Category Archives: Books

What I’ve been reading lately, part 14


As we all now know, Robert Galbraith is the detective-novel pseudonym of J. K. Rowling. I read Career of Evil, the third book in the Cormoran Strike series, not because I wanted to read Rowling particularly, but because the book is heavily influenced by the songs of Blue Öyster Cult — a band that I love.


But I got more than I bargained for. Rowling-as-Galbraith is a compelling author: not a much better prose stylist than Rowling-as-Rowling, but with the same knack for narrative that makes you want to read on. Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 13


Can’t remember too much about this one: I seem to remember it involves the decline of journalism and the transformation of newspapers into advert mills, but that’s just the backdrop. The actual plot has slipped away since I read it. I do remember that I enjoyed it, though, so make of that what you will. Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 12

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]


Ridiculously, I can’t remember a single thing about this one.


A pleasant but unremarkable take of three mismatched young-adult brothers who put aside their differences to gain revenge on a father who they feel has let them down. I have the sequel on my Kindle (having downloaded both when they were temporary freebies) but don’t have much inclination to read it. I probably will do eventually. Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 11

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]


By this stage, if you’ve been following the “What I’ve been reading lately” series, you’ll know what I think about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels by now. I think they’re great fun, very easy reading, and nowhere near as deep as some critics seem to think. Making Money very much falls under this description. I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time I read it, thoroughly enjoyed it when I re-read it this time, and no doubt will thoroughly enjoy it again the next time I read it. But let’s not pretend Pratchett ever had anything very deep to say, beyond “Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was nice?

Orthodoxy — G. K. Chesterton


Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 10

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]

I have got far, far out of date with this blogging thread: I’ve read 49 books that I’ve yet to write about here, so I’ve forgotten much of the detail of the older ones and I’m going to be terse about many of them. Never mind, off we go:


Night Watch — Terry Pratchett

And enjoyable installment in the Sam Vimes sequence: thrust back in time to when he first joined the Night Watch, he unwittingly becomes his own mentor. Lots more going on here, including an incipient revolution in Ankh Morpork, and Reg Shoe’s origin story. Continue reading

These are a few of my favourite novels

A colleague is flying out from the USA to England tomorrow, and asked for recommendations of novels for the flight. Here’s what I suggested.

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (John Le Carre): hard-edged, fascinating, realistic. Sparse, sparkling prose. Justly rated a classic.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis): written for children, but still the most moving book I know.

The Silmarillion (J. R. R. Tolkien): brutally difficult, but so full of goodness. Absolutely fascinating. If you liked The Lord of the Rings and have the discipline to get through the first 20 pages of near-poetry, it’s endlessly rewarding.

Carry On, Jeeves (P. G. Wodehouse): absolutely frivolous, and utterly delightful

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen): a restrained, brittle comedy that’s consistently misinterpreted even by people who love it.

Ringworld (Larry Niven): a truly amazing amount of invention in such a slim SF story.

Rendezvous with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke): a completely different take on broadly similar SF premise. Very believable.

The Owl Service (Alan Garner): profound, bewildering, engaging, rewards re-reading but remains somewhat baffling even then.

Watchmen (Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons): fully deserving its reputation as the greatest superhero story ever told, and the only graphic novel to make the New York Times list of the top novels of the 20th Century.

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (David Nobbs): a light comedy with disturbing undertones and perfectly drawn characters that live in the memory.

The Once and Future King (T. H. White): unbearably lovely and truly unique

The Man who was Thursday (G. K. Chesterton): the kind of book where you only figure out what it’s about as you’re reading it. Constantly surprising, forever delightful.

There are many more, but those are the ones I mentioned. The only conclusion I can draw from this list is that I really like books by authors who use initials instead of first names.

Literature sequels #2: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, part 3

Captain Corelli's Cello

Captain Corelli’s Cello