Books

I read shockingly little.

On the rare occasions when I do read a book I reason that if I’m going to devote my energies in this unusual way then the book should be worthy. This approach works well: several of the few books that I have read have proved very absorbing.

Travelling goes hand in hand with having the time to read, and I do remember getting through quite a few books in my 20s. But since then my engagement with literature has been very low indeed. There are good reasons. Work keeps me busy. I often use my commute to study Open University maths. I’m quite a slow reader, and I can’t always remember who’s who, so reading becomes an act of faith that everything will eventually make sense.

I am currently between Open University courses: the fluid mechanics exam was a few weeks ago; and graphs, networks and design starts in October. So there is an opportunity to start the habit. But what to read ? Well, there’s the lady who recently won the Man Booker prize. Don’t remember her name but it will be easy to find. It was historical fiction and, uniquely, was a sequel to her previous Booker-prizewinning effort.

Politics interests me, but not enough to read books about it – normally. However I am interested in ‘5 Days in May’ by Andrew Adonis. It provides the inside story to the aftermath of the indecisive May 2010 UK general election; and the conversations that took place between the three main parties, which resulted in today’s Coalition government. There was a strong review in the Observer and I see it’s to become a BBC television drama.

Of course I have read The Great Railway Bazaar, the 1975 travelogue by Paul Theroux. You’re not allowed to claim the label ‘budget traveller’ until you’ve finished it. His latest, and possibly last, piece of travel writing is ‘The Last Train to Zona Verde‘. The idea was to head north from Cape Town and to travel up the west of Africa. The trip is a disaster and not completed, due to troubles in Africa. Although this goes against the flow of pieces that paint a much more positive picture of African successes, it’s a book I’d like to read.

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