Another month where I’ve reached my reading goal. Good news! I’m still behind on my 2014 reading challenge, but I’m not doing badly after my bad February and March!
Snuff – Terry Pratchett
Every time I get up to date with the Discworld series, Terry Pratchett releases another book. This is the 39th Discworld novel, and now he’s gone and written number 40: Raising Steam. I own the whole series in paperback, so I’ll buy number 40 sometime. Anyway, Snuff was good because it was a Commander Vimes novel, and they’re always good! The City Watch novels are my favourite. There’s no point in reading this unless you’re a Discworld fan though, and if you’re a Discworld fan it’s probably already on your list!
The Farm – Richard Benson
This was a sad book. It is a biography about being a farmer in northern England during the last few decades. It is a fascinating insight into the decline of farming traditions, but it is a bit sad as the family lose their farm in the end to the banks, as has happened repeatedly over the last few decades with small farms. However, it’s worth a read if you’re interested in that sort of thing as you’ll learn a lot.
The Self Illusion – Bruce Hood
This book has taken me months to finish. It was hard-going in places. It’s a psychology book that looks at the illusion of the self, and explains why the self is just an illusion with the help of lots of psychology and neuroscience studies. It was an interesting read, but it took me ages to finish and I’m getting to the point now where I’ve read so many popular psychology books that when they start to reference studies I know which ones they are talking about because everyone references them. Still, psychology is one of my hobbies so I will continue to read them! (I’m reading another book at the moment in fact!) I don’t really care if the self is an illusion (it is!) – I am quite happy with my illusion self. Haha.
When a crocodile eats the sun – Peter Godwin
I read a lot of diverse books this month. I didn’t really realise until I set them all down like this. This is a biography on white life in Zimbabwe since the end of Apartheid. Peter Godwin is a National Geographic journalist and grew up in Zimbabwe. This book is an eye-opener. I can’t emphasise that enough! I knew nothing about Zimbabwe and the end of Apartheid other than that it was a good thing (that it ended), so this book was fascinating for me.
In the last couple of decades, there has been a huge increase violence against white farmers and a huge increase in poverty in the country, largely as a result of President Mugabe’s dictatorship (he fixed the last few elections so although he’s calling it a democracy it isn’t in any sense of the word any more). To hide his corruption, he has demonised the white population (which was actually very a small percentage of the country).
The country was actually stable and happy at the end of Apartheid and there was no lingering bad will between the two communities, but Mugabe put an end to that decades later with the singling out of the whites as the cause of the country’s ills. It’s really quite shocking. Farmers were attacked in their own homes by mobs, and their families tortured before being killed. These white farmers largely have nowhere to go, as they are Zimbabwe-born (Mugabe wants them to “go home”, but they are home).
Many have fled to other countries such as South Africa and Australia, but they are farmers so as they fled from or were killed by the violence Zimbabwe’s farming declined and as a result there is no food for the population. The people who took the farms took them over as trophies, and have no farming skills. The country has been run into the ground by one man’s greed. I can’t believe all this has happened in the time that I’ve been alive and yet our Governments have done nothing!
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
This is the book that everyone was talking about a few months ago, but I waited until it was cheap to read it! A fascinating psychology book on the science of introverts and extroverts, and how to get the best out of both types of people. A good read.
Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince – J.K Rowling
I’m slowly making my way through the series. Almost there now! The Half-blood Prince is book 6 in the series, and is a sad one. I’m still enjoying the books though. I’d forgotten how good they are. My sister went to Harry Potter World last week and I am super-jealous.
Cradle to cradle – Michael Braungart and William McDonough
I’ve had this book on my reading list for a long time now, but I found it a bit disappointing. It was hard-going and a little depressing. It’s about how our current industrial principles have been designed around a cradle-to-grave system, where we use something then chuck it away. It causes no end of waste and pollution, and is really bad (lots of emphasis on this). The authors are proponents of a cradle-to-cradle system, where products can be stripped down to their constituent parts and re-used. It’s an excellent idea and one wonders why we haven’t already switched to this system (greed and laziness is the answer). However, it’s a book for industry, designers and manufacturers, rather than the general public. I don’t think we have the power to change these manufacturing practices as consumers – it’s for the companies to do. All the world’s CEOs and directors should read this book and sort their businesses out.
Did you read any good books this month?