To say that social media has become all-pervasive in our society doesn’t quite cover it. We know now that it can reduce attention spans, lower self-esteem, disseminate propaganda, distort our perception of reality, and radicalise ordinary people towards extremism. Not many people know, however, the source of the problem, which is detailed in Kyle Taylor’s The Little Black Book of Data and Democracy.
Anthony Bourdain was best known as a chef, but along with his books on food and cooking, he wrote two novels, Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo, and Typhoid Mary. The latter book is a short history of the famous typhoid-carrying cook who unknowingly spread the disease all over New York. Bourdain brings a new angle to the story of Mary Mallon by writing about her as a fellow cook, bringing a personal dimension to a historical narrative. I thought it was an interesting and informative read about someone whose story has been distorted by history.
It’s safe to say that the sequels to the seminal sci-fi novel Dune are not as well-regarded as the original. There are five that Frank Herbert wrote: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse Dune, as well as many others by his son Brian Herbert. Having recently finished Dune Messiah, I thought it was a good deal more interesting than it’s been made out to be. If you haven’t read Dune, or if you’ve only seen the film, I’d suggest you stop reading now.
I’m not a big reader of crime novels, but every so often there’s one that gets my attention. Red Harvest was one of those. I’d previously read and liked The Maltese Falcon, so I was curious to try some of Dashiell Hammett’s other novels. Red Harvest was his first, and is notable for launching the genre of hardboiled detective fiction. In the 1920s, when it was written, the type of crime writing that was popular was Agatha Christie-style ‘cosy crime’. Hammett drew from his own experience as a detective in the writing of Red Harvest, bringing in a hefty dose of violence, moral ambiguity, and realism to a genre that was often sentimental and sanitised. I liked it even more than The Maltese Falcon, and appreciated its unremitting depiction of corruption and brutality.
Atticus Book Reviews
Book reviews and reading recommendations written by volunteers and friends of the shop!