Books: May to September 2021

What was once a meticulous record of read books, replete with individual summaries, thoughts and reflections…. is now a messy book dump. You’re welcome!

Here you are, in no particular order:

1. Murder on the orient express – Agatha Christie

Classic whodunnit from the world’s best-selling writer. Enjoyed this as an audiobook performed by the (unbelievable!) Dan Stevens. ★★★★

2. A Hero Born: Legends of the Condor Heroes Part 1- Jin Yong

Sensational introduction to the world of wuxia! This genre is huge in China and Jin Yong is the godfather. ‘Legends of the Condor Heroes’ is set around 1100 — a turbulent time in Chinese history with the Jin-Song wars taking place as Genghis Khan armies were building in the north. Unforgettable characters, terrific narrative, humour, historical interest —this is story-telling at its best! There’s four books in this recently translated series, each as good as the next. Set aside a week or two and enjoy! ★★★★★

Deserves a book cover!

3. A Bond Undone: Legends of the Condor Heroes Part 2 -Jin Yong ★★★★★

4. A Snake Lies Waiting: Legends of the Condor Heroes Part 3 – Jin Yong ★★★★★

5. A Heart Divided: Legends of the Condor Heroes Part 4 – Jin Yong ★★★★★

6. Klara and the sun – Kazuo Ishiguro

A novel set in the near future with AFs (artificial friends) living among us. Asks what it means to be human. Thought provoking. ★★★☆

7. The buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro

Set in a post-Arthurian, medieval Britain where an ancient spell casts a veil over the memory of the people. Slow moving and peculiar in parts. ★★★

8. Remains of the day – Kazuo Ishiguro

A meditation on the purpose of life through the eyes of an English butler. Ishiguro is such a classy writer but after three titles in the row, I’m still not completely sure how much I enjoy reading him. Hmmm..★★★☆

9. Unbroken: Survival. Resilience. Redemption.

This is as good as narrative non-fiction gets. Staggering, heart-breaking, truly inspirational. Still can’t quite believe it. ★★★★★

10. I, Partridge: We need to talk about Alan – Alan Partridge

Audiobook narrated by the man himself. Hilarious — loved this. ★★★★☆

11. The Diary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott – Robert Falcon Scoot

Listened to the abridged version narrated in fine fashion by actor Edward Fox. Plan to read more on Scott. ★★★★

12. AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order – Kai-Fu Lee

Some interesting ideas. The author placed himself in the centre of things wherever possible which was tiring by the end. ★★★

13. Imperial Woman: The Story of the Last Empress of China – Pearl S. Buck. 

The Good Earth was a brilliant read. Here Pearl Buck recreates the life of Tzu Hsi, the last Empress of China. Reads like historical fiction more than non-fiction, but this was apparently well researched and is broadly accurate. An intriguing read about a fascinating time in China’s history. ★★★★☆

14. The Game – Neil Strauss

An eye-opening, slightly depressing account of the life of a professional pick up artist. ★★★

15. The E-Myth Revisited: Why most small businesses don’t work Michael Gerber

Essential reading for anyone starting your own business. This was a big bestseller maybe 20 years ago but the core takeaways remain. There’s plenty of hokey dialogue in the examples but it’s still worthwhile. ★★★★

16. The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by Politics and religion – Jonathan Haidt

In this important follow up to The Coddling of the American Mind’, moral psychologist Haidt looks into the ways our values and intuitions divide us. Dense in places, but generally well-written and accessible to the lay reader.


17. The Way of Effortless Mindfulness: A revolutionary guide for living and awakened life – Loch Kelly

Loch Kelly teaches a style of meditation based on the Sutra Mahamudra. Non dual awareness is a tricky one to explore and I need to spend more time with this. There’s a couple of interviews and a series of guided meditations on the ‘Waking Up’ app, for anything interested. ★★★☆

18. The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor – Eddie Jaku 

A new release that found its way onto Scribd. Terrifying in parts (as expected) but filled with warmth, real generosity and hope. ★★★★

19. Call of the Wild – Jack London

Picked this up after seeing it mentioned in Bob Dylan’s ‘Chronicles’. Full of nature and well, the WILD. Set in the North American artic— this is an immersive, invigorating read. ★★★★

20. In Order to Live – Yeonmi Park

Perspective-shifting. Thoroughly worth your time. ★★★★☆

21. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls

Heartfelt memoir. Similar in some ways to ‘Educated’ but without some of the depth and raw power. ★★★

22. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

Set in a global pandemic, this seemed like a suitable read. Started well enough but by the end I was struggling — only just got over the line with this one. ★★☆

23. Sweet Bean Paste – Durian Sukegawa

Reminiscent of ‘Samurai’s Garden’ with a little less nature. Should appeal to fans of Japanese food. ★★★☆

24. The Ice Master – Jennifer Niven

Terrific retelling of the doomed 1913 voyage of the Karluk. The cast isn’t as likeable as Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ crew but this a gripping read ★★★★☆

25. Killing Floor – Lee Child 

Jack Reacher, ground zero — where it all started! Fragmented short sentences make for an unusual style here in Child’s first novel but it kind of works. I’ve read most of the Robert Ludlum’s back catalogue, and this is similar. Classic page-turning thriller in any case. ★★★☆

26. Die Trying – Lee Child

These Reacher books are a bit like crack, hard to stop once you’ve started…but 500 pages later you kind of wonder why! Still solid escapist read. ★★★☆

27. Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes

This 2012 satire bring brings Hitler back to the present day. Stumbled on this while looking for something else on the kindle and ended up reading it all again. Clever, rather brilliant writing. ★★★★☆

28. An astronaut’s guide to life on earth – Chris Hadfield

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield became a household name a few years back when his space videos and version of ‘space oddity’ went viral. Much more detail in this one than I expected — more wisdom and insight as well. Lots to consider here for those navigating life on Earth. ★★★★

29. Everything is f*cked – a story about hope – Mark Manson

This is Mark Manson’s second. More philosophical than the first. F-bombs still abound but don’t let that put you off, Manson is a keenly perceptive writer who will force you to consider new perspectives. ★★★★

30. Wind & Pinball – Haruki Murakami

While these two shorts books are part of the Trilogy of the Rat, Murakami considers his next, The Wild Sheep Case, his first ‘proper’ novel. These are still worth picking up (they come bundled together on kindle) if you’re a fan of Murakami — trademark touches abound — including this, the first Murakami ‘cat encounter’ ..who else could have written this?! ★★★☆

The Rat pulled a smoke from his pocket, smoothed the wrinkles, and lit it.

“I do have a cat, though,” J added.

“She’s getting on, but she’s still someone to talk to.”

“You talk to it?” J nodded several times.

“Yeah, we’ve been together so long we know each other pretty well. I can tell what she’s feeling, and she’s the same with me.”

Cigarette between his lips, the Rat grunted, impressed.

The jukebox clicked, and Wayne Newton gave way to “MacArthur Park.”

“Hey, what do cats think about, anyway?”

“Lots of stuff. Just like you and me.”

“Poor things,” the Rat said, laughing. J laughed too.

“She’s one-armed,” J added after a long pause, rubbing the countertop with his fingertips.

“One-armed?” the Rat asked.

“The cat. She’s a cripple. Four winters ago she came back one day all covered in blood. Her paw was smashed so bad it looked like strawberry jam.”

The Rat set his beer down on the counter and looked square at J.

“What happened?”

Pinball, Murakami

Hope everyone’s well. Read anything good in the last few months? Let me know!

14 thoughts on “Books: May to September 2021

  1. Call of the Wild I’ve always been interested in reading…
    Jeremy try Trouble Boys about the Replacements…you talk about dysfunctional.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. totally agree about K Ishiguro – I’ve read 3 of his now and I’m scratching my head?! Really enjoying Generation X – Douglas Coupland at the moment, and read a great book ‘How to Live’ by Sarah Bakewell – it’s basically an introduction to Michel Montaigne – very accessible and enjoyable to read.

    Hope everybody is good!


    1. Aha so I’m not the only one mixed about Ishiguro. Not to say he doesn’t write beautifully but there always seems a distance with his characters — I never really feel full engagement with the stories.
      Will you follow with an email x


  3. Hey Jeremy,

    I’ve bookmarked this post! A Hero Born sounds great and something my brother would like too. But so many good mentions, books I had forgotten that I wanted to read like An astronaut’s guide to life on earth – Chris Hadfield and I like Mark Manson so I’d imagine I’d like his book. And Dan Steven’s reads Agatha! I swear the Brits got the audiobooks down with so many great actors.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Murder on the Orient Express is a fantastic read. I remember seeing its movie adaptation without realizing it was the book and I kept thinking, I know this story but cannot place it until the end. Haha. The premise of Klara and the Sun sounds very interesting, too. Nice picks you have on here!


  5. Jeremy… off the wall question when you revisit your blog…of course I’m watching the Beatles Get Back… George and John are playing a six string Fender VI Bass…. have you ever checked it out? It doesn’t have the thick strings…it seems like a baritone guitar…but it is a bass. I’m seriously thinking of getting a Squire version…


    1. Hey buddy – sorry, never here these days. I haven’t seen the doco yet as I refuse to sub to disney+ for one year to watch it! I have seen clips of that fender bass/guitar. Looks cool. Will be tough to buy for a good price after the film. I bought a casino recently and had to buy new, the second hand market dried up over night! If you find out more about the guitar I’d be delighted to know more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks man…yea I knew it woud be a while before you got back to me lol.
        My cousin recorded Get Back so I never had to stream it.
        I will let you know.


  6. Great list! I also had a hard time with Station Eleven. I wasn’t able to finish it but I’m still curious why so many people love it (it even has an adaptation now, that I also can’t seem to like. LOL). Looking forward to the rest of your list, or a yearend favorite perhaps? Happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I am not so sure why that book got so popular. I can only guess it had something to do with the pandemic and the associated book lists it managed to get on — it’s why I read it!


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