View Full Version : The new 'What I'm reading' thread

20th Dec 2007, 09:54
I've read a stack of books since this thread last came around. But I just finished a cracker last night.
Bill Bryson: A walk in the woods.
Beware. Its a laugh out loud kind of book.
A clever and witty look at US history, and US 'parks' policy over the years, mixed with nearly 1000 miles of grinding through snow, mud, and flies.
It made me realise that the US is a big place, with alot of big hills.
I was reading Brysons 'Down Under' on a plane a while ago. I just couldnt stop chuckling in places. Finally, the guy next to me asked me to stop. OK, no prob. Then he apologised for being brusque, asked what the book was, started thumbing through it, and then...LOL... :-)
So I gifted the book to him at the end of the flight, and picked up another at the airport.
I guess the point is, that in a curious fashion, books can be shared.
So what are you reading right now??. Strong recommendations welcomed.

20th Dec 2007, 11:37
Frank Gardner
Just finished reading the autobiography of BBC's Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner, 'Blood & Sand'. Not only an inspiring read in overcoming adversity (he was shot and paralysed) but excellent insight into the Islamic world and Terrorism.
Thoroughly recommend it.

I've also posted this on 'Military Aircrew'

B.B. is always a brilliant read.

Ace Rimmer
20th Dec 2007, 11:56
Current Read "the Shipping Forecast" a traveloguey type of thing not quite as LOL as Bryson but a amusing read nome the less.

Agree ref BB his stuff is top notch, I've never read anything of his I didn't enjoy with plenty of LOL moments... This time last year heading off on hols I managed to annoy the crape out of Mrs R guffawing and giggling my way through The Thunderbolt Kid:ok::ok::ok:

PS and air screw, look out for bears!!

20th Dec 2007, 12:53
Shake Hands with the Devil

By R. Dallaire, the UN commander in Rwanda when that place went tits up in 1994. Not a happy read, certainly very gripping. Almost a day-to-day account of the UN force in Rwanda and their inability to do anything about the whole genocide. Plenty of blame is shifted around, but certainly as close to the whole picture as I've been able to get on Rwanda.

Best BB I think is a short history of nearly everything, simply amazing...

20th Dec 2007, 13:20
The Oxford English Dictionary.

Bit of a poor story, but I like the way it explains things as it goes along.

20th Dec 2007, 13:31
The Zyxt did it, for anyone who hasn't read it yet.

Just finished John Grisham's 'The Innocent Man'.
Very scary considering it's a true story!

Edit: Just read Bill Peterson's reaction to the book. He was and still is the District Attorney of Ada, Oklahoma, who prosecuted the case. Very thought provoking. Appears that he doesn't think too much of Mr. Grisham. Can't think why...

20th Dec 2007, 13:41
Gerald Seymour's latest two: "The Unknown Soldier" and "Rat Run". Particularly liked "Rat Run", if only for the great twist at the very end.

20th Dec 2007, 13:51
The Oxford English Dictionary.
Bit of a poor story, but I like the way it explains things as it goes along.

I find it quite good but only for the odd spell now and then

20th Dec 2007, 14:18
What Einstein Told His Cook (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393011836/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top)


off centre
20th Dec 2007, 14:37
The History of the Air Intercept Radar & the
British Nightfighter, 1935-1959

Beaufighters in the Night: 417 Night Fighter Squadron USAAF

Night Fighter over Germany

Bit of a rut, I'm afraid.

20th Dec 2007, 14:40
What Einstein Told His Cook (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393011836/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top)


Had to re-read that one, Ozzy! For a moment, I thought it said... ;)

20th Dec 2007, 15:13
A new stash of black lace/erotic fiction books, interspersed with muscular development.



20th Dec 2007, 15:56
The Secret River by Kate Grenville.

If you live in Sydney or near the Hawkesbury, her prose takes you right there in the early 1800s.

20th Dec 2007, 16:09
'The Innocent Man'.

I found this book scary too but still a compelling read.
Defines the dark side of Policing & Justice in the USA

20th Dec 2007, 16:47
A reprint of Sigh For a Merlin, being an account of the wartime experiences test flying Spitfires, by Alex Henshaw.

The royalties from this print run go to the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Ancient Mariner
20th Dec 2007, 17:27
Just finished "Prisoners of the Japanese" by Gavan Dawns. Scary and food for though. Started on John Chang and Jon Halliday's "Mao The Unknown Story". Interesting background for one who's spent considerable time in mainland China, well written too.

20th Dec 2007, 17:43
Enjoyed all books by Stephen Coonts. His latest one 'The Traitor' is next on my list.

20th Dec 2007, 17:57
"Horses Don't Fly: A Memoir of WWI" by Frederick Libby

Cowboy from Colorado ends up as a pilot in WWI, great story of a fascinating life.

20th Dec 2007, 18:07
Right out on a limb, these. Alexi Sayle has written these three (in no particular order):

Lonely Woman's Hotel - a complete story. Very edgy, but very well written.

Barcelona Plates - a collection of short stories. I really didn't see the endings coming of several of them!

The Dog Catcher - another collection of shorts. Was reviewed on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago. I REALLY didn't spot the ending of the title story!

For such an "angry" comedian (I only know him from his Young Ones days) he has a good depth and is a very accurate observer of the human condition. Non of them are particularly "comfortable" reads, but then again who needs a sugar coating all the time?



20th Dec 2007, 18:08
"Life with an Idiot," by our very own Foss.

Oh, wait.................

henry crun
20th Dec 2007, 20:51
The Zanzibar Chest by Aidan Hartley, A graphic description of the beauty and the horrors of Africa.

If you are aircrew and want a laugh, try Fitness to Fly for Healthy Bastards by Dave Baldwin.

Lamenting Navigator
20th Dec 2007, 21:14
Do audio books count?

Didn't think so. I've just started "What Orwell Didn't Know", a collection of essays on PR, propaganda and political spinning.

Standard Noise
20th Dec 2007, 21:24
'Prisoners of the Japanese' - Gavan Dawes. Thought provoking and upsetting at times.
'Secrets of the Master Chefs' - Irvine Welsh. As strange as ever an Irvine Welsh novel can be.
Just started 'Sea Harrier over the Falklands' - Dave 'Sharkey' Ward.

20th Dec 2007, 21:27
Down & Out in Paris and London - George Orwell

20th Dec 2007, 21:51
'Beyond the Blue Horizon' by Alex Frater.
Just finished it actually. It was about re tracing the old Imperial airways route from London to Brisbane. But he did it in the 80s' and some of the original airfields are no longer there, and some back tracking along the route to make it to as many places as were along the original route, very very interesting read. Especially crossing Iraq, and Oman and Pakistan in F27s, and over to India and then down through SE Asia nd on to Darwin eventually through to BNE, great book

Loose rivets
20th Dec 2007, 21:54
The Soul made Flesh.

Incredible insight into the way people thought in the mid 1600s. I really didn't know that Christopher Wren was more interested in dissection than architecture.

This book is filled with the atmosphere of the era.

What has puzzled me for many years is the dichotomy between man's stunning achievements with building for example and his total lack of awareness about the human body. I know, one is visible and obvious...but even adjusting for that.

So much mystery about the heart, when 100 years before Leonardo had found out about the turbulence in the heart helping to shut the valves.


Buster Hyman
20th Dec 2007, 22:08
I'm in between re-reading John Birminghams Final Conflict, World War 2.1 (as recommended by Prooners) & 2.2. To vary it a bit I've just started Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett.

I'd also highly recommend Passengers who make your flight hell by our very own Prooner Geoffrey Thomas. (They say the cartoons are brilliant!):ok:


21st Dec 2007, 01:51
"There's a boy in there" by Judy and Sean Barron. Probably of limited interest to the general public. But for anybody with an autistic family member, a 5-star book. Sean is a 'recovered' autistic and Judy is his mom. The book consists of her writing from her notes in raising her difficult autistic son, and his recollections of what was going through his mind. It was a book full of despair, hope, and triumph. Perhaps it has given me some insight into my 4 year old's autistic mind. Hopefully someday he can tell me.


21st Dec 2007, 02:09
I keep "Beyond the Blue Horizon" in my nav bag by Alexander Frater.

Right now, reading "Mad, bad and dangerous to know" by Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

kiwi chick
21st Dec 2007, 02:31
The Da Vinci Code and it's fantastic!!

Nearly finished, then next in line is Angels & Demons by same author (Dan Brown)


uffington sb
21st Dec 2007, 09:02
Strangers in my Sleeper
By Peter Riordan
Rail journeys and encounters on the Indian subcontinent.
Something I hope to do myself next year.

21st Dec 2007, 09:22
So nobody will admit to reading a little bit of trash inbetween their very grown up books ... ?!

21st Dec 2007, 10:21
'The War and Uncle Walter'

and by the bed, for a reread, 'Jingo' (I usually reread in bed, it doesn't matter too much then if I fall asleep and lose my place).

Loose rivets
25th Dec 2007, 06:02
I gratefully accepted one of Stephen Hawking's later books...well, two really, it also has 'The Universe in a Nutshell." within the same hard back, and set about reading 'Brief History' for the third time. I expected to recall most of it...but I didn't.

The many new and more complex Pictures and some of the techniques and analogies used to explain fairly complex subjects, are much better in this book compared to the original. The whole thing has moved up a gear towards the heavier end of the Pop Science literature found in today's non specialist book shops. In the nutshell we find...SUMS!!! something he said would lose him sales. you have to put your thinking cap on when it comes to P-brains.

All in all a good read that's moved with the time.

25th Dec 2007, 09:15
Home Run by John Nichol & Tony Rennell, Allied aircrew on the run in Europe 1940-45.

Anzio by LLoyd Clark, the beachhead invasion of Italy.

Both recommended,
B Regards

Tony Hirst
25th Dec 2007, 10:09
I've had Flight of the Mew Gull partly read for a long time. Making an effort to finish it off. Not to diminish Henshawe's incredible achievements, but he is not a writer. The only hardcore aviation page turners I've come across so far are Alex Kimble's Think Like a Bird and the venerable Fate is the Hunter with a mention in dispatches for Wellum's First Light.

Loose Rivets,

Despite his efforts to make Brief History of Time more readable for the hoy paloy, I found it seriously hard going, can't remember if I even finished it. I did however read John Gribbins biography which explained the theories beautifully (I assume, it felt like it anyway). Gribbins' other books Shrodingers Cat and Shrodingers Kittens are absolutely and totally fascinating.

25th Dec 2007, 23:37
I just finished "Rat Run" by Gerald Seymour. Great story. Next book will be "The Rain Goddess" by Peter Stiff. Haven't started yet, and the book is brand spanking new. Gotta love Christmas.

26th Dec 2007, 00:39
So nobody will admit to reading a little bit of trash inbetween their very grown up books ... ?!

FWOF, I don't think John Grisham and Dan Brown are held in wide acclaim by the admirers of Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, and the like. I personally haven't read much since the advent of computers, but I would be reluctant to admit to most of what I have read.

Perhaps you should be a little more specific about your black lace/erotic fiction? :E

Loose rivets
26th Dec 2007, 06:07

Gribbin and White's "Stephen Hawking, a life in Science." Rekindled my love of physics many years ago. There was a series, but the one about Hawking was in my opinion the best. They used the technique of Chapters alternating between the man and the science.

Leon Lederman's 'The God Particle.' Is one of my favorites. A bit dated now, but give a good description of the 'Standard Model'.


EDIT: Thought it rang a bell.


EC Does It
26th Dec 2007, 12:13
"La Reina del Sur" or "Queen of the South" for you gringos, by Arturo Perez Reverte. It gives a fantastic insight into the shady Costa del Crime and its inner workings, politics and corruption. The English version is pretty good too, one of the best translations I've ever read. If you have visited, or been on holiday to this part of the mundo, then it's a must!!

Lamenting Navigator
26th Dec 2007, 16:56
The President's Last Love by Andrey Kurkov.

I adore modern Russian literature (in this case, Ukranian). I met Kurkov a few years ago and he signed my copy of Death and the Penguin and Penguin Found for me, complete with doodle of a penguin...

This is his latest, about the President of Ukraine who has a heart transplant, with plenty of flashbacks over his life so far. A political satire about the Soviet Union and the independent former Soviet states. Pretty good so far.

26th Dec 2007, 17:52
I've got three new books for Christmass. Bill Bryson "Shakespeare" -- very interesting; he brings to life a very academic subject. Not funny, resemble his "A Short History of Nearly Everything" in a way it is written.

Currently I'm reading J.O'Farrell's "An Utterly Impartial History of Britain" and it's brilliant, funny, witty and fast-paced. I love it (so far).:)

The third book by Ben Elton "Blind Faith". I haven't started on it yet, but I like Ben Elton and hopefully will not be disappointed.

27th Dec 2007, 21:06
***WARNING***this book is seriously**Addicitive**The one im reading now is 'How to do just about everything'. Clear insructions on how to do just about anything...even if it had never occured to you to do them in the first place.

29th Jan 2008, 15:50
"The Terror Presidency" by A. Goldsmith, former head of the Dept of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel.

A memior of his time in the Bush Administration, like all such books, he uses it to justify/defend his actions - many not liked by the Administration and it eventually threw him under the bus for his actions.

But, he articulated very well some concepts I've been trying to grasp and put forth here but unsuccessfully for the most part.

Some examples:

"Lawfare" - the attempts by smaller nations to influence the actions of larger, more powerful nations through international tribunes and trials. In other words, a nation's sovereignty is eroded by the desires of others.

Of how terrorists and organizations work insidiously to have the international communities include their agenda. For example, the PLO managed to have the definition of 'combatant' changed to allow for non-uniformed/non-state directed armed individial. In other words, a terrorist should be granted the same post-capture treatment of a soldier.

He wrote an excellent description of how intelligence agencies are caught in an endless cycle of being too aggresive - CIA in the 1960s for example - then are investigated and pilloried and those agencies then become risk-averse for fear of legal prosocution. Then something bad happens - the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran/Americans being held hostage and those same agencies are crucified for not knowing/doing something. So said agency gets frisky again - El Salvador, for example - and again gets neutered for being too aggressive. Then 9/11 and it gets hammered for not stopping the bad guys. So 'aggressive interrogation' happens and the pendulum swings the other way in the press and it's torture.

He discusses the very real concern of government officials and agencies of having the responsibility of stopping another attack but being held in check by political and antiquated laws written before all the instant communications were envisioned.

Those officials have to protect the nation but have to follow the law. But are responsible in both cases for the outcome. Which is worse, to break the law or to have a giant 'boom' in Manhatten?

How every military and policy decision is bogged down in legal wrangling and delayed while the issue is dissected to the atomic level. In other words, lawyers are in control and, as a profession, are more suited to saying 'no' than to taking the risks that might be necessary to fight terrorism.

He takes the Adminstration to task for not cooperating more with Congress especially when it had the majorities in both Houses. Instead, he argues that the 'go it alone, damn you' attitude actually caused more harm than good regarding Presidential powers.

Anyway, it's an interesting read.

Flap 5
29th Jan 2008, 16:20
Vulcan 607 by Rowland White.

Spotting Bad Guys
29th Jan 2008, 16:37
Reading a lot of autobiographies at the moment....the one currently on the go is Barefaced Lies and Boogie-woogie Boasts by Jools Holland...quite an entertaining read if you don't mind the odd expletive...

Just finished Bobby Charlton's book too....very good.


29th Jan 2008, 17:10
I've recently discovered audio books and they're great, considering I never make time to read.

They are abridged but if you really like the book you can always read it afterwards.

Just finished Grisham's 'The Innocent Man' too, Bill Peterson, the prosecutor who sent him down, sounds indeed like a nasty piece of work. I'm not surprised he doesn't like Grisham. Although I've just googled him too and note he has a website that rebuts a lot of what is in the book.

Now listening to Charlie Connelly's 'Journey Round The Shipping Forecast' which I started reading, and liked, but never finished.

Listening to audiobooks in the car is a good way of accessing literature if like me you're too lazy to read.

I've always liked Frank Gardner too so that one is next on my list, even if it doesn't come out in audio ;)

29th Jan 2008, 17:27
Humble Pie (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Humble-Pie-Gordon-Ramsay/dp/0007229682/ref=pd_bbs_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201631170&sr=8-4), by Gordon Ramsey...his dad was a right barsteward...could explain a lot!


29th Jan 2008, 19:07
Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook- About all those things you wanted to ask but didn't. How to stop a runaway camel, bribe airport authority and so on... :E

Hagbard the Amateur
29th Jan 2008, 21:23
"The Shadow Of The Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón for anyone who likes Barcelona and wants to read narrative looking at its poetic beauty.

"One Big Damn Puzzler" by John Harding for anyone who might be interested in why an intellectual on an un named south pacific island should want to translate Shakespeare's Hamlet into his local pidgin English dialect.

29th Jan 2008, 21:25
Just finished reading 'The Bomber Boys', left me feeling uncertain whether or not the sacrifice and destruction was really worthwhile. No doubts though regard the absolute courage of those young flyers.

Just starting to read 'BRING THE HOUSE DOWN' by David Profumo. It tells the story of family life surrounding his father's downfall in '63

29th Jan 2008, 21:52
A few on the go at the moment, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, though if not an oxymoron he is preaching to the converted!

Joe r Lansdale - The Shadows, Kith and Kin, great short stories by one of my favourite writers, and also rereading Watchmen by Alan Moore

29th Jan 2008, 22:45
"Don't tell Mum I work on the Rigs.....
(she thinks I'm a piano player in a whore-house"

Paul Carter

Very amusing, and sometimes harrowing, recount of the authors' time spent working in the oil industry


Buster Hyman
29th Jan 2008, 23:43
Just started "The Wee Free Men"

30th Jan 2008, 02:50
Born On A Blue Day, by Daniel Temmet, an autistic savant with synthesia. Very interesting look at autism from the inside.

Ace Rimmer
30th Jan 2008, 08:11
Riding Rockets - Mike Mullane a different sort of astronaut autobio recommned it

Ref Byson - the man is a genius loved everything of his I've read, going on leave in a few weeks best see if I can find the Shakespere one...

30th Jan 2008, 09:23
'Wings on my Sleeve' by Capt Eric 'Winkle' Brown

More firsts and more aircraft types than anyone I've ever heard of. I don't know how anyone can have a career this interesting.

30th Jan 2008, 10:00
Dresden by Frederick Taylor.

The amount of bombs dropped is absolutely incredible.
Pathfinder group, 60 Lancasters
27 4,000 pound mines
94 1,000 pound 'ordinary' bombs
159 500lb bombs
And that's only to mark the target.

1st Bomber group 248 Lancasters, dropped 145 4,000lb mines, total of 387 tons of bang, and a whopping 312,666 incendiaries.

3rd bomber group of 151 Lancasters managed to drop an 8,000 mine (!) and 119 4,000lb mines. And 130,000 incendiaries.

Not finished yet...
6 Bomber group dropped 65 4,000lb mines and other HE, 216 tons in all.

But they were flying massive doglegs all over Europe to confuse the Germans.
Including one crowd who confused themselves and bombed Prague by mistake.
History of early radar and long wave direction finding is very interesting.
I'm not making any moral judgement on the raid, I'm just surprised they didn't crash into each other.
But it's pretty grisly reading, especially the first hand accounts.

30th Jan 2008, 12:34
I just ordered 9 books, you rotten lot.

30th Jan 2008, 13:02
I can recommend any Kurt Vonnegut novel, particularly:

Slaughterhouse 5 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Slaughterhouse-Childrens-Crusade-Dirty-dance-Death/dp/0099800209/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=gateway&qid=1201701151&sr=8-1)


Breakfast-Champions (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Breakfast-Champions-Kurt-Vonnegut/dp/0099842602/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201701151&sr=8-2)

Some of the characters of his novels appear in others so once you have read more than one you seem familiar with them, it's nice. Vonnegut fans will know what I mean and may be able to explain this phenomenon better than I.