Wednesday, July 28, 2010

more books

I find that I read books in spurts… sometimes, I can go for two or three weeks without reading anything (apart from newspapers). This is my latest batch from the past five or six weeks:
Looking in the Distance (Richard Holloway): The book’s sub-title is “The Human Search for Meaning”. Holloway was a former bishop of Edinburgh and his book takes the form of a series of reflections on what might be called Godless Spirituality. His approach is just “sitting in a chair” describing some of the conflicting things he has observed in his life. It’s a deeply personal book in which he shares his disillusioned view of religion. An absolutely fascinating and thought-provoking book.
The Cleft (Doris Lessing): I found this a rather strange, but compelling, novel about our earliest ancestors – a slow-moving, semi-aquatic race of females (apparently inspired by a scientific article)… with men eventually arriving on the scene as somewhat unstable and erratic beings by comparison. Nothing new there then!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer+Annie Barrows): A really lovely book, beautifully written - in the form of a series of letters about the German occupation of the island during WW2… endearing, charming and funny. My one reservation (other than it probably appealing more to women than blokes?) would perhaps be that the closer I got to the end of the book, the more it felt like a Jane Austen novel.
My Roots (Monty Don): He’s a bit of a hero of mine. The book is made up of articles he wrote for The Guardian over the past ten years or so and is largely based on his own garden in Herefordshire. Although I’m not a real gardener, I did find his musings encouragingly down to earth (literally!) and reflected his healthy attitude to life, society and the world at large.
Amsterdam (Ian McEwan): I enjoy McEwan’s books. This one is essentially about deception and begins with the funeral of a vibrant forty-something woman (well, she was vibrant when she was alive!). The main characters (a newspaper editor, a composer and a Foreign Secretary) were all her lovers at one time or another. As ever with McEwan, the plot is tantalising - albeit somewhat contrived towards the end of the book to my mind. Very readable.

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