Monday, May 16, 2011

Between The Sheets...

...or what I've been reading recently.

Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson

Entertaining look at the English language, how it was formed and how it compares with other languages. A tad drier than Bryson's other work, including the superior Made In America that looked at the history of American English, and not even in the same league as his travel writing, but well worth a read for those interested in how the world's dominant tongue rose to its current position.

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson

The second instalment of Larsson's wildly popular Millennium trilogy. I didn't find it quite as absorbing as its prequel, but the continuing saga of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist is certainly more entertaining and pacy than almost every other work of modern fiction I've read recently.

Mort - Terry Pratchett

My fourth venture into the Discworld, and the quality continues to be evident. A well-crafted story that, like all of the Discworld novels I've read so far starts very strongly, loses its way for a short while in the middle before resolving itself in comedic style.

Rangers Cult Heroes - Paul Smith

This was my Secret Santa gift at the work Xmas party last year. It was good to read the stories of some bona fide Rangers legends, including several from the nine-in-a-row years that I watched as a boy. But there were two faults: firstly, the choice of players covered. To describe John Greig, Ally McCoist, Jim Baxter or Brian Laudrup as cult heroes seems to me to disregard the notion of what makes a cult hero. I've already picked my alternative 10. Secondly, the book seems to have been rushed out in the latter half of 2010, and could have done with a more thorough sub-editing to remove typos and factual errors. Nonetheless an enjoyable read for those of a blue persuasion.

The Business - Iain Banks

Picked up for 20p in an Aberdeen second-hand bookshop when I ran out of things to read on the train, this was a most unexpectedly good book I'd read in a while. A tale of a Scottish girl made good in a shadowy multinational corporation, the humour and fast-paced plot were a delight.

Kingdom of Fear - Hunter S Thompson

Dispatches from Thompson's meandering mind in his twilight years, Kingdom of Fear lacked the punch of his earlier works, but was nonetheless a rollicking ride from one of literature's great heroes of the 20th century.

As In Eden - RM Lamming

I'm a strange hypocrite in that I don't believe any of the stories in the Bible, don't believe in any religions, but I find fiction based on those stories being true to be fascinating. I suppose it stems from a childhood love of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. But I digress. As In Eden retold a number of the Bible's more famous tales from the viewpoint of women mentioned, occasionally only in passing, in the original tales. Interesting, but still not enough to make me a believer....

Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals - Andrew Jennings

Exposing the sordid world of life inside football's governing body, this book is enough to provoke rage in anyone who first became enchanted by football as a sport, not as a jolly and a means of stuffing pockets with wads of cash.

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

Entirely predictable fare from Brown, who must write his books to a generic template. Fast-paced and entertaining enough, but for those of us who have read the rest of his books, the conspiracy theories are starting to wear a little thin.

Fatherhood: The Truth - Marcus Berkmann

A birthday present from Mrs Wife, this is a hilarious guide to the first few years after the birth of the first baby. Actually had me laughing out loud on the train. While simultaneously giving me a little bit of dread at how unprepared I am for the biggest life-changing event of all.

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Supposedly a cyberpunk classic, Gibson's most famous work left me a bit cold, with a plot that was overly complicated and characters that inspired little in the way of feeling. Not recommended.

The Bloke's Guide To Babies - Jon Smith

A second baby "how to" book, along a similar vein to the Berkmann book, if written from a younger man's point of view. Inspiring of further laughs and further dread.

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