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CYMRU AM BYTH – 9 Books on the Country of Wales
If you aren’t hype for the incredible, incomparably bizarre and badass-since-before-the-onset-of-human-history country of Wales already, then sign on and buckle up because Cymru is d o p e.
“The Land of Literature and Song” is something we’d just kind of made up this week and carried around in our hearts during book selection, but the loving label is—of course—completely unoriginal in the extreme: hopefully the proud and fearless people of Wales would enjoy our well-intentioned ignorance and would be down for being celebrated in those categories (we kind of wish this was a rugby blog, not going to lie, but alas.)
Three regular-person-friendly histories, two cookbooks (omg there are exactly zero Welsh recipes that aren’t fucking heaven), three classic bar-setting works of fiction, and one modern novel (spoiler alert: queer protagonist yesssss #heroine #boss)
((strong recommendation: check out Pride Cymru at https://www.pridecymru.co.uk/ and https://twitter.com/PrideCymru #lit #goals))
Gadewch i ni fynd!
What’s so monster about this broad BROAD survey of Welsh history is two fold: that the author, historian John Davies, was a Welshman himself and a gifted teacher directly commissioned to write this comprehensive history AND that the original work was in Welsh and only translated into English later. This history book is the real deal and a perfect place to start a unit study.
Clearly the work of a history professor (in the best way, make no mistake) Professor Jenkins covers a huge amount of territory (pun intended) in a small amount of pages. A Concise History is a great fit for ambitious travelers seeking a good overview to better understand and appreciate Cymru and also a great fit for more casual readers.
There’s nothing we could say about this excellent piece of historical work that packs the punch of this summary: “This work revives the memory of the native leaders of the country from a time before the title ‘Prince of Wales’ became an honorary trinket in the gift of a foreign ruler. These men are restored to their rightful place amongst the past rulers of the island of Britain.” Maund has built a stellar history, it’s DA IAWN
We grew up eating potato cakes and salmon cakes so you can imagine the ecstasy of finding this joyful book FILLED with every variation of Welsh Cakes known to man. Lavender? Hazelnut? Yes please!
The enourmously talented Annette Yates pulled together a beautiful survey of classic Welsh recipes, and there’s something delicious for everyone to enjoy. Ms. Yates, we discovered, is also a craftsman of fine jewelry! Rude to be so talented. Hmph. (Annette Yates Jewellery <3 <3 <3)
Gerald of Wales did NOT come to play—he wrote 17 books in Latin in his long life and this one is so special because it’s a time capsule of real Welsh folk living real lives in the Medieval period so influenced by their legacies. Also a hell of an OG travel guide.
How Green Was My Valley is magnificent. Before reading it, we had never, ever ever ever heard a negative word said, only dozens and dozens of glowing, raving reviews. Moving, honest, humbling. On and on. And every lover is completely right and then some. You’ll hold this story close to you for the rest of your days.
The one. The only. You don’t need to hear it from us. Hear him in this collection compiled by the man himself.
Author Clare Ashton is a heroin herself, bringing to mind wandering-wondering-multi-field greats like Hedy Lamarr (full first name Hedwig) and Bea Arthur (if you didn’t know Bea Arthur was a Marine, Google it. BAMF.) Lesbian Romance borne out in Wales penned by a Welsh lesbian? YES PLEASE. See also: After Mrs. Hamilton and Pennance.
The world has been gifted with so many people who have dedicated their lives to exploring, preserving, and sharing the incredible history and talents of Wales and the Welsh. We are beyond grateful and hope you’ll use some of these books as a resource to start your own exploration!
Rhannu, rhannu! Share, share!
- Do you have a favorite story, song, experience, or book about Wales?
- Do you want to visit one day?
- Also! There’s an incredible welsh language magazine published monthly called Barn that is so great! Check it out, especially if you’re interested in or working on language learning. https://barn.cymru/