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What I’ve been reading this month

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

A friend at work recommended Helen Russell’s The Year of Living Danishly after I recently visited Copenhagen. This book was the autobiographical tale of a well-off writer and her husband moving from London to rural Denmark, after the latter was offered a job at Lego headquarters. The stories of their experiences were mixed in with some light journalistic investigation as to why Danish people are so often reported to be among the happiest in the world. Russell’s writing was engaging but light, which made this book fun, but maybe less insightful than it could have been. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant, easy read.
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Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending has recently been turned into a film, which – guess what? – I haven’t seen. I found it to be a beautifully written book, which explored ageing and the flaws in memory. So many passages of this book were quotable that it read like poetry. I think that if the ‘revelations’ at the end of the book had been a little more mundane, then the wider observations about the reliability of memory and the incompleteness of the picture anyone holds in mind at any given time would have hit harder. But who am I to argue with a Booker winner?
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Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden was a deeply creepy book about four children hiding their mother’s corpse to avoid being taken into foster care, and then attempting to live independently. The plot was grotesque, but less so than the twisted, psychologically charged atmosphere McEwan built. I understand that this has also been turned into a film that I haven’t seen… Whatever. I found it brilliantly disturbing.
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