DSC_2993-bookshelf Everyone else blogs about what they’ve read (everyone? Well, this is a blog, who cares about accuracy. Bryan does and I’m sure other people do to). And I happen to notice that my queue of books-I’ve-finished-reading looks quite good just now. Once upon a time (well, since my teens up to only a few years ago) I read almost nothing but trashy sci-fi, but lots of it. But no more; I read few novels and those slowly.

So from right to left:

As you like it – OK, so this is the glorious Bard, but it is still a weird old play. Wiki seems to agree. Broadly speaking, it is utterly implausible and not especially funny; the rapid-fire “wit” is almost unfollowable to the modern ear. We saw it at the Globe in London, an interesting setting but alas it was pouring with rain, which made it hard to hear. So I read it afterwards (M read it beforehand, which was more sensible).

The Pragmatic Programmer. Part of my new career with a well-known Cambridge-based vendor of tiny radios whose name I am strongly discouraged from mentioning. I’ve read it twice; the first time fairly soon after switching, when I found it quite uninteresting. The second just recently, when I found it full of valuable wisdom. If you’re in software, you should read it. If you don’t find it interesting that is either because you know it all (unlikely) or you don’t know enough.

Three Tales. Picked up as the only worthwhile book in a village fair book stall. Easy reading. The first a country tale; the second a stained glass window; the third the inspiration for Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead :-)

Seven Years in Tibet. Rescued from my brother, who I leant it to uncounted years ago. The classic story of Heinrich “White Spider” Harrer’s time with the Dalai Lama.

Engine Summer. A beautiful, elegaic story by John Crowley. The Deep is my favourite but this is more ethereal. Don’t look too closely at the picture before reading the book.

The Bible. OK, I haven’t actually been reading this much, though I did look into the book of Daniel not long ago. That was a weird experience. After the bit you think you know – lions dens and all that – there is some utter kookiness towards the end of the chapter.

The open society and its enemies (Book 1: the shadow of Plato). I recall reading Plato and thinking “this isn’t great arguement; this is b*ll*cks; it is prejudice masquerading as discussion”. Particularly the Republic. So it is rather good to read this book and find Plato shredded properly. A brilliant book; read it. Book 2 is harder work and I admit I haven’t finished it. Part of it is ripping up Hegel, which I was less interested in as I don’t know his stuff. But his maths was cr*p (and before you say it, yes, so was Hobbes’s :-().

The Four Gospels. Browsed a bit.

A theory of justice. Rawls. slow going; not a patch on Hobbes, but Dunc persuaded me to try it and Jessica says she was impressed by it (but then admitted she hadn’t finished it). Appears to have scored a PR triumph by naming his theory “justice as fairness” – now who could possibly disagree with that. Thin on substance so far, but I’m not close to finished so not judging it yet.

Clerk Maxwell. Some kind of slim volume in his memory. Picked up from the Cambridge Union booksale when they were clearing out their old unloved library books. Browsed a little; not terribly inspiring.

The ox-bow incident. An ever-so-slightly contrived anti-western, but worth the time.

Safer C. The first one without a wiki article. Was recommended to me (sort of) but I found it boring (but see TPP above). Apparently more interesting with a violin.

History of western philosophy. Wonderful. Quite useful for disillusioning anyone who thinks their christianity derives largely from Christ or the bible, but has a far wider sweep than that. Thin on the moderns.

Kalin, E C Tubb. OK, so I haven’t entirely given up on the trashy sci-fi. But at least this belongs to the era when trash was at least short trash. This is the crucial volume in the series, and provides the enduring theme (Dumarest running from one planet to the next) for the rest of the series. Not entirely without philosophical merit.

The mammoth book of fantasy. Oh yes, this one too :-). Good stuff, includes of piles of early stuff I’d never read before (the hoard of the Gibbelins), and some I recall brightly from childhood (The wall around the world, for example). Their choice of Vance is acceptable.


  1. #1 Tristram Brelstaff

    I see that the spine your copy of Volume 1 of The Open Society and Its Enemies has faded from its original reddish brown to dull grey, just like mine has.

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