Sunday, 4 November 2012

What I've been reading

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by Ann Patchett

"A student at Harvard, Tip is happiest in a lab, whilst Teddy thinks he has found his calling in the Church, and both are increasingly strained by their father's protective plans for them. But when they are involved in an accident on an icy road, the Doyles are forced to confront certain truths about their lives, how the death of Doyle's wife Bernadette has affected the family, and an anonymous figure who is always watching."
This was a nice enough book, the writing was attractive, but the story didn't seem to go anywhere that made me think more deeply about anything. It didn't develop, there wasn't a beginning, middle and end, it just started, continued and stopped. So while I was happy to read it all and wasn't at all bored, I didn't find it very satisfying.

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The Tell-Tale Brain
by V. S. Ramachandran

"Our brains are the most enchanting and complex things in the known universe - but what happens when they go wrong? One of the world's leading neuroscientists has spent a lifetime working with patients who suffer from rare and baffling brain conditions. He tells their stories, exploring what they reveal about the greatest mystery of them all: how our minds work, and what makes each of us so uniquely human."
This started well, even though it covered some of the same ground as his other books - he expanded on the subjects of phantom limbs and neural mapping with the idea of mirror neurons and autism, and it was all rather interesting. Then he extended his reach into aesthetics and art - what it is about humans that gives us self-knowledge, consciousness, and appreciate art and culture. That's when he lost me. But the first half of the book is OK.

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Spilling the Beans
by Clarissa Dickson Wright

"Clarissa was born into wealth and privilege, as a child, shooting and hunting were the norm and pigeons were flown in from Cairo for supper. At the age of 21, she was the youngest ever woman to be called to the Bar. Disaster struck when her adored mother died suddenly. Rich from her inheritance, in the end Clarissa partied away her entire fortune. It was a long, hard road to recovery along which Clarissa finally faced her demons and turned to the one thing that had always brought her joy - cooking."
Interesting enough, although poorly written. I mooched it (from Bookmooch) because I heard a snippet of an interview with her when it came out, which sounded fascinating. She has indeed had a full and varied life, and the book is certainly an account of all the things she has done, but with little attention to language it is not a great deal better than a list. I would be disappointed if my writing were like this, although sometimes I suspect it could be.


  1. The Ramachandran is helpful reading for people dealing with the effects of stroke or other brain injury, as it can help them understand and devise strategies.


    P.S. Thank you Lola for giving me this book, and its predecessor "Phantoms in the Brain"

    1. You are very welcome, and thank you for lending the Terry Pratchett ones, which I am working my way through!


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