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The Children of Húrin

The Children of Húrin

J.R.R. Tolkien

2007


The long-form collected version of the tale from The Silmarion. It's worth a read for a dedicated Tolkien fan (of which I am one), but in fairness doesn't add a lot more in either detail or texture to the previous text.

2/5. Finished 11 January 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News

Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News

Emily Maitlis

2019


A choice collection of anecdotes from one of the best-known faces on British TV, at times hilarious and at times somewhere between shocking and terrifying in terms of how some of the figures who make the news actually behave, and how shallow they often are when questioned by someone who knows their stuff.

4/5. Finished 02 January 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

Greg Lukianoff

2018


It's hard to know whether to be terrified or simply shocked by this book: it depends on whether you believe that the currents at work on US campuses must inevitably make their way to Europe. Certainly we see many of the same issues: a reduction in the resilience of the student population, a narrower focus, more stress. But we haven't (yet) seen the corollaries to the same extent: no-platforming, triggering, the equation of words with violence that leads to all sorts of impossible situations for academic institutions. Maybe the best way to treat this book is as a warning about one possible direction of travel: I still hope that we can keep universities as places where anyone can hold any opinion for which they can generate a reasoned and evidenced argument – and one that they're willing to defend intellectually against those with contrary ideas.

4/5. Finished 01 January 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Jack of Shadows

Jack of Shadows

Roger Zelazny

1971


A characteristic Zelazny mix of sci-fi and fantasy. You can clearly hear the echoes of Amber in the general set-up of the story, even though in a far less well-developed form.

3/5. Finished 22 December 2019.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Connections

Connections

James Burke

1978


The original (I think) work of trying to weave the threads of technological change through history – and possibly still the best. In terms of the broad sweep of history and the wedding of social and scientific factors, it's hard to beat.

I don;t know how many of Burke's connections are genuinely novel to him: did anyone before postulate that the Black Death led to the emergence of automation by making machines cheaper than manpower for the first time? Or did he get it from an earlier source? Whichever: for a lot of people (myself included) this book (which I first read over twenty years ago) was our first exposure to these ideas, and indeed to the idea that science and technology are in a two-way conversation with society.

4/5. Finished 18 December 2019.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)