Reading Round-Up

river book

I ought to have posted this yesterday, but I had Liz from ABC Adventures to stay, as well as work. However, I have JUST NOW DISCOVERED how to schedule posts to publish, so look out for more constant posting from now on!

The Science of Happiness-Stefan Klein

A pop science book, the narrative bumbles its way through various case studies of one and eventually concludes that sociability, community and equality make people happier, rather than money and stuff. There didn’t seem to be an awful lot of hard science, which is what I was after, but it’s worth a read if you’re not sure what makes people happy…

Equal Rites– Terry Pratchett

My mother thinks Pratchett books are for kids, but I didn’t understand any of the social context or satire when I was reading them at 14. The novel follows Eskarina Smith in her quest to become a wizard, which is obviously something only boys can do. Sure, women can be witches and do women magic, but whoever heard of a girl being a wizard? As all Pratchett novels are, this is hilarious and well, well worth reading. So far I haven’t managed to make it through his latest, Unseen Academicals since I’m trying to read it in twenty minute slots on my breaks at work, but I might bite the bullet and buy it…or there’s always Christmas.

Imperial Ambitions– Noam Chomsky

This short book is a series of interviews with Noam Chomsky covering topics surrounding the reasoning behind the Iraq war, why the West has such power and how, just by thinking, we can do something about it. So far, the only Chomsky I’ve read, aside from his essay on Anarchy, but I need more. Really. This stuff was jaw-droppingly and mind-opening as a reminder of how subjective life really is. Read Chomsky, read the news, read the news sources, read everything and think about it, then do something. Okay?

The Age of Reason– Sartre

I really really related to Nausea so I wanted to read more Sartre, but I found The Age of Reason to be less philosophically interesting to me. It follows a couple of days in the life of Matthew, a teacher, who conducts a relationship of convenience with Marcelle, is in love with Ivich, looked up to by Boris and has fallen out with Daniel and considers the anatomy of these relationships. Matthew is intent upon living a life of freedom, but as the narrative progresses it becomes increasingly clear that he is still constrained by these relationships and the emotions they evince within him. Still, I far preferred Nausea which focuses more on the reason for existing at all.

Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes

This is a short narrative from Barthes on photography and the Photograph, which took me quite some time to read as I had to keep rereading certain pages in order to fully grasp the concepts within. I especially liked his musings on the punctum and the studium of a photograph; the studium being the intended content and the punctum being that odd extra detail – a child’s bandaged hand, the kilt of the steward in a photo of Queen Victoria on a horse…Also, at one point he mentions being like ‘an imp, giggling in my jar’, which is an image I will carry with me for a long time.

I’m quite surprised at myself this month as I’ve been meaning to read less fiction and more philosophy and non-fiction yet I didn’t think before doing this post that I’d achieved that. Apparently, I’ve done quite well!

Since December is absolutely perfect for curling up with hot ribena and a book, I’ve lined up a few thick ones this month, and I’m considering turning a corner of my room into a cosy reading hideaway. I’ll let you know how it goes…



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