The Remembrance of Earth’s Past

Written 24 June 2021 I thought my next venture into the science fiction genre would be to read The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin and while it’s still on the list I didn’t find myself approaching the prospect with any real relish so looked for something else. These books were recommended to me on Twitter and having read the review of the first book in the series I thought I’d give it a go, or at least read the first book The Three-Body Problem. I have started writing this review despite being just half way through the third and final...

Green Philosophy

Written 17 June 2021 Having read and reviewed his Fools, Frauds and Firebrands just a short time ago I wasn’t expecting to read something else by Roger Scruton for some time.  But sticking to resolutions is something I’ve never been terribly good at, so here I am reviewing another book of his. I think it came up on my kindle at a particularly appealing price, so maybe that is what tipped me into downloading it. Anyway, I found it a much more interesting and engaging book in every sense. It is easier to read, touching on a narrower and more...

The Left Hand of Darkness

Written 23 May 2021 I came upon this book while searching for my next read and it popped up in a number of lists of can’t miss science fiction. Written in 1969 and set on a planet inhabited by “ambisexual” or androgynous humans who mainly live in a state where the male/female distinction is redundant it has also gained real status as it deals with the absence of our conventional notions of gender, so it is pretty topical. The book is part of a series of six novels (the Hainish Cycle). It is not difficult to find reviews eulogising the...

Shtisel

Written 17 May 2021 I have just finished series 3 of Shtisel on Netflix. Or rather, I watched series 1 and 2 last year, started watching series 3 and then my wife said after watching a couple of episodes that she’d always wished she’d watched the earlier series so we went right back to the beginning and so I watched it all the way through. Israel seems a real hotspot for producing good TV over recent years. Well, I say that and it’s my experience having watched Shtisel itself and before that Fauda, but I have to say I watch...

A Fine Balance

Written 12 May 2021 This novel is described as an epic, it is certainly sweeping and describes the interconnected lives of characters in post-Independence India. Most of the storyline is set during the time of the emergency laws of the mid-1970s and it wraps up shortly after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. The cast takes in Muslims and Hindus and Parsees, and it is set largely in Mumbai (the big “City on the Sea” in the novel is never named but it is clearly Mumbai).* The book is long, but as with all well written books it soon...

Fools, Frauds and Firebrands | Thinkers of the New Left

Written 3 May 2021 I had “something by Roger Scruton” on my list of books to read this year and have managed it. I’ve become more interested in Roger Scruton over the last few years and have come to see him as a thinker who touches on very important themes and deserves to be taken seriously, not least because he is at least able to articulate what a political conservative is, a task that seems to be beyond all politicians standing for notionally conservative parties. When I was growing up in the 1980s he was, with a small group of...

Progress and Poverty

I’ve finally got round to reading Progress and Poverty by Henry George, a book I’d never heard of until a few years ago. In fact, when I say read I mean that I downloaded it on my Kindle and read some of it but I’ve got through most of it using a free audiobook/podcast which I found good. I generally read in the evenings and it is not the easiest book to read, it needs concentration, there is a lot in it and it is very much a book of its time in terms of style. Background Before setting down...

The Book of Trespass

I have been interested in the history of our relationship with land for a number of years and have been searching for a good introduction to the history of enclosure in England for some time but without ever really seeing something that looked quite right. When I read a review of this book in The Guardian I immediately pre-ordered it, something I’ve never done before, and I’m very glad I did. Nick Adams has produced a lovely book that covers a huge amount of ground in a detailed and rigorous way without being dry and academic. The chapters each explore...