February 2020 Reading Roundup

From Japanese literature to the history of Serbia via the aftermath of war in Sierra Leone, this has been a good month’s reading for me. Here’s a roundup of the books I’ve read in February. The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata This was my read for this year’s Japanese Literature Challenge. I plan to write a full review… Read More

January 2020 Reading Roundup

The first month of the year took me from Greece to Serbia via Vienna (don’t ask!), and in the world of books it took me from a Cretan classic to a medieval poet, via some self-help literature, a road-trip novel, and a new theory of climate change. Here we go… Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future by… Read More

Shulem Deen’s Powerful Memoir of Hasidic Life

All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen is a powerful account of the author’s escape from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect known as the Skverer Hasidim—an escape that ultimately costs him his relationship with his wife and kids. But it’s also more than that. It’s a book that raises interesting questions about belonging, identity, integrity and conformity. The tale… Read More

2019: My Year of Full-Time Travel

As regular readers may know, I’ve been travelling full-time with my wife Genie since the beginning of 2015. We don’t have a home anywhere, just a second-hand Toyota in which we travel from place to place, mostly in and around Europe. We pay the bills by doing freelance writing and editing work as we go. I’ve always meant to blog… Read More

Best Books I Read in 2019

How was your reading year? I read 58 books overall, which was not as many as I’d hoped, but still about one a week, which is OK for me. It was a busy year in many ways, and I didn’t always have much time for reading, but I still read some excellent books. Here’s a quick rundown of the best… Read More

Inside the Syrian Conflict With Jonathan Littell

Homs is one of those places that, like Aleppo and Kandahar and Mosul, has become a byword for suffering. For years it appeared on the nightly news with images of corpses, rubble, wailing widows and intrepid reporters ducking as a shell lands close by. In my childhood, Beirut and later Sarajevo were similar shorthand for misery, along with Belfast during… Read More

German Literature Month: The Weight of Things by Marianne Fritz

German Literature Month happens every November, and usually I remember about it some time in December. This year, though, I’m taking part for the second year in a row! After my review of Austerlitz last year, here are my thoughts on The Weight of Things by Austrian writer Marianne Fritz. There are some pretty horrible characters in The Weight of Things, from… Read More

October Reading Roundup

It’s been a busy couple of months for me, driving across Europe and along the Black Sea coast of Turkey, and now exploring Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Add in full-time freelance work and my continuing attempts to finish a novel, and it doesn’t leave much time for blogging. So I seem to have missed the September roundup, but I’ll go… Read More