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151. Books Bought & Read, December 2016…

151. Books Bought & Read, December 2016…

38 bought and 18 read on the final month of the year.

That seems about average (for me, not for a sane person), and also explains why the brand new, beckoningly empty Billy bookcase which seemed like it would never be filled when we bought it three months ago is already double-stacked and features books precariously arrayed on top of it.

My next blog will be the traditional review of the year, which I’m sure you’re all awaiting with baited breath, (why do we call it that? Doesn’t that conjure up an image of a tongue laced with a single maggot?!)

For now, you’ll have to make do with some recommendations from last month, starting with the amazing ‘Last Interview’ series from Melville House Publishing, currently standing at 18 subjects and still growing.

If, like me, you read to learn about things you know nothing about, this set of short interview collections can educate you on everything from race relations to city-planning via the Holocaust and, (mainly), literature by delving into the minds of some of the greatest thinkers, writers and creators of the 20th century.

My New York history binge continues to chug along, the highlight this month being the story of the ridiculously named punk-and-pizza-fanatic Colin Atrophy Hagendorf who wrote a surprisingly informative memoir on experiencing Manhattan by eating a slice of pizza from every pizza parlour on the island.

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My father-in-law gave me a timely nudge towards the workplace with (among many, many other things) Jenny Blake’s ‘Pivot’ appearing in my stocking this year, a motivational guide on how to harness your qualities, (and, mainly, your network of professional friends, which she seems to presume everyone already has), in order to pivot into your ideal career, which I will be working on over the coming months, (who knew you needed a job to live in New York?!).

(In fact, in an upcoming blog I will be putting some of her advice into action, and you can find out how to get your hands on some of my favourite books whilst helping me explore my entrepreneurial side. Stay tuned!)

This was just one of two vector-based book titles read this month, with the fairly fascinating ‘Swerve‘ teaching me how the Renaissance emerged, in part, due to the efforts of 15th century book-hunters (what a job title!) rescuing Roman essays and manuscripts from damp monastery cellars, and covering everything from Epicureanism to the discovery of the atom. Right up my street.

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Finally, I ticked off a couple of those ever-present ‘Award-winning,‘ ‘National Bestseller,’ ‘Book of The Year‘-stickered  novels which I had passed over on previous bookshelf-dives due to them being either too thick or too serious looking, and I am glad I did.

Teju Cole’s ‘Open City’ was the perfect book to read whilst wandering around Manhattan, but Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer winning ‘The Sympathizer‘ was a stunning reflection on the Vietnam War from a nuanced perspective we rarely get to experience.

Both books contained some fantastic wordplay and musings on race relations, Nguyen especially nonchalantly throwing out ingenious linguistic constructions such as Vietnam having suffered a “century of avuncular French molestation,” describing a country where daughters were “frantic to squeeze into the elevator of social mobility,” and whose history he often tried to forget despite “my thoughts, devious cabdrivers that took me where I did not want to go.”

Happy new year everyone, and keep reading!

 

Books Bought, December 2017

The Death Ray (Daniel Clowes)

Work:1986-1006, Book One (Chip Kidd)

Animals (Ingela P.Arrhenius)

Titan: the life of john.d.rockefeller, sr (Ron Chernow)

White Noise (Don DeLillo)

The Broom Of The System (David Foster Wallace)

Confessions Of The Lioness (Mia Couto)

The Upright Thinker (Leonard Mlodinow)

The Pattern Of The Stone: the simple ideas that make computers work (W.Daniel Hillis)

Eternity’s Sunrise: the imaginative world of william blake (Leo Damrosch)

The Tales Of Ise (unknown)

The Song Machine: inside the hit factory (John Seabrook)

Shrinks: the untold story of psychiatry (Jeffrey Lieberman)

A Journey To The End Of The Russian Empire (Anton Chekov)

The Customs Of The Kingdoms Of India (Marco Polo)

Adventures In The Rocky Mountains (Isabella Bird)

Jaguars And Electric Eels (Alexander von Humboldt)

Escape From The Antarctic (Ernest Shackleton)

Can-Cans, Cash And Cities Of Ash (Mark Twain)

Portlandia: a guide for visitors (Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein)

The Crane Wife (Patrick Ness)

Snow White (Donald Barthelme)

Double Indemnity (James M.Cain)

The Shell Collector (Anthony Doerr)

The End Of The Story (Lydia Davis)

The Last Interview: David Bowie

The Last Interview: J.D.Salinger

The Last Interview: Oliver Sacks

Hallucinations (Oliver Sacks)

The Sellout (Paul Beatty)

Fate, Time And Language: an essay on free will (David Foster Wallace)

The Name Of The World (Denis Johnson)

Titanic: first accounts (ed.Tim Martin)

McSweeney’s No.11

The Magic Of Reality: how we know what’s really true (Richard Dawkins & Dave McKean)

Armageddon In Retrospect (Kurt Vonnegut)

Thunder And Lightning: past, present and future (Lauren Redniss)

The Art Of Travel (Alain de Botton)

 

Books Read, December 2017

Decoded (Mai Jia)

The Swerve: how the world became modern (Stephen Greenblatt)

Made In America (Bill Bryson)

Buddha (Karen Armstrong)

New York, Then And Now (Marcia Reiss & Evan Joseph)

The Death Ray (Daniel Clowes)

Portlandia: a guide for visitors (Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein)

Animals (Ingela P.Arrhenius)

Muhammad (Karen Armstrong)

Slice Harvester: a memoir in pizza (Colin Atrophy Hagendorph)

Oliver Sacks: The Last Interview and other conversations

The Island Of The Colorblind (Oliver Sacks)

J.D.Salinger: The Last Interview and other conversations

Open City (Teju Cole)

The Sympathizer (Viet Thanh Nguyen)

Pivot: the only move that matters is your next one (Jenny Blake)

The Real Madrid Way: how values created the most successful sports team on the planet (Steven G.Mandis)

David Bowie: The Last Interview and other conversations

 

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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in BOOKS

 

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133. Welcome to 2015: in which I publish a book…

133. Welcome to 2015: in which I publish a book…

After over a decade of writing for fun and friends, for the love of literature and and for magazines not money, I finally decided to see if people wanted me to write a proper book, and whether they would pay for it.

I set up a Kickstarter page to crowd-fund a book, and less than two months later my project is fully funded, and I now have two months or so to finish the actual book.

This is possibly the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.

As I promised my many backers, I drew up a rough Contents to give them an idea of what to expect when their letterbox clangs in March, and here it is: if you are tempted, you have three days left to join the crowd and get your name in the back of the potential Pulitzer Prizing winning work, (potential in that it will be a piece of printed material, and therefore at the very least eligible for the Pulitzer. I think).

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BENFICA TO BRAZIL: ordinary worldwide travel

Contents

Introduction: in which our hero explains why he supports Southend United. (There is really only one feasible explanation, as you will see.)

Ch.1: Berlin, Germany, 2006: in which our hero gets three jobs and sneaks into as many World Cup matches as he can.

Ch.2: Salvador, Brazil, 2014, Opening Match: in which our hero arrives in town with no tickets, no friends, and a hotel which possibly doesn’t exist.

Ch.3: Barcelona, Spain, 2005:  in which our hero learns Spanish.

Ch.4: Salvador, Brazil, 2014, Game 1, Spain vs Holland: in which our hero sees grown men cry.

Ch.5: Lisbon, Portugal, 2014: in which our hero makes the best sporting choice of his life

Ch.6: Salvador, Brazil, 2014, Game 2, Germany vs Portugal: in which our hero confuses a lot of people with his jerseys and languages.

Ch.7: Aix-en-Provence, France 1998: in which our hero misses his first World Cup, but still has the time of his life.

Ch.8: Salvador, Brazil, 2014, Game 3, France vs Switzerland: in which our hero sees a lot of goals.

Ch.9: London, England, 2012: in which our hero helps out with the Olympics, discovers the greatest sport ever invented, and is given an award by the Queen of Britain. Kind of.

Ch.10: Salvador, Brazil, 2014, Game 4, Iran vs Bosnia: in which our hero fails to complete one of his collections.

Ch.11: 2000-2014: Fiorentina, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oita, Japan; NY, USA: in which our hero travels around the world, collecting teams as he goes.

Ch.12: Salvador, Brazil, 2014, Game 5, USA vs Belgium: in which our hero welcomes a visitor.

Ch.13: Cape Town, S.Africa, 2010: in which our hero sees nine World Cup matches and survives The Bus of Doom.

Ch.14: Salvador, Brazil, 2014, Game 6, The Netherlands vs Costa Rica: in which our hero boos Arjen Robben, and the world falls in love with the Ticos.

Ch.15: Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2011: in which our hero gives up being vegetarian, and visits the ground of his patriotic enemy.

Ch.16: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2014, The Final: in which our hero may or may not finally get a ticket to watch the World Cup Final.

Conclusion: in which our hero concludes.

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I hope that sparks your interest: feel free to visit the Kickstarter page to get further details or, if you are reading this after the campaign has ended, look out for the book in your local bookshop!

 

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2015 in BOOKS

 

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