Reading Round-Up

reading on the night train

Anyone who read my enourminous ‘Things To Do This Year (Aside From Take Pictures of my Friend’s Crotches)’ list knows that one of my aims this year is to read 100 books. That pretty much equals two books per week, or eight per month. However, it’s more a guideline than a goal; something I would love to achieve and will therefore put more time and effort into, but not something I will freak out over getting done. That said, here are the books I got through in January:

The ImmoralistAndre Gide.

Because, of course a French writer is going to write about decadence. Quite a slow-moving character study of one gentleman who goes a little off the rails. Some interesting philosophical discussion, but don’t expect anything too extravagant!

Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett

Pratchett’s latest doesn’t match up to the Discworld standard. The theme’s are football and celebrity culture, oh, and orcs, but I felt the jokes fall a little flat. Pratchett was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease last year but is still dedicated to bringing out a book a year. If you want to know more about him and the disease, The Alzheimer’s Society has the information you’re after.

F**k ItJohn. C Parkin

The F**k It philosophy is to, well, fuck it. Relax about life, and it will pretty much go on as it was doing before, but you’ll be a lot less stressed – is the essence of the book, and every good philosophy. I regularly practice the meditation techniques from the back; sit down comfortably, breathe into your stomach. Reading this was like chatting to a really down-to-earth, sorted out friend over a glass of wine. Or something. Definitely recommended. Follow him on Twitter for daily fuck its.

The Island of the Day Before – Umberto Eco

Oh, we know I like a bit of Eco. This tells the tale of the historical quest for the comprehension of longitude and all the crazy theories and methods different countries used. Full of history and philosophy, it follows Roberto, who becomes caught up in court intrigues and ends up somewhere near Fiji, alone, trying to read the Island of the Day Before. Quite brilliant.

Hegemony and Survival – Noam Chomsky

After reading this I ranted for about three days straight about how America is the largest terrorist organisation in the world. Shit can make you paranoid, yo. Of course, I then went and looked into all the military presence in Haiti and wondered if maybe there isn’t something to all this…It considers the USA’s foreign policy, and just what they stand to gain from it. A very, very important read if you live in this world.

The Last Ghost– Helen Stringer

Kid’s book! Well, teenage. So, Belladonna can see ghosts, and it annoys her. What if people think she’s crazy when she talks to them? Then, they start disappearing, which is not so good, since she still lives with her dead parents. With the help of Elsie, the last ghost, Steve and her drive to get her parents back, Belladonna adventures in the after-life to find out what’s happened to all the ghosts…Very well-written, I found myself quite absorbed by it. Could have been more macabre…

The Hidden Oasis – Paul Sussman

One of those historical conspiracy romps, this time through Egypt. There’s a hidden oasis (shock!), a dead sister (was it suicide?), a bad guy with a germ phobia, a fat American agent, an Egyptologist, a ludicrously talented climber…and a whole load of car chases, explosions, daring jumps and dazzling escapes. There’s also a lot, a lot of actual historical information. Sometimes the plot feels like a vehicle for all the fact, but that sat fine with me since the characterisation isn’t stellar and the plot is fairly clunky (hello good/bad guy!). I really love crappy historical romps; they’re not challenging and you can sift out the actual fact/research but I found myself taking a pen to this one’s pages to correct the technique so it’s more poorly written than most. Shame!

That’s my literary explorations for January. In February I’m off to Spain for a month, so I’m not sure how many books I’ll be able to get into my bag and I can’t afford an e-reader at the moment. Hopefully there’ll be some traveller book swaps in hostels. Fingers crossed!



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