by Diana Studer

- gardening for biodiversity

in Cape Town, South Africa 


During loadshedding, when our internet is dead (but our sun or PV battery gives us light to read by) - I lean on our local library, and a happy pile of books waiting to be read.



At the water's edge


Remote village in the Scottish Highlands at the end of the Second World War. Hunting Nessie. Gaslighting (again) but the threads gather up to a tidy happy ending.


Mairi visited the tiny swell of earth that covered her daughter's coffin every day, watching as it flattened. Archie the Stonecutter had said it might be months before they could put up the stone with the frost so hard upon them, but the coffin was so small the levelling was accomplished in just a few weeks.


Winter branches Porterville June 2011
Winter branches
Porterville June 2011


The trouble with my aunt - inspired by actual events


An inherited genetic mutation called Fragile X. Acknowledgements include thank to her daughter - 'who encouraged me to create my own cover illustrations'


Nobody really understood what the trouble was with Aunty Vi - all I knew was that it was Gran's fault.

'For a start, Vi can't read or write'


Hedi Lampert - The trouble with my aunt
Hedi Lampert - The trouble with my aunt




A dystopian novel, which took me a while to see the unspoken back story. Blurb compares it to Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World - not for me (1984 I can quote from). Book review LINK


Moral: Always leave a little on your plate.

But I am a night owl married to a determined lark, and the book opens with

Mornings weren't good for either of them.


Twirly for Osteospermum oppositifolium Cederberg August 2010
Twirly for
Osteospermum oppositifolium
Cederberg August 2010


All the lonely people


Echoes of Windrush coming from the West Indies to the 'promised land' of England Weaving the story between Hubert Bird's mother at home, daughter in Australia, and himself a lonely widower.


Hubert considered the young woman more carefully this time and much to his dismay observed that she was struggling not to cry.

... 'Could you find it in your heart to look after my Layla for a bit?' 


Hibiscus tiliaceus heart leaves Porterville December 2013
Hibiscus tiliaceus heart leaves
Porterville December 2013

Samantha DOWNING

He started it


Siblings estranged. Granpa's will requires them to repeat a childhood road trip weaving across the USA. (At the end, alarmed that his first book was called My Lovely Wife)


As soon as Felix and I get into our room, we use quick-drying disinfectant and antibacterial spray on the bedsheets, the towels, and the tops of all the furniture.

Not that we are germophobes, but who wouldn't do this in a roadside motel?


Gannaga Pass in the Tankwa Karoo September 2011
Gannaga Pass in the Tankwa Karoo
September 2011


The crocodile hunter


I would have starting reading again when I reached the last page, but the Ungardener couldn't get into it. His female characters are two dimensional tokens, but ignoring that, he brings each male character vividly to life in turn. The little grey man is an unlikely hero, ignored by neighbours and colleagues. Until the day he misses his retirement do and is asked to return to 'crocodile hunting'. The secret services versus the opponent.


They had been Irish when he had started, then Cold War diplomats and couriers from eastern Europe, but now the operations of A4 were almost exclusively aimed at the jihadis.


Crocodiles at Kruger
September 2019

Anthony DOERR

All the light we cannot see


Another WWII novel, the history between Germany and St Malo (bombed flat by Americans) - a Breton city built on granite almost on the English Channel. Needing a fresh spin, our heroine lost her sight as a child.


"I have the whole world here," he says, and taps the cover of Darwin. "And in my radios." 


Jules Verne - Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.


For five days he hears nothing on his transceiver but anthems and recorded propaganda, and broadcasts from beleaguered colonels requesting supplies, gasoline, men. ... the fabric of war tearing apart.


Our heroine works at a museum studying molluscs.

... these tiny wet beings straining calcium from the water and spinning it into polished dreams on their backs.


Paired mussel shell Rocher Pan August 2013
Paired mussel shell
Rocher Pan August 2013

I enjoy remembering the vivid bits and finding one of my pictures to tie in.

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  1. As usual, your reading list is very diverse. I've noted a couple of your selections for future reference, although I've been sticking to "cozy mysteries" for the most part of late. With all the horrid daily news, I find I don't want to read anything that raises my blood pressure, as least not in the evening before bed, which is when I usually settle down to read.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! I'll have to consider them for my book club. Before long, we'll be picking for next year. We're currently reading "Daughters of Erietown," but I haven't started it yet...better get going! :)

  3. I always peruse your book recommendations eagerly. I very much enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See when my book group read it a couple of years ago. Responding to Kris's comment above, here is my recommendation for those who would like to immerse themselves in a kindler, gentler world than the one we are currently living in: Beneficence by Meredith Hall. For those who would like a better understanding of the global rise of populism, I found Fiona Hill's There Is Nothing for You Here very insightful.