May 18, 2017

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March 27, 2017

Recent reading

  • Kate Wakeling: The Rainbow Faults
    A small but stunning set of poems from Wakeling. It's no accident that in her other life she's an ethnomusicologist; these brilliant poems are full of dissonant harmonies, oblique melodies and alien timbres, conjuring up a nocturnal visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum in the company of a sorceress. Or something like it.
  • Nick Cohen: What's Left?: How the Left Lost its Way

    Nick Cohen: What's Left?: How the Left Lost its Way
    Ten years before Trump, Brexit and all the rest of it, sort-of-lapsed leftist Cohen traced how the global left lost its relevance to the working classes, became mired in intellectual obscurantism and apologised for some of the worst regimes and belief systems in the world. Clearly written, expertly argued: essential, if depressing reading.

  • Paolo Bacigalupi: The Water Knife

    Paolo Bacigalupi: The Water Knife
    Set in in the southern states of the US as the water runs out, The Water Knife is an all too believable near-future, noir-ish dystopian thriller. Not as deliriously weird as The Windup Girl, it's nonetheless a compelling read: a powerful evocation of a world gone wrong, by its own devices.

  • Seamus Heaney: Human Chain

    Seamus Heaney: Human Chain
    Dark, beautiful and at time profoundly moving, this was Heaney's last published work and it's difficult not to read some intimations of death into it. These are brief poems, but extraordinarily dense and rich, if often quite opaque - not for anyone looking for easily-mined meaning.

  • Oliver W. Sacks: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

    Oliver W. Sacks: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
    Sacks, the neurologist who probably did more to educate general readers about the wonders of the mind, was also a lifelong musician and music fan. In this book he combines his own experiences with multiple case studies to examine how the mind is affected by music and how - and why - humans bring music into the world.

  • Robert Greene: Mastery

    Robert Greene: Mastery
    As I said about Waitkzin's book on learning, the target market here might be those attempting to become elite, but there's plenty in here for those of us "merely" aspiring to excellence. With numerous examplars drawn from sport, the arts, business, the military and beyond, Greene builds a case for the mastery in any sphere being the outcome of years of immersion and commitment rather than a divine gift.

  • Ryan Holiday: Ego Is the Enemy

    Ryan Holiday: Ego Is the Enemy
    The follow up to marketeer, strategist and modern stoic Holiday's "The Obstacle is the Way" is another great read, packed with history and anecdote from Marcus Aurelius to Metallica (what's not to like?!) The result is a thoroughly practical guide to, well, getting the fuck out of one's own way.

  • Malcolm Balk: The Art of Running

    Malcolm Balk: The Art of Running
    A fantastic book and essential for all runners - of all stages - who are coping with injury or simply falling out of love with the pursuit. Malcolm Balk is an Alexander Technique teacher who brought his studies of the Technique to bear on his running and managed to bring injury-free joy back to it.

  • Mia Olson: Musicians Yoga

    Mia Olson: Musicians Yoga
    Although there may be nothing new in flautist Olsen's book for the more experienced yoga practitioner, for the relative newcomer it's an invaluable introduction to the broad principles of Hatha yoga and how to apply them as a serious musician looking for new ways to avoid injury and improve performance.

  • Josh Waitzkin: The Art of Learning

    Josh Waitzkin: The Art of Learning
    Waitzkin is one of those rare individuals who has become a world champion in two different fields: chess and Tai Chi "Push Hands" fighting. In this short but powerful book he draws lessons from his experience in both fields about how best to learn new skills. This may be aimed at those with elite ambitions but it extremely useful, too, for those of us simply aiming for excellence!