The Circle, by Dave Eggers – Sci-fi looking at the challenge of social media, bought at The White Rose Bookshop in Thirsk. This was written in 2013 and it is rather disconcerting how many of the futurist bits of the novel are now reality – Amazon’s Electra springs to mind. The questions that were raised for me include whether privacy is indeed a virtue or an encumbrance, how much would I be willing to give up if complete transparency were the cost of keeping it. I find that I’m posting less and less on social media, often because I live a quiet and uneventful life, sometimes because what is interesting does not belong to me to share. My job depends on being trustworthy and able to keep a confidence. If complete transparency became a thing, we’d lose so much of the tentative early thinking that people are only willing to share with trusted friends. Life is richer for friendships based on shared confidence. That would be lost if everyone had access to every thought or action.
Redshirts, by John Scalzi – more Sci-fi, but less disturbing, recommmended by DH. This book takes meta to a new level, ties it in a knot and then makes you laugh out loud as it all unravels. I loved it, although it kept getting me into trouble for giggling too loudly while someone was trying to sleep. If you’ve ever wondered about what happens to all the supporting characters in tv-dramas, especially Star Trek, this is the book for you.
Paper, by Mark Kurlansky – History through the story of everyday objects. Salt, one of Kurlansky’s earlier books, is one of the best books I have ever read. This is pretty good. It was on my wish-list for a while, as I couldn’t bring myself to read about paper on the Kindle. It turns out that my assumption that all paper is made from trees was wrong. I only figured it out near the end of the book, when he starts to talk about the difficulties of extracting cellulose from trees. Then I had to re-interpret most of the book in the light of this information. I always knew rags were used somehow in the making of paper, but thought they were secondary to the processing of trees. Interesting stuff. As someone who was brought up to use recycled paper wherever possible, I knew that the quality had increased radically in the last 30 years (anyone else remember recycled loo paper from the 80s), now I know a bit more about why and how. If the history of objects interests you, then read this book.
Revenge Wears Prada, by Lauren Weisberger. What can I say, sometimes I just need to relax with something a bit tacky. I borrowed this from a local church that has a comprehensive selection of books available to anyone who wants to read them. Don’t think I could ever have been a congregation member there – too much temptation to sit with a novel during the sermon.
The Bookshop Girl, by Silvia Bishop, selected by my daughter at White Rose Books. One of the great joys in my life is buying books for my children, or introducing them to books I loved as a child. This one was chosen at the beginning of the summer holidays and it came with us on holiday. Reading it aloud meant I appreciated it at a slow pace. I managed to be disciplined and not read ahead between bedtimes, so we discovered it together. It’s a charming book, about a girl who lives in a bookshop, but has an awkward secret (as well as a ridiculous name). Various adventures unfold, but I won’t spoil it. The only question I have is why don’t the kids go to school, or get home-schooled? It bothered me throughout, but it didn’t spoil the book for me.