A Political Book Haul

Book Haul

The Rise of Islamic State – Patrick Cockburn

Waiting for a train at London’s Waterloo station, I found myself inside Foyle’s, drawn instinctively as any bibliophile awaiting a train generally is found to be. Patrick Cockburn, quoted by the likes of Chomsky et al, seems unfaltering in his ability to make me rethink my position on dauntingly serious subjects, and so to see a book about ISIS written by him was irresistible. 

The following were bought from the beautiful Daunt Books, in Marylebone.

No One Left To Lie To – Christopher Hitchens

I’ve been writing a post about Hitchens for a while now, I finished his Letters to a Young Contrarian several weeks ago but haven’t found all the words in the right order to do him and the book justice. He was cutting in his life and in what he published, ruthless and sometimes wrong, but always superb in his writing, and his style in general, and so with Hilary Clinton now preparing her candidacy for the Presidential bid, it seems only right to read this. I’ve seen from many essayists that the dark, manipulative side to the Clintons is something to be feared, especially when in power, and so this may well turn out to be a book I shout about over the next year.

The Atheist’s Mass – Honore de Balzac

Balzac is a name to me, I am ashamed to say, and nothing else. Though with only a name, there is mystery and so I chose this tiny volume for that very reason. The title offers a sort of irony that I enjoy. I make no secret of the fact that a passion of mine is the philosophical, the scientific and the literary interplay between faith and atheism, and in the form of these new pocket size Penguin Classics, it felt only right to delve a little deeper and further away from what is familiar.

Vonnegut for Valentine’s

Book Haul, Books

Sickening, this Valentine’s Day fuss, eh? Not only are there ‘happy couples’ posting all those goddamn gifts and bouquets of flowers and candle lit dinners all over social media, but then you’re also confronted with your own internalised horror. If you’re single and wish you weren’t, today might make you feel lonely and worry that it’s forever. If you’re happily single, then you’re probably looking down on all of this with hearty derision, knowing full well that you’re above all that commercialised crap. If you’re a couple, then, well, you’re pissing everyone off. Stop looking so damn happy.

So this morning, strong in the desire to just have a nice day rather than pay honks of cash for a meal in a loud, busy restaurant, full of people competing for the cheesiest moment to propose, my partner and I woke each other up with really good books. Here was her bookish gift to me.

Vonnegut’s part-memoir, part-essay collection, A Man Without A Country, is really one of my favourite non-fiction books but I’ve never read any of his novels. Time to rectify that.


A Small Haul – George Orwell and Philip K Dick

Book Haul, Books

George OrwellPhilip K Dick

Since writing my dissertation on Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, I’ve known I owed it to myself to read everything I could of his. A criticism made of Nineteen Eighty-Four was for his journalistic prose – I can’t help thinking the reviewer totally missed the point in the first place.

Philip K Dick has been an author I never considered reading until I happened to find some audio books of his short stories online. It appears I had been missing out. So, continuing my love for all the fatalist, dystopian sort of fiction that often pleases some of the more philosophical thoughts that keep me up at night, I decided on this, The Man in the High Castle.