Holiday Reading

Just got back from a few days away visiting family in the Middle East. It was lovely and relaxing and provided a great opportunity to catch up on some reading. Three whole books in a week and a half! (It’s not that I’m a slow reader, it’s just that I always seem to have something else to do.)

The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore. Fascinating and incredibly readable. A meme is the cultural equivalent of a gene and culture follows the basic principles of evolutionary theory, explaining a lot of things that people do that don’t seem to be all that beneficial to us. Best popular science book I’ve read in a long time.

The Lonely Dead, Michael Marshall. I bought this book because I heard the author speak at alt.fiction last year and I liked what he had to say. It’s a thriller and I don’t read many of those. They’re like candyfloss for the brain; sugar fluffed up with air. So long as the plot is moved along at a cracking pace they can be enjoyable without the author bothering much about the other elements. This book was one of the few written by a craftsperson and I will be reading more.

On Liberty, John Stuart Mill. Even though it’s a very short book, I thought this would be hard work as it’s some time since I’ve read any philosophy or anything written in the 19th century. It took a little while to get into the rhythm of it, but I’m pleased to say that where I had to read something twice it’s because I was struggling to follow the language not the arguments. It was quite compelling and it was interesting to revisit my thoughts on the extent of personal liberty and social obligation. And still very relevant to today.

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