Friday, 31 March 2023

Reading in March 2023


Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

With all the Oscar hype, I thought I better read this classic, which for some inexplicable reason I hadn't read before (possible because I'd seen at least two of the adaptations on tv).  In my mind it was a big, thick book but in fact it's quite slim.

Its reputation is, of course, justified.

Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves

According to the blurb on the front, this is Asimov's finest creation.  It's far from that.  But, as novels about entropy go, it's a decent read.

Fred Hoyle, Ossian's Ride

I surprised myself by quite enjoying the Hoyle book I read back in 2021, so I thought I'd give this one a go.  

The problem I had was that Hoyle isn't known for his sublty, so I went in dreading the kind of shaggy dog story an Englishman writing about Ireland in 1959 would put together.  When it developed into a silly spy plot, I gave up on it.  There might be something clever at the heart of the Industrial Corporation of Eire but, if so, I didn't get to it.

Fred Hoyle and Geoffrey Hoyle, Rockets in Ursa Major

I felt guilty about not finishing Ossian's Ride, so decided to give Hoyle another chance with this book which I picked up at the same time.

Apparently it's based on 'a play what he wrote'.  That might explain why it's terse, but not why every so often we get irrelevant details about lifts or things like air traffic control between London and Cambridge (I would rather have seen more effort given to the characters).  It's just not very good, so I didn't finish this one either.

Arthur C Clarke, Childhood's End

So I thought I'd go back to a classic (even if it's aged rather oddly).  One of Clarke's best.

Kevin Crossley-Holland, Between Worlds: Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland

For reasons, I've decided to read up on folklore of the British Isles.  Crossley-Holland is an excellent story-teller, so seemed a good on to start with.

JRR Tolkien, The Silmarillion

I've started listening to The Prancing Pony Podcast (which I heartily recommend).  Each episode covers a chapter of Tolkien's writings starting with the Silmarillion.

So I've decided to re-read this famously difficult book (I read it 30-old years ago and found it hard going) with their guidance.  That's paying off (or it might be that I've acquired the wisdom of years).  No doubt it will take some time...


  1. I am amazed the latest version of All Quiet on the Western Front has has such praise heaped on it. I thought it was heavy handed and obvious, murders the intention of the book and made some bizarre alterations to key elements of the plot with no obvious narrative purpose at all.

    1. Interesting. I've not seen that version. Adaptations of 'classics' or 'worthy' books sometimes benefit from praise that is really directed to the source material. But from what you say, I wonder if (for once) the Oscars got it right.


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