Some stuff I've read recently:The Ratline, Philippe Sands. Had a go at this based on Wellsy's recommendation. It's not for me: I think the issue is that the underlying subject matter (Nazi war criminals escaping justice after WW2) just doesn't interest me that much. I plowed on to where I thought it was going to naturally end only for the author to start dragging it out for an age afterwards. I optimistically read on thinking it surely had to wind up sooner or later, but it broke my will before I could get to the end. Given I got as far as I did suggests it's actually pretty well written and would be good if you're interested in that sorta thing.
Whatever you do, don't read A.N. Wilson's novel based on Wedgwood's life - it's a travesty (which is weird, because his father was managing director of Wedgwood at some point). Tristram Hunt, fomer Stoke MP and now director of the V&A, has just publsihed a new biography of Wedgwood, but I haven't read it. What I've read about it put me off a bit, but I was reading with a fairly critical eye. Hunt had a successful academic career as a historian before he entered politics so it should be a pretty solid piece of work.
Filming that scene was funny. Wilson is unbelievably posh. It was 10am on a Monday. The pub was open and full of exactly the characters you'd expect to find in a pub in Liverpool city centre at 10am on a Monday morning. They kept trying to join, singing, walking behind us, mugging at the camera etc. Wilson was a pretty good sport.Anyway, read Uglow.
Papillon, Henri Charrière. Mega! An autobiographical account of a chap who gets sent to the penal colony in French Guiana and his ongoing attempts to escape. I got the sense that many of the stories are made up (or borrowed or heavily embellished) but they're told so simply and so well it draws you in. If you've read Shantaram it's got a pretty similar vibe.
Some stuff I've read recently:The Man Who Died Twice, Richard Osman. Second int he Thursday Murder Club series. More easy reading.Feeding The Rat, Al Alvarez. A really touching piece of writing and rightly a climbing classic. Going in I vaguely knew the names of the main protagonists but this really brought them to life. Alvarez is a good writer by the standards of climbing books and it shows.Sunfall, Jim Al-Khalili (of Life Scientific fame). Sci-fi + thriller kinda thing. It's a fun read but it's unlikely to change how you look at the world.Papillon, Henri Charrière. Mega! An autobiographical account of a chap who gets sent to the penal colony in French Guiana and his ongoing attempts to escape. I got the sense that many of the stories are made up (or borrowed or heavily embellished) but they're told so simply and so well it draws you in. If you've read Shantaram it's got a pretty similar vibe.
We by Yevgeny ZamyatinRussian dystopian novel written in the 20s. Apparently an inspiration for 1984 by Orwell, although apparently not for Brave New World by Huxley, despite probably having more in common with the latter.Written in a diary/report format that makes it quite immediate and at times confusing (I think it is meant to be to emphasise the main character's state of mind) as the main character wrestles with various desires and duties pulling him in different directions. A little more sci-fi (and kind of humorous) than 1984 (which if I remember correctly is very serious) but an excellent read. Especially if you like the other dystopian novels. Remarkably (or depressingly) prescient given it was written over a 100 years ago. A lot still feels very relevant to current politics/societal rhetoric.Would definitely recommend, especially since it is quite short too.
Finally finished Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain which I was inspired to read after it being discussed in Knausgaard's books. Can't say I loved it, and it took me an age. Anyone else read it?
A comparable book that went pretty much completely over my head was Robert Musil's "A Man Without Qualities." I finished it, but got just about nothing from it.
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