Wednesday 30 March 2022

What I've Been Reading Recently

Amazingly, another six months have passed since reflecting on books read at the start of Autumn. Less a comment on the pace of events and one of my still not reading a great deal at all. My bad. But here's the smattering of titles I've finished during this time.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Cultural Politics of Emotion by Sara Ahmed
Breakfast with the Borgias by DBC Pierre
Social Reproduction Theory and the Socialist Horizon by Aaron Jaffe
Blue Labour: Forging a New Politics edited by Ian Greary and Adrian Pabst
The New Working Class by Claire Ainsley
Generation Left by Keir Milburn
Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier
What is Philosophy? by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
Anticapitalism and Culture by Jeremy Gilbert
Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm
The Labour Tradition and the Politics of Paradox edited by Maurice Glasman et al
Tiamat's Wrath by James SA Corey
Postmodernism and Popular Culture by Angela McRobbie
Our Boys by Helen Parr
Head, Hand, Heart by David Goodhart
Despised by Paul Embery
Variations by Juliet Jacques
Suburban Socialism (or Barbarism) by Oly Durose
The Dignity of Labour by Jon Cruddas
The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

Glancing across the list, one might notice a bit of a preoccupation concerning the number of Blue Labour and fellow traveller authors. This is preparatory reading for the next book. Just got a few more things to plough through: New Labour histories, some stuff on Catholic social thought, and the "Marxist" critiques of leftist radicalism provided by Frederick Harry Pitts before I can properly get cracking. That means commentary on this stuff is going to have to wait.

Other items worthwhile noting is Sara Ahmed's work on the sociology of the politics of emotion, which the comrades at the Always Already Podcast declared as important as Anti-Oedipus but with the added bonus of being much more readable. Why go for overly complex talk talk when straightforward sociology can walk the walk? Speaking of Deleuze and Guattari, I visited What is Philosophy? knowing it was different to their earlier, more famous books. And, sadly, I didn't get too much from it. This is where they declare philosophy as the work of concept generation, and introduce interesting notions like conceptual personae. But it just didn't grab me and came across as more a "specialist" philosophy text rather than something with wider purchase, as per their previous collaborations.

On the fiction, which is less pronounced than normal, both the Du Maurier and the Fowles are superb. Two excellent novels that I went into not knowing what to expect, beyond the fact they're both feted. And I have to give Juliet's short story collection a shout out. Wonderfully realised character studies that do a superb job of capturing the voices and experiences of trans and gender non-conforming people over the last two centuries. The stories can be playful and funny, even when suffused with tragedy and, in come cases, impending doom.

What have you been reading recently?

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SimonB said...

Veteranhood by Joe Glenton has given me hope and insights

mikenotts said...

A few selected highlights of new stuff:

Well, as well as "Falling down" (obviously, I hope, for any regular reader of this blog), I read, for the first time, selections from Gramsci's prison notebooks (edited and translated by Q. Hoare and G.N. Smith). I'm ashamed to say it was my first direct intro to the man, everything else had been second-hand.

I've also attempting "Ulysses" for the first time in my life, with a "readers companion" by Terence Killeen.

Another life-long blank in my reading has been Dickens - many attempts, at roughly 10 year intervals, only to fall back defeated, each time. I inherited a complete set from my mother, who left school at 14 but was already reading Dickens at that age. Her father was a Tees dock worker, former Irish boy soldier and great supporter of his daughters reading - the set was one of those given away free by the daily tabloids in the 1930's in their subscription wars which seemed to have almost reached an insane personal intensity - Beaverbrook Vs. Harmsworth - they also gave away e.g. dinner sets for 6 months subs. So he bought a sub to a paper he despised to get her the set (this is all family folklore, I haven't checked the dates, hate the story to differ).

Anyhoo, I've started on the gentler slopes: Sketches by Boz and Pictures from Italy.

The rest has been largely rereading my existing stock. E. Waugh wrote to A. Powell in his premature old age that he could now endlessly reread Dance as by the time he had reached the end, he'd forgotten the beginning. Not quite there yet, maybe time to start on the breakfast black velvets, or whatever it was.

gillette said...

Well my reading is somewhat more low brow than yours! Valley of the dolls though. It's many years since I read that.