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Spinning Down for Christmas: Part 1

So it's nearing Christmas and hopefully everyone is planning a little bit of personal downtime to spend with their loved ones and generally get away from the mad, bad world that is IT and especially storage. A time to reflect and a time to recharge but also a time to look forward but best of all it's a time for presents; giving and recieving…so if you've been working so hard that you've not had time to work out what you want for Christmas, I thought I'd give you some ideas .

Today it's the turn of the bookworms amongst you all, here's a few of the books I enjoyed this year and not a techie book amongst them.

Life: Keith Richards

A life lived as the world's most elegantly wasted man is a tale worth telling and that Keith manages to recall it in such detail is simply superhuman. His humanity, humour, brutal honesty and simple common-sense shine through. Yes, there's a lot drug taking but in between the episodes of madness; there's a reflection and a exposition of one of the great rock partnerships. Simply a great rock autobiography!

What Would Keith Richards Do: Jessica Pallington West

As an accompaniment to Life; this tongue-in-cheek 'self help' guide reminds me of the Tao of Pooh and the ilk. It's genuinely funny and often genuinely wise. For all those moments in life when one doesn't quite know what to do, turn to 'Keef' for the answers. He may steer you in a direction completely opposite to the one you think you should go but you'll have a hell of a journey.

The Finkler Question: Howard Jacobson

Not just the Booker prize winner this year but actually a damn funny book; who says that literature has to be serious? A reflection on middle age, male competition, friendship, identity and search for a tribe; darkly funny in the way that only the Jewish mind can be, this novel is full of sadness, cleverness and subtlety but mostly just funny.

The Quantum Thief: Hannu Rajaniemi

A debut novel which dumps you right into the middle of the action from the first page; there's no gentle easement and introduction into this unique imagining of the post-singularity universe. Allegedly rattled off in seven weeks, this reads like it; ideas fly out and there is almost a sense of the author trying to show how clever he is but bear with it and the book will reward you. He maybe showing how clever he is but he also trusts the reader to be equally clever, I will warn you, it is a novel which has divided the SF community, loved and hated in almost equal measure. I loved it and look forward to the next one.

Scoop: Evelyn Waugh

I've come to Evelyn Waugh rather late but this short book is almost Wodehousian in it's humour; a classic farsical mix-up leads to a rural gentleman who pens a pastoral and soporific column for a London paper called 'The Daily Beast' being sent off to report on a war in the fictional African Republic of Ishamelia. Based in the 1930s, some of it has dated somewhat and the casual racism is at times disturbing but it is a product of it's time and it should be read in that context. And much of the core reflection on the nature of reporting and newspapers still rings very true today.

The Flavour Thesaurus: Niki Segnit

A work of genius; what flavour pairings work? From the familiar to the completely bonkers; Segnit takes 99 basic flavours and has come up with 980 pairings which should work. This is not a cook book and assumes that you already have a certain level of competence in the kitchen; recipes are part of the general prose like Elizabeth David and like Elizabeth David it reveals a whole new set of flavours to be enjoyed. And the writing is superb; funny and without the pretension that many food writers tend towards; a book to be enjoyed in many ways.


One Comment

  1. Just to let you know that there is a new, revised, e-book edition of “Lunch with Elizabeth David”. The novel involving David and her mentor, Norman Douglas, originally published by Little Brown, is available in all e-book formats and can be sampled at
    It is also in the Amazon KIndle store. — Roger Williams

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