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feeding my amazon habit

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  • Finished:
    Life at the Tip - Merv Grist,

    a re-read from about 15 years ago. A season following fictional non-league team Athletico Whaddon and their manager Les Bence. Quite funny, but not as funny as I remembered it at the time. It's mainly made up of Les' programme notes and personal diary entries. There are some laugh out loud bits but it hasn't aged too well. The Tip refers to the ground, the club get nicknamed The Stiffs after being sponsored by the local undertaker and get a purple satin kit. Their nearest rivals are so successful that they buy the neighbouring supermarket to expand their ground.




  • Finished:
    Only a Game? - Eamon Dunphy,

    another reread (these are straitened times), the classic footballer's autobiography. The Dunph's honest and engaging account of half a season in the second division a Millwall in 1973 is still head and shoulders above most football books.
    It's hard to read without hearing him in your head though - lots of talk about moral courage and honesty and good pro's.




  • Finished:
    The Peacock Manifesto - Stuart David,

    a quick reread in the middle of a few other books on the go. I loved this first time round, and it still reads well. My only complaint is it's too short. The characters are engaging but I'd like to have spent more time with them. Peacock, a deluded scottish would be psycho, his wife and Evil Bob, his american sidekick, embark on a road trip around the USA in a bid to realise Peacock's dream. It rolls along as the characters encounter one farcical situation after another. Tremendously enjoyable.




  • Finished:
    Bad to the Bone - James Waddington,

    a crime thriller set in the world of pro cycling promised much (well, to me anyway) but didn't really deliver. It starts off well enough. There's been a couple of bizarre deaths among the peleton, a young female spanish cop starts investigating. But about half way through it literally loses the plot and we're not any wiser as to the hows and whys by the end of it. The bike racing bits are well written but the characters are very sketchy and it just becomes a mess.




  • Finished:
    Where Did it All Go Right? Growing Up Normal in the 70s - Andrew Collins

    Andrew Collins is a broadcaster and journalist. I remember him from the NME in the 80s and his contributions to the TV Cream website. He's currently half of a very funny podcast with Richard Herring.
    This is a great book, an account of a perfectly normal and happy childhood in the 70s. It's more than a listing of nostalgic references, his relationship with his family, his school experiences and his out of school experiences are all very familiar. I found myself smiling and remembering parallels all the way through the book. Highly recommended.


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  • Finished:
    Lux the Poet - Martin Millar,

    Martin Millar's one of my favourite authors and, to my mind, criminally underrated. This was recently reprinted. It takes place in the middle of a Brixton riot with a large variety of characters trying to either avoid or find each other. There's Lux, a bad and vain poet, the woman he loves, her lesbian lover, a banished heavenly body and a bad death metal band amongst others. It rattles along and is a very funny read.

    Finished:
    Archimedes' Revenge: Joys and Perils of Mathematics - Paul Hoffman,

    A reread of a book I last read about 15 years ago and I loved it. There are 4 sections dealing with number theory, shapes, computers and game theory. It's very accessible although the computers section is obviously dated. The game theory is fascinating though, some well illustrated examples of voting patterns and anomalies in Proportional Representation. Not as boring as I've just made it sound.


    ----

    There's always a couple of books lying half read but there's 2 that I think I'll have to mark as abandoned.

    Abandoned:
    Journey into Space - Toby Litt,

    Toby Litt's written some of my favourite books, Beatniks and Adventures in Capitalism particularly. However sometimes he doesn't work for me and I thought this was awful. A colony of humans is adrift in space for generations on their way to a better life. And that's pretty much it. I found it tedious and dull.

    Abandoned:
    God's Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland,

    I got about two thirds of the way through this before finally giving up on it. I was hoping it would bring the period to life but it's a relentless trotting out of names, dates and "He said...They said" and it's very hard to get a picture of what exactly was going on in Ireland.




  • Finished:
    Training Techniques for Cyclists - Ben Hewitt,

    I needed to get a bit more scientific about my training so went for this one, mainly because it was short and not too intimidating. I didn't want set schedules, just the concepts and ideas behind the different routines and this fits the bill perfectly. Well, we'll see if the results back it up.

    Finished:
    Three Men on the Bummel - Jerome K Jerome,

    another reread, the follow up to Three Men in a Boat and just as funny. The three men head on a cycling holiday to the Black Forest for a break from their wives. The usual slapstick and well crafted mayhem ensues. There is a lot of observation on German and English traits which don't seem to be too different in 1900 to the cliches we have today.




  • It's been a while,

    Finished:
    The Best of McSweeney's v2,

    I find American short stories a bit hit or miss but McSweeney's quarterlies tend to be pretty decent. This is a best of and is definitely more hit than miss, particularly Notes From a Bunker Along Highway 8 & The Tears of Squonk

    We Need to Talk About Kevin Keegan - Giles Smith,
    A collection of Giles Smith's football columns from The Times. Very funny, reminds me of the heyday of When Saturday Comes before it took itself too seriously.

    The Escape Artist - Matt Seaton,
    a reread of a bike racing memoir by Grauniad journo Matt Seaton. It mixes his bike racing tales with a poignant autobiography. I'd imagine it's a good read even if you have no interest in cycling.

    Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now - Andrew Collins,
    The second volume of memoirs from former NMEer and half of my current favourite podcast (with Richard Herring) follows Andrew Collins through his college years in London in the 80s. It's very easy to relate to but that may only apply to those of us of a certain vintage.




  • Finished:
    Love is a Mixtape - Rob Sheffield,

    a rock journalist's memoir based around old mixtape playlists should have worked but didn't really. The story itself is pretty compelling and quite emotional, however the links to music can be quite tenuous a bit too cliched American Indie for me. Also, I hate when Americans refer to The Beat as The English Beat.

    That's me in the Corner - Andrew Collins,
    Another rock journo's memoir. The third Andrew Collins book recounts his time at the NME, editing Q and Word and his radio career. It's a good read but not as good as the other two, there is less personal stuff and a lot of is "then I did this...then I did this".

    Currently reading Paul Murray's Skippy Dies and loving it so far.




  • Finished:
    Skippy Dies - Paul Murray,

    I loved this, it's set in a Dublin boarding school, has lots of brilliantly detailed characters with their own story arcs but still revolving around Skippy, who dies on the first page. I don't want to give away too much but I'd very much recommend it. It's quite long, almost 700 pages, but a page turner.


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