Support your local Medieval scene.

Today I went to the bookstore. No surprise there, I happen to be in a bookstore quite often. And I was wondering about life without a bookstore. Off course, in the past books were not available to all, or even literacy. But what about the future ? I can well imagine a past without bookstores, but would be horrified by a future without bookstores.

So, I make an effort to shop in a brick-and-mortar bookstore. It is so easy to buy everything online, click-click-click and it’s delivered at your doorstep. However, it usually supports bigger companies, while your local independent bookstore might be struggling to survive.

I admit that not all independent bookstores have a great history section, and medieval history is usually a small niche, although it is highly popular in the online world. With the exception of Waterstone’s bookstores, I’m lucky if I can find 1 shelve of medieval history. Usually they carry only the mainstream bestsellers. On top of that, the supply of medieval history books leans heavily on the Atlantic influence: England is leading in a lot of historical research, debate and education. In the Netherlands most of the history BA’s and MA’s are taught in English, with mostly English books. Don’t get me wrong: I totally love British history! But there is so much more going on.

Where ever you live, I’m sure there is a lot of historical research being done in your country or city, and a lot of interesting books are being published about it. So, keep an eye open for those in your local bookstore. And don’t forget: the 2nd hand section can be a real treasury for medieval history finds.

Recent ‘Dutch’ purchases from the local bookstore. See full list below. ©MedievalMonologues

Since I consider myself a ‘cultural being’, I feel I owe it to culture to support it. Art and history are a great joy in my life, that I share with friends. A lot of people put in a lot of time and love to contribute and create all kinds of ‘products’, like blogs and vlogs, websites, magazines, online courses, festivals, lectures, tours etc. etc. There are a lot of initiatives deserving of support, in time or money.

For instance, I have a Museum Card, which gives me free acces to most museums, exhibitions and castles. Since museums are not free in the Netherlands, this is a good option to enjoy history and art. In case of free visits, I try to give a small donation every time. You can also support online. I use Patreon to donate to smaller initiatives, and sometimes I join a crowdfunding project. Or even just sharing and liking posts of things I want to support.

Off course, it is up to you how and if you support, and not all of us have time or money to spare for that. But you might want to reflect upon that some time, and feel free to share. How do you support your local and/or medieval scene ?

List of books

Books, books and…. oh, more books! A neverending story.

Being a booknerd is almost a bare necessity if you want to study history at BA or MA level. To keep up with the vast reading requirements, you really must love reading and be prepared to invest a significant amount of your time in books and libraries. I’m not complaining! Best thing ever, right ?

So I checked my TBR list of books. I can tell you it is not getting any shorter. Sometimes I don’t know what I like better: reading the books, or browsing and buying books. Don’t underestimate the uplifting power of a good bookhunt. And off course, then there are the (online) magazines, myriad blogs, social media, and some historical fiction……

Last year I decided to clean up my bookshelves and start buying and reading more focused on a few subjects. The main part for the ‘non-fiction section’ is now focused on medieval history and art. I still buy a lot of ‘random medieval’ books, so I’m still trying to find more focus and specialize in some subjects. But which ones…. too many interesting topics.

As I checked my list, I noticed I accidentally created a theme, so I’m going to stick with that for now. I really want to know more about the ladies of the middle ages (not to be confused with middle aged ladies ;-). I think they played an essential part in the expansion of the medieval kingdoms and are deserving my attention. I noted that as I’m back at the university again after 15 years, a lot of perspectives have shifted away from ‘white male history’ and a lot of new perspectives are being explored. I like it!

Also, I have some other lovelies to read. As you see, this is more of ‘the random’ kind of books. Of the many interesting topics I can’t choose from, I know that ‘medievalism’ is one of my favorites: the Romantic image of the middle ages, systematically formed in the 19th century in reaction to the industrial society. For a large part it was responsible for a strongly romanticized and idealized Middle Ages that also influenced knowledge, image, views and study of the middle ages for some time. But, who knows, I’ll pick up the Ravens (cheeky birds!), Chaucer’s people (fun!) or Robert de Bruce (Scots!) first.

All I need to do now is find the time to read it all. So, new plan (or essentially the same plan as ever, but a good reminder):

  • put down my phone
  • stay away from Netflix
  • keep a blanket and my cat on stand-by
  • don’t read 6 books at once (but maybe 2)

Reading books should never feel like a chore. I admit, in a busy week it is sometimes difficult to find enough time to read. And if it is really busy, I start longing for some quiet reading time. It’s one of the things I can really relax to and can take my mind of things.

Books are a great joy and an essential need in my life. I actually live right on top of our local bookstore, so I can get my ‘fix’ very easily. Just some browsing is enough to brighten the day. As much as I love the Middle Ages, I really like living in an age (and country) where books are available everywhere.