30/09/2014

Reading - September 2014

The Week (30 August 2014 / Issue 986)
The Return Of Hyman Kaplan by Leo Rosten (1959)
A charming and very funny collection of short stories featuring immigrants to the US trying to learn proper English. It's never explicitly stated that they are Jewish but given Rosten's background as the author of The Joy Of Yiddish we are probably justified in assuming that mostly they are. It's also a lovely evocation of its time. There is a first book of these stories, which my Grandma had, but I haven't seen it for a long time.
Exegesis by Astro Teller (2000)
Diverting but ultimately unbelievable story of an AI achieving consciousness. Good on the supposed motivations and actions of the computer, but less so on that of the human creator. Presciently, its fate lies with the NSA. Hmm. maybe it wasn't fiction after all ...
Guitarist (October 2014 / Issue 386)
Big feature on Brian May's Red Special guitar. Very exciting. Made me go and buy the (new) book! (Exactly as intended I guess).
The Week (6 September 2014 / Issue 987)
A Snowball In Hell by Christopher Brookmyre (2008)
Comfort, or more probably, low effort, reading. Familiar and still funny. Sick in places, sweet in others.
The Week (13 September 2014 / Issue 988)
Join Me! by Danny Wallace (2003)
Funny and sweet. Danny's persona (or possibly actual personality) as a wide-eyed innocent has an appeal that runs through the whole book. Although the whole activity is laudable I spent much of the book wondering where his money was coming from to do all the travelling he does.
The Week (20 September 2014 / Issue 989)
Whoops! by John Lanchester (2010)
An even better book about what caused the 2008 crash and recession than Michael Lewis's excellent The Big Short - clear, concise and precise. As well as explaining it all in simple language, Lanchester has some interesting ideas: for example, he suggests that one of the contributory factors was the fall of Socialism and resulting climate of "we won", which in turn led to a belief that more capitalism and an unrestrained free-market must be even better. Ultimately he points out that at some point western society as a whole must say "enough" - not just "enough" of the out-of-control money markets, but "enough" to always wanting more stuff.
Love From Both Sides by Nick Spalding (2012)
It seems unfair to call this "disposable", since clearly any book takes a lot of effort. But I skim-read this comedy/romance/farce ("farce" in the literal, Faydeau sense) mainly to get to the end. Lite entertainment.
The Week (27 September 2014 / Issue 990)

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