Tuesday, 16 October 2018

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover

The Life and Death of Smallpox
by Ian and Jenifer Glynn
"No other disease has had such a long, dramatic and terrible history as smallpox. Mozart, Voltaire, Elizabeth I and Abraham Lincoln all had it - and survived. Millions did not."
From dad's collection of books, it's a history of smallpox from when it was first recorded in ancient texts to its eradication from the wild in 1979. Interesting. Some of the pictures are gruesome.

Image of the book cover

by Martin Amis

narrated by Stephen Pacey
"John Self is addicted to life. Porn freak and jetsetter, aficionado of wealth and women, Self is the shameless heir to a fast-food culture where money beats out an insistent invitation to futile self-gratification."
The protagonist is an unlikeable 'rogue', which would normally stop me enjoying a novel. But this one is written in a very interesting way - in the first person, John Self often addresses the reader, Martin Amis is introduced as a character within the fiction, and words are used in fascinating ways. So despite the fact that I had nothing in common with anything described and would have been appalled to have met almost anyone in the book, I went along with it. All the way through I thought I wasn't enjoying myself, but now looking back I don't think it was that bad, even though I didn't actually understand exactly what happened and why. A strange experience.

Image of the book cover

Dirt: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life
by Rosie Cox, Rose George, R. H. Horne, Robin Nagle, Elizabeth Pisani, Brian Ralph, Virginia Smith
"Dirt - obsessively avoided, often misunderstood, but paradoxically also an indicator of 'civilisation' (through production of waste), and a near-magical source of renewable life and medical discovery."
Another from dad's collection, comprising a selection of essays by the various writers. Interesting but unmemorable.

Image of the book cover

by Harry Harrison

narrated by B. J. Harrison
"The planet was called Pyrrus - a strange place where all the beasts, plants and natural elements were designed for one specific purpose: to destroy man. It was up to Jason dinAlt, interplanetary gambler, to discover why Pyrrus had become so hostile during man's brief habitation."
Not a bad story from the author of the book that would be made into the film 'Soylent Green'. This isn't that book, but it's quite good in the classic science fiction style.

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