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Book-bound and Back to Blogging…

Book-bound and Back to Blogging…

Dear Readers,

Some of you may remember me as the guy who used to send out first weekly, and then monthly blogs informing you of good books I had read, fun bookshops I had discovered, or authors I had recently been stalking.

And then I decided to write a book, and it turned out that took up quite a lot of my time.

Well, that book is not only finished, but published, printed, and available for you to buy, in both real life old-fashioned paper format, or on various eReaders for your more modern cybertechno whizzkids.

B2B Back Cover

You can enlarge your knowledge, happiness, and bookshelf by picking up a copy at Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), Amazon (of your choice), The Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, and even in the Kindle store.

If you happen to be in the US, (where I now find myself), we can cut out the middle-man and I can get a signed copy to you if you get in touch through the COMMENTS section below.

How can you resist? It is currently the 102nd ranked book in Amazon’s general travel guides to Brazil!

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As someone who has been sharing the contents of his brain in written form for much of the past two decades, it’s fun to have an actual book out there in the world. I hope some of you will purchase a copy and enjoy the tales of my travels and adventures following sporting events and warm weather across the globe, learning languages and finding some bizarre and rewarding jobs.

About a third of it is about football/soccer, but if you’re not a fan don’t let that put you off, the rest of it makes up for the sports content with trivia about everything from Portuguese history to Brazilian sexuality, and lots of ruminating on the fascinating topic of the differences between languages.

open two of those windows, and you can drag stuff from 'desktop' to 'devices' (ie the hd' pretty simply

With that out the way, I am excited to return to (semi)-regular bookblog output: I have around 18months’ worth of Books Bought & Read lists to update you on, and since I have recently moved to the glorious, unknown pastures of Brooklyn, New York, I shall be bringing you news of literary goings ons here, including a guide to my favourite bookshops in the NY area.

It’s good to be back!

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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in BOOKS

 

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139. Books Bought & Read, February 2015…

65 books bought.

That’s more than many people read in a year. More than some read in a lifetime.

Any other month, having read 23 books would have felt like quite an accomplishment, even for me.

Not this month.

I blame my brother and girlfriend, enablers of the worst possible kind. What kind of brother and girlfriend take me to an annual Brooklyn Park Slope book sale? With thousands of books on dozens of rickety tables just begging to be taken to a good home?! In my defence, I repaid their kindness in books, so not all of those 65 were for me…but most of them were.

And that was before I’d even set foot in my temple, The Strand

My favourite item of merchandise from The Strand...

My favourite item of merchandise from The Strand…

Series were this month’s obsession: a gift of the classic Ursula K Le Guin trilogy and the discovery of the wonderfully messed up Lemony Snicket tales by Daniel Handler were the cause of a few hours reading, and as ever when I’m in NY there were some great kids’ books which my niece introduced me to, (I finally got to read Oliver Jeffers‘ ‘The Day The Crayons Quit,’ which I’m not ashamed to say I became quite choked up over when she told me it was her ‘favourite ever,‘ since I bought it for her).

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Whilst buying books as presents I had time to indulge in some re-reading, (something I very rarely do), of favourites such as Neil Gaiman, but there were four books which stood out and which I highly recommend for completely differing reasons:

Firstly, if you love the lost art of letters, and history, and a gorgeously bound book, ‘Letters Of Note‘ was just made for you. Originally a popular website, this was the biggest success story of the book-only crowd-funding website I love so much, Unbound, and I read it on my iPhone before gifting it to my girlfriend’s parents. If you want to read about how Elvis became Nixon’s drugs sheriff, how JFK was rescued from a desert island by carving an SOS into a coconut, or how Adolf Hitler’s nephew requested the right to join the US army to find the Nazis, all of this and more come straight from the source in one of the most fascinating, touching, educational and downright gorgeous books I have ever read.

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Secondly, if you like to know how the world works, and have a thirst for topics as wide-ranging as baseball statistics, earthquakes, betting, voting, poker and the weather forecast, Nate Silver has the book for you. My brother had been recommending this meaty tome to me for a while, and the flight from Europe to the US was perfect for finally finding out what it means when a weather forecast says there is a 40% or a 60% chance of rain, (and why it is almost never 50%); how to predict elections; and how chess computers learned to beat Grand Masters. Among many, many other things. This was like a Gladwell book on super fast-forward, (and I’m sure you know by now how much I love a good Gladwell book!)

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Thirdmost, after being incredibly disappointed by his ‘A Hologram For The King,’ Dave Eggers returned to wonderful, weird, genre-busting, hilarious form with the fantastically titled ‘Your Fathers, Where Are They? And Your Prophets, Do They Live Forever?‘ I won’t tell you anything about it. Just go and read it. It’s lots of fun.

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Finally, a gorgeous edition of a book I had never heard of, and an author I really should have, proved that not only should you sometimes judge a book by its cover, but if you’re lucky that book will be wondrously weird and also contain an introduction by one of your all time favourite authors, as Neil Gaiman was there in the opening pages to tell me that when it comes to James Thurber’sThe 13 Clocks,‘ “…there has never been anything like this before, and there will never be anything like this again.”

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It is, indeed, a gem of a nonsense children’s book, by an author I hope to explore further, but don’t let children hog all the fun.

(You can even get a free Kindle download of it here.)

).

Books Bought, February 2015

National Geographic: 100 melhores imagens,’ (National Georgaphic: the 100 best photos)

Violeta e Indigo Descobrem Picasso,’ (‘Violet and Indigo discover Picasso’), Isabel Zambuiac & Júlio Vanzelar

Violeta e Indigo Descobrem Leonardo Da Vinci,’ (‘Violet and Indigo discover Leonardo Da Vince’)Isabel Zambuiac & Júlio Vanzelar x2

Estorvo,’ (‘Nuisance’), Chico Buarque

Jerusalém,’ Gonçalo M.Tavares

The Believer Magazine’ issues 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

A Man: Klaus Klump,’ Gonçalo M.Tavares

The Best Of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency’ ed. Chris Monk & John Warner

Sprezzatura,’ Peter D’Epiro & Mary Desmond Pinkowish

Barracuda,’ Christos Tsiolkas

Another Day Of Life,’ Ryszard Kapuściński

Founding Brothers,’ Joseph J.Ellis

13 Days,’ Robert Kennedy

Coach,’ Michael Lewis

Happiness: ten years of n+1′

The Little Endless Story Book,’ Jill Murphy

I Feel Bad About My Neck,’ Nora Ephron

Leaving Microsoft To Change The World,’ John Wood

The Genius Of Language,’ ed. Wendy Lesser

The Bedside Book Of Beasts,’ Graeme Gibson

I Explain A Few Things: selected poems,’ Pablo Neruda

A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius,’ Dave Eggers

A Series Of Unfortunate Events: vol.3, the wide window, ,Lemony Snicket

A Series Of Unfortunate Events: vol.4, the miserable hill, ,Lemony Snicket

A Series Of Unfortunate Events: vol.5, the austere academy,Lemony Snicket

A Series Of Unfortunate Events: vol.6, the ersatz elevator,Lemony Snicket

S,’ J.J.Abrams & Doug Dorst

Your Fathers, Where Are They? And Your Prophets, Do They Live Forever?‘ Dave Eggers

Zeitoun,’ Dave Eggers

The Convalescent,’ Jessica Anthony

The Path To The Spiders’ Nests,’ Italo Calvino

Far From The Tree,’ Andrew Solomon

The Noonday Demon,’ Andrew Solomon

Hergé: son of tintin,’ Benoît Peeters

The Time Traveler’s Wife,’ Audrey Niefenegger

The Cheese Monkeys: a novel in 2 semesters,’ Chip Kidd

Blindness,’ José Saramago

Number9Dream,’ David Mitchell

Haroun And The Sea Of Stars,’ Salman Rushdie

The Better Of McSweeney’s’

‘I Am A Cat,’ Natsume Soseki

For The Relief Of Unbearable Urges,’ Nathan Englander

Copenhagen,’ Michael Frayn

The Tipping Point,’ Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers,’ Malcolm Gladwell

A Series Of Unfortunate Events: vol.11, the grim grotto,Lemony Snicket

Atonement,’ Ian McEwan

Boy Detective Fails,’ Joe Meno

Clockwork,’ Philip Pullman

Mating,’ Norman Rush

Written On the Body,’ Jeanette Winterson

First Love/The Diary Of A Superfluous Man,’ Ivan Turgenev

Poet In New York,’ Federico García Lorca

Holidays On Ice,’ David Sedaris

The 13 Clocks,’ James Thurber

The Further Adventures Of The Queen Mum,’ Harry Hill

Myth: a very short introduction,’ Robert A.Segal

Movie Charts: comedy graphs of the films you love,’ Paul Copperwaite

The Consolations Of Philosophy,’ Alain de Botton

The Last Wild,’ Piers Torday

Emil And The Detectives,’ Erich Kästner

Rembrandt,’ Michael Brockemühl

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory,’ Roald Dahl

The Hueys In:  the new jumper,’ Oliver Jeffers

Letters Of Note,’ ed.Shaun Usher

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Books Read, February 2015

Grandes Entrevistas Da História, vol.6′ (‘Great Interviews Of History, Vol.1)

Grandes Entrevistas Da História, vol.7′ (‘Great Interviews Of History, Vol.1)

Coach: lessons on the game of life,’ Michael Lewis

Letters Of Note: an eclectic collection of correspondence deserving of a wider audience,’ ed.Shaun Usher borges

I Feel Bad About My Neck,’ Nora Ephron

The Little Endless Storybook,’ Jill Thompson
.
The Runaway Dinner,’ Allan Ahlberg & Bruce Ingman
.

Clockwork,’ Philip Pullman

The 13 Clocks,’ James Thurber borges

Fortunately, The Milk…,’ Neil Gaiman

The Signal And The Noise: the art and science of prediction,’  Nate Silver borges

Copenhagen,’ Michael Frayn

Your Fathers, Where Are They? And Your Prophets, Do They Live Forever?‘ Dave Eggers borges

The Best Of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency’ ed. Chris Monk & John Warner borges

The Hueys In:  the new jumper,’ Oliver Jeffers

The Further Adventures Of The Queen Mum,’ Harry Hill

Movie Charts: comedy graphs of the films you love,’ Paul Copperwaite

The Wizard Of Earthsea,’ Ursula K. Le Guin
.

The Tombs Of Atuan,’ Ursula K. Le Guin

The Farthest Shore,’ Ursula K. Le Guin

The Day The Crayons Quit,’ Oliver Jeffers & Drew Daywalt borges

A Series Of Unfortunate Events: vol.1, the bad beginning, ,Lemony Snicket
.

A Series Of Unfortunate Events: vol.2, the reptile room,’ Lemony Snicket

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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in BOOKS

 

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76. Books Bought & Read, May 2013…

76. Books Bought & Read, May 2013…

Books Bought, May 2013

The Prague Cemetery,’ Umberto Eco

The Stories Of Vladimir Nabakov,’ Vladimir Nabakov

Nine Novels,’ F.Scott.Fitzgerald

Shah Of Shahs,’ Ryszard Kapuściński

De Profundis,’ Oscar Wilde

Into The Wild,’ John Krakauer

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Books Read, May 2013

‘Brunelleschi’s Dome,’ Ross King

De Profundis,’ Oscar Wilde

Into The Wild,’ John Krakauer

Noah Barleywater Runs Away,’ John Boyne

The Lacuna,’ Barbara Kingsolver

Game Of Thrones,’ George.R.R.Martin

The Penguin History Of Latin America,’ Edwin Willamson

Wildlife,’ Richard Ford

Agatha Parrot And The Floating Head,’ Kjartan Poskitt

Eleven,’ Mark Watson

Tender Is The Night,’ F.Scott.Fitzgerald

Shah Of Shahs,’ Ryszard Kapuściński

.

May was a schizophrenic month for me: as far as reading went, it meant travelling. As far as buying went, it meant the Hay Festival. Both were amazing.

When May began, I was already on the road: somewhere between Belize and Honduras, I believe, and working my way through some monsters, both of which I’d picked up on the gorgeous Caribbean island of Cauy Caulker: the two day trip from Belize, through Guatemala and to the incredible island of Roatan, in Honduras, was whiled away reading my first ‘Game Of Thrones‘ tome, an easy and fun read even having seen the first few seasons of the HBO show, although the lack of a single post-it note for quotes to be noted later is clear evidence that it is more plot- and character-driven than stunning writing.

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Tyrion Lannister, aka The Imp, from
‘Game Of Thrones,’
Camden, London version

Frida and Diego

Frida and Diego

Most of the rest of the journey was a struggle to get through the ‘Penguin History of Latin America’, which had proven so promising in terms of both content and bulk when I ran out of all reading material a week into my journey. Bar a few scattered interesting quotes, however, it was a fairly dry 600+-page trawl, far too focused on the Big Three, (Mexico, Argentina and Brazil), and leaving me wondering about the history of all of the smaller countries I was travelling through. Luckily, I was able to add to my Mexican history when I finally got around to reading Kingsolver‘s ‘The Lacuna,’ her fictional account of a young, gay man’s journey from poor nobody to assistant to art legends Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, before ending up in the US as a victim of the McCarthy Communist witch-hunts. A great read.

Then the books ran out, (anyone doing a trek around Central America, I recommend taking your own stash and not relying on trading: travellers these days appear to have terrible taste in books, or keep them with them, with the exception of a new friend, Gerry, who made me a present of the excellent ‘Into The Wild‘ on my last day in the continent, which was my aeroplane reading for the flight home).

What to do? After years of debating the pros and cons of eReaders, with pro and con friends, I can say this: imagesbeing able to download the complete novels of F.Scott Fitzgerald to read on the Kindle on my iPhone on eight-hour bus journeys for 49p is one of the marks of a great society. I also found it easier to read on my phone than on paper when being driven on often non-existent roads, hence my devouring of anything which happened to have been in my Kindle account from previous years: the classic ‘Three Men In a Boat‘ by Jerome.K.Jerome; ‘Eleven,’ a novel by comedian Mark Watson which I’d been eGiven and which was good, although surprisingly unfunny; a fairly amusing kid’s book given out at last year’s Hay Festival, ‘Agatha Parrot‘; and yet another freebie, a recent Richard Ford novel, ‘Wildlife,’ my first Ford and as depressing as I’d expected.

Before returning to the UK, I exchanged all the books I had collected over the months with Dutch Tony in his Magical Bookshop for a bundle of cash and a single, slim volume to read on the way to the airport, (Oscar Wilde‘s abusive love-letter to the lover who landed him in jail, ‘De Profundis‘), and that was soon succeeded by ‘Shah Of Shahs,’ one of the few Kapuściński works I hadn’t read and managed to pick up on my last night in Guatemala, a fascinating account of the history and downfall of the UK-supported Iranian monarchy.

The ‘Books Bought’ list is misleading, since anyone who knows me knows where I spent the last week of May, and how many books I usually buy there, but there will be a separate blog entry on this year’s Hay Festival and the (ridiculous amount of) books bought at the end of the month: the fact that I only had time to read one book in the week I was there, (John Boyne‘s beautiful ‘Noah Barleywater Runs Away‘), will tell you how busy I was during the event, but that’s another story for another blog.

0679729976.01.LZZZZZZZOf the other six bought, ‘The Prague Cemetery,’ the latest Eco, was traded up for in an island bookshop, and one third of them were gifts which I wasn’t at all sure about including since they weren’t technically ‘bought,’ (what do you think, readers?): The Krakauer, as mentioned, kindly donated by a fellow traveller and book-lover, and the incredibly gorgeous edition of Nabakov short stories, which I had somehow neither seen nor heard of before, by Erin, another bibliophilic traveller with whom I passed many hours, discussing life, love and literature. The power of books to bring people together is one of the many things I love about them.

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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in BOOKS

 

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