What We're Reading

Neil's picture
Neil

Lost Connections, by Johann Hari (Bloomsbury 2018)

The rather long subtitle for this book is: Uncovering the real causes of depression and the unexpected solutions. Journalist Johann Hari has suffered from depression since he was 18. He has been medicated for it since then - he is now 39. In this book he travels the world finding social scientists who believe that depression and anxiety are not caused by a chemical imbalance in our brains, and thus can't be fixed by medication.

Neil's picture
Neil

The Anomaly, by Michael Rutger (Zaffre July 2018)

The Anomaly is a thriller, and a very good one, that combines elements of Indiana Jones, Michael Crichton and The X Files. A TV crew, led by Nolan Moore, an amateur archaeologist and conspiracy theorist, arrives at The Grand Canyon in search of a hidden cave full of great treasure which was referred to in a historical report by an explorer at the beginning of the 20th Century. They become trapped underground, and from that moment the book never lets up. There are betrayals, horrors, weird stuff galore, but Nolan as narrator has an excellent, self-effacing humour.

Neil's picture
Neil

On The Trail of Genghis Khan, by Tim Cope (Bloomsbury 2013)

I heard Tim Cope interviewed by Kim Hill on National Radio a while ago, and he spoke with such charm and confidence for such a young man, and about such an extraordinary journey, that I had to read it. Tim Cope was in his 20s when he decided to retrace the journey of Genghis Khan by riding on horseback from Mongolia to Hungary - 10,000 km over 3 years. As he travels, he learns about the traditions and history of the people of the steppe, and what they have lost of their way of life over the centuries. He's a very engaging and modest narrator, well read and informative.

Neil's picture
Neil

Days of Awe, by A.M. Homes (Granta July 2018)

I love A.M Homes's writing. Her memoir The Mistress's Daughter was brilliant, and she has written some terrific fiction. This is a short story collection, and a wildly varied one in terms of subject and tone, but many of the stories explore families and secret histories. Some of the stories are extremely funny, some savagely satirical, some moving. I didn't like all of them, and I suspect not many readers will, but it's definitely worth a look. Homes is a writer at the height of her game, and this is a worthy addition to her oeuvre.

Neil's picture
Neil

Old Records Never Die, by Eric Spitznagel (Plume 2016)

This is a record collecting memoir, similar in tone to High Fidelity. Eric Spitznagel is a middle aged journalist feeling the loss of some vague sense of youthful freedom, which manifests itself in nostalgia for the records he sold in a past financial pinch. This is a very common sentiment amongst people of a certain age, but Spitznagel sets out to be reunited with all of the records he owned - the original artefacts, though, not replacements..This may seem completely absurd, but it makes for a terrific read - he's self-effacing, honest, flawed.

Neil's picture
Neil

The New Ships, by Kate Duignan (VUP May 2018)

Kate Duignan's much acclaimed and successful first novel was published in 2001. Now, 17 year's later, is her second. In The New Ships, Peter Collie, the narrator, is struggling to deal with the death of his wife. He works over the past, overseas trips, relationships, moral choices; there is a revelation which forces him to reassess his roles as husband, father and son. It's a beautifully fluid novel, traversing continents and historical events with intellectually astute observations of human nature and the ongoing impact of past decisions.