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Hack: How I Stopped Worrying about What to Do with My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab

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The author of this now works for the same company as me, and I picked up her book on a trip to our New York office. I met Melissa only briefly, and was hoping as I started to read the book that I'd like it, as otherwise it'd be a bit awkward.

Anyway, it's great. A really enjoyable memoir about her experiences as a New York cabbie ("hack"). 99% of drivers are male, with English as a second language so she definitely stood out. Melissa's purpose in trying out cabbing was to have an adventure, and there are vicarious thrills aplenty to be had for anyone wondering what to do next with their life.

Lee Child – A Wanted Man

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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.

Unreliable Memoirs

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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

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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.

Occasionally, this brings up wonderful surprises. When I saw the
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.

Fahrenheit 451

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The author’s death prompted me to read this modern classic. Of a similar “dystopian future” era/genre to I am Legend, 1984 and The Man in the High Castle, it’s clearly the fruit of post-war, atomic age fear – a place where the threat of totalitarianism was real and the paranoid witch hunts of McCarthy were in full anger. What a damaging and damaged time that was.

One thought – it could almost be the prequel to one of my favourite books, Ridley Walker by Russell Hoban. But I won’t spoil either by making the connection.

But this is not a misery fest. Nor does it feel like science fiction – it’s just a great novel. File under “why hadn’t I read this before?” I shall read more Ray Bradbury.