Tag Archives: Malcolm Gladwell

158. Books Bought & Read, July 2017…

158. Books Bought & Read, July 2017…

My attempt to chisel away at the Mount Rushmore of Books To Be Read continued apace this month. Thanks to my bedside stack containing a number of plays and various other thin collections of interviews and whatnot, I managed to read better than a book a day, tossing off 33 books in July.

The bad news was that I also somehow managed to purchase 32 books. But every little helps.

I had picked up a stack of plays at the Book Expo I volunteered at the previous month, and they were interesting pre-sleep companions. Some were disappointing, (I’m looking at you, David Bowie’sLazarus‘), some were downright silly, (‘Ripcord‘), and some were time-bendingly fascinating, (notably the offering from Tracy Letts, who gave us the play which gave us the movie August: Osage County).

I was most exciting to finally read the original play of ‘Twelve Angry Men,’ which didn’t disappoint: I’ve always loved the movie, a throwback to the days when a lack of flashy FX meant a reliance on plot, dialogue and acting.

I ripped through three more of the ‘Last Interview‘ collection, (unearthed at the ever gloomy but often rewarding East Village Books), which led to me dabbling in my second ever Ray Bradbury, (I presume everyone in the world has read ‘Fahrenheit 451‘), and whilst ‘The Martian Chronicles‘ was an amusing series of vignettes and short stories, it didn’t quite live up to the expectations its influence on a past generation appears to have had.

The same cannot, by any means, be said of the influence of Senator John Lewis, the worst possible person President Trump could have chosen to accuse of being “all talk and no action” back when he was just President-elect, (remember those good old days?)

I may not have known much (read: anything) about Lewis’s career before the spat with Trump, but in ‘March,’ the trilogy of graphic novels recounting Lewis’s career in civil rights activism, I was left literally wide-eyed with wonder at the risks he and fellow protestors were willing to take simply to be considered human beings.


The history culminates in the books with the march on Selma, Alabama, in 1963, (about which Malcolm Gladwell recently released a fascinating podcast), and I imagine anyone who has read it will feel, like me, that it deserves to be on every school syllabus across the country.

A special mention this month goes to A.N.Wilson’s ‘The Book Of The People: how to read the bible,’ not so much for its content, (interesting in parts, overly personal and sentimental on the whole), but for having the most stunning cover I have seen for a very long time. Sometimes I buy books just for their covers: if only there were some sort of catchy folk-wisdom to advise me against such practices…


Probably my favourite novel of the month was Chris Bachelder’s excellent ‘The Throwback Special,’ an incredibly astute, simple masterpiece.

22 ‘friends’ (read: guys who meet once a year to fulfil some inexplicable rituals) meet in the same room, in the same hotel, at the same time every year to re-enact the (American) football play made (in)famous in Michael Lewis’s ‘Blind Side’: Lawrence Taylor dissintegrating Joe Thiesmann’s tibia and fibula.


Bachelder’s cycles us through the minds and misgivings of each member in turn, sometimes slower, sometimes faster, with prose that pops each of them into 3D in an endless loop of pitch-perfect psychology and thought-provoking observation. I enjoyed his debut novel, ‘Bear vs Shark,’ for its dystopian ridiculousness; I loved ‘The Throwback Special’ even more.

Books Bought, July 2017

A Child In Time (Ian McEwan)

Twelve Angry Men (Reginald Rose)

The Great Questions Of Tomorrow (David Rothkopf)

The Martian Chronicles (Ray Bradbury)

The Terrorist’s Son: a story of choice (Zak Ebrahim & Jeff Giles)

Cosmopolis (Don Delillo)

Wild Things: the joy of reading children’s literature (Bruce Handy)

How To Travel Without Seeing: dispatches from the new latin america (Andres Newman)

Food Of The City: new york’s  professional chefs, restaurateurs, line cooks, street vendors, and purveyors talk about what they do and why they do it (Ina Yalof)

Storyteller: the life of roald dahl (Donald Sturrock)

Appointment In Samarra (John O’Hara)

Food Anatomy: the curious parts & pieces of our edible world (Julia Rothman)

Beast (Paul Kingsnorth)

The Once And Future King (T.H.White)

Stranger In A Strange Land (Robert A.Heinlein)

Dune (Frank Herbert)

The Left Hand Of Darkness (Ursula K.LeGuin)

Necromancer (William Gibson)

2001: a space odyssey (Arthur C.Clarke)

McSweeney’s no.1 (Various)

My Documents (Alejandro Zambra)

March: Book I (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

March: Book II (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

March: Book III (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

Fragile Acts (Allen Peterson)

White Girls (Hilton Als)

Heroes Of The Frontier (Dave Eggers)

The Seven Good Years (Etgar Keret)

Alice, Let’s Eat: further adventures of a happy eater (Calvin Trillin)

The Beach Of Falesá (Robert Louis Stevenson)

We (Yevgeniy Zamyatin)

Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (Diane Williams)


Books Read, July 2017 (recommended books in bold)

The Midnight Folk (John Masefield)

The Last Interview: Roberto Bolaño

The Last Interview: Ray Bradbury

The Last Interview: Jorge Luis Borges

The Book Of The People: how to read the bible (A.N.Wilson)

My Friend Dahmer (Derf Backderf)

The Last Temptation (Neil Gaiman)

The Complete Polly And The Wolf (Catherine Storr)

Warren The 13th And The All-Seeing Eye (Tania Del Rio & Will Staehle)

Twelve Angry Men (Reginald Rose)

The Great Questions Of Tomorrow (David Rothkopf)

The Terrorist’s Son: a story of choice (Zak Ebrahim & Jeff Giles)

How Google Works (Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg)

The Last Unicorn (Peter S.Beagle)

The Martian Chronicles (Ray Bradbury)

The Throwback Special (Chris Bachelder)

Oslo (J.T.Rogers)

Lazarus (David Bowie & Enda Walsh)

Mary Page Marlowe (Tracy Letts)

Eclipsed (Danai Gurira)

Ripcord (David Lindsay Abaire)

The Missing Of The Somme (Geoff Dyer)

Believe Me: a memoir of love, death and jazz chickens (Eddie Izzard)

Americanah (Chmamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Fragile Acts (Allen Peterson)

My Documents (Alejandro Zambra)

The Sense Of Style: the thinking person’s guide to writing in the 21st century (Steven Pinker)

Subliminal: how your unconscious mind rules your behaviour (Leonard Mlodinow)

How To Build A Girl (Caitlin Moran)

March: Book I (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

March: Book II (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

March: Book III (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

Cosmopolis (Don Delillo)





Posted by on August 7, 2017 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).


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.



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!)


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.


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.”


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


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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138. Books Bought & Read, January 2015…

138. Books Bought & Read, January 2015…

2015 saw me begin the new year back in the UK for a wonderful New Year’s party and an even more wonderful wedding on the plains near Stonehenge, (the shape of which I read recently gives us the word for ‘hanging’ someone, which explains why it’s past tense is ‘hanged’ and not ‘hung, since it comes from a different origin. Amazing what you can learn in this blog, huh?)

As such, with no tours to distract me and some long-distance travelling to do, I managed to get through twenty of the books I in my To Read pile.


Sadly, that was the exact number of books I picked up whilst I was home, but a net average of zero books added to The Pile still goes down as a minor victory.

I also got to read some fantastic books: the latest George SaundersTenth of December‘ was as wonderful as its hyperbolic blurbs made out, and I also got through one of his earlier collections.


A second-hand bookshop in Lisbon had furnished me with some gorgeous 1940’s Penguin paperbacks which were perfect for travel, and I got to read something by Aldous Huxley which wasn’t ‘Brave New World‘ and some Camus ,whom I I hadn’t even thought about since University.


I continued my Portuguese practice and my cultural immersion by reading four fantastic compilations of interviews released weekly with a Portuguese newspaper, where I learned (among other things) that dictator António Salazar had a signed photo of Mussolini on his desk, and that Alfred Hitchcock had a passionate hatred for eggs which he managed to slip, often bizarrely, into his movies.

entrevistas-2da8 Grandes entrevistas da História - capas (2014)

It was non-fiction which really stole the show this month: I learned about the history of maps, (did you know the word ‘orientation’ comes from the fact that old European maps used to have East at the top, that being the way to The Promised Land?), the psychology of possessions, and the mentality of champions, but the best read of them all was the compilation of articles by Gene Weingarten, a journalist and proto-Malcolm Gladwell who is, apparently, the only person to ever win the Pulitzer Prize twice.


The Fiddler In The Subway‘ was an incredible look at everything from a children’s entertainer in Washington DC to the importance of context in appreciating beauty in our packed daily lives, (the famous experiment of the title).

The one that will never leave me is the chilling report into how astonishingly often parents leave babies in cars and forget about them: it was simultaneously something that I wanted everyone in the world to read, and something I would never want them to have to hear about. If you have a strong stomach, you can read it here.


Books Bought, January 2015

Tenth Of December,’ George Saunders

Alice’s Adventures Underground,’ Lewis Carroll

The Sandmanking of dreams,’ Alisa Kwitney

Fortunately, The Milk…’ Neil Gaiman

The Subtle Knife,’ Philip Pullman

The Amber Spyglass,’ Philip Pullman

Barracuda,’ Christos Tsiolkas

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour,’ Joshua Ferris

‘Don’t Point That Thing At Me,’ Kyril Bonfigliolo

The Little Prince,’ Antoine de St.Exupéry

The World Of Downton Abbey,’ Jennifer Fellowes

Barrel Fever,’ David Sedaris

After Dark,’ Haruki Murakami

Tim The Tiny Horse At Large,’ Harry Hill

The Runaway Dinner,’ Allan Ahlberg & Bruce Ingman

Mensagem,’ Fernando Pessoa x2

O Conto Do Vigário,’ (‘The Tale Of The Priest‘), Fernando Pessoa

Citações E Pensamentos De Sigmund Freud,’ (‘Quotations and Thoughts Of Sigmund Freud’), Sigmund Freud

O Zen De Steve Jobs,’ (The Zen Of Steve Jobs), Caleb Melby & Jess3

O Principe Pequeno,’ (‘The Little Prince), Antoine de St.Exupéry


Books Read, January 2015

The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Runner,’ Alan Stilltoe

The Rule Of Law,’ Tom Bingham

Tenth Of December,’ George Saunders  borges

The Original Of Laura,’ Vladimir Nabakov

The Sandmanking of dreams,’ Alisa Kwitney

Scoop: what your stuff says about you,’ Sam Gosling

High Windows,’ Philip Larkin

Tell Me The Truth About Love,’ W.H.Auden

‘Death Of A Naturalist,‘ Seamus Heaney

On The Map,’ Simon Garfield

Territorial Rights,’ Muriel Sparks

Bounce: how champions are made,‘ Matthew Syed

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour,’ Joshua Ferris

O Massacre Dos Judeus: lisboa, 19 de abril de 1506,’ (‘The Massacre Of The Jews), Susanna Bastos Mateus

The Fiddler In The Subway,’ Gene Weingarten borges

Mortal Coils,’Aldous Huxley

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

Grandes Entrevistas Da História, vol.2′ (‘Great Interviews Of History, Vol.2)

Grandes Entrevistas Da História, vol.4′ (‘Great Interviews Of History, Vol.4)

Grandes Entrevistas Da História, vol.5′ (‘Great Interviews Of History, Vol.5)

The Fall,’ Albert Camus

O Conto Do Vigário,’ (‘The Tale Of The Priest‘), Fernando Pessoa

O Zen De Steve Jobs,’ (The Zen Of Steve Jobs), Caleb Melby & Jess3

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Posted by on May 7, 2015 in BOOKS


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