Category Archives: Reviews

What I’ve been reading lately, part 26

You Had Me At Hello — Mhairi McFarlane

I can’t remember now what made me read this, as it’s in a genre that I never bother with in the usual run of things: a romantic comedy, or I guess you could call it chick-lit, somewhat in the vein of Bridget Jones. I’m glad I did, though: it’s very well put together, with characters that seem like real people rather then archetypes or stereotypes, and I found myself feeling genuine sympathy for the narrator. The actual writing is much better than you usually find in this kind of book, and it all hangs together really well …

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Four films: Out of Sight, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Abigail’s Party, Three Days of the Condor

Usually, I tend to fill most of my spare moments with work of one kind or another. But this weekend, exhausted, I made a policy decision to ignore the manuscript awaiting my peer-review, my own manuscript that’s awaiting revisions in response to others’ reviews, and the sermon series than I need to start preparing; and I watched four films instead. It was fun.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 25

Deep Space Accountant — Mjke Wood

This was a BookBub freebie, which I picked up because it was free and I found the conceit amusing.

I’m glad I did. It’s much better than it needed to be, offering some amusing characters, a genuinely nasty conspiracy and rather an exciting finale. As I write, the Kindle edition costs 99p. It’s not great literature, but it’s well worth picking up. Put it this way: I’d buy the sequel if it was also 99p, but I’m not going to pay £2.99 for it. Continue reading

What I’ve been listening to in 2017

Here is a YouTube playlist of my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See this list of previous entries.)

I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the two computers where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or the kitchen, or on my phone.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

Here they are in ascending order of how often I listened to them. Continue reading

Paul Simon: One Trick Pony (1980)

Paul Simon’s fourth post-Garfunkel solo album, One Trick Pony, is the soundtrack to the movie of the same name. The film was pretty much ignored on release, both by audiences and by critics — its IMDB entry has only four critic reviews. But one of those is by Roger Ebert, who to my mind stands alone among movie critics, and he rightly recognised it as “a wonderful movie, an affectionate character study with a lot of good music in it”.

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Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (2016), Season 1

I watched this on the recommendation of a colleague. It consists of eight 45-minute episodes, for a total of six hours, and tells a interestingly convoluted story involving time travel, body-swapping, a hippie cult and the FBI.

I thought it was sort of OK. I suspect I would have liked it rather more if it wasn’t called Dirk Gently, because it has very nearly nothing at all to do with the Douglas Adams books that it is supposedly based on.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 24

Zeno and the Tortoise: How to Think Like a Philosopher — Nicholas Fearn

I’ve been keeping this book in the bathroom and reading it in short segments as circumstances dictate. You know what I’m saying. It’s a fascinating overview of the history of philosophy, told in 25 short chapters. Each is about a single philosopher (Wittgenstein alone gets two), and consists of a brief biographical sketch and an outline of his key ideas.

(I say “his” ideas, because every single philosopher discussed in the book is male. For much of the history of thought, that was the reality, and it’s right that the book reflects that. But it does seem odd that in the later chapters, influential female philosophers like Simone de Beauvoir and Elizabeth Anscombe are overlooked in favour of the likes of Jacques Derrida and even Richard Dawkins.)

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