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Angury's Reading & Writing Log 2019

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Angury's Reading & Writing Log 2019


Hola everyone. Welcome to my Reading & Writing Log for this year.

As a reader I enjoy a variety of genres but you’ll find that my to-read list falls into three broad categories: Fiction, Medicine/Anthropology and Philosophy.
My to-read list isn’t a list of every single book I want to read (which is several pages long) but just a list of books that are on my radar for the upcoming months. I also aim to post a review for every book I read this year. I invite you to offer your own thoughts on these novels or even suggest something new - my aim is to enter into stimulating discussions  and look at the novels I read in a whole different light - your ideas are very much welcomed!



I am also in the process of writing two 'novels,' more as a hobby than anything else. The Writing Log is an attempt to make me accountable and hopefully enjoy the process as well.


Currently reading: 



Books Read in 2019


  • Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett (5/5)
  • Writing at the Margin: Discourse between Anthropology and Medicine by Arthur Kleinman (4/5)
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (4/5)

  • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (3/5)

  • Milkman by Anna Burns (4/5)



  • Adam Bede by George Eliot (3/5)
  • Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction by A.C. Grayling (4/5)
  • A Very Short Introduction to Barthes by Jonathan Culler (4/5)
  • Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Wittgenstein and the Tractatus by Michael Morris (3/5)

  • Tractatus by Ludwig Wittgenstein (2/5)

  • The Routledge Guidebook to Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations by Marie McGinn (5/5)

  • Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein (4/5)

  • Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction by Samir Okasha (5/5)



  • Sum: Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman (5/5)
  • Selected Stories by Anton Chekhov (3/5)
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (5/5)
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker (2/5)
  • Madame Zero by Sarah Hall (3/5)
  • Collected Stories by Lydia Davis (4/5)
  • Show Them A Good Time by Nicole Flattery (3/5)



  • Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam (4/5)
  • A History of Capitalism according to the Jubillee Line by John O'Farrell (5/5)
  • Dignity, Mental Health and Human Rights by Brendan Kelly (2/5)



  • Critical Thinking in Clinical Practice by Eileen Gambrill (4/5)
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (4/5)
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (3/5)
  • The Razor’s Edge by W Somerset Maugham (3/5)
  • Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin (4/5)



  • Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin (4/5)
  • Show Your Work by Austin Kleon (4/5)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (4/5)
  • Einsteins Dreams by Alan Lightman (2/5)
  • Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed (3/5)



  • The Overstory by Richard Powers (4/5)
  • Introduction to Psychotherapy by Anthony Bateman (3/5)



  • Orfeo by Richard Powers (4/5)
  • The Echomaker by Richard Powers (4/5)



  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2/5)



  • Sims Symptoms in the Mind by Femi Oyebode (4/5)



  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman (3/5)
  • Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (3/5)



  • Psychiatric Interviewing and Assessment by Robert Poole and Robert Higgo (5/5)
  • Twas the Night before Christmas by Adam Kay (4/5)
Edited by Angury

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• Abe, Kobo - The Woman in the Dunes

• Adler, Renata - Speedboat

 Amis, Kingsley - Lucky Jim

 Amis, Kingsley - The Old Devils

 Baldwin, James - Giovanni's Room

 Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain

 Barth, John - Lost in the Funhouse

 Barry, Sebastian - The Secret Scripture

 Blackmore, R. D. - Lorna Doone

 Becker, Howard - Boys in White

 Beckett, Samuel - Three Novels (Molly, Malone dies, The Unnameable)

• Berger, John - G.

 Bernhard, Thomas - The Loser

 Bolano, Roberto - By Night in Chile

 Brautigan, Richard - In Watermelon Sugar

 Bukowski, Charles - Ham on Rye
• Bukowski, Charles - Tales of Ordinary Madness
• Byatt, A.S. - Possession

• Calvino, Italo - If One Winter's Night a Traveller

• Camus, Albert - The Plague

 Chekhov, Anton - Selected Stories
• Christensen, Kate - The Epicure's Lament

 Danielewski, Mark Z. - The Familiar Volume I

• Desai, Kiran - The Inheritance of Loss

• DeWitt, Patrick - French Exit

• Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Demons

• Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - The Gambler and A Nasty Business
• Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - The Idiot

 Dumas, Alexander - The Count of Monte Cristo

 Duras, Marguerite - The Lover

 Eagleman, David - Sum: Tales from the Afterlives

 Eliot, George - Daniel Deronda

 Eliot, George - Jamaica Inn

 Eliot, George - Silas Marner

 Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man

 Eugenides, Jeffrey - The Virgin Suicides
• Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying

 Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury

 Flanagan, Richard - The Narrow Road to the Deep North

 Forster, E. M. - A Passage to India

 Forster, E. M. - Howard's End

 Foulds, Adam - The Quickening Maze

 Gray, Alasdair - Lanark

 Grossman, David - A Horse walks into a Bar

• Hall, Sarah - Daughters of the North
• Hall, Sarah - Haweswater

• Hall, Sarah - Madame Zero: 9 Stories

• Hannah, Barry - Ray

 Hardwick, Elizabeth - Sleepless Nights

• Hardy, Thomas - The Return of the Native

• Hawkes, John - The Lime Twig
• Hesse, Herman - Journey to the East
• Hesse, Herman - Narcissus and Goldmund
• Hesse, Herman - The Glass Bead Game

 Hill, Joe - Heart-Shaped Box

 Ishiguro, Kazuo - The Remains of the Day

 Jackson, Shirley - We have always lived in the Castle

• Jelinek, Elfriede - Greed

• Johnson, Denis - Train Dreams

 Jonasson, Jonas - The Hundred-Year Old Man

 Joyce, James - Dubliners

 Joyce, James - Ulysses
• Kavenna, Joanna - Come to the Edge

 Kavenna, Joanna - The Birth of Love

 Kennedy, A.L. - Paradise

 Kerouac, Jack - On the Road

• Keyes, Daniel - Flowers for Algernon

 Kundera, Milan - The Unbearable Lightness of Being

 Lacey, Catherine - Nobody is ever Missing

 Lawrence, D.H. - Sons and Lovers

 Le Guin, Ursula K. - The Lathe of Heaven

 Lewis, Matthew - The Monk

 Levithan, David - Every Day
• Lish, Atticus - Life is with People

• Lispector, Clarice - The Passion according to G.H.

 Maugham, Somerset W. - The Razor's Edge

• Marquez, Gabriel - Chronicles of a Death Foretold

 McCarthy, Cormac - Child of God

 McEwan, Ian - Amsterdam

 Mitchell, Margaret - Gone with the Wind

 Mukherjee, Neel - The Lives of Others

 Naipail, V.S. - In a Free State

• Naryan, R.K. - Malgudi Days

• Naryan, R.K. - Swami and Friends

 Nelson, Jandy - I'll give you the Sun
• Nutting, Alissa - Tampa

 O'Brien, Flann - The Third Policeman

 Ondaatje, Michael - The English Patient

 Pynchon, Thomas - Gravity's Rainbow (with a guide!)

• Quincey, Thomas de - Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

 Raisin, Ross - Out Backward

 Reed, Paul - The One

• Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front

• Rooney, Sally - Normal People

 Roy, Arundhati - The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

 Saenz, Benjamin - Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe

• Sartre, Jean-Paul - The Age of Reason

 Saunders, George - Lincoln in the Bardo
• Singh, Khushwant - Train to Pakistan

 Smith, Betty - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

 Sorrentino, Gilbert - Mulligan Stew

 Spark, Muriel - The Hothouse by the East River

 Steinbeck, John - Cannery Row

 Steinbeck, John - Travels with Charley

 Tartt, Donna - The Secret History
• Thackeray, William Makepeace - Vanity Fair
• Thomas, Michael Ford - Suicide Notes

 Wallace, David Foster - Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

 Walker, Alice - The Color Purple

 Walser, Robert - Jakob von Gunten

 Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth

 Williams, John - Butcher's Crossing

 Woolf, Virginia - Kew Gardens

• Vikram, Seth - A Suitable Boy

 Zweig, Stefan - Chess Story
• Zweig, Stefan - The Royal Game

Medicine, Psychology & Anthropology
• Akhtar, Salman - Immigration and Identity

 Amery, Jean - On Suicide: A Discourse on Voluntary Death

 Bartlett, Annie - Forensic Mental Health: Concepts, Systems and Practice

 Bateson, Gregory - Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution and Epistemology

 Becker, Ernest - Escape from Evil

 Becker, Ernest - Revolution in Psychiatry: The New Understanding of Man

 Becker, Ernest - The Birth and Death of Meaning: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Problem of Man

 Becker, Ernest - The Lost Science of Man

 Bloom, Sandra - Violence: A Public Health Menace and a Public Health Approach
• Brewer, John D. - The Public Value of the Social Sciences: An Interpretive Essay

 Broyard, Anatole - Intoxicated by my Illness

 Bulgakov, Mikhail - A Country Doctor's Notebook
• Cantacuzino, Marnia - The Forgiveness Project
• Carel, Havi - Health, Illness and Disease: Philosophical Essays

 Colt, George - November of the Soul
• Cooper, Rachel - Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science

 Dalrymple, Theodore - Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that makes the Underclass
• Diamond, John - C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too

 Durkheim, Emile - Suicide, a Study in Sociology

 Fulford, K.W.M. - Moral Theory and Medical Practice
• Gifford, Fred - Philosophy of Medicine

 Goldacre, Ben - Bad Pharma

 Greenberg, Gary - Manufacturing Depression

 Greenfeld, Liah - Mind, Modernity, Madness

 Gupta, Mona - Is Evidence-Based Psychiatry Ethical?

 Jung, Carl - The Essential Jung
• Kahneman, Daniel - Thinking, Fast and Slow

 Kierkegaard, Soren - The Seducer's Diary

• Kleinman, Arthur - The Illness Narratives: suffering, healing and the human condition
• Kleinman, Arthur - Rethinking Psychiatry: from cultural category to personal experience
• Laing, Ronald D. - Wisdom, Madness and Folly: The Making of a Psychiatrist 1927-57

 Lees, A.J. - Mentored by a Madman
• Levi-Strauss, Claude - Myth and Meaning: Cracking the Code of Culture

 Levi-Stauss, Claude - Structural Anthropology

 Levine, Michael - Analytic Freud: Philosophy and Psychoanalysis

 Marmot, Michael - The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World
• Mishler, Elliot G. - The Discourse of Medicine: Dialectics of Medical Interviews

 Morris, David - The Culture of Pain
• Ofri, Danielle - What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine

 Osler, William - A Selection
• Osler, William - A Way of Life: An Address to Yale Students, Sunday Evening, April 20, 1913
• Perry, Sarah - Every Cradle is a Grave: Rethinking the Ethics of Birth and Suicide
• Phillips, Adam - On Kindness
• Reynolds, Richard - On Doctoring: Stories, Poems, Essays

 Sanders, Lisa - Diagnosis
• Selzer, Richard - Letters to a Young Doctor

 Shneidman, Edwin - The Suicidal Man
• Sigerist, Henry E. - Medicine and Human Welfare (Terry Lectures)

• Skultans, Vieda and Cox, John - Anthropological Approaches to Psychological Medicine 

 Solowski, Robert - Introduction to Phenomenology
• Storr, Anthony - The Integrity of the Personality
• Svenaeus, Fredrik - The Hermeneutics of Medicine and the Phenomenology of Health: Steps Towards a Philosophy of Medical Practice
• Tallis, Raymond - The Black Mirror: Looking at Life through Death

 Thomas, Philip - Psychiatry in Context: Experience, Meaning & Communities

 Welldon, Estela - Mother Madonna 'lady of the night': The Idealization and Denigration of Motherhood

 Welldon, Estela - Playing with Dynamite: A Personal Approach to the Psychoanalytic Understanding of Perversions, Violence and Criminality

 Wiseman, Boris - Introducing Levi Strauss and Structural Anthropology
• Woolf, Virginia - On Being Ill


• Arendt, Hannah - The Human Condition

 Aristotle - The Art of Rhetoric
• Aurelius, Marcus - Meditations

 Blackburn, Simon - Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy

 Buckingham, Will - The Philosophy Book
• Burton, Neel - Plato: Letters to my Son

 Dennett, Daniel - Consciousness Explained
• Dewey, John - How We Think

 Heidegger, Martin - Basic Writings: Ten Key Essays
• Jaspers, Karl - Philosophy of Existence

• Kierkegaard, Soren - The Concept of Anxiety

 Kierkegaard, Soren - Parables of Kierkegaard

 Kuhn, Thomas - The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

• Gabbay, D.M., Thagard, P., Woods, J. - The Philosophy of Medicine 

 Grayling, A.C. - Thinking of Answers

 McGinn, Colin - The Character of Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind
• Merton, Thomas - Thoughts in Solitude

 Midgley, Mary - Science and Poetry

 Nietzsche, Friedrich - Beyond Good and Evil

• Plato - Gorgias

 Rescher, Nicholas - Epistemology: AN Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge

 Ricard, Matthieu - Altruism

• Ricard, Matthieu - In Search of Wisdom: A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most

• Russell, Bertrand - The Analysis of Mind

• Ryle, Gilbert - The Concept of Mind

 Schreber, Daniel - Memoirs of my Nervous Illness

 Smith, Adam - The Theory of Moral Sentiments
• Tallis, Raymond - In Defence of Wonder and Other Philosophical Reflections

 Walter, Kaufmann - Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre

• Wittgenstein, Ludwig - Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

 Wittgenstein, Ludwig - Philosophical Investigations

 Zizek, Slavoj - Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism

 Zizek, Slavoj - Violence: Six Sideways Reflections

Literature & Writing
• Barthes, Roland - A Lover's Discourse

 Deutscher, Guy - Through the Language Glass: Why the world looks different in other Languages

• Eagleton, Terry - How to Read Literature

• Everett, Daniel - Language: The Cultural Tool
• Huxley, Aldous - Literature and Science
• Midgley, Mary - Science and Poetry

 Nabokov, Vladimir - Lectures on Literature

 Ozick, Cynthia - Metaphor & Memory

 Prose, Francine - Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
• Thomas, Francis-Noel - Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose

 Woolf, Virginia - A Writer's Diary

• Atkinson, Charles Francis - Art and Artist: Creative Urge and Personality Development

 Bingham, Tom - The Rule of Law

• Bevan, Aneurin - In Place of Fear

 Daston, Lorraine & Galison, Peter - Objectivity
• Debord, Guy - The Society of the Spectacle

 Botton de, Alain - Religion for Athiests

 Botton de, Alain - Status Anxiety

 Botton de, Alain - The Art of Travel

 Easwaran - The Bhagavad Gita

 Eagleman, Daniel - Incognito

 Goleman, Daniel - Emotional Intelligence

 Gray, John - The Silence of Animals

 Hitchens, Christopher - Hitch-22

 Hofstadter & Sander - Surfaces and Essences

 Lish, Atticus - Life is with People

 Lyotard, Francois-Jean - Postmodern Fables

 Michaelian, Kourken - Mental Time Travel: Episodic Memory and Our Knowledge of the Personal Past
• Orwell, George - Down and Out in Paris and London

 Orwell, George - Essays
• Rosseau, Jean-Jacques - Confessions

 Russell, Bertrand - Autobiography

 Tammet, Daniel - Thinking in Numbers
• Tolstoy, Leo - What is Art?

Edited by Angury

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Best Books of 2019

..once I've done some reading!


Best Authors of 2019

..and some more reading


Previous Reading Logs

Edited by Angury

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Writing Log


Current Projects

  • 1st Novel (Chapter 9)
  • Articles & Creative Writing - Aiming submission to magazines & websites
  • Complete one short story




  • Finish Chapter 6 of 1st Novel
  • Finish Chapter 7 of 1st Novel 
  • Finish Chapter 8 of 1st Novel
  • Finish Chapter 9
  • Submit piece to magazine
  • Write one short story




  • January
    - Chapter 6 completed
    - 3 Poems written
    - Chapter 7 completed
  • February
    - The Mechanic completed:
    - Sorry Doctor I'm a Women completed:
    - Eating Disorders completed:
    - The Culture of Pain completed:
  • March
    - Poem on Eating Disorders submitted to three online magazines.
    - Completed one poem entitled 'Through Her Eyes.'
    - Completed article: 'The Beauty of Sight.'
    - Article on Pain submitted to three online magazines.
    - Writing piece on 'To be Asian' completed:
    - Completed two articles: 'The British Imperialism of Modern Day India' & 'The Asian Doctor.'
    - Finished Chapter 8 of novel.
    - New blog post: 'The First Year of the Rest of your Life':
  • April
    - Article accepted by Hektoen International Journal:
    - Article accepted by British Journal of Psychiatry entitled 'The Language Game in Psychiatry'
  • May
    - Completed 3x articles, all of which were posted on my blog.
    - Finished writing essay on the theme 'Secrets of Summer' for an essay competition which has now been submitted.
  • June
    - Submitted commentary article on the recent Bawa Garba case for a law journal
    - Wrote 1x creative writing piece on Death & Dying in hospital settings based on a recent night shift:
    - Currently working on 2nd essay for a competition prize on sexuality; I will be writing about Paedophilia.
  • October
    - Submitted creative non-fiction essay to a magazine based on the theme of Persistence.
    - Working on final essay on Pardophilia; aim to submit for end of October
  • December
    - Submitted article to be published in journal (non-fiction)
    - Entered nonfiction essay competition
Edited by Angury

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Thought I'd prepare early for the new year.


I can't believe it's the end of the year. It's refreshing looking back at my old logs and reading through my previous reviews. I notice I didn't write as many reviews during my 2018 log, so that's something I'm going to aim for in the new year.


I'm currently reading Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures. Every time I feel I'm getting into a reading slog I turn to Pratchett and find my love of novels returning. 


I wish everyone a very happy 2019 filled with joyous books! :) 

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I hope 2019 will be a great reading and writing year for you :)!


I liked Moving Pictures, I hope you like it too :).

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No worries, quite a lot of people read Augury instead - mainly because of Runescape.


I've only read three books so far but it has been a great start to the year. Each one was different yet made me want to read more.


1. Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

I love, love, love Terry Pratchett - he is by far one of my favourite authors. His wit and intellect make his writing so easy to read that you forget just how much talent this man must have had to keep the Discworld series going for so long and at such a high level.


Moving Pictures is definitely one of the top books of the series for me. I've been trying to follow the Chronology found here:




Moving Pictures is start of a new series and imo on par with the Death novels. Great characterisation, cliches that don't come across as cliches (no idea how Pratchett does it) and a plot which holds your attention. Definitely planning on returning to the series again - my next Discworld book will be Feet of Clay (I'm currently on The Watch novels at the moment but was distracted by Moving Pictures instead).


2. Writing at the Margin: Discourse between Anthropology and Medicine by Arthur Kleinman

Arthur Kleinman is an American Psychiatrist and Medical Anthropologist. He is famous for being part of a group of people who introduced the concept of narratives and culture to medicine i.e. the idea that medicine is made up of more than diagnoses and treatment, and that people present with symptoms and perceive their illnesses based on their culture and societal beliefs. 


Kleinman has a unique way of writing; he is able to combine the clarity of academic style with the creative flow of narrative writing to tell a story. This book is a collection of his essays that he published throughout his career; what makes it particularly interesting is that he is able to reflect back on these essays in the context of new critiques and a changing world. Yet no matter how long ago these essays were written, I find them to be highly relevant to healthcare today.


I am a big admirer of Kleinman and his work, and if I'm ever struggling in my job, I turn to his narratives and remind myself of why I do what I do.


3. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This is apparently a very popular book that I only found out about recently. I came across this novel while looking for South Asian writers and novels set in India. I noticed that a lot of my reading is very 'Western' and based in Europe. 


I have now found myself a new author to place on my 'Top Authors' list (it is growing far too long now..). Roy's writing is detailed and cinematic; she describes the world of India in an elaborate style while acknowledging the poverty and lifestyles that many people there still lead. 


The novel is focused on the caste system told through the eyes of a pair of young twins. You are already told the end of the story at the very beginning, and spend the rest of the book following the twins as they grow up and begin to realise the reality of the community of which they live in. Roy is a very good story writer; she offers you one piece of the puzzle in every chapter, encouraging you to fill in the gaps but still wanting more. 


For those of you who haven't heard of her, I would highly recommend this novel. And for those of you interested in such things (which I am!), this novel also won the 1997 Man Booker Prize.


It feels rather cathartic having written those three reviews - I feel like I've properly digested those books now and am ready to move on. :P Funny how books can do that to you.


At the moment I am currently making my way through Sylvia Plath's Collection of Poems in chronological order (despite her stereotypical image I enjoy her poetry and her way of writing in general - it's very inspirational) and am about to start reading Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. I also have Anna Burns' Milkman on my to-read list and plan to buy Normal People by Sally Rooney once it comes out in paperback. It's refreshing to see Northern Irish writers entering the literary world (not that they weren't there before.. *cough* Seamus Heaney).


I am also getting on well with my writing; I am just about to start Chapter 7 of my novel just as it starts to get interesting, and have surprisingly started writing some poetry. This was by no means planned. I basically had some pretty tiring days at work (emotionally) and let them all out on the page. It's amazing how well the words just flow out and tie together when you're not really thinking. 


Anyway, would love to hear everyone's thoughts on the books I've just reviewed.. or the books I'm about to read.. or on life in general! ;) 

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Just finished my 4th book of 2019: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie.


The writing is good and the plot is clever - it intricates fiction with the history of India from its Independence. 

Although I have to admit, I felt a bit underwhelmed reading it - there was nothing that stood out to me and it felt a bit of a chore getting through the final few chapters. Perhaps it's just not a book for me.


I am now just about to start reading Milkman by Anna Burns. Has anyone read it already? :) 

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What a great map for reading the Discworld books! It's interesting to see how they connect visually like that. 


I was looking at Midnight's Children recently, it's a shame you found it underwhelming, it sounded really promising! 

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17 hours ago, Hayley said:

What a great map for reading the Discworld books! It's interesting to see how they connect visually like that. 


I was looking at Midnight's Children recently, it's a shame you found it underwhelming, it sounded really promising! 


Interestingly enough I was just reading the background to Rushdie's novel and why it was such a big deal when it was released. Placing the novel in its context, I now have much more respect for the novel. I think I am comparing it to novels written today and today's society rather than the writing style and society of the time. 


I can see why the novel won so many awards and ultimately changed writing. It introduced English-Indian Literature to the rest of the world, and for that reason alone I think it is worth reading.

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I finished reading Milkman by Anna Burns earlier this morning. I only picked it up two days ago and was not expecting to finish it so quickly but it is an engaging read. 


The novel is set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland and follows an eighteen year-old girl as she is harassed by an older, married man. The writing is informal and in some ways quite simple but it touches on deep issues of religion & politics and how easily societies can be divided. 


By far one of the best books I've read this year (I know it's still only January but every book I've read so far has been exceptional!). I just want to paste the Man Booker Prize Chair of Judges comments here because I feel they say everything about the novel that I cannot:



‘The language of Anna Burns’ Milkman is simply marvellous; beginning with the distinctive and consistently realised voice of the funny, resilient, astute, plain-spoken, first-person protagonist. From the opening page her words pull us into the daily violence of her world — threats of murder, people killed by state hit squads — while responding to the everyday realities of her life as a young woman, negotiating a way between the demands of family, friends and lovers in an unsettled time. The novel delineates brilliantly the power of gossip and social pressure in a tight-knit community, and shows how both rumour and political loyalties can be put in the service of a relentless campaign of individual sexual harassment. Burns draws on the experience of Northern Ireland during the Troubles to portray a world that allows individuals to abuse the power granted by a community to those who resist the state on their behalf. Yet this is never a novel about just one place or time. The local is in service to an exploration of the universal experience of societies in crisis.’




I plan to start reading Adam Bede by George Eliot today. I've only read Middlemarch by Eliot but fell in love with her writing. I've noticed a lot of Eliot fans particularly adore Adam Bede and I'm sure I'll be just the same.

Edited by Angury

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Milkman sounds like it's probably quite a difficult, likely very sad, book to read. Was it very emotional? I'd be interested to see how the simple, informal language works when dealing with such a large and difficult topic. I think the simplicity of the narrative voice is what makes To Kill a Mockingbird as heartbreaking as it is so I imagine it works in a similar way, although obviously not using the simplicity of childhood.


I really want to read Adam Bede too so I'm looking forward to hearing what you think!

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On 2/3/2019 at 6:20 PM, Hayley said:

Milkman sounds like it's probably quite a difficult, likely very sad, book to read. Was it very emotional? I'd be interested to see how the simple, informal language works when dealing with such a large and difficult topic. I think the simplicity of the narrative voice is what makes To Kill a Mockingbird as heartbreaking as it is so I imagine it works in a similar way, although obviously not using the simplicity of childhood.


Your comment actually got me thinking Hayley. 


As I was reading the book I didn't feel like it was a sad or difficult read. I can't say I felt many emotions at all. Thinking about it, I'm not sure if it was because of the style of writing - informal and from the perspective of someone for whom this is normal - or my own desensitisation. I think it's mainly the style of writing, which again makes it such a good book. And it's only after you made that comment that I realised, hang on! this is actually a horrific topic to write about!


I think I found To Kill a Mockingbird more emotional as we were viewing the world from perspective of an innocent child whilst still holding our own understanding of the past. Whilst with Milkman I felt that I was really drawn into the plot and things like segregation and sexism were normal in this world.

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That's really interesting! I was looking at Milkman on Goodreads after reading your review and noticed a discussion about none of the characters having names, only descriptions ("third brother in law," for example). Do you think that might be partly why it didn't feel emotional? Do the characters feel like they have individual identities, even without names?

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4 hours ago, Hayley said:

That's really interesting! I was looking at Milkman on Goodreads after reading your review and noticed a discussion about none of the characters having names, only descriptions ("third brother in law," for example). Do you think that might be partly why it didn't feel emotional? Do the characters feel like they have individual identities, even without names?


Yes, I think that had a lot to do with it. There are some strong characters in the books and I think their identities do come through, but you don't really feel close to them. It almost feels like the people the narrator is talking about aren't really people.. like they don't matter.. which I guess is what the author was aiming towards. 


It's incredible how Burns was able to do all this through such simple language. I think the novel is a testament to the power of language. 

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I've spend two months on my A&E rotation so far and it has given me a lot to reflect about. I find myself becoming more and more distant as a doctor and seeing patients in the terms they present in e.g. 'headache' 'abdominal pain' etc. I have so little time to see each patient and so many to see that in a way I think this is a defence mechanism. 


This ties in quite closely with the book Milkman that I just finished and our discussion above. It's interesting to have such a different perspective when you're so far away from the action. 


Having had these thoughts swirl around in my head for a while, I decided to write them down. Now, more than ever, I feel like I view the human body as a machine more than anything else. I never thought I would say that.



Fluid goes up and down and round and round, in the hole and out the sides, down the glass and past the eyes,

Side to side and up and up, I watch the bubbles as they fall, numbers rise and fingers flash, wires stiffen and alarms go off.

Here I stand with skin and blood, the pulse of man beating through the mud, liquid squirts and curtains wobble, shoes slide on floors as blue men struggle.

Here I stand in the land of men, tools in hand as God repents.






Edited by Angury

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I would say that perhaps the only difference between Burns' detachment from the personal and your own example is that the first represents a detached perspective of the public world, while the latter is a detached perspective of the private and individual life. Interesting from a psychological point of view in both cases though. Does detachment help us to see things more clearly, with less distraction, or is it a coping mechanism in the face of complex and potentially painful issues? It could be both, I suppose. 


I like your poem, it has a really satisfying rhythm that helps give a real sense of movement, and a great representation of texture and sound :) 

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Thanks Hayley!


I've just finished reading Wittgenstein's Tractatus with the help of two guidebooks: A Very Short Introduction to Wittgenstein By AC Grayling and a Companion Guide written by Michael Morris. Wittgenstein was a philosopher who wrote about the philosophy of language and how it relates to reality. It's a very interesting field of study and while I had read around the subject I felt too daunted to read the original works themselves.


The Short Introduction & Companion Guide were fantastic though, and not only helped me to understand what Wittgenstein was actually saying, but also gave me an idea of how his works have affected the world today and continue to do so. There are a number of areas of philosophy which I have read around (a little) but have always felt too daunted to read the original works. This has now given me a bit of a boost. I've made a little collection of works which I now would like to finish by the end of this year:


  • Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations alongside a Companion Guide (I will be reading this next).
  • Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Poppers three works: Realism & the Aim of Science, The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Conjectures and Refutations alongside the short introduction books of science.
  • Idealism: A History of Philosophy & Routledge Guidebook to Berkley's Three Dialogues (with the original works) alongside the short introduction series to Berkley, Heidegger, Hegel & Schopenhauer.
  • Barthe's Lovers' Discourse & On Fine Writing, Nabaokov's Lectures on Literature alongside a Companion Guide on Derrida's Deconstruction and the short introduction series on Critical Theory, Structuralism & Post-Structuralism & Hermeneutics.

What an exciting year it's going to be..


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I've just finished reading both the guidebooks to Wittgensteins Tractatus & Philosophical Investigations and the original works themselves.


It was far easier that I expected it to be; the guidebooks were very clearly written and I don't think I would have been able to interpret the original works without them. They also offered stimulating discussion points which I've still been pondering.


What struck me most about Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is not so much the content but the way he goes about arguing his point. It's a different way of thinking i.e. understanding the meaning of a word based on how it is used and the idea of language games themselves. Particularly interesting is the link (or lack thereof) between language and our representation of the world. It certainly brings a different perspective on the idea of Newspeak from 1984.


I have now started reading A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy of Science by Samir Okasha before moving onto Thomas Kuhn and Karl Poppers works. This all makes me feel rather intelligent.. :P 

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I decided to take a break from non-fiction and read some short novels.


The first was Sum: Stories of the After Life by David Eagleman which was incredible. It is filled with 40 very quick and simple stories about what the afterlife might look like. The stories not only reflect the lateral thinking of Eagleman's mind but also make you pause about your own goals and dreams: would things really be better if you got everything you wanted? The book is a reflection of the type of stories I would love to be able to write; unique, creative and insightful.


The second novel was just as good: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. It tells the story of a man with the IQ of approx 60-70 who dreams of being smart. He undergoes a scientific experiment where his IQ progressively gets higher and higher. The novel is written via 'progress reports' which the protagonist writes himself. The writing style changes as his IQ becomes higher and higher; vocabulary, punctuation, grammar all change but so do his views on life and the people around him. It's actually a very sad novel but one that is told so beautifully. 


I have come across some fantastic books this year even though it's only March.


My writing is also growing. I have written 8 articles in the past month, some of which I have submitted to magazines etc. I'm really enjoying myself and have got myself into a routine where I write everyday.


My aim is for my writing is:

1. To get published in a magazine

2. To complete a short story


Reading-wise, I am just about to start The Colors of Purple by Alice Walker and then possibly move on to some short stories to get some inspiration & delve into the genre a bit more.

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I really liked Flowers for Algernon, glad you liked it too :).


Good luck with your writing :)!

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