The Story of Art – E.H. Gombrich

There are many different editions of The Story of Art, but I’m happy with my slightly scruffy twelfth-edition, which my mum received for Christmas in 1975. She passed it on to me about eight years ago, when I expressed an interest in art history. It’s taken awhile, but I’ve finally managed to read the whole book.

I can’t say that I’m now an expert, but this book has given me a well-rounded introduction to the history of art, starting with the cave paintings of the prehistoric and primitive peoples. From there we learn about Ancient Egyptian art, then travel to more adventurous art in Greece. We learn about how art was born, how it changed, when it was stifled and when it thrived. Gombrich takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through the different ages, explaining how art adapted for different purposes, how artists experimented and how other nations and generations influenced the next stage in the history of art. Continue reading

Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson seems to be able to take any relatively uninteresting subject and turn it into an anecdote. It is especially apparent in Notes from a Small Island, which simply gushes with facts, figures and obscure details about things which you would never have even thought of (or cared about). This is what makes his writing so enjoyable, even if it is a bit tedious at times.

Notes from a Small Island is all about Bryson’s last trip around Britain before going to live back in The States with his family. Starting off in Dover, where he set foot in Britain for the very first time, back in 1973, Bryson revisits old favourites, explores new places and takes a few accidental detours to unexpected areas. Travelling mostly by public transport and staying in modest hotels and Bed and Breakfasts, Bryson learns about Britain at its best and worst. Continue reading