Category Archives: Books

Feeling Adventurous? Think of Thesiger

Sometimes, I do feel the twitch of adventure. Like Bilbo did before he bumped into Smaug the dragon. But I don’t fly off to the Amazon jungles. I pull out Wilfred Thesiger’s book “Arabian Sands“.  The book starts this way

I first realized the hold the desert had upon me when travelling in the Hajas mountains in the summer of 1946.

And here he is talking about the experience in his own words

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Have you forgotten about Vogon Poetry?

Sometimes you get the sneaking suspicion that everything and everyone is conspiring against you.  Yes, even the cat. Especially the cat! When those moments come — and they will — it is time to fish out your copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from under the bed and start reading. The first book of the trilogy starts off something like this

Orbiting (a rather unremarkable sun) at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

And remember …

Borges: Paradise in a Library

One of my favorite books is called “Seven Nights” and it is a collection of lectures given by Jorge Luis Borges. I highly recommend it as summer reading. But why is this so special? Borges speaks to entice and calm the spirit. And his love of exploration is infectious. One of my favorite quotes from from the book is the start of his lecture about “The Thousand and One Nights”

A major event in the history of the west was the discovery of the east.

How about this image for a genie?

The Tiger in the Smoke

What are you reading this summer? Hopefully not a dreary old “how to …” book. In my most humble view, summer is the time for fun and that means fun reading. Did you know that “The Tiger in the Smoke” is considered to be Margery Allingham’s finest work?  Her detective, Campion appears there are a bit player.

moonlight over the moor

A lovely phrase. But where did it come from? A book, likely enough. But from what era?  One hears this kind of reference from England … and there is a fascination with the desolation of the moors in Victorian writing. Could it be from Sherlock Holmes? The Hound of the Baskervilles? Yes! And I am reading  the 1987 Folio Edition with rather unique lino-cuts by Edward Bawden. Sadly, Bawden passed on just a few years after the printing.  Gory loved his work, btw. Reading the first chapter, I was re-introduced to the “penang lawyer“, in this case, belonging to the mysterious Dr. Mortimer. I must search for one next time I visit London.

Loving Chateau Thames Embankment

I fear that my readers may sense a mild infatuation with the crapulous when I say that I miss Horace Rumpole. Not so! I never wanted to be like Rumpole , even in my lawyering days (though I did then and still do have a soft spot for cheap claret).  I miss Rumpole’s moral compass. His dogged pursuit of ideals rather than status.  Those qualities are hard to find in a modern setting, and one must be grateful to the writer, John Mortimer, for bringing us this great character. BTW, Mortimer’s book on the good life,  “Where There is a Will” is one that I periodically return to, this morning reading his essay on Lord Byron over coffee. Well done!