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Welcome to this month’s blog.
It’s time for some sunshine – as you can see above, ID8459116 has found an beautiful copy of HV Morton’s A Traveller In Southern Italy:
I just brought it for 45 rand in Norwood, a shabby suburb just above central Johannesburg. I’ve got a lot of his stuff; he is a dream of a travel writer. Actually, I’ve got this already, I think, but not with the dust jacket. It’s torn, but lovely. And vivid, just like southern Italy really is. When you read the first few paragraphs (when he arrives in Tivoli very early in the morning) you cannot help but be delighted by his evocative style. It’s 1969, and the newly made roads are making this road trip a possibility that would have been difficult a decade earlier. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could make the same trip in 2019, 50 years after Morton’s ‘grand tour’…
Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast And Slow has earned a mention from tommydog:
His research was the basis for the study of behavioural economics. Kahneman argues that people are inclined to make snap, generally erroneous decisions, often to their detriment, rather than well thought out decisions. He tested this by structuring questions and giving tests. A typical question might be something like:
Peter is quiet, reflective, very studious, intelligent and something of a loner. Tom is most likely a librarian or a farmer?
Most people choose librarian because he fits the stereotype, but farmers out number librarians, so statistically Peter is far more likely to be a farmer, albeit a quiet and studious one. Many people have argued that this explodes the whole theory of homo economicus, that theoretical being who makes all decisions rationally to maximise his benefit.
“From the first pages” of George Eliot’s Felix Holt, The Radical, “you know you are in the company of a great writer,” says vermontlogger:
The Reform Bill has just passed, and Loamshire is preparing for the election. (So, Middlemarch was a sort of prequel.) Harold Transome, second son of a family of hereditary Tories, returns after years spent amassing wealth as a banker in Smyrna. His ageing mother has had to manage the entailed estate on her own, her husband being feeble and her first son dissolute. She was always fonder of Harold as a boy, so fond she wished the first son dead. And she guards a secret: Harold is the result of a dalliance. Now what does she find? Mortification. Harold is brusque and dismissive to her face; he has married and never told her; he announces he will stand in the election – as a Radical. We’re still in chapter one! George Eliot relates it all with smooth authority. I’m settling in for 500 pages of pleasure.
The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen has also struck Tom Mooney as “superb”:
Shortlisted for last year’s International Booker, it follows the Barroy family as they scratch out a living from the island and waters that bear their name … Beautifully written it is, but much of the credit must go to translators Don Bartlett and Don Shaw. They have rendered a book steeped in local custom and dialect into English with great skill. A wonderful book I will never forget
Elsewhere, tyorkshiretealass has revisited JK Rowling’s Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone “and remembered why I’d loved it so much as a kid”:
OK, writing-wise it’s not exactly the greatest work of literature, but I do think Rowling does a particularly great job with the world-building and I still liked the combination of the Enid Blyton-style ‘school story’ with the adventure and fantastical elements. It also feels oddly refreshing to look back on it in comparison to the later books and now Fantastic Beasts – there’s an innocence about it and a lightness of touch, a sense that it’s not taking itself too seriously, which I think disappeared as the series went on.
allworthy also conjured some happy memories:
I so miss queuing at midnight for next Harry Potter book … apart from Peake and Tolkien no one else has come close to creating an alternative world for me. It’s something to be very proud of. Some very clever people brought it to page and screen and it’s been a huge part of so many people’s lives. It’s still being reinvented and doesn’t rest on its laurels: look at Kay’s gorgeous illustrations. I can’t begin to understand how people don’t love it or get it.
The magic was real …
Interesting links about books and reading
- Daniel Kahneman also got a mention on Adam Buxton’s latest podcast.
- Fake books sold on Amazon? And Amazon profits?Oh dear.
- The New York Times reports on US librarians dealing with overdoses on their premises. (Hat tip to ChronicExpat.)
- Sad news from Japan.
If you would like to share a photo of the book you are reading, or film your own book review, please do. Click the link at the end of this page to share your video or image. I’ll include some of your posts in next week’s blog.
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