I just spent a good few minutes staring into the middle distance in my office, trying to work out how to theme this post and what to write at the beginning of it. Then I opened my notebook and flicked through it absently. Then I clicked on my WhatsApp window and scrolled down a couple of conversations I’ve had with friends.
Then I snapped out of it and just started to write.
Normally I open these weekly round-ups with a spiel about something that’s been on my mind over the last few days, but very little has been in my head this week except a constant spinning to-do list, rolling down into an eternal deep. Read more
Following on from yesterday’s best fiction post, here are the best non-fiction books I read this year. (Note that not all of these were published this year, that’s just when I read them.)
The following are abridged reviews; where there’s a longer version on the blog, I’ve linked to it.
Today I came to a realisation that can be summed up in a sentence that sounds fairly simple, but has taken me an embarrassingly long time to grasp:
Just because you’re good at something, that doesn’t mean you have to do it.
Previously I’ve been mini-reviewing books in the reading list section at the end of my weekly round-ups, but they’ve been getting a bit long and unwieldy of late so I thought I’d move them to their own separate post.
Sometimes a book will merit a post all of its own, or I’ll be given a book by a publisher in exchange for a full review, in which case they’ll be reviewed separately. But I do like to keep track of the books I’ve read and what I liked / disliked about them, and I read so much that I don’t have time to write full reviews of everything. So here we go: the first of the weekly book review lists.
Just a shortish one this week, since I’m tired and I have a lot of other things to write.
The book is out! You can buy it here.
2016 was seriously the best year I’ve had for books in ages. Despite it not being a great year for, well, pretty much everything else globally.
But in times like these, you grab what happiness you can get, right? So here are my favourite non-fiction books of 2016.
Robin Lane Fox, Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford and Reader in Ancient History, University of Oxford, has recently released a new book about Augustine. I picked it up the last time I went into Waterstones, because it had a pretty cover and because I find Augustine’s views generally interesting.
Winner of the Wolfson Prize for History 2015, the book charts Augustine’s life up to and including his writing of the Confessions. It compares and contrasts his path with those of other thinkers of his time, including the pagan Libanius.
A couple of interesting thoughts about human spirituality and the beginnings of religion, from The Beginnings Of Religion by E.O. James.
A couple of weeks ago, two of my friends came over for dinner. One is a committed atheist, the other a vague Christian. And me, a… well, a scar.
The conversation turned to religion at one point, and my atheist friend said that she didn’t understand how anyone intelligent could possibly believe in a god. How she is stunned to see scientists and people like them expressing beliefs in entities whose existence can’t be empirically proven.
The Occult Tradition by David S. Katz is a book I read a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed, mainly because it didn’t just discuss dubious claims of current witches dating back their ancestry to ancient Egypt, but took an in-depth look at ‘occult’ concepts in a very literal sense – in the sense of discussing hidden or obscure material.
A lot of the book focused on Jewish and Christian mysticism, which was interesting because again this isn’t something that’s always heavily discussed in books on occult themes.