I’m rattling through those 20BooksOfSummer books although I’m not sure I’ll get all the non-Viragoes done by the end of Monday. I have got a bus journey and post-long-run lolling to do tomorrow, though, so you never know. I popped to the local town centre of Solihull today to buy (oh, the thrills) my special cheese (I found a low-fat, high-protein alternative, should really write about that one day) and Lakeland’s bathroom mould remover (which promised so much and delivered … so much!) but unfortunately the bus stop is by an Oxfam Books and it would have been rude not to, wouldn’t it? Anyway, first a review of an excellent book …

Adam Nicolson – “When God Spoke English”

(01 December 2016 – charity shop)

I bought this when I was supposed to be buying Christmas presents – oopsie. But as I’ve often said, if Nicolson rewrote the phone book, I’d read it – he’s a real go-to author. I must get his latest one about sea birds, although it’s elegaic, apparently.

Anyway, this is a carefully done, impeccably researched and beautifully written history of the creation of the King James Bible. Starting with a vivid account of the accession of James to the throne (how much did you know about him? Me, not so much), we meet the various characters who get involved with the translation, some of whom initially took part in complex negotiations over the direction the church was going to take which motivated this new work. We then get as much detail as is available on the rules of how it was to be done (this was a fascinating chapter), who did it and how it was done, going into detail on some passages and comparing them with the sources and even modern translations. Lastly, there’s some information about the printing (rather haphazard) and selling of the bible and its subsequent revisions.

It’s very big on how different Jacobean thought and society was to ours, with humility sitting next to grandeur and florid decoration exposed by huge plain windows, all steeped in religion like you couldn’t imagine now. He touches on trade, nonconformists and the complex world which all led to rich translations with multiple layers of meaning, most of which are lost now, particularly in modern biblical translations: “The flattening of language is a flattening of meaning”. There’s a lovely sense of the compactness of Jacobean high society, with everyone seemingly linked and busily using those links to gain preferment.

A celebration of a word-obsessed king and a major achievement which has left few records. There are good illustrations of the main characters and a close reading that should satisfy most people.

Note that this has, weirdly, also been published under the titles “Power and Glory. Jacobean England and the Making of the King James Bible” and “God’s Secretaries. The Making of the King James Bible”.

This was Book 13 in my #20BooksOfSummer project.


Now onto those confessions.

I didn’t realise until I was taking them to the counter that I’d picked up two books with “Accidental” in the title! However, I have made a bit of a blunder! Lucy Hawking’s “The Accidental Marathon Runner” did seem a little familiar, and yes, I read it in 2009 (review here). So I’m going to have to offer that to fellow reading runners now! One less on the TBR. Vikas Swarup’s “The Accidental Apprentice” is the book he published after what I read as “Q & A” but became “Slumdog Millionaire” so he obviously has a thing about adapting TV shows for books, as this one has a woman plucked from obscurity by a businessman, except she has to clear some hurdles first. It looked like the kind of book Mr Liz might be interested in, and we haven’t done a readalong/listenalong for a while, so …

And here is what I think is the last George Eliot I haven’t yet read! I was (not exactly) famous for only having read “Middlemarch” for years and years – but that over and over again, three or four times. Then a friend gave me a copy of “Daniel Deronda” and it was one of my top ten reads of the year (review here) and then I’ve gradually acquired all of her books and read them – but not forcing the issue (so that I spaced them out) but as I found them. I’ve, of course, loved them all (apart from “The Lifted Veil” but that’s notoriously odd), and you can see all my reviews on this search result here. So, when I spotted this, I couldn’t resist.

Only two added to the TBR, then: all good. Have you acquired recently, or diminished your TBR?