Summer Reads

July 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Well, summer’s here now, and on vacation this year, a couple of seven hour plane rides lie in front of me (not to mention some trains, but not automobiles – I’m the family driver).

So here’s a few I hope to get through

1. Richard Hell – I Dreamed I was a Very Clean Tramp

So much myth and legend surround Richard Hell. Did he invent punk? Did Malcolm McClaren rip him off? Did he write “Chinese Rocks?” What’s true is that he was a member of Television, the Heartbreakers and recorded two very good solo LPs before quitting the music business in the eighties.  I love memoirs. I’m sure Hell’s won’t disappoint.

2. Jon Savage – Teenage

Jon Savage is best known for his fantastic book about punk England’s Dreaming. Subtitled the prehistory of youth culture, the book details the creation of this thing called the teenager across a variety of national identities.


3. Jared Diamond  – The World Until Yesterday

This one’s just too bulky to take on the plane (no e-reader for me!), but it’s first when I get back. Diamond is a fascinating, articulate author, and his latest book examines what we can learn from past societies.

4. Gustav Flaubert – Madame Bovery/ Cervantes – Don Quixote /  Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina

I’ve started all of these at one time or another and I’ve put them down too. Summer seems like the only time I can devote to these important tones. I haven’t decided which one I’ll tackle.

5. Neil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Do I really need to write anything about the author of Coraline, The Graveyard Book and the Sandman comics? Thought not.

6. Matthew B. Crawford – Shop Class as Soul Craft

A  colleague of mine recommended this book to me, and it’s quite clever. The author is a graduate, with a PhD in political philosophy from Chicago, but who runs an auto shop. The author’s premise is a simple one: that so-called brain work, office work, is every bit as soul-destroying as assembly line work. He looks to a dignity of labour in trade skills, something which our current education system does not value.

7. Michael Moorcock – The Runestaff series

I read all of these when I was in my teens. Moorcock’s books usually run 150 pages and can be burned through very quickly. Intelligent SF/fantasy novels. Part of Moorcock’s “Eternal Champion” books which of course include his most famous creation Elric.

8. Leon Trotsky – The History of the Russian Revolution

OK, leaving aside Trotsky’s particular take on Bolshevism, it’s still a marvellous book.

9. Greil Marcus – Lipstick Traces

I read Marcus’ secret history of the 20th century because I liked the Sex Pistols. I didn’t know much about this Situationist business. It’s been twenty years, so it’s worth reading again.

10. Lemony Snickett – Who Could That Be at This Hour?

I blogged about this when Mr. Snickett gave a reading in Toronto earlier his year. Time to read the book now.

Oh yeah, I also wanted to read that book on Atlantis, the Lenny Bruce trial transcripts, Herodotus, etc… Sigh… Life is too short.


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