I think the before and after pictures show how this book became one of my favourite reads of 2013. ‘A Short History of England’ landed in the bookshop around the time I was looking to brush up on my history skills and at just shy of 300 pages, it was perfect for what I needed it for. There are certain eras that I am very familiar with (19th Century? I’m on it!) but other important periods I have either managed to dodge or remember vague terms from school history lessons. Ashamedly what prompted me to read this book was coming across the name Harald Hardrada and not being able to remember where and when he fitted in. For the first time ever, I sat down and read the linear history of England and was surprised that as well as rediscovering lots of long forgotten information, I learned a lot as well (I’d never come across Stephen and Matilda before!). The key to the success of this book is in it’s brevity. If you are looking for an in-depth and exhaustive history of England then this probably isn’t for you (Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plot, less than a page). If however like me, you are after a general refresher or looking for a good place to start, ‘A Short History of England’ is the perfect little read.