Reading - December 2015

Monday The Rabbi Took Off by Harry Kemelman (1972)
A lot of this novel (which still isn't much, since it's a short book) is about the main character going to Israel and some discussion of the situation there, including the "Arab" terrorists - interesting to note the change in terminology from then to now. The crime occurs quite late in the book. Not as good as the previous books in the series.
The Week (5 December 2015 / Issue 4051)
Minnow On The Say by Philippa Pearce (1955)
One of my favourite books as a child, a gently exciting treasure hunt adventure. I read this to Z over about a month.
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett (2004)
The usual fun, a very enjoyable new (to me) character in Moist von Lipwig and I enjoyed the subtle parallels between the sub-culture around the clacks and early internet culture.
Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (1889)
A classic - the origin of the (paraphrased) quote "I love work; I could sit and watch it for hours" and many, many others - and marvelously suitable for reading in short bursts during down time. Like sitting down time. Short sitting down times. OK, all right, on the loo.
The Week (12 December 2015 / Issue 1052)
Aussie Grit: My Formula One Journey by Mark Webber (2015)
I'm not a particular fan of Mark Webber but he has always seemed like a down-to-earth sort of bloke and I was interested to hear what he had to say about the most definitely not down-to-earth sport of Formula 1. No-one who reaches these kind of levels in a sport is exactly "normal" - the single-mindedness required is probably beyond the comprehension of most of us - but he comes across here as being as close as it's possible to be. He was clearly badly treated at Red Bull, he doesn't like people who say one thing and do another and is pretty scathing about a number of people in the Red Bull camp, Sebastian Vettel, Christian Horner and Helmut Marko in particular. Yet in contrast to this, he's stuck with his manager Flavio Briatore for a long time, despite the man's appalling reputation. Either the world is wrong about Briatore or there are certain concessions Webber is prepared to make in pursuit of his ambitions. Full marks to him for conceding that Vettel is a better driver than he is; but there is no insight into why, or what it was that gave Vettel four World Championships on the trot in the same car that Webber was driving (even disregarding the favouritism).
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot (1939)
Poetry doesn't do much for me but this is the kind I can just about cope with. This is more about the whimsical word play than hidden meanings, and (being aimed originally at children) is just good fun. Not sure why I've not read it before, but then I've never seen Cats either.
Guitarist (January 2016 / Issue 402)
The Week (19 December 2015 / Issue 1053)
The Week (24 December 2015 / Issue 1054)
The Producer's Manual by Paul White (2012)
This year I have really started getting into guitar again, thanks the The Fretboard forum, and into the monthly "challenges" they run. In order to participate, you need to record something - and wasn't long before I realised that this is an entire new area of musical knowledge. I'd toyed with music software before - mostly trackers like Renoise - but actually recording music and then making it sound good is somewhat different. A guide was needed - and this is an excellent one. Clear attractive layouts and a logical structure, with huge amounts of good, basic information about kit (microphones, audio interfaces, etc), recording techniques, producing techniques, producing techniques and much more. Very enjoyable and destined to be referred to again and again. And good enough to be bought again as a present for a friend!
The "If You Prefer A Milder Comedian Please Ask For One" EP by Stewart Lee (2012)
I'm not sure if reading this heavily annotated transcript without having seen the actual show is a good idea or not. It is a bit like having Stewart sitting next to you while watching the DVD going, "Now in this bit what I'm doing is satirising the cliche way that comedians enter." Which does help. But shouldn't it be funny on its own, without the explanations? The beginning is laugh-out-loud funny, but only if you realise that it's done on purpose. I think if I'd seen it without context, live, I would have assumed that something had gone wrong, even though (as Lee points out), a few second's more thought would make you realise that it is deliberate, for comic effect, given that it is, you know, a comedy show. Maybe seen on a DVD, it's more obvious, because clearly he wouldn't have chosen to release it unless that's how he wanted it. Anyway, funny and interesting.
Balham To Bollywood by Chris England (2002)
Cricket isn't exactly my sport but nevertheless this is a fun, entertaining diary of an actor's time working on a cricket-based Bollywood epic out in India.