Thought Leadership

Reading roundup

By Colin Walls

All my life, I have enjoyed reading. Obviously, my enthusiasm ebbs and flows over time, but I generally have at least one book on the go. I actually feel rather sorry for people who tell me “I don’t really read …”. They are denied the wonderful experience of being lost in a book – lost in another fictional world or engrossed in a non-fiction subject. I love the fact that I can read at any time and anywhere. This means that I would very rarely describe myself as “bored”. I do almost all of my reading on my Kindle. This is so much more useful that a conventional book. I can read in any light level. I can read one-handed – when standing in line, for example. Or it can sit on the table next to me, just being poked to advance a page, while I am eating. It also means that, when I go on a long trip, I never run out of reading matter.

I aim to read a wide range of books and I thought that it might be interesting to comment on a few recent reads here …

I have a terrible memory and always keep notes on what books I have available to read and those that I have completed. I read about 20-25 books per year [I am not a fast reader], but that varies, depending on much travel I have been doing. So here are my comments on a few books that I have enjoyed in recent months:

The Salt Path – by Raynor Winn

I heard about this book on the radio and my wife bought it, as it was being read by her book club, and she recommended it. I had planned to read it before going to the Hay Literary Festival, where the author was speaking, but failed to do so. Attending the talk inspired me to give it a go.

It is a true story – a memoir essentially. The author and her husband, through no fault of their own, lost their home and business. At exactly the same time, her husband was diagnosed with a life-limiting degenerative condition and his prospects were not good. So they did the obvious thing and set off on a walk of over 600 miles around the coast of South-West England. This is the story of that walk.

It was an enjoyable read which was, in places, funny, moving and informative, with great descriptions of the places they went and the people they met. Quite inspiring really.

The Current War – by Adam Cline

I saw, and enjoyed, this movie, which was about the introduction of mains electricity in the US at the end of the 19th Century. There were basically two approaches: AC or DC transmission of electricity. These were supported by George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison respectively. AC won.

The book filled in some more details, but it failed to answer my somewhat technical questions about why AC is better [or was then anyway].

In Search of Nice Americans – by Geoff Steward

A favorite author of mine is Bill Bryson. He has written various books, but is well known for his rather humorous and insightful books about various countries, notably the US, UK and Australia. This book is out of the same mold and I have seen the author compared to BB.

This book proved to be a good vacation read, not demanding too much of me and making me smile from time to time. Even though he was visiting a number of places in the US that I know well, there were some others that I might just like to visit.

The Turning – by Tim Winton

Personal recommendations for books always get my attention. A trusted friend recommended this book. I had not heard of the author and normally find short stories rather unsatisfying, but I took her word for it and got hold of a copy. The fact that the stories were “linked” intrigued me. I was not disappointed. The quality of the writing is superb and I enjoyed reading in another English [Australian]. The linking of the stories is subtle and complex; I wish that I had started out taking notes …

The Second Sleep – by Robert Harris

This author has a very good reputation – he is a professional historian and his research is impeccable – and I am a big fan, having read quite a few of his books. This is his latest work, published quite recently. It starts out looking like it is a historical novel – unsurprising from this author – but all is not what it seems. It is a complex and intriguing story, which is ultimately about our civilization’s fragility. It certainly made me think [as I wrote about here]. My only disappointment was the end of the book, which tied up just about all the loose ends so well that a sequel would seem very unlikely, but did not answer all of the questions.

If you have any reading suggestions, please leave a comment or get in touch by email or via social media.


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