Book: Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave
by Jonathan Green (2010)
A GUEST POST by Kerry Dexter
Imagine sitting in a pub of a rainy afternoon with an erudite gent who knows a lot about customs and history of Scotland. The conversation might range from why Scots celebrate Burns Night — and just who was Robert Burns anyway?– to who was the real Macbeth, and how to make haggis.
The experience of reading Scottish Miscellany is a bit like such a conversation. There are thirty- four questions, each with its own short chapter, and each with answers which usually ramble quite a bit away from what’s first being asked. Each chapter has many side bars, as well, which are headlined Did Ye Ken? and offer related — occasionally quite tangentially related — information on the ideas at hand in the main chapter.
It is sort of an odd lot of questions, really, which has its moments of being rather charming and will likely add to the book’s appeal as a gift, as will the many illustrations. Johnathan Green, a teacher who has written a number of popular books for children and who lives in England, offers his answers to the Loch Ness monster question, for example, as well as telling the differences between the sports of curling and shinty.
If you’ve spent a good bit of time in Scotland, as I have, you will likely find things you think could have been handled differently. Placing the massacre at Glencoe in a passing sentence in a chapter on the McDonald’s hamburger chain struck me as quite jarring, for instance, and I found the chapter on what is Gaelic rather textbook in style. Occasionally at other times, history seems to be condensed rather too much to give a good idea of what happened, or why it matters today. .
That said, Scottish Miscellanycould make a reasonable travel companion. It is easy to read in bits and bites,and perhaps a good nudge to explore further on the topics Green covers, as well as other aspects of Scottish life and history.
Kerry Dexter suggested songs for Scotland last year; Robert Burns music recently, and she gives us music to accompany the Great American Road Trip each Wednesday over at Music Road. Thanks, Kerry. Always glad to have you come back and talk about your favorite places. (The book Scottish Miscellany was provided by the publisher, Skyhorse Publishing in hopes that it would be reviewed.)
Now it is your turn. Do you like to read these books packed with facts–minor and major–about a place you want to visit? Or do you prefer a narrative to go with the information? And while you’re thinking about your comment, click on one of those buttons to tell others about this book review. Thanks!