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Stargazing
 
by
Peter Hill
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Stargazing

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  228 ratings  ·  39 reviews
In this sublime reminiscence of the pleasures of solitude, the wonders of the sea, and the odd courses life takes, Peter Hill writes, "In 1973 I worked as a lighthouse keeper on three islands off the west coast of Scotland. Before taking the job I didn't really think through what a lighthouse keeper actually did. I was attracted by the romantic notion of sitting on a rock,
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Published (first published January 1st 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 436)
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Mark
Jun 17, 2013 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: The bookclub angel
"It's getting nicely weird again, I thought to myself"

This really is all you need to know about this book. The nicely is that much over used but in this case perfectly appropriate cliché of it being love poem to a vanished age. Peter Hill drops out of his University course to take advantage of a summer's lighthouse keeping. He is at the tail end of the manned lighthouse tradition and you sense his deep love and admiration for these brave and adventurous men.

The weird part is his descriptions not
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Paul
Hill has written a delightful memoir of the summer that he spent working on three lighthouses in 1973 on the coast of Scotland. After a conversation in a pub saying that this is something that he always wanted to do, he is encouraged to write and see if they offer summer jobs. He does and they offer him an interview. One small white lie about his cooking ability, and he is successful. Shortly after a letter drops on his mat with instruction on how to get to the first lighthouse.

These are the day
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Antonomasia
A wonderful book; if only the author had spent longer lighthouse-keeping so there could be sequels. Lovely content, some beautiful turns of phrase, yet always real and companionable.

Much of the book is about time spent on the lighthouses on islands off the west coast of Scotland: with other keepers, who recall their motley life-experiences and have eccentric past-times to fill the hours not on duty - and with the beautiful and isolated landscapes which are a source of artistic inspiration, food
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Eva Nickelson
This memoir is a look at Hill's summer as a lighthouse keeper in 1973. Since Hill was in art school at the time, and then went on to have a career in the art field, and since the story takes place in 1973 and since his hobby was "poetry", I have no real reference point for a good portion of this story. I just get the bare bones of the story, and I really enjoyed that.

This tale informed me on how lighthouses worked during the modern era. Hill introduces the reader to a number of lighthouse keeper
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Kate
The stories of the lighthouses & lighthouse keepers themselves are good & transport you to another time & unique places with some very interesting characters. However, the interludes are less than spectacular and heavily over-peppered with local & temporal references (to music, books, poetry, tv shows...). I nearly stopped reading after the first chapter because the writing was repetitive and because of this over-mentioning / listing of obscure bands the author liked at the time. ...more
Mary
Scotland automated their lights long after the United States did; before that the men still kept nightly four-hour vigils over the light, making sure that the mechanism was wound and that the air pressure to the paraffin was at the right level to prevent the light from going out. Hill tells of his adventures on three of Scotland’s historic lights: Pladda, Ailsa Craig, and Hyskeir (Craig and Hyskeir were built by the Stevensons) during the summer of 1973 between college semesters. He does a fine ...more
Rosie
While this may not be a piece of classic literature, it was certainly inspiring, fun and truly delightful.
Peter's stories of his summer journeys to three lighthouses around Scotland and the characters he meets there are priceless. Thanks for the great book. I will definitely read this again.
Libbeth
Sad to think that all lighthouses are automated now. Sounds like it was a good life for the right sort of person.
Caitlin
This cracking little memoir follows Peter Hill's magical summer as a rookie lighthouse keeper on small Scottish islands during the final era of the profession in 1973. It is not only a story of a 19 year old boy becoming a man, but also the swan song of a noble profession and, despite the relative isolation of the crews, deeply set amidst the global turmoil of Watergate and the Vietnam War, as well as Peter's own journey from doe-eyed Pink Floyd-loving arts student to slightly less doe-eyed Pink ...more
Shonna Froebel
This book won the Saltire Award, but that isn't why I bought it. Amazingly the title intrigued me enough to both by it and put it on a wish list. So I ended up with two copies (am now trying to think of who should be the lucky recipient of the second copy).
In the summer of 1973 in Scotland, Peter Hill was trying to figure out what to do with his life. He'd been at art school, but wasn't feeling that it led somewhere for him. He applied and was chosen to work on lighthouses for the summer.
His ex
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I was on a bookring for this book, but the originator of the ring brought the book home before Christmas so that he could read the book again and it seems the bookring shows no signs of starting back up. Thus, I was happy to discover this book at my local library. Who woulda thunk it?

Peter Hill is a young, restless art student in the early 70’s when he discovers an opportunity to work for the summer as a lighthouse keeper. Lighthouse keeping is a mythical profession and lighthouses are mythical
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Yvonne
One of my favourite books ever and i've read it three times. It's just such a well-written book, interesting with very funny characters and a first-hand insight into what life was like working as a lighthouse keeper in the 70's traveling around different lighthouses in Scotland. The style of writing makes it easy to imagine you're actually there with the author. I'd highly recommend this book as i love it.
Desiree
While I enjoyed the local references to Dundee and the stories from the time spent on the lighthouses I found his inner reflections and asides to be pretentious. Constantly quoting from other authors and poets does not benefit the storytelling and, instead, interrupts the flow causing me to break often from reading.

Although this book is not a difficult read, it is not captivating and, thus, took me twice as long as expected to read. I would recommend it to other Dundonians and, like my husband,
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Mary
Scotland didn’t automate their lights until 1980 (the U.S. automated theirs in 1939). Before that the men still kept nightly four-hour vigils over the light, making sure that the mechanism was wound and that the air pressure to the paraffin was at the right level to prevent the light from going out. Hill tells of his adventures on three of Scotland’s historic lights: Pladda, Ailsa Craig, and Hyskeir (Craig and Hyskeir were built by the Stevensons) during the summer of 1973. He does a fine job of ...more
Hannah
Funny. Totally addictive. Insightful and just plain brilliant.
Cheyenne Blue
This was an unexpected delight. An Op-Shop find, it sat in my to-read pile for months. Then my sis-in-law read it and raved about it. I told another friend about it (still not having read it myself) and she borrowed it, lent it to a friend, and brought it back with both of them waxing lyrical about it. It's a simple book, telling in warm, homey language of being a lighthouse keeper off the west coast of Scotland in the 1970s. It's simple, it's reflective, it's beautifully written, it's contempla ...more
Lisa
This is a lovely, gentle read that I'm a bit sad that it doesn't go on much longer. I have a ~thing about lighthouses and this fits the bill nicely. I found that the first chapter was pretty awful – an overload of hipster-style pretentiousness trying to set the scene but just being off-putting. Thankfully, it doesn't last and soon we're in the beautiful, isolated world of lighthouses – though a few times it did seem to be creeping in again. Still, it's a lovely read.
Max
A most endearing, humoristic and enjoyable read. The way in which Peter Hill combines his experiences with light house keepers on small Scottish islets while going through his own adolescence at the time of the Vietnam war and Watergate makes this time come alive for anyone under forty, and revives memories for those over fifty. A truly good read, with a lot of references to good music and tv series of the 1970s.
Ricky
Stargazing is an uplifting and educational book; it gives you an understanding of the lives of lighthouse keepers to savour. It's written with humour and candour and takes you right back there with the author's adventures, looking at his relationships with unusual and fascinating people. I really loved this book and I will never see lighthouses the same again, it's such a shame they have all become automated.
Kate
I loved every word of this book. I want to keep a light and the hope and the stories. Every person he meets is such a character, and I related to Peter a lot, the romantic notions, the poetry, the stories, stargazing, the inability to cook, and the desire to be a keeper of the light.

This is an amazing book, and comes highly recommended. Also, this would be a book I would love to own. *wink wink*
Mdavies
I read this at least 5 years ago and I still find myself thinking about it from time to time. You will love each person you meet, no matter how quirky they are, and the whole romantic notion of a lighthouse keeper jumps to life in this wonderful memoir. I wish I could have had this job in the summer during my college years!! His writing is captivatingly delightful.
Renée
The author is our neighbour, and since he gave us the book as a gift, I started by 'looking' for his current self in this memoir of him as a twenty-year-old. In the finish I just got caught up in this wonderful story. Beautifully written, cleverly executed. Music fans and art lovers will enjoy many contemporary references embedded in the narrative.
Tom
Brilliant!
A great book written with an easy tone and warm inviting style.
It's like being in a cosy pub on a bad weather day with no plans and a pocket full of money chatting to a really nice stranger with interesting stories.

I desperately wish this book was longer. I adored it.

Liz Jones
this book follows the experiences of Peter as he trains to be a relief lighthouse keeper. I enjoyed both the descriptions of the lights, their situation and the duties involved and perhaps even more the descriptions of the older and more experienced men he worked with.
Geraldine O'donnell
The theme of this book resonated with me for many reasons such as the universal fascination of lighthouses, our familiar Scottish coastline , and of course memories of those heady days. Peter Hill writes evocatively and like other reviewers, I wish there was a sequel.
Pippin
oh the anxieties of the '70s. i enjoyed the goofy collection of eccentrics in this book - including the author. there were hints at a coming romance throughout the book which never materialized. i enjoyed the mix of drawings, poetry, and storytelling.
Barbpie
charming memoir of the author's summer as a lighthouse keeper at three lighthouses in Scotland in 1973. The "lights" are all automated now. His coworkers were wild characters and the amounts of food they put away were astonishing.
Pat
I've always been curious about what a lighthouse keeper's life was like. I really enjoyed this book - it describes that life in vivid detail, plus beautiful descriptions of those Scottish lighthouses, and the areas around them. Amazing.
Greg Savage
This is a book which I only wanted to read a chapter at a time. It is full of great descriptions of an era which I also saw out to be replaced like Peter by one which I feel less certain in.Here is to uncertainty.
Nice job Mr Hill.
Shannon
I read this book for the title. I randomly picked it up one weekend in Scotland, but it then became the book that somehow sums up Scotland and I why I love/loved it. Plus, it talks about "nautical Scrabble"--how genius is that?
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