Thursday, 20 September 2012

Book Learning. 'Let us continue'

I had to blog about this, Just had to.

I may not finish Robert Caro's superb account of LBJ's years in the Senate anytime soon. It may well be sometime into next year before you see my completed blog entry. I just wanted you to know how much I love this book.

I love this book so much that I had to slice it into three, in order to gain three times the possible enjoyment from it. The simple fact is that the published version is a touch too hefty for late night reading, especially as I have a habit of dropping books onto my face as I doze off.

I love this book because it has taken me almost ten years to not quite finish it. Normally that would be a problem, give it up. Master of the Senate is different, it's like the very best of friends. The best of friends you don't see for two or three years and then spend a brilliant weekend at the beach and it's just like you're back at college again. This book cares little if I read a dozen others between picking it up again, it's own brilliance will hold the day.

In terms of content, I will go into much more depth of the pleasure, discomfort, disgust and hope that this book has brought to me when I finally, eventually review it.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Book learning #81. Brief encounters by Gyles Brandreth.

I'm almost, slightly embarrassed to add this to the strange and varied list of books in this blog.
First of all, there's Brandreth himself. Mad jumpered nutter from telly in the 1980s, failed Tory MP from the 1990s and resident bon hommeur of the Sunday supplements, not even the Sunday supplements that I occasionally read.

Then there is the sort of cobbled together clump of the Sunday supplement essays and interviews that this book consists of. I think I'll go back and publish all my semi decent blog entries from the last eight years, shove on the bookshelf in a regional airport and see how it does. Can't be any worse off? Surely?

But finally, there is the fact that whilst I literally shat my way through this book (nothing says 'good loo read' like a hundred odd, shortish interviews and anecdotes with the great, the almost great and the completely unheard of), I did actually quite enjoy it. Brandreth, although a Tory, would probably be able to talk his way past me into a re education centre rather than the firing squad. He seems to be a pretty decent chap and he write reasonably well. The subjects were, by and large, interesting and open to his probing. There were also one or two moments of classic hilarity. The trip to Copenhagen in 1971 was an outstanding piece of comic writing.

I do rather hope that I will read something weighty very soon to shove this book off my blog front page.
File under 'guilty pleasure'

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Book Learning # 80 The History of England Volume 1. Foundation, by Peter Ackroyd.

Hey there summer read.
How you doing? How was your summer?
Oh look, I'm sorry about the first part, the part where I casually picked you up , read you for a while but then dumped you for something more exciting.

But who's laughing now?

I got bored of the other book (very quickly as it happened) and came grovelling back to you.

You had already told me about the infrastructure of ancient England and how cosmopolitan it was before the Romans landed. You had told me about the Norman conquest and made me marvel that it was the last time this island had been successfully invaded.

After we got back together you made me rethink a lot of casually held ideas and prejudices about the middle ages. About religion and hygiene. I loved reading about the Black death (but I have always been into that crazy stuff). You took me right up to the death of Henry VII and the beginning of what my history teacher always called 'the early modern age'.
in truth, I'm just glad you took me back. I really enjoyed you.