Saturday, June 14, 2008

Book: The Year 1000

The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, by Robert Lacey, was so fascinating!

I really enjoyed this. I am such a dunce that at first I was like, wow, the year 1000, like cavemen? But then I realized, oh: 1000 AD. Anyway, once I got my timeline correct, I started in. The book is set up roughly by calendar months, to correspond with an old monastic calendar, and focuses on England (Engla-lond). Apart from a brief paragraph or two about what the month signified to people living then (harvest, or starvation, or hunting, or whatever), the narrative then flowed smoothly into any number of cultural and daily-living topics, such as the role of religion, what life was like for women, crime and punishment, what people ate, celebrations, Vikings, etc.

I think what I liked the most was all the etymology; how words got introduced into the English lexicon, which words came from the Vikings and which from the Saxons, etc. I also liked the examples of how words change through the years to become our familiar vocabulary. For example: shire reeve, the lord in charge (reeve) of a certain part of the country (shire), becomes our modern day sherrif. But I'm kind of a word geek.

I was totally fascinated (there's that word again but it's true) by so much in this book, I am tempted to make a list of all the things I want to look up and research now. I'm really fuzzy on the history of this time and the changing of hands in power is really interesting.

The book was made even more readable by the easy, conversational tone of the author. Not at all textbook-y or dry, just enough information was offered to pique interest before we were moving on to another snippet of information. If I hadn't been so tired at the end of the day when I was trying to read this, I would have raced through it.

Anyway, lots of fun and available soon in Terri's store! :)

What to read next? I have The Time Traveler's Wife sitting next to my bed ready to go, but I also have a huge pile of neglected magazines. Not to mention the well-over-100 books in the 'to-read' pile in the living room. Hmm. This decision could take awhile.


Alex said...

Ha Ha Ha. I'll go one better on you. I was talking about going to see the movie "10,000 BC" and I said to my sister, "I want to see what it was like just before Alexander the Great." She pointed out that prehistoric times and Alexander the Great were separated by 9700 years, not 700.

Last I heard of Robert Lacey he was doing fluff bios of Princess Diana. Glad to hear he's gone up in the world.

Hopie said...

Hey - I came to your blog off Tea and Cookies and am enjoying reading it. This book looks really interesting. I definitely recommend The Time Traveler's Wife. It's a pretty smooth read and engaging...but I sympathize about the towering "to-read" pile :-)

Daphne said...

Yes, the book was sitting around for awhile and I kept thinking of stone tools and fur togas... what a dummy. Oh well. It was a fun read.

Daphne said...

Hopie- So nice of you to come by! I love your blog as well... I wish I could read French. Oh well - the recipes look fun and I loved reading about your new apartment!