Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Book Reviews on the Old FM

World Radio Switzerland is closing down at the end of August. Somehow the ministry for Swiss broadcasting decided that it wasn't worth subsidizing. Quite how they arrived at this decision remains a mystery. It will be off air at the end of August.

This means that the Spead Read will be coming to a close. On Monday they broadcast my second-to-last selection of books. I have to say out of all the broadcasts I have done this is one of my favourites. I think I have got three really strong books. You could read any of these and come away having enjoyed a satisfying read.

Enjoy - there's only one more left. The books reviewed are:  

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Stoner by John Williams
Strange Stones: Dispatches from East to West by Peter Hessler

Friday, 12 July 2013

Summer Reads

I took a train the other day between Lausanne and Montreux, which is about 20 minutes down the track. I slightly appalled myself when I realised I had packed 3 books for the  journey, as well as a newspaper.

So you can imagine that deciding what I am going to take on a two-week holiday is a painful kind of pleasure.

After much consideration, I have narrowed the choice down to five or six. Here I am restricting myself to the top four:

Transatlantic by Colum McCann: This Irish writer is very close to the top of my list of favourite writers of all time. His newest book starts with the first transatlantic crossing made by aeroplane. This idea of whether we can link the new world with the old develops in the central theme of the book. It's an interesting question for an Irish writer living in New York. I have read the first few chapters and am loving it already.

 The Art of Fielding by Chad Harback: This is a new author, this is his first book, and I am reading it on the recommendation of a friend.

I have to say that I love novels with an American voice and, having read the first few pages, there it is, rich and authentic. The book is also endorsed by Jonathan Franzen. 

It's a  Bildungsroman (coming of age novel - I had to look it up too!) about a genius, young baseball player called Henry Skrimshander. Sounds like the best thing for a hot summer's evening.

The Old Ways : A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane: Macfarlane is a travel writer in the sense that he uses the landscape to reflect what it is to be human. In this book he sets off from his Cambridge home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast network of routes criss-crossing the British landscape and its waters - the kind of journey that send shivers up my spine.

Knowing Macfarlane's style I am expecting a slow-burning book that will stay with me for years.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: The cover first attracted me to this book - I love the retro, technicolour feel. It's a love story about a young Italian who watches a beautiful American woman walk out of the sea. Fat-foward a few decades and an Italian man turns up in Hollywood searching for her.

I am hoping the book will live up to its cover, but even if it doesn't I hope to look cool at the beach reading it.

 All these books are of course available at your nearest and dearest independent bookshop.