Monday, August 06, 2012

july/august books

Just over a month since returning home from Iona and now back into my former reading routine!

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (PG Wodehouse): There’s something wonderfully comforting about Jeeves+Wooster books – despite their excruciating predictability. Wodehouse does have a way with words and I constantly found myself with a smirk on my face! Effortless, light reading.
Christ of the Celts (J Philip Newell): Newell’s book “Listening for the Heartbeat of God” (which I first read in 2000) profoundly affected my own “spiritual journey”. I recently met Philip Newell (briefly) when I was on Iona and this book continues to focus on the environment and its sense of the sacred existing in all things and creatures. Full of gentle wisdom and generosity.
The Winter Vault (Anne Michaels): Our Book Group’s book choice (13 July). I absolutely loved “Fugitive Pieces” and found this book almost as impressive – although, at times, the second half of the book felt as if it had been grafted on from another tale. Compellingly written and wonderfully crafted. The book is about love, loss, memory and reconcilement; a story of a husband and wife trying to find their way back to each other. A really excellent, beautiful book.
Beyond The Crash (Gordon Brown): Written after his defeat at the last general election (published in 2010), the book is Brown’s “take” on both the background to the worldwide financial crisis and what he sees as a strategy for “overcoming the first crisis of globalisation”. It’s a brave, frank and articulate assessment by an intelligent, astute and principled politician. Understandably, perhaps, you sense that he sees the book as a defence of his policies (as well as underlining his role in convincing world leaders into taking action). The book is very critical of bankers “whose approach to risk-taking became so complex and obscure that only a few people could understand what they were doing”, their apparent policy of “capitalism without capital” and their lack of morals within the global finance markets. He’s a firm advocate of globalisation and clearly sees the challenge as being the need for a “global compact among the major economic powers”. I’m pretty na├»ve when it comes to world finances(!), but I fear that Brown’s idealised strategy for future growth might be rather dented by some countries’ protectionist nature in a crisis and by the opportunistic greed of others. But what do I know! A fascinating, wide-ranging and informative book.   
Last Orders (Graham Swift): I first started this book about four years ago, but gave up on it fairly quickly. Too quickly, as it turns out – because I really enjoyed it second time around. It’s about the lives of ordinary people in East London and all the circumstances – birth, death, relationships, tragedies and accidents - which shape their lives. A rather beautiful book.

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