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Member: Bowerbirds-Library

CollectionsYour library (1,988), Currently reading (3), All collections (1,988)

Reviews13 reviews

Tagsnatural history (498), nineteenth century (274), travel (176), history (136), birds (117), art (110), poetry (99), flora (95), popular science (92), english (90) — see all tags

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About meBookworm, Embroiderer, Amateur naturalist (especially Birds, Bugs & Botany). Fellow of the Linnean Society, Society of History of Natural History. My business is called Sumptuosity and I design and make small gift items - bookmarks, badges, handbag mirrors etc. I also have an allotment.

John used to work as a Design Engineer in Sweden but has now joined JCB and works at their world head quarters in Rocester, Staffordshire. He is interested in Politics, Philosophy, Social Sciences and books about England and Englishness. John is studying for a degree in Humanities with the Open University. He is definitely getting into the swing of visiting book shops and buying books, although this is proving 'challenging' in regards to shelf space!

Books read in 2014
1: Dragonflight : In Search of Britain's Dragonflies and Damselflies by Marianne Taylor.
2: Compost by Ken Thompson
3: The Military Orchid by Jocelyn Brooke
4: Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
5: This Birding Life by Stephen Moss
6: A Sky full of Starlings by Stephen Moss

About my libraryI particularly love Natural History, Travel/Exploration, Popular Science, Gardens & Gardening, Arabian Nights and books by & about those who love words and books.

Politics, Social Sciences, Philosophy, England are all part of John's growing collection.

I had to change the name of the profile to befit the fact that the Library now reflects both my husband's and my taste in books. Bowerbirds-Library seemed a relatively fitting description of the range of books and the desire to display them around us.

GroupsAgatha Christie, Birds, Birding & Books, Book Care and Repair, Bookcases: If You Build/Buy Them, They Will Fill, Evolution, Evolve!, Gardens & Books, Naturalists, Poetry Fool, Rare, Old or Offbeatshow all groups

Favorite authorsDavid Attenborough, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Noël Coward, Richard Dawkins, Charles Dickens, Gerald Durrell, Elizabeth Gaskell, Stephen Jay Gould, David Quammen, Peter Raby, J. K. Rowling, Jenny Uglow, P. G. Wodehouse (Shared favorites)

VenuesFavorites | Visited

Favorite bookstoresFossgate Books (Alex Helstrip), George Kelsall's Bookshop, Ken Spelman Rare Books & Manuscripts, Little Apple Bookshop, Minster Gate Bookshop, St Giles Books, Waterstone's York


Also onblogspot, Flickr, Twitter, Wordpress

Real nameRuth B-C

LocationRocester, Staffordshire, England

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs (profile) (library)

Member sinceSep 23, 2008

Currently readingStrange Blooms: The Curious Lives and Adventures of the John Tradescants by Jennifer Potter
What Has Nature Ever Done For Us?: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees by Tony Juniper
Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst: The Creation of a Garden: The Making of a Garden by Vita Sackville-West

Leave a comment


Hi Ruth. Thanks. I must get around to adding my non-Natural History books too some day. Steve
I'm glad you liked my review of If On A Winter's Night A Traveler. I don't expect anyone to read them, since they are more for me to remember a book. But thanks for mentioning you read my review. I hope you like the book!
Dear Ruth,

your mony will be well spent on The Missing Ink. As it happens my sister also uses a fountain pen and my father was addicted to them so we inherited dozens. The problem is finding ink; few shops stock it, its very pricey and comes only in black - unless you go to an art shop but that pushes the price up to the equivalent of designer perfume. As a journalist I write a lot so tend to use fineliners during the working day, saving the fountain pens for private work.

happy writing,


Thank you for your kind words. I hope you enjoy Warner's book at least as much as I did.

Hi Ruth,

Thanks for your message. I will certainly let you know what I think of the books once I've read them. They're queued-up ready to read. I hope you're enjoying whatever your Santa chose for you.

Hi Ruth,

Many thanks for the book choices for SantaThing, they're brilliant. When the parcel arrived it made my day. I hope you've had a lovely Christmas and have a wonderful 2013. Graeme.
Hi Ruth!
Funny you should mention Hoof Fungus... I've been collecting them for years, and enjoy drying and preserving them. I'm careful not to take "live" specimens, but the larger ones usually falls of their "host tree". Once dried, they add a nice touch to any home.

Interesting to hear about your observations concerning biodiversity in Sweden. When I worked as a tourist guide at Råshult (Linnaeus’ birthplace) I often heard foreign visitors making comments about how diverse nature is around here. Unfortunately this is not true in all cases, because there are horrible mono-cultures containing nothing but industrially planted Spruce and Pine. Happily enough there are still some areas of untouched forests. We have an old oak tree in our garden. It’s probably 200 years old, and when I stand to look at it I gaze at 200 years of ecological history. That fills me with awe!

Linnaeus is very much alive in my life too! I've read quite a few books about him and his system, and I have to say I'm truly grateful for his achievements some 300 years ago. He has also been a great help during my collecting trips, because he really understood the concept of ecological balance, as well as the human urge to collect natural history objects.
I'm a proud owner of Linnaeus' book "Instructo Musei Rerum Naturalium" (1753), which is a small compendium on how to set up a natural history museum, as well as collecting specimens in the field. I don't know any Latin, but fortunate enough the book is translated into Swedish, English and other modern languages.
Hope to hear from you soon again!

Linnaean greetings from Sweden!


PS. Don’t forget to visit Linnaeus’ birthplace if you ever visit Sweden again! Here’s link to their homepage:
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this might interest you!

Hi Ruth

No I didn't catch that programme, but will chase it up. Talking of Jackdaws, there's an impressive corvid roost at Buckenham Marshes, SE of Norwich, comprising thousands of Rooks and Jackdaws. We've been up there a couple of times recently and picked up Marsh Harriers, Barn Owls, Sparrowhawks and some nice waterfowl too (Geese, Wigeon, Ruff). Golden Plovers and Starlings shoot past just overhead.

Enjoy Sweden! Are there any owls? I'm in the UK, but off to Belize next week.

Have a good weekend! Chris
And all good wishes for the new year to you too, Ruth. I see we both had the Simon Barnes Birdsong book for Christmas...


Thank you so much for the Santa Thing books! They are a perfect selection and I am planning to plunge into the Durrell first thing tomorrow.

Happy New Year!

Hello Ruth! Same to you! Have a enjoyable, birdy and booky 2012! Managed to get out for a New Year walk in N Norfolk yesterday and saw lots of Pink-footed Geese, Golden Plover, plus Hen and Marsh Harriers, Merlin and a ghostly Barn Owl just as we were leaving. Invigorating stuff! Best wishes, Chris
Hi Ruth - I am glad that you liked the books, and I hope you enjoy reading them! Do let me know what you think. I also got some very appealing books in my Santa Thing parcel.

Best wishes, Margaret

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What a lovely, cozy library!

Happy Reading!
Hello Ruth

I don't know much about Chinese birds except that John Mackinnon wrote what was once the standard field guide. It must be a fascinating place! I'm in the UK now, taking advantage of libraries while I can. Cherry-Garrard would make a good Christmas read. There must be some great Swedish choices too. I may get to "The Peregrine" by then. The grass is crackling with frost already. Well, must finish up for the weekend.

Have a good weekend! Chris
Hello Ruth

Thanks for the info on the Antarctic exhibition. I must say I found Cherry-Garrard quite hard to read, even though the story is astonishing. Is John Mackinnon's China guide still the one? I hope the trip was fruitful. There are some great (expensive!) guides to Swedish fungi - Funga Nordica is one that I have been after. Do you have any?

Best wishes, Chris
Hello Ruth

Thanks for inviting me to become a friend! Nice photos! My field guides are largely on Latin American natural history, with the emphasis on bird guides. I also have a fair few older European guides, especially to fungi and birds, from time spent outdoors in the UK during my childhood. I haven't logged any of them since they were almost all acquired before I found LT.

I see your in the Birding... group. Is that one of your main interests?

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wow, great photo!
hi Ruth,

I saw this book in your library

FYI, I am pretty sure it is the same one as was published in the US as

The former was published by Thames and Hudson, and the latter Abrams, NY, as part of the Discovery Series. Dimensions of the books as indicated at Amazon are about the same, and they seem to have 160 pages

thank you kindly, Ruth. I have just done a search on Google, and think you are right.

Swop me bob is a very rare phrase indeed; most of the links take me back to Liza of Lambeth (as in these uses)

Here is the best source I could find on the etymology
Hello Ruth, I must now draw on your expertise as a native speaker of the English language -- not the Americanized version we speak on my side of the Atlantic, but the real thing. :-)

Actually, I hope you can help me with a phrase that appears in WS Maugham's Liza of Lambeth. The characters all speak in Cockney of the late 1800s. Characters would routinely say, to emphasize an assertion: "swop me bob!" There was never a context -- it was an exclamation rendered to add emphasis or credibility.

Could this perhaps be a stand in for "so help me God!" ? -- a phrase often used in this same way?

I figure that a phrase or oath that invoked the deity would have been considered unacceptable, and wondered if "swop me bob" was an acceptable alternative -- in the same way as "My gosh!" is a stand-in for "My God"

or am I way off base here?

Not meaning to netdrop, but I heard you were looking for books by or with naturalists. Try Gerald Durrell. He was a naturalist, and brother to the famous and far more literary Lawrence Durrell. He can be very funny at times. Gerald that is. I think they skipped Larry for humor and gave a double dose to Gerald. One of his books is called My Family and Other Animals. That about says it all, doesn't it.

Nice to meet you!
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This was definitely my best piece of work ever!
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Cheers Dan, I do really love my living room / library!
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interests to last a lifetime...
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hi Ruth

I thinkyou will be interested in this series appearing in the New York Times.

(The NYT is free, though you might need to register)
Hi Ruth

Another one to consider is Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier - I'm not sure if this fits your specification, as it's fiction based on a real person - Mary Anning. I haven't read it, though I did read one of her earlier efforts, Girl with a Pearl Earring, which was a best seller, but not quite my thing.

Hello Ruth

The one that springs first to mind is Stephen Maturin in the Patrick O'Brian series. As with the naval actions, O'Brian's descriptions of Stephen's natural philosophical activities are carefully researched. O'Brian wrote a biography of Sir Joseph Banks, and echoes of Banks's experiences from Captain Cook's first voyage can be detected, especially in the novels set in remoter places: the East Indies, Pacific, and S America. I'm not sure how strong a recommendation to give: the natural history is not such a big feature early in the series, but if you don't read the early books, you are unlikely to enjoy the whole fictional experience so much.

I'll give thought to others.

hi Ruth, interesting that you should asks that question right at this time. I recently finished Joseph Conrad's novel Lord Jim. According to a passage I read last night in this analysis

the unforgettable character "Stein" is said to be based in part on none other than Alfred Russel Wallace. I'm not sure how strong the claim is -- there are similarities however, in that Stein is a naturalist who collects insects in Malaya.

I shall try to think of others.
Hi There. I'm a member of the 75 challenge group. I'm compiling a list of birthdays and sending messages to those whose birthday I don't have as yet. Would you please send your birthday either to the birthday thread, listed below,
or to my home page:

Hello Ruth
Your note and York bookshops leaflet arrived today. I will keep them to hand for our next visit.
Once again many thanks.
Hello again,
Many thanks for your kind reply and offer. I would like the map and details very much and will send you the address under separate (and private) message.
Will certainly keep you posted as to when we can make another visit to York in the future.
Thanks again
Thanks for the message. My wife and I have visited York twice in recent years and have much enjoyed the experience. A little too far away for more frequent visits I fear. On out last trip we attempted to find 'Ken Spellman' to no avail,and as we had limited time after the usual sights,we did not come across any Bookshops. perhaps you could point us in the right direction for our next visit to your most interesting City.
Best wishes.
And a Happy New Year to you too!

Thank you, hope you have a great new year too!

Hi Ruth,

Thanks a lot for your New Year greetings. May I also wish the same to you and I hope you have a wonderful 2011.

why thank you Ruth. I must confess, your new handle startled me (and by the way, I didn't know it was possible to change one's handle here!)

But what a descriptive term ! (at least for those of us with Northern European heritage).
And the same to you, Ruth. A colourful change of persona for the new year?


PS another bird oddity today - a heron lumbered past my (home) office window an hour ago. Not odd in itself, just for here.
Hello Ruth

Some bugs books featured here:
The LRB is a very good bookshop, and their occasional thematic selections usually full of interest.

a library that may interest you...
You're quite right, Ruth, about women writers on natural history. There have been very few in the whole history of the New Naturalists, for example - and only one, Rosemary Parslow on the Isles of Scilly, among the latest forty titles. Only one is outstanding, Miriam Rothschild, who wrote Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos, but that was well over fifty years ago. Women have made their marks more as artists, from Maria Sibylla Merian onwards. Why so few writers? I suspect because, however well and interestingly they write, many of these naturalists verge on being anoraks, and that is very largely a male trait.
I'll keep looking for the missing women, though
best wishes,
Thank you, Ruth, for being impressed by my New Naturalists - they've been a good while in the collecting, and still a few gaps. I'm more for birds than bugs, but the four recentish NNs on bugs have all been good (Ladybirds, Moths, Bumblebees,and Dragonflies).
We're blessed with a lot of good writers on the natural world at present - Deakin, Cocker, Macfarlane, Mabey and so on - and I'm glad to see we share a good few of these.
I envy you the York bookshops - I occasionally buy from them, but have never visited.
Good luck with the design business - you do realise the whole future of the economy lies in the hands of small businesses growing and creating jobs? No pressure then.
best wishes
Alan (affle)
No - I haven't, but it sounds pretty interesting!

Wow, you are one busy person.

And thank you for the correction on the quotation; Wikipedia definitely agrees with you.


'the one thing that I know is that I know nothing'... least Plato, you, and me agree on one thing.

If I may ask, what were your degrees in?

Sounds very interesting! Cybertaxonomy and orthopteroid insects are both rather vague and rather specialist at the same time, I often wonder what the definition of cybertaxonomy really is!

I would willingly buy a Phobaeticus chani bookmark! If you are ever about London feel free to drop in and say hello!
hi Ruth -- thanks, I did it! Please visit my profile so that you're the first visitor from across the Atlantic.
I've been meaning to buy it for a while as I know several people who made contributions.

Not beetles so much as stick insects! (Although all kinds of insects and other things too).

what was your PhD on? Sounds quite interesting!
It's a good book! at first it seems a bit like a kids book with some great photos, but a lot of research went into it and there is plenty of interesting information. (I worked for George for some of the time he was writing it, so may have some bias.)
say, Ruth, can you tell me how to embed a visitor map into my profile? I'm sure there's probably a help page here somewhere, but I've not located it.


Hello Ruth

Blackwell's Bookshop on Broad Street in Oxford is wonderful. On Walton Street there is Albion & Beatnik, an independent shop. There are also two Last Bookshops (Walton Street and St Aldates) which sell everything for £2 each.

Happy shopping!
Kirsty (otherstories)
dear Ruth, thanks for your review of Boulter's effort. I agree entirely!

Thanks for adding me as interesting. Anything in particular catch your eye?
Dear Ruth,

I'm reading "Seeing Further" in parallel with a re-reading of "Quicksilver", the first volume in Neil Stephenson's "The Baroque Cycle". The first years of the Royal Society feature strongly. You might like it. My tags: alchemy, America, C17, C18, history, history of science, Hooke, London, Netherlands, Newton, Pepys, Restoration, Royal Society. I'd add "slightly alternative history" as well. The work is here:

Best wishes,

I recommend everything by Quammen! He's a good friend... His essay collections (like Boilerplate Rhino) are best because you can read one before going to bed...
I completely understand your contemplation of picking out books for me! I had the same trouble with my SantaThing choices! I only hope my choices were as wonderful as your's were for me!

Arizona is beautiful state. Weather depends on elevation from sea level and we have it all here. My family is down in Phoenix...very temperate weather. But I currently live just north of the Grand Canyon. We have winter here but nothing like other parts of the state. Lately it has been so cold at night that our streams form ice...but during the day it warms up. I have eight dogs...they love winter... Me? I grew up in Chicago. Bring on the heat! :)

Happy 2010 to you!

Dear Ruth: Thank you so much for picking the Jeff Guinn books and the Everyman's Library Charles Dickens book for me as my Secret Santa! It was very thoughtful of you! I live in very rural Arizona. UPS doesn't come by very that was another welcomed treat! I will treasure the books always and think about my Secret Santa in York, England every year.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Hello Indigo-Silk.

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you but have been travelling for a few months. I am in Luxor, Egypt now. Left Fethiye, Turkey mid August, spending several weeks in Istanbul (my favorite city) then on to the Uk for a month. Arrived in Egypt late Sept. but had to return to the UK again in November. Am back here noe in Luxor until next March, afeter which ..................... ?

Have you read Isabell Bird's 'A Thousand Miles up the Nile ' ?

I'm glad you enjoyed both the Hyde images and Boswell's book.

Any day now, the British Library are exporting their MARC Records of the Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw collections of Mary Viscountess Eccles (Mary Hyde) to Library Thing. Their generosity will save us months of cataloging time.

hello Ruth,

here is a book that I think you will be interested in.

It's not gotten that much attention, but I am finding it fascinating. I'll write a review when I'm done with it


Actually, we have been getting Attenborough's Life Stories as a podcast!
Thanks Ruth, I am a fan of Persephone books. In fact there are splendid groups here on librarything for both Peresphone and Virago with splendid people, I highly recommend both groups.

I see you have married your books finally. I just had my second anniversary but we have not fully married our books yet. Maybe next year.

Cheers, Maren
Thanks for dropping by. I have dabbled in Darwin and 19th-century biology a bit myself, and would also like to investigate Samuel Johnson a bit more. We are fans of David Attenborough and Stephen Jay Gould (but you can keep Richad Dawkins!).
Yes, I do. I like their journal, Archives of Natural History...

You are most kind!

I am honoured that you have included my lbrary in your list of interesting libraries.

Sam. Johnson
With a little help from the
hand of moibibliomaniac
Hello Ruth,

Thanks for your note. I am in the UK now for a month. Will leave for Cairo beginning of October. It is pleasant here with the cool weather after the heat of Fethiye Turkey. It will also be cool in Luxoe when I am there.

I got my copy from Kay Craddock books in Melbourne

They are happy to send stuff around the world, and this is quite light, and it is a lot of fun.
Oh, I see you just added the Terry belanger. I love that work and have given it to a number of friends over the years.
Hi Ruth,
thank you for your interesting reply. I only have the Familiar Wild Flowers, but I do enjoy his writing style as well as the beautiful plates.

I congratulate you on your move away from the academy. My PhD is based in Sociology, and I am studying the spread of HIV among gay men in Auckland, NZ, through qualitaitve research. I just need to write the damn thing up, then it is done. But I do have doubts now as to whether I really want to stay on in univesity life. It has its attractions, but at times it seems a little cut off from reality.

But, opne of the really good things is the access to the university libraries. My love for books is great, and at least it's not as destructive as drugs.

Thank you again for telling me your story, I enjoyed it and hope that your business continues to thrive.
You and I alone have "Familiar Wild Flowers" or so this site tells me. Mine was a present from a friend some years ago. I treasure it and love the plates.
PS - how did you escape from Academia? Please tell me !

I read your post about the Baddeley brothers and their Latin dictionary. I wonder if you should try to get it published with all their notes and sketches included... it would be a terrific curiosity. Perhaps "The Baddley Brothers' Bad Attempt at Latin" or some such thing. Plus you could add what you know about Fred Baddley in the intro.

Ruth, thanks for your messsage, I am glad you like my old books, I have just about listed all my favourites now. I do love having a book that has lasted and been witness to 400 odd winters, 400 summers and all the life around it. Thats why I tend to try and buy early ones, great to read and also from the very time they represent. I have quite a few modern books as well but its a time consuming thing putting books on this! I like and have some of your books, particularly the historical ones. Cheers, Ken
Hello Ruth,

Thanks for your message, I think the books we have in common are an interesting mix as well. It is nice to find someone who is interested in textiles as well as lots of other things. I have just been weeding out books for Oxfam - I no longer have the space to keep everything but really like to keep them listed to jog my memory which seems to be getting worse by the day. I see you have added The Age of Wonder, I read the reviews when it came out and really must read it sometime, I would be interested to know what you think of it. Also I noticed that you have Rigmaroles and Ragamuffins, I didn't have it listed for some reason but a friend sent it to me soon after it came out, I knew Elinor Kapp when I lived in Cardiff as I belonged to the Embroiderers Guild for a while though I was much more involved with Spinning and Weaving.
I'd love to know more about your design work.
Best Wishes
Hello Ruth

Since you're indirectly responsible for my discovery of The Man Who Found Time , I thought I'd share my summary/ review with you.

best wishes

Must put the light on so I can see what I'm doing!
Have you seen my new picture?
Why thanks, Ruth, for the suggestion. I have been intending to read more of the history of geology, and Floating Egg sounds like a good contribution to that effort. I've been listening to The Map that Changed the World (about Wm Smith, who did the first geological map of England in the early 1800s).

Thanks. You're all set.

This is from the mad woman in the attic! I've just left my first comment on another Library Thing member's page and now I'm going to add some more books. See you later.
The table serves as a temporary resting place for books I've pulled off my shelves while researching. In the center, I like to display either The Psalms of the Singer David, a beautiful work by the San Francisco printer, John Henry Nash, or William Hogarth, a book of Hogarth's engravings by Austin Dobson. Next? A book stand to hold the selected book would be nice. I'm looking.
Hi - many thanks for adding me to your interesting libraries. I hope we'll share some great books soon.
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