Search results for ‘hygge’

174. Books Bought & Read, October 2018…

174. Books Bought & Read, October 2018…

To be fair, October is my birthday month, so it was only to be expected that I would go a little crazy with my book-buying, but this month was especially ridiculous.

I went somewhat wild knowing that there were only so many more times I would be able to get lost (both literally and figuratively) volunteering among the basement shelves at Housing Works, or browsing the boxes of books at The Strand at Central Park.

We’re moving, you see. Ditching one New for another, from anglicised to gallic, from York to Orleans.

So I had to make sure I had something good to read on the plane…

Hence this month’s totals: a full deck of 52 bought, a (comparatively) paltry 19 read.

As well as reading literature this month, I managed to hear it too, as my birthday weekend coincided with that rarest of sightings, a public talk by Haruki Murakami. He featured at the New Yorker Festival in Manhattan, and since tickets were priced obscenely I decided to simply show up at the venue and see if anyone had a spare.

They did, it was cheap, and I got to watch one of my literary idols spend over an hour charmingly explain how he never re-reads his own works, barely seems to remember plot minutiae which his audience clearly obsess over, and answer every other question/thesis from fans with some variation of: “I have no idea what that character was thinking, or what I meant by that. But yours sounds like a good theory!”



Haruki Murakami charms the audience at the New Yorker Festival, October 2018

My favourite revelation from him concerned a line in one of his most popular novels, “Kafka On The Shore.” The interviewer asked how he had uncovered the rare and wonderful fact that Franz Kafka loved diagonal lines. Murakami’s response: “I just made that up! It sounded right!”

If that’s not master fiction writing in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.


I continued my novella-buying spree, the perfect bedside companions, and went on a boxing spree too. The excellent poetry collection on legendary African American boxer Jack Johnson (no relation) seemed to have been based directly on the chapter on him in Joyce Carol Oates’s expanded essay on the Sport of Kings which I’d happened to read just before it, and both were carefully crafted looks at the sport (if, as Oates may have convinced me, it is indeed a sport).

I also keep turning up beautiful editions of Arthur Miller plays, thanks to Penguin (as always).

I found and devoured the prequel to a book I’d much enjoyed several months ago, The Geography of Genius, this time Eric Weiner following a hot topic by reporting on various countries’ sense of happiness (or lack thereof) in The Geography of Bliss. This dovetailed with my recent obsession with ‘hygge‘-mania, and was a fun travelogue of a read.


Nick Hornby led me to Carlo Rovelli’s simple but mind-boggling short treatise on time and how it doesn’t really exist the way we experience it. The part of this densely packed scientific exploration which stuck with me, and seemed so simple and yet so inexplicable, was that most natural processes look different going forwards and backwards, since they all involve a transfer of heat in some way. All except time, which in its purest form would look identical flowing in either direction.


I’m not quite sure what this means, but I found it both beautiful and powerful.

Finally, I read Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, (another Penguin Classic find, which dominated this month’s haul), and learned what an incredible impact it has had on our culture; I never knew the backstory to Sinatra’s hit Mack the Knife, and was blown away hearing the German original.

One more mystery book was included in this month’s reading, and next month will reveal the reason for all the redaction. Stay tuned…


Books Bought, October 2018

All My Sons (Arthur Miller)

A View From The Bridge (Arthur Miller)

Death Of A Salesman (Arthur Miller)

Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman)

The Big Smoke (Adrian Matejka)

Haruki Murakami And The Music Of Words (Jay Rubin)

The Elephant Vanishes (Haruki Murakami)

The Dept.Of Speculation (Jennifer Ofill)

The Tale Of Tales (Giambattista Basile)

The Threepenny Opera (Bertolt Brecht)

While Mortals Sleep (Kurt Vonnegut)

Moomin: the complete lars jansson comic strip, vol.iv (Lars Jansson)

James Joyce: a life (Edna O’Brien)

The Laramie Project (Moisés Kaufman)

The Last Interview (David Foster Wallace)

The Pathseeker (Imre Kertész)

Adventures In The Rocky Mountains (Isabella Bird)

The Cobra’s Heart (Ryszard Kapuscinski)

Borneo, Celebes, Aru (Alfred Russel Wallace)

Across The Empty Quarter (Wilfred Thesiger)

from The Meadows Of Gold (Mas’Udi)

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (J.K.Rowling)

All Souls (Javier Marías)

An Incomplete Book Of Awesome Things

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: a fairies primer (Jennifer Adams & Alison Oliver)

Close To Jedenew (Kevin Vennemann)

Penguin Mini Classics box set (various, 80 books)

The Order Of Time (Carlo Rovelli)

Same Same (Peter Mendelson)

The Infinity Of Lists (Umberto Eco)

The Union Jack (Imre Kertész)

Customer Service (Benoît Duteurte)

Parnassus On Wheels (Christopher Morley)

Fun Home (Alison Bechdel)

The Confidence Game: why we fall for it…every time (Maria Konnikova)

Moomin: the complete tove jansson comic strip, vol.I (Tove Jansson)

Iggy Peck, Architect (Andrea Beaty & David Roberts)

What Do You Do With A Problem? (Kobi Yamada & Mae Besom)

The Tiger’s Wife (Tea O’Brecht)

Julia Child: a life (Laura Shapiro)

The Wind In The Willows (Kenneth Graham)

Nutcracker And Mouse King/The Tale Of The Nutcracker (E.T.A.Hoffmann/Alexandre Dumas)

Orient Express (Graham Greene)

101 Things I Learned In Film School (Neil Landau & Matthew Fredericks)

Spell (Anne Lauterbach)

The Intergraphic History Of The World (Valentina DEfilippo & James Ball)

The Wondrous Workings Of Planet Earth: understanding our world and its ecosystems (Rachel Ignotofsky)

A Portrait Of The Artist (James Joyce)

Moral Disorder (Margaret Atwood)

The Man Who Had All The Luck (Henry Miller)

Black Panther, Vol.IV (Ta Nehisi-Coates)

Between Eternities: and other writings (Javier Marías)


Books Read, October 2018 (highly recommended books in bold)

The Pickle Index (Eli Horowitz & Ian Huebert)

On Boxing (Joyce Carol Oates)

The Big Smoke (Adrian Matejka)

The Geography Of Bliss (Eric Weiner)

All My Sons (Arthur Miller)

A View From The Bridge (Arthur Miller)

Death Of A Salesman (Arthur Miller)

The Last Interview (David Foster Wallace)

The Laramie Project (Moisés Kaufman)

The Threepenny Opera (Bertolt Brecht)

The Golden House (Salman Rushdie)

While Mortals Sleep (Kurt Vonnegut)

James Joyce: a life (Edna O’Brien)

*******’ **** **** **** ******* (**** & ***) (Book redacted pending future update)

The Order Of Time (Carlo Rovelli)

Fun Home (Alison Bechdel)

101 Things I Learned In Film School (Neil Landau & Matthew Fredericks)

Black Panther, Vol.IV (Ta Nehisi-Coates)

Spell (Anne Lauterbach)

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Posted by on December 27, 2018 in BOOKS


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171. Books Bought & Read, July 2018…

171. Books Bought & Read, July 2018…

10 bought, 13 read, and around a dozen seems to be my average literary intake lately: maybe 13 should be considered a reader’s dozen, rather than a baker’s dozen.

My book purchases this month came almost exclusively from California, where we were exploring everything from the Redwood National Forests, home of the world’s tallest trees, to Esalen, home of the world’s leading physical and mental retreats (as reported in last month’s blog).

More specifically, they all came from San Francisco, indeed from one street, nay one store on Valencia Street: Dog Eared Books, packed with new and used books of all genres, and most excitingly for me just about every McSweeney’s issued book, magazine, or special in varying degrees of limited edition-ness and signed state.

While I was visiting Apple’s new HQ, (and not getting in, as I hadn’t been told you need an appointment to visit The Spaceship, so I had to make do with the former location at 1 Infinite Loop), I immersed myself in Apple Lore by bringing with me the iconic Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs, (incredibly informative and surprisingly easy to read), as well as a fun side of the life of my fellow countryman and Apple design genius (Sir) Jony Ive.


I also bought a lovely new Apple pen, (of the non-digital variety) only on sale at their Cupertino store, which is at once over-priced, utterly gorgeous, and my new favourite writing implement.

Both fans and haters of Apple products will find none of that last sentence surprising.


While we were travelling down the Pacific coast we stayed at a beyond-beautiful Air BnB, and the hosts had kindly left behind a fittingly adorable book I had read years previously, all about the Danish sense of ‘hygge,’ or…well, there’s no real translation for it. Cosiness comes close, and there’s a lot to do with wood and fireplaces and friends and generally hanging out, but to really understand it you’ll either have to be Danish, or read the book, (either of which I recommend highly).

And then I read his follow-up, which I’d never seen before, on why Danes (and Scandewegians generally) are so damn ‘lykke,’ or happy. Why should you trust the author, Meik Wiking, (apart from the fact that he is basically called Mike the Viking, surely one of the most awesome names ever). No real reason. Except that he happens to be literally the CEO of an institute which researches happiness named, perhaps slightly prosaically, The Happiness Research Institute.

To go with my newfound path to happiness I thought I’d have a side salad of health, provided (via my brother- and sister-in-law) by Dr.Rangan Chatterjee. He has written a common-sense medical self-help book on how to eliminate the modern scourge of chronic disease (diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, etc) without resorting to the other modern scourge of over-medication.

If you’re looking for spoilers, it boils down to a few basic things which it can never hurt to be reminded: Do exercise. Be thankful. Eat healthily. Sleep well.

So simple, yet not always so simple to do.

But somewhat easier when you’re on the road, with loved ones, taking in the beauty of the world’s most majestic flora.


Books Bought, July 2018

A Gentleman In Moscow (Amor Towles)

The Double Death Of Quincas Water-Bray (Jorge Amado)

Sanshiro (Natsume Soseki)

Burmese Days (George Orwell)

Make Good Art (Neil Gaiman)

The Wife (Meg Wolitzer)

The Geography Of Happiness (Eric Reiner)

The Where, The Why, And The How: 75 artists illustrate wondrous mysteries of science (ed. Lamothe, Rothman, Volvovski & Macaulay)

Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free: laws for the internet age (Cory Doctorow)

The Pickle Index (Eli Horowitz)


Books Read, July 2018 (highly recommended books in bold)

The Little Book Of Hygge: the danish art of living well (Meik Wiking)

How To Make Disease Disappear (Dr.Rangan Chatterjee)

Mind Over Money: the psychology of money and how to use it better (Claudia Hammond)

Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)

Jony Ive: the genius behind apple’s greatest products (Leander Kahney)

Make Good Art (Neil Gaiman)

The Little Book Of Lykke: secrets of the world’s happiest people (Meik Wiking)

100 Poems That Make Grown Women Cry: 100 women on the words that move them (ed.Holden & Holden)

Shantytown (César Aire)

Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free: laws for the internet age (Cory Doctorow)

Strangers In Paradise (Vols. I, II & III)

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Posted by on October 21, 2018 in BOOKS


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