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Topic # 199166 7-Aug-2016 12:42
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Borrowing from the recent thread on podcasts, I propose discussing people's recent reads :)

 

A few recent books that I have read and can recommend:

 

 Non-fiction

 

 The Age of Stagnation by Satyajit Das. It's released locally as The Banquet of Consequences. The author is a reasonably well-regarded economist who predicted the recent GFC. He postulates that there are a lot of structural and institutional factors and issues that have not been fixed post the GFC and that as a result, sustained, significant economic growth is unlikely long term and that we should adjust our policy settings. I found his arguments to be easy to follow and engaging. But he doesn't offer as much solutions to his identified problems as one might like. Maybe that's coming in another book.

 

 The Penguin History of Modern China by Jonathan Fenby. The subject is obvious but with great with respect for the author's endeavours, I can't recommend this. Narrative/chronological history is always hard to do and even acknowledging that this is more about telling you what happened, rather than why, the book is disappointing. Far too much minutiae and little in the way of analysis.

 

 Wounding the World: How Military Violence and War Play Invade Our Lives by Joanna Bourke. The author is a controversial historian (google her if you want to get a flavour) but this book is more of a critical cultural analysis of how military violence, sentiments, and related language have invaded popular culture and common consciousness and the attendant consequences. I am still reading this but have been especially impressed with her critique of the rules of law on waging war and how these end up legitimising controversial violence and do a lot less than is claimed in terms of protecting non-combatants. Worth a read.

 

 

 

Fiction

 

I have quite low brow fiction tastes (according to my wife),* so bear this in mind.

 

 The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan. A book about facing up to one's wrongdoing, unjust criminal justice systems, emotional and other abuse of young detainees, the insidiousness of domestic violence and, most importantly, the personal and relationship dysfunction that befalls many of the book's characters. Can be broadly described as a psychological thriller although who is the evil one is rather obvious. Still, the writing is nice and taut and everything is quite face-paced. I really enjoyed it.

 

 The Last Witness by Glenn Meade. It's about a woman's coming to terms with/learning what happened to her and her family in the detention camps during the Yugoslavian war in the 90s. The setting is obviously quite interesting. For a popular fiction book, the author can occasionally spin a few quite terrific lines, mixed also with quite wooden/nerdy dialogue that's unintentionally hilarious. Not perfect by any means but I still recommend it.

 

 I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. Think of a combination of Lee Child and James Patterson detective characters/action heroes but with much better writing. A man who simultaneously solves a murder mystery whilst unraveling a terrorist plot. The initial expositions about the lead character were probably too long but once the book gets going it never overstayed its welcome. Recommended.

 

 Will try and read a couple of books by Anne Enright, who's a Man Booker Prize winner. Incidentally, why are so many of the prize winners and long listed books of recent vintage all so bleak?

 

 

 

* In my defence that I am up against a woman who remains one of the youngest graduate in English literature in her then programme, at an age when many have just started high school.


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BDFL - Memuneh
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