Some treat reads have come into the Auckland Research Centre of late and if they pique you interest, there are borrowable copies within the Auckland Libraries system as well. These are the kind of books that are nice to pick up and dip into at any time.
First up, the 1950s gets a look-in with “Life in 1950s London.” An interesting decade between the second world war and the counterculture of the sixties.
It’s worth flicking through for the fabulous photos, and if you did happen to have been around at the time, reminiscing about life. How, for example, nearly everybody smoked, the growing popularity of sports like boxing and football, the rise in coffee drinking, and international events like the Billy Graham crusades. It would be interesting for those who remember the decade to compare how it panned out with life here in New Zealand. This is one of a series on decades, and we also have the 1940s title.
Sticking with the UK, we have another fascinating read, “Beneath the Big Top.”
It’s a “social history of the circus in Britain” and is laden with all sorts of titbits, misdemeanour and fun, from the beginning of the circus up to the more recent spectacle of Cirque du Soleil. A fascinating chapter on the 19th century looks at the likes of Barnum and Bailey and on the trend of mysticism and spiritualism that was big at the time. The author claims writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Elizabeth Barrett Browning were followers of the spiritualism fad - a combination of magic and spirituality. And even royalty loved the circus. Queen Victoria was apparently so fascinated with Isaac Van Amburgh, the big cat trainer known as the “Lion King,” that she had a portrait painted of him with his cats. Naturally clowns, murder and debauchery, and the effect of television on the circus get a look in. A book to have a browse through when you feel like some light but entertaining reading.