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Brian's Book Log - Ongoing

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13 hours ago, Hayley said:

I think the biggest preconception I had before I read it was that it would be about Frankenstein making a monster, whereas that bit's actually over really fast and it's really about the consequences of making the monster. I was also surprised to find that it's actually more sad than scary, considering how it's usually portrayed.

 

I definitely felt the same about it being more sad than scary, it's a really well constructed analysis of part of being human.

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Yes I thought that too, it's very well written give Mary Shelley's age at the time, and very prescient.  I think it's partly Hollywood's fault that the monster has a scary image, yes he is scary but he's also tragic and she managed to make him sympathetic too.

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Irresistible by Adam Alter (3/5)

At work I mentor a few of our apprentices and one thing I have noticed over the years is how often they check their phones. The intersting thing about this phenomenom is that it isn't a habit restricted to only young people, in fact there are many people from my generation who do the same thing. This habit of constantly checking your phone is something I realised had become part of a few years ago and as a result over time I have gradually deleted all my social media accounts and turned off the 'push' function of my emails. The way modern media, social or otherwise, has seemingly become more and more addictive over the years is something that really interests me. This book was mentioned in Digital Minimalism, a book by Cal Newport that I read earlier this year so I bought a copy to see if it offered more insight.

 

Although it mentions social media, Irresistible focuses more on general screen based habits and how slowly they have changed in the era of smartphones and tablets. Alter explains why we tend to binge watch things on streaming services, how games can become addictive, how social media has us hooked, and what this is doing to society as a whole. The book is well written and has some interesting insights but I also found it be unfocused in places. He skirts over the biggest culprit for screen addiction, social media, and chooses to focus on some slightly more niche ones instead. He also spends a lot of time explaining how and why these habits are formed and how to break them, but then goes on to recommend gamifiying good habits using apps. I much prefer Newport's way of replacing screen habits with hobbies that are technology free. This is a good book but if you are interesting in social media addiction then Digital Minimalism is a much better read.

 

 

Up next, Silas Marner by George Eliot.

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Silas Marner by George Eliot (4/5)

My plans to read some of the bigger classics this year have rapidly disappeared but I have picked up a few of the smaller ones to keep me ticking along. I saw this in my local charity shop and it was the only thing I found that I fancied reading so I bought it. I knew nothing about the story or the author and embarrassingly I thought George Eliot was a man. Finding out that Eliot was a woman was a nice surprise as I have been trying to read more female writers this year. The story focuses on the life of Silas Marner who starts life in a Calvinist community but is soon expelled after being wrongly accused of theft. He moves to a new villiage and completely shuts himself off from the community resulting in the rest of the village treating him with a lot of suspicion. A disaster befalls him which brings him a bit closer to the village people and then something miraculous happens. (I'm trying to avoid major spoilers here)

 

I really enjoyed this one, it's what I would describe as a really good story. The characters are all surprisingly well formed given it's short length and despite finding the language a bit hard to get in with I had to keep picking it up to see what happens next. This would be a 5/5 book if it wasn't for the hard old fashioned language. It took a lot of concentration and I had to read it in many small doses instead of devouring it in one go.

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The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi (2/5)

I vaguely remember this being on TV in the early 90's, mainly because it had rude bits in it. I had no idea at the time that it was based on a book until I got a copy of the '1001 books to read before you die' and saw it listed in there. The story is based around Karim, a young British Asian growing up and coming of age in and around London. He also happens to be casually bisexual and trying to explore his sexuality while trying to find his place in the world (and the UK). I have read similar books before albeit not from a British Asian perspective, some I have liked and some I haven't. This unfortunately falls into the later category, my feeling towards it are similar to those I felt when I read The Catcher in the Rye. I don't think this is a bad book, I just think I am too old and didn't have the upbringing to identify with the characters. It was an easy enough read and I got through it in a day but it just didn't really work for me.

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On 17/10/2019 at 8:46 AM, Brian. said:

Silas Marner by George Eliot (4/5)

...I really enjoyed this one, it's what I would describe as a really good story. This would be a 5/5 book if it wasn't for the hard old fashioned language. It took a lot of concentration and I had to read it in many small doses instead of devouring it in one go.

 

That's something I got used to the more I read.  Indeed, I find nowadays that I actually prefer the older fashioned language, and the textural depth it brings to the narrative. If you enjoyed Eliot, and are still thinking about longer books, I can thoroughly recommend Middlemarch, one of the all-time great novels, and very much worth taking time over. I loved The Mill on the Floss too, but again, it needs time.

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I know what you mean about the textural depth, there seems to be a lot more substance to every sentance. I definitely plan to read Middlemarch soon as I'm not against working slowly through 'difficult' books as long as I like the author/book. I sometimes feel like a bit of a dullard at times when reading the classics but I think I am very slowly picking up underlying themes as the years progress. I find it also helps to read some summaries or analysis on certain classics once I have finished them.

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5 hours ago, Brian. said:

I sometimes feel like a bit of a dullard at times when reading the classics but I think I am very slowly picking up underlying themes as the years progress. I find it also helps to read some summaries or analysis on certain classics once I have finished them.

 

I feel that sometimes too, but I think it's important to remember that it was a distinctly different age, language was used very differently (as LP Hartley wrote: The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there), so it takes some getting used to, and the further back, the more time that takes (I still find a lot of books pre-Jane Austen hard to read). I do agree about reading some litcrit to follow up - I find I need it even more when tackling poetry, but it's definitely useful to try and understand some of the themes and issues that writers were trying to address.  However, I also find most of these classics simply make cracking good, immersive stories, with a huge amount of depth to them - they have to be after all, otherwise they wouldn't have lasted all this time - as long as one sits down with them and gives them time, not try to read in shorter bursts (our attention span is distinctly shorter nowadays!).  It's why I also have a particular fondness for modern day writers who adopt a similar style (I'm thinking immediately of books like The Essex Serpent).  Anyway, good luck with it. I've recently finished The Old Curiosity Shop, having not read any Victoriana for a while, and it felt quite a long, hard read, but I've come out of it definitely wanting more (even if it wasn't Dickens's best, at least IMO!).

Edited by willoyd

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Despite my best intentions I have managed to acquire some more books this month.

 

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce

Coming Up for Air - George Orwell

Meditations - Marcus Aurelius (The edition I already own is dreadful)

My Life in Football - Kevin Keegan

Ego is the Enemy - Ryan Holiday

Good Vibes, Good Life - Vex King

A Guide to the Good Life - William B. Irvine

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A few mini reviews for books I have finished this week.

 

Primal Endurance by Mark Sisson (2/5)

In 2016 I read one of Sisson's other books, The Primal Blueprint and I remember quite liking his back to basics approach. The book was focused on diet and simple exercise, preferably outside, a message that I think everyone could benefit from. This time Sisson concentrates on endurance exercise and takes aim at 'conventional' coaching in endurance sports. I didn't realise until I read this book that the author had been a decent long distance runner in his younger days. He says that he did loads of miles and was coached to train at a high intensity which caused him a lot of injuries. He says this is all wrong and that we should do the vast majority of our training at a low intensity and low heart rates. He argues this is sustainable and that it can actually help competitive endurance athletes breakthrough to higher speeds.

I don't really disagree with any of this but there is one thing Sisson doesn't mention which makes him a massive hypocrite in my eyes. He uses his health as an example of how well all this works and he certainly looks great for someone in their mid 60's. At no point does he inform the reader that he has been taking testosterone boosters for many years, I only discovered this by doing some additional reading. He justifies this by saying he has 'low' testosterone levels but I feel it is something he should have made clear from the very beginning. I also know that getting testosterone prescribed by doctors in certain countries is very easy and has been heavily abused by athletes in certain sports. I wouldn't be surprised if this was true in his case as well.

My final criticism is that there is a hell of a lot of repetition in the book which feels like an attempt to pad it out. It's not a bad book but its not entirely honest and should be a lot shorter.

 

1983 by Taylor Downing (4/5)

This is a non-fiction book about how close we came to a nuclear holocaust in 1983. It covers the political maneuverings on both the American and Soviet sides in the 80's and early 90's, and in particular the people who came to be the leaders. Typical of the time there were a lot of military exercises from both sides which were watched very closely by each other. During one these exercises code named Abel Archer, Soviet paranoia and Nato ignorance combined to bring us right to the edge of a nuclear strike. The Soviets were convinced that Nato was hiding their intention of a first strike attack under the guise of the training exercise. Nato ran their exercise willfully ignorant to how the Soviets may react to what could be seen as escalating provocation.

This is a really good book which covers all the main points in a good level of detail. Taylor has clearly done a lot of research and ties it all together well and at the same time made it really readable. In my opinion it's up there among the better books about the Cold War.

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Lord of the Flies by William Golding (3/5)

Another one that always appears on all the book lists and something I probably should have read a long time ago. This book tells the story of a bunch of adolescent boys who are stranded on an island following a plane crash. There are no adults and so a leader is quickly chosen and the adventure of survival begins. They loosely form into 2 groups, hunters and fire watchers, foreshadowing what will develop as time goes on. Inevitably there is a fracture in this society which soon develops in a huge rift as all morals go out the window. I read this book in no time at all and almost ended up reading well into the early hours despite having to be up at 4am this morning. However, I didn't love it. I can't put my finger on why but I was left feeling like I wanted more. The book raises a lot of interesting allegorical points but I wanted to know more about the boys and their respective backgrounds.

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I have quite a few mini reviews to catch up with.

 

Chickenhawk by Robert Mason (4/5)

It's funny how we remember certain quite small and seemingly unimportant things from our childhood days. For me one of these is seeing a copy of this book on my parent's bookcase. Like many people on this forum I read a lot as a child but I never really ventured to read many books that belonged to my parents. Despite this, the cover of Chickenhawk has always remained a strong memory, a memory which was awakened while browsing for new books to buy online. This book is written by a Vietnam war veteran detailing his time spent as a Huey pilot both in training and in country. I don't know why I never read this when I was younger as I now know I would have really enjoyed it. As the book progresses Mason goes from being an ambitous young man to someone who is left broken by what we now know as PTSD. This is a really good account for the realities of war and the damage it does to everyone involved in some way or another.

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (4/5)

I grabbed my Kindle on the way out the door without checking what I had on it the other day. As I needed a new book to read I had a quick flick through the contents of my Kindle and decided that I would read this book. I knew nothing about the book although I was aware that a movie had been made and I also knew it was named after a painting. The story revolves around the life of a young women (16) called Griet in Delft in the 1660's. After an illness her father is unable to work and the family is struggling financially so she takes work as a maid for a local family including a painter, Johannes Vermeer. During the course of her years with the family her relationship with Vermeer develops and starts to cause issues, eventually coming to a head.

This is quite a short book but one I really enjoyed reading. All of the intimacy is implied rather than direclty detailed and fits perfectly with the time when the book is set.

 

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (2/5)

I bought this completely on a whim because the cover caught my eye and it sounded a bit quirky. The book tells the story of Kieko, a convenience store worker who has always felt out of place. She finds an odd peace with the routine of working in the store and has no plans to change anything about her life. Others see the store as a stepping stone in her life and eventually she notices that everyone thinks its time she 'grew up' and moved on with her life. I thought that being quirky and based in Japan would be right down my street but the book never really did it for me. It seems to get really positive reviews online and although I found it a quick easy read I was left feeling disappointed by it. I guess I'm not the right reader for this book.

 

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson (2/5)

I have been trying to read more audiobooks and this was my free trial download on Audible. I became aware of Jordan Peterson a few years ago because of his appearances on the Joe Rogan podcast. At the time he was rallying against what he saw as politicial correctness in universities and he raised a few points which I found interesting. Fast forward a bit and for many he has become a beacon for the far right and angry young men. When I have heard him talk in the past I have always thought he has argued his case well even if I haven't agreed with his points. I had hoped this book would be more of the same as I think it's important to explore ideas contary to my own. I wouldn't go as far to say I hated this book but if it had been a physical book I don't think I would have finished it. Far too often he brings up bible archetype stories as evidence of his claims and after a while it gets very tiresome. I think the book is meant to be for 'everyday normal people' but seems to be a way for Peterson to prove how clever he is. I found it tedious and doesn't warrant the praise it gets in my opinion.

 

 

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2 reviews to catch up with.

 

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham (5/5)

Like many people, I loved the recent HBO mini-series Chernobyl and also listened to the podcast that went along with it. In the podcast the producer and main writer were keen to point out where they changed history to make it work as a TV show and the reasons why they did this. I find everything nuclear fascinating and wanted to know more about the facts behind Chernobyl so bought Midnight in Chernobyl. This book is an exhaustive account of what happen before, during, and after the accident at Chernobyl. The author is a journalist and it really shows as the list of sources stretches across about 40 pages at the end of the book. It is very well written and despite the heft of the subject it is very readable and I managed to do extensive sessions without having to put it down.This is probably the best non-fiction book I have read this year.

 

The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden (3/5)

I've not read anything by Conn Iggulden prior to this and I thought a stand alone would be a good place to start instead of diving into one of the series he has written. The blurb on the back sounded quite promising and deal with a part of history I don't know well. I found the book pretty good and wasn't aware when I picked it up that it was based on actual events. My only major gripes with it are connected to each other. Firstly, a major plot point is revealed in the blurb and I don't think this should have been done as it spoiled what could have been a great end to the first act. Also an event at the end of act 2 is settled in a very unsatisfactory (in my opinion) way at the start of act 3. Given what we know about the characters up to this point I just don't believe they would have acted this way and I think this should have been handled differently.  Apart from those points it was an enjoyable read and I will read some more of Iggulden's work.

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Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (3/5)

It would seem that unlike the vast majority of people I was relatively unmoved by the recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain. I don't say this to be contrary or to some across as heartless, any suicide is a sad affair. I had this emotion simply because I had never encountered his work despite him being a celebrity of sorts. I knew he had a TV show but never watched it and I was also aware he had written this book which was widely regarded as a good look into what goes on behind the scenes in restaurants, especially in New York.

 

I found the book to be an interesting and entertaining read with some revealing facts about the business which I did not know. I also learned that Bourdain was another one of these people who think that being good at his job makes it fine to be a bit of an asshole. This is really exposed towards the end of the book when he describes the working practices of a chef he really likes who is pretty much his polar opposite. He also leans towards justifying his substance abuse as a necessity of the industry instead of admitting that he ultimately had a problem. I don't think he was a bad person and this is a decent book but he is the exact sort of person I would not like to have to work with. 

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I actually was quite sad to hear about Anthony Bourdain's suicide because I used to watch his programme (I think it was called 'No Reservations') with my dad. It was a really long time ago so I can't recommend it, but I liked to see all the different places he went to. It sounds like the book kind of highlights why he was struggling so much behind the scenes. It can't have been a good atmosphere for him or anyone who worked with him. 

 

I'm glad to see you got a 5/5 book, it's been a while! :lol:. Midnight in Chernobyl does sound good. There is something fascinating (in an awful, quite terrifying way) about the impact of nuclear incidents. 

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My most recent reads.

 

The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe (2/5)

I was really looking forward to this one but for some reason I just couldn't settle with it. I think it's because I found it too "wordy" and I had a lot of on my mind so struggled to concentrate on it. It hasn't put me off reading more of his work I just think it was the wrong book at the wrong time for me.

 

Scapa Ferry by Antony Bridges (3/5)

I found this while poking around a charity bookshop. Being a shallow person when it comes to book covers I was immediately drawn to it as it looks like one of the old Airflx kit box cover illustrations. It is the true story of a recently qualified laywer and his wife who are very inexperienced when it comes to yachting. As the second war starts to escalate the English Channel becomes far too dangerous to operate in so boats are sent through the Scapa Flow. To keep operations going the military need large amounts of explosives to build the defences  to keep the merchant navy safe. The problem is that no one will carry the explosives as it's seen as far too dangerous. This is where our intrepid duo step in and start to transport a potentially lethal cargo in terrible conditions. This is a remarkable story which really sums up the courage and bureaucracy faced by many during the war. 

 

Daisy Chain by Kirstie Malone (4/5)

I won this in one of the BCF prize draws earlier this year and the copy is signed by the author. 5 adults reconnect at a university reunion having drifted apart over the course of 20 years. The group fell apart when a university lecturer was killed and they haven't really seen each other since. Things start to unravel rapidly when one of the group, Veronica is seen lingering outside the venue in a disheveled state, clearly living on the streets. How much has changed over the past 2 decades and what has caused Veronica to live on the streets?

A really entertaining read with plenty of intrigue and I also really liked the ending.

 

A Beer in the Loire by Tommy Barnes (4/5)

My wife bought me this for my birthday as "you like beer and you like books". I have to admit it isn't the sort of thing I would have bought myself but I'm glad she did because it was a great read. Tommy and his girlfriend Rose are both made redundant and decide to move to the Loire valley in France. Unexpectedly, Tommy loves the prospect of redundancy as he is a self proclaimed average drifter. Some how he has survived in his career for over a decade by simply turning up and half-arsing everything. This dis-organised approach to life follows him to France where he decides to make beer in a region famous for it's wine. Along the way he explores the French way of life and mentality and slowly gets to grips with the practicalities of brewing beer. He also has a running battle with a mortal enemy who he is convinced is trying to kill him, Bert, his overweight dog.

This book is full of humour and I found myself laughing at loud several times.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (4/5)

This was the first book I received from The Willoughby Book Club and is quite a departure from what I would probably choose for myself. A flu pandemic has struck the world and as a result almost everyone has died. The book flicks between a group of traveling actors in the modern day dystopia and what happen in the daysand months before the pandemic struck.This includies the death of a famous actor on stage of a heart attack and the people peripherally connected to this event. As the book progresses we find out what came of these connections the characters have with each other and how the events following the flu has changed them.

As stated above this isn't the kind of book I pick up to read of my own volition but I found it really enjoyable. The post pandemic world is really well written and I found it easy to visualise it in my minds eye. The characters were pretty well developed but I can't say I particularly cared for any of them as there are quite a lot of them. 

 

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (5/5)

I found this amongst a pile of books which has been discarded on public transport and decided I might like to read it one day. It has sat on my bookshelf for about a year until I picked it up yesterday to read. I don't recall ever reading a business memoir before so I didn't really know what to expect and although obviously I have heard of Nike I knew nothing of their history. This is the first book in as long as I can remember that I have read in pretty much one sitting. It is extremely well written and contains just the right level of detail to keep things interesting. Over the course of the book I learned loads of stuff about Nike that I didn't know and was surprised to learn that after the 'sweatshop' controversy they developed a water based adhesive which was much safer for factory workers. They then made this adhesive available to all their competitors.

Despite really liking this book there are still some things about Nike that I don't like but these things are not unique to them and are common to pretty much every big corporation. At this point I must remember that I am reviewing the book and not the company or the man, and for this reason the book gets 5 stars from me.

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Last set of mini reviews for the year.

 

Killing Floor by Lee Child (3/5)

I picked this one up at a local charity shop as a work colleague said I should give the Jack Reacher series a go. Despite being quite a big book (525 pages) I read it fairly quickly as the pace keeps things interesting enough. I initially found the very short sentences a bit grating but after a while got used to them and from then on had no problems with the writing style. The book was entertaining enough to keep me interested but as usual with these kinds of books the action is a bit ridiculous and I found some of the other characters, especially the love interest, pretty one dimensional. I will probably read the next book in the series at some point in the future.

 

No Way Down by Graham Bowley (4/5)

A non-fiction book telling the story of the 2008 climbing season on K2 and the events that lead up to the deaths of 11 climbers. I really like books about super high altitude climbing and this is one of the best ones I have read. Differently from a lot of books on the subject this one is written by a journalist instead of a climber and its helps in 2 main ways. Firstly, being a trained writer the book is better written than most. Secondly, Bowley tries to approach the story from a neutral viewpoint and presents the differing accounts as they are leaving the reader to make any judgments. The events sound harrowing and further reading on the subject and K2 in particular indicate that this kind of thing will happen again. K2 is a much harder mountain to climb than Everest, more and more climbers will low levels of experience are attempting it and this will only result in more deaths. Anyone attempting to climb K2 should read this first in my opinion.

 

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (1/5)

One of the 1001 list books. I hated it, I wanted to abandon it 3 or 4 times but for some reason I stuck it out. When I finished it I threw it across the room. The writing style is painful to read, the story is all over the place and its frankly a mess.

 

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I've had a very strong start to the year and read 3 books already, I don't think I've ever started a year strongly before. One of the threee is an audiobook as I have decided to make more of an effort to listen to audiobooks this year. Some people don't think audiobooks count but I don't subcribe to that way of thinking.

 

An Inconvenient Death by Miles Goslett (3/5)

A non-fiction book investigating the death of Dr David Kelly shortly after he inadvertently went head-to-head with the UK government's claims that Iraq could launch a biological or chemical weapon within 45 minutes. Kelly was probably the foremost expert in the UK when it came to biological weapons and was regularly engaged in weapons inspections in Iraq. An off the record discussion he had with a journalist was quoted in an article and lead to him being called before a select committee hearing and being questioned extensively. Goslett covers this apsect of the story in the first parts of the book but then goes into great detail about inconsistencies and suspicious things surrounding his suicide.I generally don't go in for conspiracy theories but a decent sized group of highly qualified doctors have questioned some of the findings and these questions have never been properly answered. Their doubts sound perfectly reasonable and really did make me think that there is something suspicious about the whole affair.

I found the book interesting enough but it did get a bit repetitive after a while. Another issue I had with it is that Goslett seems to really go after inconsistencies in accounts given by Dr Kelly's wife. I understand bringing them up once but he really takes aim at her and almost tries to imply she may have had something to do with his death which is in bad taste at best. Witness accounts are notoriously unreliable, especially when there is a strong emotional connection.

 

Red Dwarf Omnibus by Grant Naylor (5/5)

This was an audiobook 'read' and I have read both Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers and Better Than Life before as stand alone books. This audiobook mashes both those books together and also some other parts from the TV show into one big story covering the Red Dwarf world. It is narrated by Chris Barrie who is frankly superb and I listened to this over the course of 2 nights while at work. I love everything about this, the story is great, the characters strong, the performance superb, and to top it all off it's really funny as well. I would highly recommend this to any Red Dwarf fan.

 

Police by Jo Nesbo (5/5)

Starting this book, the 10th book in the Harry Hole series I was struck that I had forgot exactly what had occured at the end of the last book. I thought this was a bit odd until I checked out my goodreads account and realised there has been three and a half year gap between my reading of book 9 and 10. As I really enjoyed the series so far this seems like a huge gap but I fell in love with Wallander in the inbetween years and he took priority for me over Harry Hole. Back to the book, this is a big one at 640 pages which encompasses a multitude of interlinked plots. I don't really think I can say anything else without spoiling it but Nesbo uses a lot of misdirection to keep you guessing as to what is going on. From memory this is also by far the darkest of the Harry Hole books and a part of the book had me pretty gutted at the outcome of one incident. It's not perfect and I understand some of the criticism in reviews I have read since finishing it but I just could not put it down. I rarely spend the entire day reading but yesterday I just had to finish it and for this reason I have to give it 5/5.

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Great start (I'm only 70-80 pages into my first book still), especially as two are 5/5!  Hope the rest of the year is as rewarding for you.

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Happy reading in 2020, Brian! You've already read 2 great books (based on your 5/5 rating), so that's an excellent start of the year :).

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I had hoped to update this weekly, slipped a little bit last week as I didn't get as much reading in as I hoped.

 

In Search of the Dark Ages by Michael Wood (4/5)

A side effect of watching the TV series Vikings is that I became aware how little I knew about British history, expecially the early leaders and their provenance. I saw this book online and thought it looked like a good primer on the dark ages so picked it up. What I wasn't aware of at the time is that it was written as an accompaniment to a BBC TV series from the late 70's, early 80's. The people the book picks out to explore are Boadicea, King Arthur, Sutton-Hoo man, Offa, Alfred the Great, Athelstan, Eric Bloodaxe, Ethelred the Unready, and William the Conqueror. All of these are covered in an introductory level of detail and provides good information backed up with sources. The writing is engaging and I found this to be a great toe dip into the huge subject of the dark ages.

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (5/5)

After decades of reading this book is has final achieved something that no other book has. It made me cry. On the surface this is a very simple tale about a grumpy old man called Ove who is the local busybody and thinks everyone else is an idiot. We learn that he lives alone after the death of his wife and decides in a rather matter of fact way that he should kill himself. This isn't done in a depressing way because apart from anger Ove doesn't really do emotions. Not wanting to cause any inconvenience he cleans the house and leaves instructions for what to do after his death.  I don't want to write anything else for fear of spoiling it but the book was a solid 4/5 for me until the final chapter when it had me in tears and bumped itself up to a 5/5.

 

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The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday (2/5)

Ryan Holiday is marketer, entrepreneur, and writer who likes to talk and write about Stoicism and what benefits it can have in the modern world. I've seen a few of his YouTube videos and I have an interest in Stoicism so I have bought a few of his books. I picked this up yesterday afternoon as I was feeling a bit bored and fancied something different. By early evening I had finished the book and while that is usually a good sign, in this case it is not. The book isn't bad, there just isn't much substance to it and could easily have fitted into an essay. The core message is good but at times it is poorly argued. Holiday uses a lot of examples from history and while the American ones are not particularly familiar to me a few of the European ones are. Viktor Frankl is a great example of Stoicism but Margaret Thatcher and Erwin Rommel I would arge are not.

In the end this was a big disappointment, I had expected more and I wonder if this is another case of an 'internet blogger' expanding a little on their blog posts and turning it into a book.

 

 

 

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On 18/01/2020 at 12:23 PM, Brian. said:

In Search of the Dark Ages by Michael Wood (4/5)

What I wasn't aware of at the time is that it was written as an accompaniment to a BBC TV series from the late 70's, early 80's.

 

It was a great series too, one of the best I can recall (from what I can recall!). It certainly made a huge splash at the time - Wood literally burst on to the TV scene.  For a long time there was no DVD available of it, much to widespread disappointment (including mine!) but I've just found out that one was issued in 2015 - the delay owing to license issues for some of the music used.  I'm ordering it.  I gather it's inevitably somewhat dated (Michael Wood in flares!) and not perfect quality, but most reviewers suggest that the programmes are as good as they remembered.

 

 

Edited by willoyd

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9 hours ago, willoyd said:

 

It was a great series too, one of the best I can recall (from what I can recall!). It certainly made a huge splash at the time - Wood literally burst on to the TV scene.  For a long time there was no DVD available of it, much to widespread disappointment (including mine!) but I've just found out that one was issued in 2015 - the delay owing to license issues for some of the music used.  I'm ordering it.  I gather it's inevitably somewhat dated (Michael Wood in flares!) and not perfect quality, but most reviewers suggest that the programmes are as good as they remembered.

 

 

 

Most of it also seems to be available in youTube but the quality looks quite low so I suspect it has been ported from VHS.

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