Book thread 2018 📚


I think I bought it back then but I only just started it the other week (30% through now). I’m both really enjoying it and finding it baffling. Reminds me of China Miéville’s stuff I’ve read (The City and the City and Perdido Street Station) in that there is a lack of explanation about the internal workings of the world and you just have to try to understand what you can.


I shelved it for now, btw.


Still mostly on a non-fiction drive this year, I picked up Xenofeminism by Helen Hester which sketches out some of the key tenets of the Xenofeminist manifesto including gender abolition, technomaterialism and anti-naturalism.

It’s pretty visionary stuff, and much of the section on technomaterialism reminded me of the more anarchistic aspects of the open source movement. Also turned out The Quietus did a feature on her as well.


Last 2 books:

Hemingway- Sun also rises

Another ‘Americans in Europe’ novel, except this had a lot less to offer than say, Tropic of Cancer, etc. Ugly characters swanning around Paris and Pamplona, being snide to each other and getting drunk. Prose was not especially remarkable, characters so obscure it was difficult to care.

Knut Hamsun- Mysteries

Strange book about a wealthy stranger entering a port town and shaking up the inhabitants. Most notable thing about it is the main character is a complete contrarian, spilling lies and truths willy nilly. Liked it quite a lot because it reminds me of Herman Hesse’s lyricism.


depends. i’ll usually just mumble something in my head without worrying about it unless it’s going to come up a lot (like a main character name or something) then i’ll try and work out how i should be pronouncing it


I’m about to read Mysteries. I love Knut Hamsun for his lyricism as well - he’s probably my favourite author. I think fans of Kafka would really enjoy his work.


not heard of this before, it sounds interesting


I spotted Dreamers in the library so look forward to reading that


I found Hunger in a charity shop, didn’t know anything about him. Gave it a go and enjoyed it. Didn’t end up looking in to his other work at the time. Will definitely hunt Mysteries down based on this. Thanks!


Yeah I didn’t know he’d written anything other than Hunger so was pleasantly surprised to see he had some other well received books!


Just finished Swing Time by Zadie Smith. Loved the descriptions of dancing and loneliness/ awkwardness but found the story itself a bit shit at times. Really enjoyed the Madonna character.


It’s been years since I read Sun Also Rises but I absolutely love the description of Brett Ashley as having curves like a racing yacht.

I can remember little else aside from heartbreak.


Finished ‘McGlue’ by Ottessa Moshfegi

Trying to read a few more contemporary and women writers. It’s set in the 1800’s, the main character is being held prisoner after possibly killing his friend, one of those unreliable narrators. There’s nothing wrong with the book per se but I find the hoarse, sparse Cormac McCarthy -esque writing a bit tiresome. I guess it’s an achievement to successfully evoke a particular time and place, but to me it’s more like a technical exercise than truly great literature.

Currently reading Zazie in the metro by Raymond Queneau. I’m a big fan of George’s Perec, who is one of his peers, and the adaptation of L’Homme qui dit is excellent. It’s a bit slight atm and reminiscent of those floaty French new wave films.


Yeah I love Old Man and the Sea but this one didn’t grab me much at all. Such little characterisation that it read more like a travel diary than anything else. After a while the constant descriptions of the scenery stopped having the effect of drawing me into their world and started to just get irritating.


Currently reading Utopia For Realists by Rutger Bregman. I’m a little on the fence about what are largely economic arguments being used to progress humanist talking points, essentially because I think it’s important to situate concepts like mutual cooperation, kindness and empathy within any attempts to create Utopia.

However, it’s very good at giving solid concrete examples of how to construct a better society.

On a book-related note I quite enjoyed this tweet by Urbanomic:


A small part of the way through Stephen Kotkin’s first volume on Stalin (Paradoxes of Power: 1878 - 1928) and it’s a belter. Engaging and far more gripping than a 750 page history book on bible paper with small text has any right to be.


I’m most of the way through To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. Glad I decided to read this; having read this and Mrs. Dalloway, she was crazily good at somehow articulating the kinds of thoughts / feelings that are supposedly impossible to articulate.

Also gives me an excuse to post the original Vanessa Bell cover, as said covers are my favourite book covers going


You might like Zinc Boys if the declining Soviet system is an interest. Deals with the Afghan misadventure and examines the national mood just before and just after the collapse. Really sad and wistful yet dark and fucked up.


In my waterstones they have these era classic cover designs as huge posters coming down the stairs: they are so damn good.



Would literally have them as posters. Kind of irked by how they aren’t the constant covers