I have been doing a lot of re-reading of 'comfort books' recently. Kind of like comfort eating, but it doesn't show on the hips. Over the last fortnight I have worked my way through:
The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers, all by Rosemary Sutcliff. Strictly speaking these are kids books. However, they are so well written that they are still a fantastic read twenty years after I was first caught by them. They are set in Roman Britain, spread out through the period. The attention to both historical detail and character detail makes them incredibly absorbing. The thread that seems to run through all her books that I have read is one of alienation and then reabsorption, either from/by society or by families ... usually children or young people. Sutcliff is also famous for 'Warrior Scarlet', which is still on my 'to do' list for this week.
The Natural History of Selborne by Gilbert White. An eighteenth century clergyman-naturalist's collected letters to fellow naturalists, observing the flora and fauna of his parish. Rather pretentiously, I always have this by the bed - I often find it soothing to read a few pages about the mating and migratory habits of swallows before I go to sleep.
Lined up next I have all the Dorothy L. Sayers 'Lord Peter Wimsey' mysteries, courtesy of Amazon. I've not read the early ones for a while and I am starting at the beginning of the series and working through in chronological order ... fun, but I am also experiencing elbow-tingling horror at some of the racist attitudes and class stereotyping that it was acceptable to include in popular fiction in the twenties.