I've been looking at the programme for The Blenheim Palace Literary Festival at Woodstock (12th. - 16th. September, for those lucky people within easy reach) and plucking from the many author events some interesting-sounding non-fiction books I hadn't come across before, all of which have gone on my wish list:
The Pinecone by Jenny Uglow, "The Story of Forgotten Romantic Sarah Losh". Sarah Losh built Wreay Church in Cumbria, "one of the most unusual and inspiring churches of the Victorian era ... She let her imagination flow in the church, which includes carvings of ammonites, scarabs and poppies; an arrow piercing a wall; a tortoise gargoyle launching itself into the air; and her signature pinecones everywhere." The book is also the story of the Losh family - wealthy industrialists who were friends of Wordsworth and Coleridge - and of village life at the time.
Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling by David Crystal. Apparently 75% of English spelling is regular, 25% is not, and here one of the world's experts on the English language "unearths the stories behind the rogue words that confound us and explains why these peculiarities entered the mainstream, in an epic journey taking in sixth century monks, French and Latin upstarts, the Industrial Revolution and the internet. By learning the history and the principles, Crystal shows how the spellings that break all the rules become easier to get right."
What Are Gardens For?: Visiting, Experiencing and Thinking About Gardens by Rory Stuart "questions what we ask of gardens when we make them or visit them, and it wonders how we can get more from our gardening and garden visits. Stuart approaches the experience of being in a garden from many different angles, exploring how we can more fully understand the physical, psychological and spiritual pleasures gardens give us" and appreciate them in a cultural context with reference to music, literature and painting.