1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth – A Review

1066 by David Howarth is a unique look at the year that changed British history, and is a great place for beginners interested in history.

1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth
Non-Fiction | British History
Released 1977
Published by Penguin Books
Goodreads | Amazon

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I was in high school, I was a bit obsessed with British history. I had a whole bookshelf devoted to the topic and even did my senior project on British legends. 1066 by David Howarth was part of my book collection back then.

When I was nineteen, my family’s house burned down, and I lost all of the books I had accumulated. Recently, I’ve been on another hardcore history kick and decided to re-buy this non-fiction classic. Turns out that I love it just as much as I did back then.

David Howarth is a military historian and has written books about Waterloo and WWII. In 1066, he turns his meticulous eye to the Norman Conquest, an invasion that was a turning point in British history.

1066 is a very slim book, finishing at just under 200 pages, but it is packed with history. Many books have been written about William the Conquerer and the Norman Conquest, but Howarth takes a unique approach to explaining the details of what happened. The first chapter starts on New Year’s Day and the book ends on New Year’s Eve. He very much focuses on how the British people would have viewed and reacted to the events, rather than just writing about how prominent historical figures handled things.

I really enjoyed this approach. Most historical non-fiction is written with a preference for how royalty and military leaders dealt with events, but they were a very small percentage of the population. Following normal, everyday people, however, offers a fresh perspective on historical events.

One of the things that I appreciate the most about David Howarth’s 1066 is his use of primary sources. The bibliography is a single page, and his sources date from 1050-1245. While there is necessarily a bit of speculation and bias from Howarth, most of the information in the book is from contemporary sources. No doubt new information has come to light since 1245 and even since this book was published in 1977, but there’s something special about reading a historical account that comes straight from people living during or immediately after the events being discussed.

Howarth makes a point of showing the readers when the original sources disagree with one another, which is just one more reason to love this book. We’ve all heard the sentiment that history is written by the victors, which is certainly true. Howarth navigates through sources from both the British and Norman sides of the line and shares each contradiction with the reader.

1066 by David Howarth is easily readable, even if you’re usually intimidated by historical non-fiction. The narrative reads like a linear story and, despite the amount of detail included, it doesn’t get bogged down in facts. If you want to learn more about the Norman Conquest and want a short, concise book, then 1066 is the absolute perfect option. I’ve read it twice now and I can easily see myself reading it many more times. It’s been one of my favorite books on British history for nearly twenty years.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2020

For Top Ten Tuesday, here are my ten favorite non-fiction books of 2020.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly tag run by That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out her blog for the rules and weekly prompts.

This week’s topic is Favorite Books of 2020. Since I already have that particular list coming out soon, I decided I’d instead share my Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2020.

Let’s get started!


Less Than Crazy Bipolar II Karla Dougherty

Less Than Crazy: Living Fully with Bipolar II by Karla Dougherty

Goodreads | Amazon

I’ve discussed before on this blog about my bipolar II diagnosis, and this was the first book that I picked up on the topic. It’s full of great information, from how to manage and recognize mania and depression, facts about common medications, and more. It’s become one of my go-to books when I need to look up something related to my condition.


When You're Not Ok - Jill Stark

When You’re Not OK: A Toolkit for Tough Times by Jill Stark

Goodreads | Amazon

This pocket-sized book is full of great advice for dealing with tough situations. I keep it next to my bed for those times when I’m panicking or feeling anxious and need a reminder that everything is going to be okay. When You’re Not Ok would make a great gift for just about anyone.


The Hidden World of the Fox

The Hidden World of the Fox by Adele Brand

Goodreads | Amazon

It should come as no surprise to anyone that reads this blog that I’m obsessed with foxes. I’ve grown up watching these elusive creatures and love their personalities and ability to thrive anywhere. Adele Brand does a great job of introducing the reader to everything you could ever want to know about foxes.


Death is but a dream christopher kerr

Death is But a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life’s End by Dr. Christopher Kerr

Goodreads | Amazon

I very recently reviewed this book. It was a fascinating look at the end-of-life experience of hospice patients. I think it’s important to read books confronting death, as it’s the only thing certain in life.


The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America by Langdon Cook

Goodreads | Amazon

Taking place mostly along the Pacific Northwest, Langdon Cook joins up with mushroom hunters and writes about his experiences. It’s an endlessly entertaining book. Not only is the information about mushrooms fascinating, but the mushroom hunters themselves are very interesting people.


Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft

Goodreads | Amazon

No one will ever change my mind that this book should be required reading for everyone. While it’s primarily written towards women, everyone can benefit from Bancroft’s examples of abusive relationships. From how to spot an abuser to what to do if you find yourself in a dangerous relationship, this book contains everything you need to protect yourself from all forms of abuse.


For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters, and More by Graham Tarrant

Goodreads | Amazon

This book was so much fun to read! Covering all types of literature, Tarrant finds the most fascinating stories and authors to talk about. This book would make a perfect gift for any bibliophiles in your life.


An Environmental History of the Civil War by Judkin Browning & Timothy Silver

Goodreads | Amazon

I love history, but an environmental history of a single war is something that I’ve never had the pleasure of reading. I greedily consumed it, finishing it in just a couple of days. The authors discussed how the elements, illnesses, and animals impacted the outcome of individual battles and the overall war. I would love to find similar books about other conflicts. It was such a fascinating way to look at a historical event.


Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving by Celeste Headlee

Goodreads | Amazon

One of my strongest beliefs is that, as a society, we put far too much stock in our jobs and not enough in our free time. That’s exactly what this book is about, and Celeste Headlee does a great job of convincing the reader of this. I wish books like this didn’t have to be written, but our culture pushes so many people to devote their entire lives to work. I know far too many people who don’t have a single hobby. If you’re one of these people, please read this book.


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

Goodreads | Amazon

This no-nonsense self-help book won’t be for everyone, but it spoke to me in a way that few other self-help books have. Two of my least favorite aspects of the entire self-help genre are the pandering and calls to “manifest your desires.” Manson doesn’t do that. His approach is to call you out on not taking responsibility for your actions and persuading you to take control of your own life. It was exactly the motivation I needed in my life.


What were your favorite non-fiction books of 2020? Let me know down in the comments!


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First, Wear a Mask by Dr. Philip M. Tierno, Jr – A Review

First, Wear a Face Mask: A Doctor’s Guide to Reducing Risk of Infection During the Pandemic and Beyond by Dr. Philip M. Tierno, Jr.
Non-fiction | Health | Current Events | Medical
Published by Rodale Publishing
Released 1 September 2020
Goodreads | Amazon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When Rodale Publishing reached out to me for a review of First, Wear a Mask, I immediately said yes. It felt like an important book to read and discuss during this world-wide COVID-19 pandemic. As it’s a very straight-forward book, this won’t be a very long review.

Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr

It’s a short book at just 125 pages. It literally covers everything – how to clean every surface and item you can imagine, the best homemade cleaning supplies, how to travel safely, how to sanitize your mail, how to keep germs to a minimum in your home – again, just about everything. The information contained within First, Wear a Mask left me feeling confident in my ability to protect myself and my family.

I appreciated all of the information, but there were a few times where it may have gotten a little too over the top. For example, his suggestion that you take your own cleaning supplies to hotels to clean the room before staying there. If you want to do that, great – do it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making sure you’re in a clean environment. Personally, however, I’m choosing not to go to those lengths. (As an aside, I worked in hotels for most of my twenties. One of them was a very upscale resort hotel and the other a pretty cheap beach hotel. Most of my friends also work in hospitality, some of them specifically in housekeeping. In all cases, I never came across situations where the rooms weren’t being properly cleaned. I’m sure it happens, but in my experience, it isn’t common.)

I’d really recommend this short, informative book to everyone. From people just getting out on their own to older people who have been cleaning up after themselves for decades, there is bound to be some bit of information within these pages that will teach you something new. `


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If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!