Sunday, 19 June 2011

Non fiction

Thanks, One Fine Weasel, for drawing attention to this. What is it about literary canons that make you simultaneously scorn them but also go 'I read that! I read that!'

See below for the ones I did read. I think I used to be more intellectually curious because I read a few when I was too young to really get them. These days I just want ENTERTAINMENT.

(Need to read more science, clearly. That's arts graduates for you. Am shockingly ignorant about how most science works. )

What did you read and like? Or wish you had read?

The Story of Art, Gombrich - did it for 'A' Level Art History, so it was compulsory. Nice clear introduction I think.

Ways of Seeing, John Berger - read this about the same time, couldn't make head nor tail of it. Probably should read again.

The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas Gertrude Stein Clever modernist lesbian couple in bohemian pre-war Paris, meeting all the great artists. Funny, deadpan flat style.

Mythologies by Roland Barthes Read this at college, nothing stuck, should probably read it again.

The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe - Gonzo tale of square journo tripping with Ken "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" Kesey & Merry Pranksters in 60s America. Funny. Not as good as Hunter S though.

Dispatches Michael Herr - about Vietnam. "I was there to watch." The first of the 'embedded' journalists, all the more chilling because of its dispassionate observation.

Homage to Catalonia George Orwell Read whilst living there, of course. But Orwell is one of the best writers ever to write in English, I will make it my mission to read everything he's written. (Plaza George Orwell in Barcelona was the first square in the city to get CCTV. He's spinning in his grave.)

The Diary of Ann Frank Quite amazing book - I think her dad (who published it) was an amazing man too - it's so unflattering and truthful about family life, made worse under horrific claustrophobic conditions.

Bad Blood, Lorna Sage. This makes me feel sad. She was my tutor at university. Just a really warm, funny, charismatic, ridiculously intelligent and interesting woman. She had a great, smoky voice, you could happily listen to her all day. I saw her interview Gore Vidal at university, that was a good conversation to listen to, they got on like a house on fire. This book is all about her mad gothic Welsh family.

Critique of Pure Reason Immanuel Kant. Compulsory for first year philosophy. Well, bits of it. Oh god, the flashbacks.

The Female Eunuch Germaine Greer What? She's more entertaining than Simone de Beauvoir, at least. I do think she's gone a bit mad these days.

A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking. I bought it. I tried.

In Cold Blood Truman Capote THIS IS GENIUS! I'd forgotten all about it. Truman Capote had written moody Southern Gothic and mostly fey little short stories, before single-handedly & surprisingly inventing the genre of faction, all about a real life brutal murder case. He grew so involved that he started to empathise with the murderer, who asked if he could be present when he was electrocuted.


  1. Lorna Sage was your tutor? Wow.

  2. Wow is right Anne. I was really lucky.