Based on the fact I am still in the first half of this month when I’m publishing this I am counting it as a win for organisation on my part!
I’ve actually managed to read quite a lot last month, I’m quite pleased. Going back to work full time I wasn’t expecting to get through nearly as much as I did, so I’m pretty amazed!
First up is the Six Questions of Socrates by Christopher Phillips. I really enjoyed this book. The basic premise is the Christopher Phillips travelled the world, setting up dialogues with difference groups from different countries exploring the ‘Six Questions’ posed by Socrates. These are questions such as what is ‘good’ and what is ‘justice’. The different perspective afforded by the different culture showcased here provide a really interesting perspective on these age old questions. I would really recommend this book as it challenges the reader to think about some of the fundamental philosophic questions around which we base our societies and moral decisions.
Being on a bit a philosophical kick at the beginning of the month I also read The Great Divorce by C S Lewis. This was a re- read for me, although I hadn’t read it a few years. It is a fictional depiction of Heaven and Hell from a Christian perspective. It is, in my view a very interesting way a viewing eternity from the perspective of Hell being the absence of Heaven. It also examines the idea that it is human selfishness and obstinacy which separates them from the divine and that the divine reaches out towards humanity and that humanity refuses that contact. All in all a very thought provoking read.
On the same kind of trend I also read Bad Thought by James Whyte. This was from a different perspective, a book which was focused on highlighting the logical inconsistencies in the way in which media presents facts to the wider population. Although I don’t agree with all of the arguments in this book, indeed the author certainly takes a harsher line on certain aspects of thought than I am inclined to do, he does raise some interesting points. I think the main thing which I have taken from this book is how easily I can be led in to believing something without fully challenging the assumptions upon which it is based. Particularly when it comes to things such as political commentary I don’t always take the time to examine the logical arguments, and considering how important these issues can be that it perhaps an over sight on my part. All in all an interesting read, but beware of some religion bashing!
Now we have Kraken by China Mieville. I actually wrote a full review of the book here, but safe to say I love it. It was one of the best fiction books I have read in a long while and I have been shamelessly pushing it on my friends and family ever since. I highly recommend this if you want an intricate modern fantasy/ crime novel.
Then we have Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m usually a huge fan of Christie’s work. I like her novels for two reasons, one I find the language in them and the style which they are written in fantastic to read, and secondly they are generally small and light enough to cart back and forth to work with me without murdering my back! But there was just something in this story that just didn’t work for me. I think it was (not to ruin it for you) the romance between the main male and female characters which was developed of the space of a page, I’m not kidding you. There wasn’t really any ground work for this major development and then suddenly there were two people declaring their undying love for each other. It became a major plot point and it just jarred for me, detracting from the novel as a whole in my mind.
Now I’m a sucker for a good biography or autobiography, I find other people endlessly fascinating and thus when I found this book, The Invisible Man, for 50p in a second hand book shop I picked it up on a whim. Before reading this I really didn’t know that much about H G Wells, apart from the fact he wrote War of the World, so pretty much all of this information was new to me. I don’t think I had fully realised the breath and depth of Well’s work before, and dear lord this man published at a prodigious rate. I think where I struggled with this very well written, balanced and fair biography was that I just didn’t like Wells as a man. Usually when I read biographies it is to inspire myself with the life of someone I admire, but Wells just isn’t that admirable a man. His attitude towards women was terrible, he had a string of mistresses who he paraded in front of his wife, fathering children by them and at one point asking his wife to sort out a quarrel between him and one of his lovers! On a whim he also changed his wife’s name from Amy to Jane and then insisted that everyone call her by this new name. Whilst I am more than ready to admit that Well’s lived in a different time with different societal expectations, even by those standards his behaviour was reprehensible. Although I found this book fascinating, I did struggle with Wells as a man.
And that is that, all which I read last month! Do you have any suggestions for me to read this month? I would love to hear what you are enjoying reading…