Lee Child – A Wanted Man
Probably the worst of the 15 or so Jack Reacher books. I wonder whether Lee Child got distracted by all the Tom Cruise shenanigans, or whether he thought he had to change the formula a bit. Either way, this is just dreary. The one upside is that it helped me nod off on a transatlantic flight.
I started reading the second in this series of memoirs at a friend’s house. It was so effortlessly entertaining, I thought I ought to read the first one before going any further.Such is/was our exposure to Clive James as a talking head on TV, it’s hard not to imagine him half squinting, half smiling, narrating as you read. The book covers his life until he reaches London and has too much childhood memories for me (kinda inevitable I suppose), but it has enough poignant insights and humour to make for an enjoyable diversion. I read most of it on a pair I long flights and that seemed quite appropriate.
The Third Policeman
One of my things is to know nothing about a book, film etc. so that I
can experience the work without prejudice and have the story revealed
to me as the author intended.
Matrix, I was stunned by the unexpected twists and turns. And of
course the Sixth Sense is so much more enthralling if you don’t
know… well, you know. Reading Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman fits into the stunner
category. SPOILER ALERT. it begins as a regular, rural murder thriller
but soon turns into a trippy, bizarre, wonderful fantasy that is by
turns Paul Auster, Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll. Reading the publisher’s notes at the end, I’m reminded that the book
appears fleetingly in the TV series Lost. Now there’s a perfect fit.
David Eagleman – Incognito
Bought this on a whim after hearing the author on Richard Bacon's Five Live show. It's an exploration of neuroscience and specifically the wonders of the subconscious.??
The Affair – Lee Child
The latest Jack Reacher and the first I've read on Kindle (not sure why it's not yet out in paperback).
The Pickwick Papers
Dickens’ first novel is almost the story of a road trip; the nineteenth century gap year adventure of posh old gents.It’s a little odd at first, as every chapter seems a self-contained sketch, but eventually it blends into the rambling, wonderfully observed novel we know from the author. In particular, every page stings with wit and satire. No-one takes the piss like Dickens.
Po – Beyond Yes and No
I’d always put Edward de Bono in a box of stuffy old thinkers, but I
was prompted to buy this based by a reference to it in a lecture on
creativity by John Cleese.
think laterally by breaking out of the sequential patterns our brains
love”. It’s a pretty radical manifesto for helping keep our minds open. Recommended.
John Peel – The Olivetti Chronicles
Wonderful collection of Peel’s columns over the years for The
Listener, Sounds, the Radio Times and more.
what it is to be human. I still miss him dearly.
Renegade – Mark E. Smith
Everything you’d hope for from the Fall’s curmudgeonly genius. Funny,
unexpected and unreasonable. A genuinely great Briton.
How to write Groundhog Day
Screenwriter Danny Rubin explains how what is now a comedy classic came to be.Some interesting insights, and it enlightened a re-watch of the movie. The biggest takeout for me was the lesson once again that success is
mainly about determination and collaboration. Even a corker of an idea
like this needed to be shoved through the system and accept ideas and
rewrites from many sides.
I always liked the Fast Show, and I had a fleeting conversation with
Simon when I’d rejected some copy he’d written for a Guardian ad and
he called to bundle me into running it.
self-destructive and maudlin than I expected. A pretty quick holiday
read and I was glad to get it over with.
Lady Audley’s Secret
I'd heard of this 'sensation' novel, but wasn't expecting too much. In fact, it's a cracker. Very much in the Wilkie Collins style, with twisty, teasing turns aplenty. Very enjoyable and recommended.
Alex’s Adventures in Numberland
Popular maths and science books are both an indulgence an diversion
for me. I’m kinda A-Level standard and curious in this field, and it’s
a combination of imagination, certainty and underdog triumph that
highlights. He skilfully avoids either showing off or
over-simplifying, and instead respects the reader whilst allowing his
enthusiasm and wonder to shine through.
Lord of the Flies
Seeing me reading this, a friend joked “are you re-sitting your GCSE English?”I guess it is a book associated with school, but I never read it
there, and it’s one of those that I always thought I should. Quite enjoyable and easy to see why it appeals to people of that age.
It did remind me of the TV series Lost, and indeed they refer to the
competing camp as The Others at one point. “Did you know” that the Lord of the Flies is what Beelzebub translates as?
The Man in The High Castle
Someone recently said that Philip K. Dick made a career out of making
you wonder what was real or not, and this book is very much in that
a great premise and a wildly tangled and unusual storyline –
apparently much of the plot was derived by Dick taking guidance from
the I, Ching. One of those books that I very much enjoyed, but couldn’t necessarily
recommend widely. Fascinating, original and, well, a bit barmy.
A Christmas Carol
Spurred me to break the ice and send Christmas cards to a couple of
people I’d grown apart from.
It seems strange to read this biography just a couple of months after
his death. Even slightly disrespectful.
life and it’s a tale that will be read for generations. It’s not easy to be near a genius. The products are beautiful and the
success stellar, but the book makes it clear that he was a dick
sometimes too. Nobody’s perfect.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Read this pretty much in one go on a flight to San Francisco.Was expecting a tale of a fearsome Scottish schoolmistress, whereas it
turns out Jean Brodie is something of a liberal rebel, ignoring the
curriculum and educating her girls in more worldly matters of art,
music and relationships. Indeed it is so drenched with adolescent longing that I fancied it
ought to be accompanied by a Belle and Sebastian soundtrack – probably
Judy and the Dream of Horses.