Beyond the Pyramids: Travels in Egypt
by Douglas Kennedy
"With an acute eye for the unusual, the interesting or the plain absurd, Douglas Kennedy takes us on a continually surprising tour beyond the pyramids, to a place where Bedouin in an oasis watch American television; where monks in the desert are computer literate; and where an entire community of Cairo's poor has set up home in a cemetery."Quite interesting, written in 1988 and presumably I bought it (in 1990 it says on the flyleaf) because I had been to Egypt around that time. Because of my current de-cluttering frenzy it is going to the charity shop next.
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
by William B Irvine
"Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune. We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have."This is not my normal reading fare. When it was lent to me by a good friend I have to admit feeling a little apprehensive - how long before I could decently return it unread? or would I have to pretend to have read it? But I thought I ought at least to have a go, and nobody could have been more surprised than I was at the truth I found inside. I knew nothing about Stoicism or any of the other ancient schools of philosophy and I'm definitely no philosopher, but this book lays it all out in very practical terms. At almost every page the messages tallied with my own 'philosophy of life' - an approach that I've adopted through trial, error and bitter experience to try to live the best life I can, minimising negative emotion and focusing on achieving equanimity. I laughed out loud when I turned the page and the chapter heading was "Negative Visualization - What's the Worst That Can Happen?" because I use that technique all the time. Imagining worst case scenarios can really help me to both move forward and also to appreciate life. The Buddhist group has a similar approach, but this book just put it all into language that I can truly understand rather than concepts derived from untranslatable Sanskrit words. I can give the book back with a clear conscience - in fact, I'm buying my own copy. So much for de-cluttering.
by Andrea Levy
narrated by Andrea Levy
"It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. Gilbert's wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the golden city of her dreams."I was apprehensive about a book read aloud by its author, because authors are not always good narrators, but she does a terrific job. It's taken a long time to read, but it's been worth it.