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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Seasons pass, Autumn's come, and March marches on.

Monthly reading guide (March 2011).

Non-fiction
Common errors and problems in English by Robert Allen is part of The Penguin Writers' Guides series which provides easy-to-follow guidance on aspects of written English. This is a simple and practical guide to help anyone who does any kind of writing.
In Other Words by C J Moore presents some untranslatablewords from other languages for which English has no good equivalents. The sole Filipino word mentioned is “sayang”.
WHY YOU NEED A PASSPORT WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO PUKE by Mitchell Symons is packed full of crazy facts from around the world and guaranteed to have young readers hooked for hours.
Supercapitalism. Robert Reich is a former US Labor secretary during the Clinton administration. The book argues that supercapitalism undermines democracy, widens the inequalities between rich and poor and their incomes, and aggravates the effects of global warming. Reich calls for a clear delineation between business and politics. He documents and details the ruthlessness of the big corporations who are buying politicians through lobbying and campaign donations.


Aftershock picks up where Supercapitalism left off. Robert Reich lays out a plan for dealing with the aftermath of the global financial crisis. He points out the main culprit for the meltdown which is the concentration of income and wealth at the top. In America in 2008 the richest 1 percent took in 23.5% of the national income.
The challenge for Africa. Wangari Maathai. The book states some hard truths about the woes of Africa, including: 1 The legacy of Christianity in Africa is largely negative. Native Africans were taught that to question its authority was sinful and heretical. 2 The syndrome of dependency on foreign aid is part of the problem. 3 The ‘resource curse’ or overreliance on natural resources to the detriment of industrialisation and economic diversification. 4 Undue deference to political leadership. 5 Disempowerment or pathology of helplessness caused by apathy; misguided faith that God will provide or that politicians will set things right; or lack of belief or self-confidence to fend for one’s own uplift; the list goes on. This is also an unspoken problem amongst the indigenous peoples of Australia. At this stage I can guess that you’re thinking: this sounds familiar. You betcha!
A New Literary History of America. This traces American literary history from the 1500s to 2008. Some fine entries here from the present crop of American literati.
The Fry Chronicles. Stephen Fry is a highly intelligent and witty person. But this autobiography is wracked by self-doubt and driven by his attention-seeking. It ends in 1987 and cynically lays out a snare to ensure a market for his next book.

Fiction.
The Finkler Question. Howard Jacobson. Apparently this is a story of love and justice, ageing, wisdom and humanity. I would not know. I only got to chapter 4.
Freedom. Jonathan Franzen. The book has been described as often inspired and eloquent with praiseworthy ambitions but with its heart on its sleeve much of the time. Make of that what you will.

Magazine
Mojo. January 2011. Free CD contains An alternative Christmas celebration with R.E.M, Chuck Berry, & more! Features Queen & the best of 2010. Reviews Tony Joe White, Norah Jones, The Who, Sufjan Stevens and many more.

Music
Justin Townes Earle. The Good Life. The debut album from the son of Steve Earle.
The Hoochie Coochie Men featuring Jon Lord with Jimmy Barnes as guest treats us to a lavish selection of blues classics from artists such as Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Jimmy Smith and Willie Dixon.

DVD.
The Remains of the Day. Yep the butler did it! He got featured in a movie. This was based on the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. The book is more enjoyable but Emma Thompson is easier on the eye. And naturally, the butler was worrying about other things.