You could try Hugh Trevor-Roper’s The Invention of Scotland* which covers that sort of thing and is a jolly read.
Have read all Mitchell and Murakami’s work. Mitchell has a new one out in a week or so…
There was a review of the new David Mitchell book in The Times on Saturday. Doesn’t sounds like one of his best.
He wrote the excellent chapter I was referring to in my first post in The Invention of Tradition. A fantastic eye-opener on just how much of what we consider ‘old traditions’ are nothing of the sort. Same goes for the chapter on ‘Welsh Romanticism’, the monarchy, the Raj… I can’t recommend this book highly enough!
Having enjoyed Wink Lorch’s Wines of the French Alps so much, this one is heading my way…
Just recently finished Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Labyrinth of the Spirits, the final fourth book in The Cemetery of Lost Books sequence (started with Shadow of the Wind) and I have to say I think it was a brilliant book which has tied up and explained much from the previous books and has, with that better understanding, increased my opinion of those books. There is so much cross over between the books in the series and having read them over a good few years, I feel I will have to now give them all a re-read.
I recommend these books very highly; they mainly deal with Barcelona in the period after the civil war through to 1960 - an horrific period in Spain’s history - and whilst they are very darkly gothic and at times brutal, they maintain a sometimes surpisingly light touch and romanticism despite the torture, secret police, deaths and abductions (all of which are based on the reality of the times).
Times being what they are I picked up Beloved by Toni Morrison again.
What a writer. It feels like I have been with a force of nature rather than a book.
I’ve just finished rereading this. Even tougher given the current political climate, but yes. Wow.
I’m currently thoroughly enjoying a book about Switzerland called Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money
Funny, with a light touch, but incredibly interesting in its analysis of the people and the place. Lots of chuckles too
On a similar subject - I’m expanding my exploration of Swiss wines a little (‘a little’ is the operative word here!!) and have just taken delivery of a few Swiss wines, after reading this book by the Alsace-based Sue Style:
Informative and offers an interesting look into a rather unknown wine region, though I wasn’t too enamoured with the way the book was organised, and a lack of more specific maps for each region. Still, it resulted in some wine purchases, so can’t complain too much!
Well, I finished with Switzerland, and now I’m back to Germany…
I started to read this, frankly painful, book:
Rather than another tiresome book about ‘the war’, this book illustrates the positives in German culture and history, and the love-hate relationship the British have with it.
There are far too few books that celebrate the country, to my mind - the only other exception I can think of, which was probably the most moving account of the place I’ve ever read, is Neil MacGregor’s Germany: Memories of a Nation.
This is going to be doubly painful to read, considering the pending B disaster movie, coming to a theatre near you in January.
Loved the Walker book.
However, “the invention of tradition” is one of the greatest academic books of the last century - I genuinely mean it. It is a landmark text conceptually, and is just wonderfully written.
I’m inclined to agree! Some books teach you so much - and show you the world you think you know from a different perspective altogether.
Really enjoying this book at the moment…
It’s an account of the rise and fall of Theranos (a Silicon Valley based blood testing company) but it really focuses on the hype around at the time, and the unicorn valuations of companies based on almost nothing at all. The very human failing of really wanting something to be true, but all the evidence being against it.
I’m definitely buying this one!
My ex-husband grew up in Silicon Valley (Saratoga), and as we visited his family regularly in the mid 90’s I remember clearly the mad buzz in the air about start-up companies - the whole Dot Com bubble. My ex was encouraged to be part of the madness, being a Berkeley graduate in computer science, though thankfully he was too much of a socialist to care about such things. But at the time it really felt like people were under some crazed spell, believing all sorts of outlandish promises about start-up companies.
This sounds like a more recent bubble, so I’d love to read about it and compare!
Many years ago, a school friend lent me his copy of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. He must have thought I was as bright as himself and would enjoy the book. I wasn’t and didn’t. I only managed to plough my way through a few chapters before giving up and sheepishly returning the book. Over the years I’ve often thought of giving TMM another try and even got so far as buying my own copy, which then lay unread on my bookshelf.
But with the pandemic and the hours of enforced idleness that lay ahead of me, I finally decided the time was right - I would read the blasted book. And I did. It took a while and I can’t claim I understood it all. But it was worth the effort. Especially as I’d given myself an incentive: finish the book and I could treat myself (and my wife) to a bottle of champagne.
I’m yet to tackle The Magic Mountain… Thank you for putting it on my radar again! And what a just reward you got for finishing it, too…!
Fantastic, gripping and well-written (or at least, well-translated!). Last time I read them I was on a retreat in a Convent in Arundel, so a lockdown of sorts, but by choice. One day I’ll go back there again…
Currently reading If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller - Italo Calvino. This is book 40 of 100 of books to read before you die.
It’s a lovely book! I first read it a long time ago - but I still remember it. As someone with a serious book addiction, some bits especially hit home