Feeling bookish

My new job is taking a lot of my time, and as it’s kick started my dormant professionalism, it’s also sapping my book reading time as well. Coupled with that I do seem to be on a non-fiction bent of late, I’m part way through “Make it Stick” and have just ordered some books with titles that include the words “simplicity”, “Nurnberg funnel” and “minimalism”. I blame Malcolm Gladwell.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a teetering stack of unread books at home but they are mostly novels and I’m just not in the mood to start them.

So, whilst Louise is just discovering Dan Brown and is disappearing off to bed at 9pm so she can fit in a couple of hours of reading, I’m stuck staring at my stack (I said STACK!) and wondering what to read next. In short (but let’s face it, when have us bloggers ever bothered with ‘short’), has anyone got any book recommendations?

And yes, I know that recommending books and music for people is always tricky, but the archives can help you there. Mind you I’m currently try to suss out what the next “blink” or “tipping point” book is, and from my limited research there doesn’t seem to be another “must read” book doing the blog rounds at the moment, but feel free to prove me wrong.

DOH. What an idiot.

I’m forgetting that THE book of the moment is Shaggy Blog Stories! My copy arrived yesterday, so that’s first in the list, but after that…

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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I’m currently reading:

Barack Obama – The Audacity of Hope – I’ve only just started this, so can’t say much about it, but it focuses on Obama’s ideals and thoughts for changing the relationship between the people and government. If it is symptomatic of the way that politics is going, then we should be encouraged.
Gert Würtenburger, Paul van der Kooij, Bart Kiewiet, Martin Ekvad – European Community Plant Variety Protection – stifle those yawns at the back! Obviously work-related.
Marian Moffett, Michael Fazio, Lawrence Wodehouse – A World History Of Architecture – I keep dipping into this one and reading a chapter or two at a go. It’s a massive tome but has plenty of pretty pictures for eye candy. I’m currently reading about early Christian and Byzantine architecture and keep adding to a mental list of buildings around the world that I want to visit before I die.
Dick Bruna – Miffy at the Gallery – a perennial favourite – gets read at least twice a week. "A BEAR! A real bear! cried Miff. But Father Bun said: nooo, a real live bear is nice and soft, this one is stone, you know." Never fails to get Tom in hysterics.

Recent reading includes:

T. C. Boyle – Tooth and Claw – a collection of short stories that are by turn sad and creepy. Boyle always leaves a feeling of desolation in his wake. So not uplifting reading, but certainly something that grabs you.
Simon Hopkinson – Roast Chicken and Other Stories and Second Helpings of Roast Chicken – there are few cookery books that you can actually sit and read at bedtime, but these two fall into that category. Hopkinson’s background detail and accompanying anecdotes make this very readable – a good way to reinvigorate one’s passion for food.
Mark Leonard – Why Europe Will Run The 21st Century – slightly frustrating, not least because Leonard’s arguments are sometimes self-contradictory. The title itself is also misleading – it would be better if it was "Why everywhere will be like the European Union by 2100". But thought-provoking nonetheless – although if you are not a liberal europhile or a fan of pan-national government structures, it will probably only infuriate.
Haruki Murakami – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman – more short stories spanning a large part of Murakami’s career. If you look at the choronolgy, they provide a useful insight into the development of his writing style and perhaps hint at where he might go in the future. Lovely and disturbing by turn, as usual.

This insight into my stack given without any reference to your preferences at all, naturally.

Oh, and since you mentioned music, I recommend Amon Tobin – Foley Room. You can hear a taster at Ninja Tune Records. Don’t go looking for too much in the way of melody though – this is an exploration of sound.

What goes on with the comment counter? It says “No comments” and I’m worried that people might not be aware that I’ve posted something erudite here!

Patience!! Blimey.

Ta for the recommendations Mr.Graybo (why, in my head, does that sound like a Lord of the Rings line… “Why thank you, Mr.Frodo)

I just finished up Freakonomics about a week ago, and thought it was a good read. I’ve not read Blink or the Tipping Point yet, so I don’t know how similar they are.

Of course, it might help if you told us what was already in your stack…

Anyway, I’d second Freakonomics, it makes for an interesting (and fairly quick) read.

I’ve recently read Bone Song by John Meaney, which is very odd, but quite cool. Sci-fi-esque, but more “alternative reality” – I’d recommend it, but its not the cheapest book around.

In a Dan-Brown-esque style (although far better written, and without all the conspiracy crap) there’s Robert Finn’s Adept and Ex-Machina, which’re OK.

On my own stack is also http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swarm-Novel-Deep-Frank-Schatzing/dp/0340895241/ref=sr_1_1/203-5703705-4345524?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174651363&sr=1-1Swarm by Frank Schatzing, which I haven’t yet got round to.

Finally (for the moment) I’d highly recommend Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, which is a kind of mystery thriller thing, but just detonates in your brain as it goes along. VERY creepy.

Someone beat me to Freakonomics, but I’ll recommend it anyway. It’s got a New York Times writer on it, so that makes it kinda Malcolm Gladwellish. It also takes the crime-rate tipping point story that pops up in the Tipping Point and calls it totaly wrong.

I’m about 40 pages into ‘The Book of Dave’ and struggling to get through it. Not only is it in a made-up language and seem to be targetted at those familiar with the ways of London, but it has no quote marks in it.

That’s the second book I’ve come across lately that has no quote marks in it, where the things people say are just part of a sentence. It makes an already hard to read book even harder. Is this a current writing fad? Or am I just unlucky?

Oh, and just finished “Surely you’re joking Mr. Feynman” by Richard Feynman. If you’re looking for an escape route from Gladwell-non-fictionitis (As I was) then it’s a perfect gap-bridger back into the world of fiction. Lots of amusing, tall-sounding stories and surprisingly little physics.

Blink was fascinating.

I recommend Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
On Beauty by Zadie Smith

And a whole heap of others but I suspect you’ll have too many recommendations as it is.

Two books that I’ve just read that I’m recommending to everyone, both by Mark Steel, the first “Reasons to be cheerful”, which opened up a whole new view of recent political history to me and “vive la revolution” which opened up a whole new view of the French revolution to me. Both are non fiction books, but funny and easy to read. Couldn’t put them down.

Next book on my list to buy is Mark Thomas “as used on the famous Nelson Mandela”, which should be fantastic.

Thanks everyone, keep them coming, there are a few that have caught me eye (Freakonomics was already kinda on my list but I wasn’t sure…).

Sam. The Tipping Point is also good but not AS good as Blink I don’t think. I spotted the Zadie Smith the other day and almost picked it up..

Clair – any recommendations by someone NOT named Mark?? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well…I’m also reading some Alan Bennett at the moment, which is good ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been wandering and dreaming in amongst your photos. I’m homesick and they’re just what the doctor ordered. Just to feast my eyes on the heather and the old churches and Tarbet and stuff’s been lovely. Thanks.

I’d second Zadie Smith’s On Beauty – it’s by far and away the best book Ive read for a while.

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