Lab Cat

10 Sep 2006

August Books

Filed under: Books — Cat @ 10:31 pm

Books Bought

Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen “The Science of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch”

Allen Bennett: “Writing Home”

Francis Wheen “How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World”

John Gribbon: “The Birth of Time”

Books Borrowed

Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen: “Wheelers”

Terry Pratchett: “The Last Continent”

Alexandar Smith McCall “Blue Shoes and Happiness”

Pamela Aidan “An Assembly Such as This, (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman: Book 1)

Paul Collins “The Trouble with Tom: The Strange After Live of Tom Paine”

Books Read

Terry Pratchett: “The Last Continent”

Alexandar Smith McCall “Blue Shoes and Happiness”

Pamela Aidan “An Assembly Such as This, (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman: Book 1)

Paul Collins “The Trouble with Tom: The Strange After Live of Tom Paine”

Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen “The Science of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch”

Alan Bennett: “Writing Home”

Alan Bennett: “Untold Stories”

Melanie Ilic (Editor): Stalin’s Terror Revisited (Studies in Russian & Eastern European History)

When in England at my parents’ home I always revisit some of my favorite childrens’ books. Too numerous to mention and I can’t remember them all as I read one about every night I was home – that means at least 10!

Comments

I read so much Alan Bennett last month that at one point I was complaining that I was suffering from Alan Bennett fatigue. He is a brilliant writer and here are a few quotes to share:

An absurd direction from the ENO [English National Opera?] management requesting all employees at the Coliseum to cease calling each other ‘darling’ and indeed from touching one another at all or using other terms of endearment.

News of this is gleefully received at the National Theatre where copies of the directive are given to everybody arriving at the stage door and announcements over the tannoy take on a husky intimacy. ‘Sweethearts. Could we have two of those delightful electricians to the stage of the Cottesloe? Hurry, hurry, hurry. A bientôt!

Alan Bennett suffered from colon cancer to the extent of having to have radiotherapy and being lucky to be alive. He writes:

Not long after I had been diagnosed and operated on, I compared notes with a friend who was in the same boat and, like me, was in no current discomfort. She said how surprised most people would be to find that cancer isn’t a constant companion, and that for long periods of time one forgot one had it – or had had it – the uncertainty of about the tense corresponding to the uncertainty about the disease.

I can relate to that. I can also relate to the fact that he:

…never at any point looked satisfactorily ill, and some weeks after I’d been in hospital I ran into a neighbour who enquired how I was.

‘I’ve just had an operation’

‘Really? Well you look very fit on it. I should have another’

For me last year after being told for the umpteenth time that I looked very rosy (I have a naturally rosy complextion) and was obviously very well, I tempted to put on some white facepaint to help me look the part better.

I read “Stalin’s Terror Revisited” as Dad had a chapter in it. Also I had been given, very strongly, Mum’s opinion [hi Mum] and wanted to know Dad’s. Basically there was no excuse what Stalin did during his years of terror. The horror of it quite makes me sick – apparently millions* people were killed during the purges of 1937-1938. Districts had quotas of the number of dissidents to “out” and were rewarded if they found more than their quota. Dad even said that there was no economic reason (that’s his speciality) as before the purges the economy was going well and because of the purges it tanked. Ok non-technical language is mine. I asked if Stalin was paranoid and Dad said that was unlikely as he didn’t show that classical symptoms. There is no two ways about it: Stalin was evil.

Terry Pratchett continues to delight and I totally enjoyed the Science of the Discworld book. I am frustrated that I can’t find the previous two in the library and so will have to buy them. They manage to get everything in it seems, from evolution to time travel, string theory to jokes about quasi-sciences:

Then there are the quasi*-sciences like astrology, homeopathy, reflexology, and iridology, which simply don’t work. They should be distinguished from odd, often ancient practices like acupuncture, osteopathy and herbal treatments, which do work sufficiently often but have a theoretical base that is poorly worked out in scientific terms.

*Pronounced ‘crazy’.

On that note, I will leave you. I enjoyed the other books I read last month. Oh except for the one about Tom Paine as it was a weird pseudohistory book and I couldn’t get my head round it – runs screaming from the room, more like. Sometimes I wonder about people who write books like this: Just what were they thinking? Apologises if you like that stlye of writing, but remember they are NOT history.

Oh, but “Wheelers” was brilliant. Funny, moving and humorous. Probably the best book I read this month.

 

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*I don’t remember this number correctly. I should take notes! I remember it being an incredibly unbelievably high number and Dad saying rather sorrowfully that the right-wing were right after all about how awful it all was. I do remember being told that 20 million people died in the Ukrainian famines. I’m sure Dad will read this and tell me if I’ve exaggerated.

 

 

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