Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Uncle Dick’s Alternative Book Club: My Ebook Recommendations for May

I've spent a good deal of my winter reading books but, more specifically, ebooks which are cheaper, lighter, and less liable to stain when I read them in the bath. That’s why I thought what better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring than to give you a quick rundown of some ebooks that you can’t read outside, under the glare of the sun, unless you have an e-ink reader. I, of course, don’t have an e-ink reader and read everything on my iPad, which does, however, allow me to turn the background to black so I can look at myself until the sun goes down. This is especially helpful when I’m in the bath. Not that I’m making a case for me to buy an e-ink reader when what I really want is a Google Nexus 10. But nor am I doing what some bloggers would do, which is to write something like that and hope Google will send them a brand new Nexus 10 to review… Oh, no. That sort of thing doesn't happen to me and I really wouldn't want to use this blog in a blatant attempt to cadge luxury goods for purposes of review. However, if I did review a Google Nexus 10, it would undoubtedly be positive and I would recommend everybody I know to move over to Android…

However, I digress.

The point of this informative blog post is to give you a quick rundown of a few of my favourite recent reads and I hope, in return, that you’ll offer me some suggestions of your own. Or perhaps you’ve just written an ebook and want a place to promote it… If so, send me the details (and a free copy and/or Google Nexus 10) and I’ll slap it on this page. However, I can’t promise to read it given the aforementioned sun, shiny screen, bathtub situation and my lack of a Google Nexus 10.

Anyway, my five favourite recent reads were:

1. Bedford Park by Bryan Appleyard

One for the more literate among you, this novel is about a moment in time, beautifully realised. It's the story of a corner of London that just happened to be vitally important to who we are today since it was home to many of the great scientific and artistic minds of the early twentieth century. I enjoyed this one all the way to the end, so much so that my bath water went cold... Incidentally, my word processor wants me to change that ‘who’ to ‘whom’ but ‘whom’ doesn't sound right. I’m sure the word processor on a Google Nexus 10 wouldn't have that problem.

2. The Book That’s Actually Much Filthier Than The One You Were Looking For by Felicity Grope

One for those of you in need of cheering up or simply wanting to laugh about our more primal urges... The book is a series of five short stories about romance, sex, and high adventure in a land populated by pandas, cowboys and men called Buck. It’s actually a lot less filthy than the title makes out but, as parodies of erotic literature goes, Ms Grope had me laughing out loud, especially the story called ‘Fifty Shades of Clown’. Thankfully, it wasn’t a sunny day so I could read this ebook a second time once I’d finished. There was, however, a serious lack of any mention of the Google Nexus 10 which I hope the author addresses in subsequent volumes.

3. The Church of Fear by John Sweeney

An often funny look at the Church of Scientology and how they harassed one Panorama journalist. Not that I’m knocking Scientology. Wonderful people, especially the big ones that lurk by your car late at night. This is a relatively quick and enjoyable read if you don’t want to tackle the longer but also excellent ‘Going Clear’ by Lawrence Wright which still isn't available as an ebook in the UK, even on the Google Nexus 10. I've read both and Sweeney's is probably the gentlest introduction to the whole trouble with Scientology and a reasonable explanation for his now notorious outburst which become such a big hit on Youtube.

4. Them by Jon Ronson

This is a collection of articles about extremists by Jon Ronson, so you know what you’re going to get: light, whimsical, and yet with enough meat to make some serious points. Judy looked over my shoulder at one point and suggested that ‘Them’ should be ‘Those’ but she’s been going through a pompous phrase recently after hitting Number One in the paperback charts. I hope when she gets her first royalty cheque she might buy me a Google Nexus 10 but I’m not holding out much hope. I'll be reading Ronson's latest soon so I might come back and tell you how it went.

5. 3 Classic Spy Stories by Alan Furst

This is what I’m reading at the moment (or will once the sun goes in) so I’m going to go out on a limb and recommend it before I’ve finished. So far these are wonderfully evocative stories, rich in detail, about people trapped in politically turbulent times and how violence affected their lives. Judy thinks I should try writing a spy story so I’m reading this with a notepad open on my lap. Of course, if I had a Google Nexus 10, I’d take notes on that…

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