30/09/2020

Reading - September 2020

How To Build A Universe by Prof. Brian Cox & Robin Ince (2017)
Released off the back of the Infinite Monkey Cage podcast, this has what I guess is a similar discussion-style format that probably works better on the printed page than it did on my Kobo. On the e-book, I found the typesetting made it hard to read and eventually ran out of steam before the end. There's loads of interesting information but, honestly, a straightforward pop-science book would be easier for me to digest than this, which is irritatingly bitty and full of distracting comedic asides.
Small Change by Dan Ariely & Jeff Kreisler (2018)
Similarly to Ariely's earlier book Predictably Irrational, except at the smaller scale of how we, as individuals think about money. It made interesting reading to learn about all the ways in which we can be fooled, and fool ourselves, in our dealings with money, whether it's by not saving enough for the future, or over-valuing things we own. I'm feeling slightly smug that I believe I don't fall into most of the identified pitfalls ... which probably means I am, of course.
Guitar Magazine (Oct 2020 / Issue 385)
I've been wondering whether to continue subscribing and this month's issue hasn't really helped. There's nothing grabbing me; there's the usual two or three boutique guitars that I have no interest in owning, interviews with artists I've only vaguely heard of, if that (Soccer Mommy anyone?), and a few pedals that basically are updates of old pedals. Not very inspiring.
Playing The Part by Kimberley van Meter (2014)
This is from the Harlequin (Silhouette/M&B) "Super Romance" series, which are slightly longer and have more "emotional punch" (i.e. some plot that doesn't just involve the two main characters falling in love). Here, the additional story lines feels a little bit tacked on, but that said I found them moving nonetheless. The usual level of implausibility abounds and the happy ending feels a bit abrupt, but enjoyable enough to keep me reading.
Me by Elton John (2019)
Unlike the Andrew Ridgeley book I read last month, this sounds completely written in the subject's voice, despite very probably also being mostly written by someone else (I suspect in this case it was Alexis Petrides, who is credited in the book's dedication). This immediately makes it a more engaging read, but Elton John's life is so extraordinary that I think my attention would have been grabbed anyway. He's very frank about his downs as well as ups: the drug use, his sexuality, his hair loss, and more. We'll blame the drugs for that fact that his most prolific period, during the mid-70s, is dispatched in a few pages. It's a shame, as I would love to have learned more about the recording of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but there's little about making music overall. Maybe it's because Elton prefers to make music quickly, or perhaps because he doesn't remember. The book also jumps around the years a lot, which sometimes makes it hard to follow. But follow it I did, because it's very readable and an amazing story.
Bluff Your Way In Music by Peter Gammond (1985)
I bought a bunch of Bluffer's Guides in the late 80s and early 90s, as they were cheap, often very funny and surprisingly educational. This is the handiest primer on the subject of music (note that we're talking about "proper" music here, not pop or rock) that I have, and I thought it was worth refreshing my memory on a few things now I have started my VAW project.
This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin (2006)
I struggled with this and eventually ran out of time on my (electronic) loan, which makes it the second book this month I haven't finished, so maybe I shouldn't include it. The reason I didn't finish it was because I was constantly finding things I felt more like reading - which I guess says a lot about how interesting I found this, despite the very promising subject. But the first half of the book, which is mainly describing music (pitch, tone etc) was just boring. Maybe I will try it again another day.

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