What we’re reading

Obviously while you’re travelling it’s a great opportunity to get engrossed in some books! Here is our working list of book wormage:

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, 1939

A literary classic, studied in US schools today, The Grapes of Wrath is an account of an American families’ struggle to find work and survive having been displaced from their farmland in Oklahoma.
A harrowing and brilliantly written story that really got me hooked, the imagery used through the book is outstanding. The book was a contributing factor to John Steinbeck being awarded the Nobel prize for literature, and caused quite a controversy when first published given the very descriptive account of the displacement camps that were set up in California by the Farmers Association at the time. The book makes many top 100 lists, and is absolutely worth getting involved with-if you haven’t already, I wholeheartedly recommend picking yourself up a copy.

Manufacturing Consent, Edward S.Herman & Noam Chomsky

Arguably Noam Chomsky’s most lauded work, Manufacturing Consent takes a look at US mass media and the role it plays as a propaganda tool to serve the government. With chapters focusing on the atrocities in Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam, it was an appropriate read for the trip, and certainly helps with my understanding of the history of the countries that we were visiting.
It’s not an easy read, and sometimes my progress was akin to someone swimming in custard, however it was definitely worthwhile and it comes highly recommended.
I think that it’s one of those books that you should read, there are some uncomfortable truths in there which give you serious food for thought.
So, out your thinking cap on and pick up a copy, it may very well change the way that you consume all mass media news in the future.

Sleep Tight, Rachel Abbott

An easy read murder mystery type affair-rattled through this one in no time at all. Not going to keep you on the edge of your seat exactly, but engaging enough to keep you turning the pages at a suitable rate of knots.

Life Cycles – A London bike courier decided to cycle round the world, Julian Sayarer

Thoroughly enjoyed this book, Julian’s descriptive style is absolutely fantastic as he details his epic journey cycling 18,000 miles around the world at an average of 100 miles a day. I couldn’t put this book down, and I think that the fact that it is travel related made me compelled to read even more. Top book, read it!

The Black Echo (Harry Bosch)

OK…. When it comes to clichés, this book ticks all the boxes. Harry Bosch is a Vietnam war veteran turned homicide detective who suffers from night terrors and amnesia. He’s called to a car where he had to solve a murder of someone he coincidentally knew from the way….. Not exactly full of surprises, and I worked out the mystery pretty quickly, but entertaining enough. The book was a freebe from Amazon so can’t knock it too much!

Never Say Spy, Diane Henders (free kindle edition on Amazon)

Hmmmmm…It’s alright, it gives you the odd feeling that you’re reading a children’s book, however the regular profanity and mild middle aged female fantasies makes you realise that this is intended for adults.
The book was alright and I made it through to the end, that’s as far as I can go really.

And The Mountains Echoed, Khalled Hosseini

Absolutely superb read, highly recommended for all. The story of a brother and sister raised in early 1950’s Afghanistan, and following their lives over the next 60 years from a number of different perspectives. Cleverly written, the character development and imagery is absolutely wonderful. The book is stunning, heart warming and tear provoking. I haven’t yet read Khalled’s other, more famous, works (‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’), but following my immersion and enjoyment of his writing style, they have been queued up for review as soon as I finish Guns, Germs & Steel.

Guns, Germs & Steel
Jared Diamond

A look at the history of mankind and the way in which the planet was populated. To be honest this book was heavy going, it took me AGES to read! It was very interesting, and it makes sense, but it’s pretty deep and not necessarily a ‘holiday book’! From the analysis of the first hunter gatherers and their transition into farming life and complex society structures, to the spread of disease and the role that geography plays in human development. Give it a read, but have something a little more light-hearted on the side as well!

Look Who’s Back
Timur Vermes, translated by Jame Bulloch

Brilliant comedy about Hitler waking up to find himself in modern day Berlin, and quickly becomming an internet senstion. An interesting look at the way modern society consumes parody, and also an interesting perspective on the role that social media and ‘celebratory’ play in widespread public opinion. Witty, intelligent, thought provoking and above all funny. Highly recommended light hearted read.

The End of the World Running Club
Adrian Walker

What happens when civilisation as we know it ends in a catastrophic asteroid strike? Well this book, as many others have, tries to offer a perspective. At first it may seem that things just got a lot more simple, but given anarchy ruling simplicity is definitely too much to ask for-and the darker side of human nature prevails.
At first a difficult read because the lead charactor is just not likable, and you never really warm to him at all. However, if you get over your initial dislike then what you find is a well written and entertaining story. It isn’t a barrel of laughs, I grant you that, but it certinly is a good read!

Mr Mercedes
Stephen King

Ok, the first shocking thing about this book is that it’s only the third Stephen King book that I have read…And given how much I have enjoyed all of my experiences of his literature, that’s something of an oddity! Once again he delivers a gripping and mind twisting thriller, creating a number of compelling charactors to follow through the pea soup thick plot.
It begins on a misty morning when a masked stranger ploughs into a crowd of people waiting for a job fair to open, maming many and killing a few to boot. For a long while the murders go unsolved, but as is the way in these types of books the killer just can’t resist a comeback!
If you like thrillers, you like Stephen King, or you like giving your head a good scratch-then it’s definitely a book to add to your list.

600 Hours of Edward
Craig Lancaster

600 Hours of Edward is actually the product of the National Novel Writing Month in 2008, whereby novelists were invited to complete a novel in 24 days. Incredibly this is Craig Lancaster’s first novel, and it’s absolutely brilliant. The main character is Edwrd Staton, he is thirty-nine and a virgin. He lives alone in Billings, Montana and his life is strictly rountine….You see Edward has Asperger’s Syndrome. The development of the charactor throughout the book is absolutely wonderful-extremely well written, Edward becomes like no lead you’ll ever meet and this book leaves you rooting for his success, and wanting to follow his life further. Extremely funny in parts, and a little upsetting in others-it really did hit the spot on a number of levels. Just four dollars on Kindle, worth every cent!


Web of Deceit-Britain’s Real Role in the World
Mark Curtis

Note: Web of Deciet is ongoing…pretty tough reading!!


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