NWR What are we Reading?

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London
Nearly through the last book in the Gormenghast Trilogy. Strangely didn't read it as a schoolboy so catching up 35 years late!
 
Hitchens-22. My favourite polemicist.


By the way, where are the 'public intellectuals' and polemicist these days? I raised it as a topic at the Wimps Xmas lunch. Jasper, Jeff and I were left scratching our heads in disappointment.
 
Just finished the latest Michael Connolly The Crossing. Next I'm going to re-read William Gibson's Neuromancer having been given a new copy. And dipping in & out of Benjamin Lewin's Wines of France: A Guide to 500 Leading Vineyards.
 
Hitchens-22. My favourite polemicist.


By the way, where are the 'public intellectuals' and polemicist these days? I raised it as a topic at the Wimps Xmas lunch. Jasper, Jeff and I were left scratching our heads in disappointment.
I love Hitchens' stuff.
I read recently that he, as a lifelong devotee of builder's tea, regarded herbal varieties as extremely right wing. I was tempted to see if that struck a chord with anyone here but felt that it was too political an issue.
 
Part way through Walking the Woods and the Water, a 2011 version of Patrick Leigh Fermor's classic walk across Europe in 1933-34. Was quite sceptical but I have to say if you are a PLF fan you will enjoy it.
 
I enjoyed Hitch-22 (in fact, it's found its way onto the shelf in my hospital office, so is in front of me as I type). For a public intellectual who is even more invigorating to read, I'd recommend Joseph Epstein. Probably best to start with one of the books of his collected essays from when he was editor at The American Scholar. I know Epstein regarded Hitchens as being suspiciously glib (which could certainly be true, although far from always). But certainly if you enjoyed Hitchens I reckon you'll find Epstein to be an absolute treat. The sort of writing that makes the world seem a more fascinating, complex place and the reader feel more interested and more intelligent. Fortifying stuff, and just as hard to get your nose out of as Hitch-22.
 
I'm currently reading 'Lawrence in Arabia' which is fascinating, strong on detail, and very well researched although the occasionally poor English jars. It's salutary to comprehend the extent to which the imperial chess games between Britain and France in particular were one of the instruments in creating the dysfunction in the Middle East.
 
I further endorse reading Joseph Epstein. I read 'In a Cardboard Belt!' fairly recently and recommend it. More recently I have read The Orchardist, a novel by American author Amanda Coplin set in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th century which I enjoyed more than I thought I would; The Sounds Of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, a novel set in Bogata after the fall of Pablo Escobar; Life's Engines How Microbes Made Earth Habitable by Paul Falkowski, a very readable book about the micro and macro worlds that comprise the living Earth system and finally on my last long distance plane flight, Stardust by Joseph Kanon which is set in Hollywood immediately after the end of WW2 and at the outset of the Communist witch hunts. A perfect plane book and I say this as a compliment, not an insult.
 
I'm still interested in pseudo-science so I recently started Robert L. Park's Voodoo Science - a quite amusing trip through all sorts of quackery like Vitamin O, cold fusion, homoeopathy, etc.

For some reason I haven't had much interest in "serious" literature recently but I have enjoyed the crime writing of Antti Tuomainen, a couple of which have been translated to English. Helsinki Noir but it works (no idea how good the English translations are, however).
 
I love Hitchens' stuff.
I read recently that he, as a lifelong devotee of builder's tea, regarded herbal varieties as extremely right wing. I was tempted to see if that struck a chord with anyone here but felt that it was too political an issue.
Well, I always thought the cliche was that herbal teas were hippyish left wing stuff. Both ideas are tosh.
 
I enjoyed Hitch-22 (in fact, it's found its way onto the shelf in my hospital office, so is in front of me as I type). For a public intellectual who is even more invigorating to read, I'd recommend Joseph Epstein. Probably best to start with one of the books of his collected essays from when he was editor at The American Scholar. I know Epstein regarded Hitchens as being suspiciously glib (which could certainly be true, although far from always). But certainly if you enjoyed Hitchens I reckon you'll find Epstein to be an absolute treat. The sort of writing that makes the world seem a more fascinating, complex place and the reader feel more interested and more intelligent. Fortifying stuff, and just as hard to get your nose out of as Hitch-22.

Thanks, Druin. I'll spend a bit more time with Epstein. Intrigued by writing that makes the world a more fascinating place, but prefer the reader to be more inspired and inquisitive than to feel more intelligent.
 
Battling my way through the Ba'thification of Iraq by Aaron Faust, a fascinating slog that I have to break up every now and again by re-reading some Bukowski, currently Ham on Rye.
 
I read just the book for many winepagers over Christmas, you know, those who get upset at the misuse of language and grammar. I admit I have been known both to criticise, and far more often, to be a culprit.

It's Steven Pinker's "The Sense of Style", a Times Book of the Year. A really good book, though those who are turned off when the grammar police turn up may well find it too dry in places - although he continually points out occasions when high-handed authorities basically get it totally wrong, and it gets more entertaining as it progresses. Fascinating reading for those with a fascination for language.

Penguin p/b, £9.99 (UK), pub 2014.

I don't know if this book touches on U and non-U but I made the ultimate faux-pas last Sunday when I complemented a woman on her "dress" when I should have been admiring her "frock". The dress ... err. I mean frock ... was announced the previous week so I felt that I had to notice it.
 
I don't know if this book touches on U and non-U but I made the ultimate faux-pas last Sunday when I complemented a woman on her "dress" when I should have been admiring her "frock". The dress ... err. I mean frock ... was announced the previous week so I felt that I had to notice it.
Warren, Hons and Rebels is what you want...
 
Hitchens-22. My favourite polemicist.

I'd quite forgotten, but I'd put in an advance order for a new book of collected Hitchens essays, And Yet, which arrived yesterday. (I would have started it promptly but it came along with Simon Hopkinson's Second Helpings, so I was consequently busy preparing his braised celery with ceps. I'm now convinced that dried ceps are significantly easier to deal with when transformed into powder - roasted while dry then blitzed - and that they retain all their pungency.)
 
Just finished Chris Hadfield's An Astronauts Guide to Life On Earth. Surprisingly full of really good advice for anyone who has to work in teams or lead a team.

Now for light relief have started England is Mine by Michael Bracewell. "Pop life in Albion from Wilde to Goldie" should be an interesting read (I hope).
 
Collections of essays in general are something I find myself increasingly warming to these days. One I can heartily recommend is the annual "Best Australian Essays", not just for the content which is sometimes variable, but for its genuinely wide-ranging content. It rather resembles what you may find in the better Granta collections. The Australian series has recently spawned a "Best Australian Science Writing" collection which is up to the same standard. I've got the 2015 collection though haven't started it yet - my comments relate to the 2014 book.

Though I tend to be a bit wary of collections of individual writers - I find their individual weaknesses and obsessions tend to get a bit too obvious. Reading their essays individually amongst other things gets round that.
 
I'd quite forgotten, but I'd put in an advance order for a new book of collected Hitchens essays, And Yet, which arrived yesterday. (I would have started it promptly but it came along with Simon Hopkinson's Second Helpings, so I was consequently busy preparing his braised celery with ceps. I'm now convinced that dried ceps are significantly easier to deal with when transformed into powder - roasted while dry then blitzed - and that they retain all their pungency.)

Indestructible ceps! Reminds me of Top Gear's red Toyota Hilux!!

'And Yet,' is now in my kindle library waiting for my attention. I'm itching to pick-up my iPad, forget about my chores and hideaway on my sofa!
 
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