Friday, December 30, 2005

a blessed companion is a book

My beloved and I received a large number of books as Christmas presents. People must have us down as readers. As part of those seasonal pieces which write themselves, I will now list all these books. You can have fun guessing which ones will have been read in three months time. Some of these are my beloved's books rather than mine; try and work out which.

Tom Garvin Preventing the Future: Why was Ireland so poor for so long?

A friend mentioned this book in conversation, and I've been going on about it ever since. It's about how a blocking coalition of Gaelgeoirí, the Church, conservative politicians, native industrialists, etc. pursued policies to their own advantage which had the side effect of keeping Ireland's economy in stasis. There is an anti-leftist tone to this book - the author loves to scove at the resentment towards the rich prevalent in Ireland before the 1960s.

Gideon Defoe The Pirates! in an adventure with Scientists


David Toop Haunted Weather: Music, Silence and Memory

Well-known brainy music writer talks about stuff. Dipping into it suggests a pleasant writing style.

Neil Belton A Game with Sharpened Knives

A novel about Erwin Schrodinger, including stuff about his sojourn in Ireland during the Second World War. So kind of like "Improbable Frequencies", only without the tunes.

Mark Kurlansky 1968: the Year that rocked the world"

Any book by Mark Kurlansky has to include the topics of all books he has previously written. Thus this book has a chapter on the Basque revolt of 1968, triggered by harsh Spanish taxes on the sale of the salt necessary to preserve their catches of cod.

Christopher Hitchens Letters to a young contrarian

What, do people think I'm some kind of contrarian? I was dimly aware of the gin-soaked popinjay when this book came out, having high opinions of him as a denouncer of that cockfarmer Henry Kissinger. I do not really go for "contrarianism" as a concept, it seems too much like being against things just for the sake of it. Since then Hitchens has followed that line of thought to the logical end, and is adopting stupid positions simply for the sake of it, becoming a darling of the Right in the process. The cover shows him in true contrarian form, smoking away on a cigarette to show how un-tamed by convention he is. That said, dipping into the book suggests that he is possessed of a wonderfully fluid and clear writing style, suggesting that this will be a pleasant book to read.

John Peel & Sheila Ravenscroft Margrave of the Marshes

The first half is how far Peel had got with his autobiography before he died, the second is the wife's memoir of him. Skimming it reveals that Belle & Sebastian were the most debauched band ever to visit the House of the Peels. The wife's stuff about Peel is very touching.

It has to be said that Ms Ravenscroft is incredibly hot, and judging by the recent photos she has still got it big time. So eh, if you ever google yourself and find this blog, my e-mail address is on the right.

Mark Larson & Barney Hoskyns The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods

You can't beat books about mullets.

Shane Brennan In the Tracks of the Ten Thousand

If like me you had an education, you will know all about this Greek chap called Xenophon who led ten thousand Greek mercenaries out of Iraq after some sneaky t-heads treacherously murdered their leaders. This guy seems to have decided to walk the same route as old strange voice. Who knows if he will have similar adventures and fight hard to resist the charms of big asian women?

James Landale Duel: A true story of death and honour

This seems to be a book about a particular duel and then more generally about the whole dueling phenomenon thing. They were mad for the duels back in the past, but then they suddenly went out of fashion big time. Off in Spy School I have read stuff suggesting that war is going the same way.

C.S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia

In general, one should beware anything whose title features the words "chronicle" or "saga", unless it was written more than five hundred years ago. Nevertheless, these books make me happy as I had great wuv for them as a child. This collected set has the nice Pauline Baynes covers and internal illustrations - none of that film tie-in shite. Apparently there is some kind of religious subtext to these books, can't wait to see if I notice it.

Have I missed any?

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