Saturday, August 11, 2012

Simple Pleasures edited by Ivo Dawnay

Here is a simple pleasure for you:

The temperature is 75 degrees and I am sitting in the black wicker chair on my front porch reading Simple Pleasures. A cool breeze whispers across my shoulders, a couple of little brown sparrows take sips from the bird bath, and a neighbor strolls across the street to catch up for a few minutes before she goes back to pulling weeds from her garden. I go back to my reading.

Not bad after weeks of dry, 100-degree days with not a whiff of air. Whew.

Since my post yesterday on my picks for National Book Lover's Day - a list of ten books from my shelves that I wouldn't want to be without - I realized that only one book is fiction. Well, one and a half if you consider James Thurber's humorous essays/stories/memories of growing up in Columbus, Ohio. He may just have taken a few literary liberties with the events of his early life, but perhaps not as many as one might think.

Anyway, I had pulled out the collection of essays, Simple Pleasures, (#5 on the list) to double check its editor and it was still sitting by my reading chair. I picked it up and was once again lost in the Little Things That Make Life Worth Living: knitting with author and knitwear designer Sally Muir; the pleasures of a good log fire with former MP Ann Widdiecombe; foraging for mushrooms with journalist and war correspondent Sam Kiley.

Perhaps my favorite this reading is being stuck on a train "in that mythic realm of the British transport system, the middle of nowhere" with novelist Gilbert Adair.  Oh, to be in England.

The essays in this diminutive book published by the British National Trust, it only measures about 5 inches by 7 inches, are broken into categories: A Sense of Place, Home and Hearth, Creature Comforts, The Great Outdoors, Pleasures of the Table, Talking and Ruminating, and Final Thoughts.

At just under 200 pages, it can be gulped down along with a lemonade on a particularly spectacular cool summer's day or taken bite by bite at your pleasure. Highly recommended either way.

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