31 May, 2012

The world's shit; read some books.

I'll be doing some proper reviews soon, but for now...

With the whole world in a ridiculous state of affairs, with the news reading like a dystopian horror flick, the weather returning to murky Mayvember days and with the socio-economic climate in decline (see, I can be serious), it's about time we all just shut ourselves inside with a book. Here are four things you could read - fuck everything else.

The Thursday Next Books - Jasper Fforde. This is a series about Thursday Next, a literary detective of sorts, in a world in which books are real, and there are all sorts of rules keeping characters in books doing as they should. For example, Hamlet sees a therapist and Heathcliff has anger management lessons. Very cleverly plotted, this series is great and a perfect relaxed summer read.

This Is Not The End of the Book - Umberto Eco + Jean-Claude Carriere. This is a conversation between the two great men on the future of 'the book', which incorporates the past of the written word, and things such as preservation of human achievement, the written word and the effect of literacy. It's very clever and a bit high-brow (don't expect to get the references unless you're some type of Classics scholar) but the conversational aspect makes it an easy, cheeky read.

Fitzgerald's Short Stories (Available as Flappers and Philosophers, by Penguin). F. Scott Fitzgerald, of Gatsby and Tender Is The Night fame, was the master of short story - whether for newspapers or collections, they are arguably his craft proper, and the sheer beauty of every single one is a sight to behold. Clever, perceptive and funny, every single story I always go back to old Fitzy because he is literature at its best

A Child In Time - Ian McEwan. I love McEwan so I won't go on about it but he's one of the best contemporary novelists about, with an eye for detail and for both the scientific and the emotive in our existence. 'The Child In Time', based on a parent's nightmare, the abduction of a child, McEwan creates a story about the science of time (cleverly incorporating a Physics scholar into the mix) but also about the psychological effects of time on our relationships. I read this in a drunken summer haze at the weekend so it might have just been me, but McEwan slips very capably between time periods, in a very lucid and connected view of his story on time, parenthood and reconciliation.

If we could all just sort out the world, that'd be fab. Either that or let's have more bookshops and free tea and bakewells.
Happy reading chumz.

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