Click here for part one.
6. The First Ten Books by Confucius, who has nothing to say about flies or toilet seats.
I wish this book came with an introduction and end notes. The format is interesting: short reported anecdotes, questions asked by various people and the Master’s responses. The overall vibe seems to be a hardcore conservatism: change nothing, protect the people, respect the rites, do things the way your fathers did them.
But without knowing more about the context I was left a little hollow by the whole thing. Was interesting to try an pick out what the differences were with Lao Tzu (see below).
Would probably recommend, but in an edition with more commentary.
7. A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin, who seems unaware that the moon landings were faked by Stanley Kubrick in the New Mexico desert.
Great non-fiction, telling the story of all of the Apollo launches. Chaikin tells compelling stories of the men and the missions and skips over the more repetitive elements focusing on what made each of the flights interesting.
Would highly recommend.
8. The Drosten’s Curse by A. L. Kennedy, who is Doctor Who?
I am a fan of A. L. Kennedy, who signed my copy of this when I met that one time in Guernsey;and I am regular watcher of Doctor Who, if not precisely a huge enthusiast. So I was predisposed to like this, and remained disposed post-disposal.
It is a funny, moving, and frequently creepy and sinister story. Told with all Alison’s usual skill and flare, while also being precisely Doctorish. I had one or two quibbles where some of the genuine fairytale nastiness was walked back a bit, but on the whole a great family book.
I would highly recommend.
9. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, who is … ?
I have no idea what to make of this one. Arranged as a series of somewhat cryptic poems, this work of wisdom didn’t seem to have all much content which I could get out as, like the Confucius, this came without an intro or end notes.
Would not particularly recommend.
10. An Appeal to the Toiling, Oppressed and Exhausted Peoples of Europe by Leon Trotsky, who is not as cuddly as the Trots I know.
This collection of Trotsky’s speeches and articles made for interesting reading (and topical too as Corbyn won the Labour leadership again while I read this). Trotsky is a compelling rhetorician but without his later exile I can see him going on to be a pretty irredeemable totalitarian himself; the early speeches are full of reasons to ban and/or murder political rivals…
As a historical document it was fascinating and its always interesting to see what the more practical realities are for individuals trying to live by broad idealist ideologies.