Topic: Books and the reading of...

Pre fannying about on the www I was a fairly avid reader. Circumstances and modern technology have curtailed that massively. Still read but very infrequently. Decided to start reading more again. This was in part due to reading The Year of Reading Dangerously and just a general realisation of how much time I waste doing meaningless shit.

I've read four books in December, not a bad start, two weren't that long though.

The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller - see thread somewhere.
Animal Farm - George Orwell. I've read practically everything he's written but somehow never read this. Most people read this at school, we did 1984 instead.
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett. Didn't think I'd like it due to the subject manner but was clever and funny. I found myself reading it with Alan Bennett's voice in my head. That was wierd.
So Here It Is - Dave Hill. Slade guitarist autobiography. Really enjoyed it. I'll put a review up.

Going to try and read 50 books next year. This will be a mix of the huge pile of unread books I have plus more off the massive list of to-reads.

Sssssshhhhhhhh........ I'm reading.....

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Re: Books and the reading of...

Thanks, Harvest, for kicking this one off.

I look around me and see a world gone off its rocker, so good books and music (and the time to enjoy them) seem even more precious than before.

Recent and current reads:

1. J.D. Vance, HILLBILLY ELEGY. A blunt memoir by a guy raised in a struggling Appalachian family but who has realized the American Dream, whatever that overblown myth may mean.  The narrative has little style or literary merit, but it helps to explain the poor white rage that spawned a legion of working-class Trump voters. His foul-mouthed grandmother is perhaps the best character in the book. 3/5

2. Elizabeth Hawes, CAMUS: A ROMANCE. I've always liked Camus for his personal style (see that great Cartier-Bresson picture of C. with slicked-up hair, dangling fag, and turned up coat collar), moral and political convictions, profound writing and goalkeeping prowess. Philosophy Football never found a better hero. This bio is highly subjective, perhaps too much so, but it is an imaginative take on an amazing life and work.  4/5

3. A. Scott Berg, EDITOR OF GENIUS. Another literary bio (I'm rather partial to this subgenre), on which the excellent film GENIUS was based. Could not put down this eloquent account of the unassuming workaholic editor at Scribner's who basically discovered Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe and a bunch of other talented American writers who might otherwise have been overlooked. 5/5

4. John Betjeman, COLLECTED POEMS. Snooty academics and critics have always loved to diss his poetry as reactionary candy-floss for the common reader. But I see a poet of great technical skill and emotional range, and while admittedly some of his lines are cringeworthy in their old-fashioned upper-class lingo, others evoke an extraordinary nostalgia and uncanny sense of place. I reckon few can match him in capturing in verse the essence of a bygone England and Englishness. And he can be very funny too. 4/5

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Re: Books and the reading of...

On Book 3 for the year. Concentrating on reducing my pile of books before I buy anything else off the list.

1. Hemingway's Chair - Michael Palin. Must have had this on a shelf for 20 years. Bit of a comic farce in small town England. Funny in parts

2. Born To Run - Christopher McDougall. See thread below. Great book, so glad I read it. Would recommend.

3. Dangling Man - Saul Bellow. Again, had this at least 20 years, had to blow the dust off. Halfway through it, not really enjoying it but short so I'll carry on. About a bloke in America during the war waiting to be called up and his life just hanging around for that day.

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Re: Books and the reading of...

Harvest wrote:

Dangling Man - Saul Bellow. Again, had this at least 20 years, had to blow the dust off. Halfway through it, not really enjoying it but short so I'll carry on. About a bloke in America during the war waiting to be called up and his life just hanging around for that day.

I'm not all that surprised, as it was his first novel. You might do better with his later stuff. Herzog and Henderson the Rain King, for instance, are superb imho.

Anyway, currently:

Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World by Billy Bragg. Essential reading, I'd say, for aficionados of British pop culture. Only gripe is that Faber has done a cheapo job--poor quality of photographs, poor paper, and poor print. But then I wondered for a moment if B.B. had wanted this as a kind of homage to punk DIY, since he likens the skiffle explosion of the mid-50s to that of the punks twenty years later.

As possibly the oldest fart on OMJ, I remember it well. Two pals and I formed the King Cobras skiffle group in 1958.  With home-made guitars, a tea-chest bass, and three chords max, it was clear within minutes that we were not going to be the next Quarrymen. And that's part of B.B's take on it: out of every ten skifflers, nine were no-hopers like us thrashing away, and one was John Lennon.

Collected Stories by Truman Capote. Having never read "A Christmas Memory", I got this out of the library. At his best, what a writer! More's the pity that he wasted his mind and body in later years. If he'd spent more time at his desk than frittering with the glittering on the NYC party scene, who knows what other brilliant stuff he might have come up with?

Last edited by pipoldchap (Sat 27 Jan 2018 3:23 pm)

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