I own over 200 books about the middle ages. (My bio says 194 but I might have to give up counting.) They all live together on two crappy pressboard bookshelves in the hallway outside my bathroom, because that’s the only place there’s room for them. I’m apparently in need of taller shelves because the books are spilling onto the tops. (Please ignore the lawn-mower manual and car-wash towels propped in front.)
They range from the ridiculously scholarly
to the just plain ridiculous.
I hope you’ll indulge me geeking out over one of the latter: Rulers of Britain by Plantagenet Somerset Fry.
Age I first read it: upon acquisition
Acquired: 2002, at a library book sale at the Burlington Public Library (Burlington, NJ) for $1
Best things: cheesy watercolor pictures, brightly-colored heraldic endpapers, apocryphal yet humanizing stories (Alfred and the cakes! Edward I’s toilet humor!), dual-column page structure, the fact that it was written by a guy whose actual legal name seems to be Plantagenet Somerset Fry
Drawbacks: not scholarly in the slightest, more-than-slightly inaccurate and/or oversimplified interpretations of medieval society
The materials on the medieval bookshelf aren’t all intended for research purposes, though. Some of them, like this one, are interesting because they give me a sense of how the middle ages are presented to a popular audience.
When I’m writing, I have to take into account what my audience knows (or thinks it knows) about the middle ages. I need to meet readers where they live if I want to get them to see the past more as it really was.
Plus, it was a buck. Whoo hoo!