What We're Reading

Neil's picture
Neil

Driving Over Lemons, by Chris Stewart (Sort Of 1999)

I guess this book is in the same Good Life Abroad genre as A Year in Provence, or Under The Tuscan Sun, and it's the first in a series of 4 or 5 books that Stewart has written about his farming life in Andalucia. Chris Stewart impulsively buys a run down sheep farm in a remote part of Spain. It has no running water or electricity, and requires crossing a river to gain access.

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Neil

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig (Canongate 2020)

It seems that this novel from Matt Haig has struck a chord in New Zealand, it has outsold his previous books here by quite a bit. That said, it's a hard book to describe without risking putting people off, as the subject seems so unlikely, but it's worth reading regardless, as Matt Haig is so good at making the unlikely meaningful. The book explores what it would be like if we could live our life having undone the things we regret, and it's not always as straightforward as we might think. In the end, he is asking what is the best way to live?

Neil's picture
Neil

Tranquillity and Ruin, by Danyl McLaughlin (VUP 2021)

Danyl McLaughlin is a Wellington based biologist, writer, and an insightful commentator on politics, philosophy and literature. His two previous books were comic noir novels set in the Aro Valley, this book is a collection of four extended essays exploring some fundamental life issues such as happiness, anxiety, uncertainty and meditation. He approaches all of these with a combination of scientific rigour and very human vulnerability. It's a highly thought provoking, unsettling, and profound book, which reads easily despite some big philosophical themes being examined.

Neil's picture
Neil

Sorry For Your Trouble, by Richard Ford (Bloomsbury 2020)

In these 9 stories, Ford illuminates great moments in small lives - disappointment, ageing, grief, love and marriage, are all examined in his usual plain, readable prose. He is always effortlessly profound and moving, a writer at the height of his powers. I think short stories are his great strength. He's a very economical writer, one of my favourites.

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Neil

Notes From an Apocalypse, by Mark O'Connell (Granta 2020)

Mark O'Connell is an award winning Irish journalist, who travels the world (including to New Zealand) to report on those who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Among those he meets are environmentalists, billionaires and right wing conspiracists. He is a very funny writer, lucid and articulate, and he explores this somewhat dark territory with restraint and good humour. A short, extremely entertaining and eye opening book.

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Neil

On The Shores of the Mediterranean, by Eric Newby (Picador1985)

Eric Newby (1919-2006) was an acclaimed English travel writer, the author of around two dozen books, some of which are now recognised as classics of the genre. He spent time in a Geman prisoner of was camp in Italy during the War, escaped, and was recaptured. This book is quite late in his travel writing career, and is a quite leisurely circumnavigation around the Mediterranean Sea, starting and finishing in Italy. It's hugely informative historically.