Negroland: A Memoir


Read 14/03/2018-21/03/2018

Rating: 5 stars

I can’t remember where I found out about Margo Jefferson’s memoir Negroland. I thought I’d read a review on one of the book blogs I follow, but a search threw nothing up. Maybe I found it when I was searching for more to read about black experience in a white-dominated society. Maybe I saw it on someone’s Instagram. However it crossed my radar, I’m glad it did. Continue reading


The House of the Seven Gables


Read 07/03/2018-14/03/2018

Rating: 3 stars

I bought The House of the Seven Gables for £1 from the book shop in the café at Mrs Gaskell’s House. Once upon a time, it had cost five shillings, and its purchaser had given it to a friend. There’s an inscription inside the front cover. The recipient is nameless, the donor signs themself M.L. and it’s clear that the book meant a lot to them. Continue reading

Revolutionary Road


Read 09/02/2018-21/02/2018

Rating: 5 stars

This is the first Richard Yates novel I’ve read. I own it thanks to the Willoughby Book Club which, once I whittle my to read pile down, I intend to subscribe to again.

My first thoughts were that Yates is an Updike with charm, and that his prose style is the equivalent of Meryl Streep’s acting – a bubbling effervescence lying across hints of darker depths. Revolutionary Road is set at a similar time to Rabbit, Run. Its main male protagonist has similarities to Rabbit Angstrom, but he’s also more mature. Continue reading

Three Short Reads


I slowed down my reading during January, trying to get more depth of engagement with what I read, relishing it more. This includes books of less than 150 pages that I would typically zip through. Recently I read three short books from Penguin, all of them full of big ideas. It took longer than I expected, and I found strong links between the three, so I’m reviewing them together.

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Brad Pitt’s Dog


Read 16/01/2018

Rating: 3 stars

I’ve had the occasion to travel to New York for work, to meet a man who collects the ephemera of counter culture. We’re hoping to acquire the collection of another man, a British man who also collects the ephemera of counter culture in order to comment on it. He’s a man I like very much. I can’t name names yet, because the acquisition isn’t secure.

The man I’m meeting in New York is Johan Kugelberg. He created the Cornell Hip Hop Collection, as well as Punk archives at Yale and Cornell. He has documented The Velvet Underground. He’s a collector, an academic, an archivist, a curator.

I thought I ought to read something of his work before we met.

Brad Pitt’s Dog is a collection of essays written between 2001 and 2011 in which Kugelberg reflects on the meaning of celebrity and the death of celebrity, and what makes a counter culture. Continue reading

The Power


Read 22/12/2017-28/12/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Naomi Alderman’s Women’s Prize for Fiction-winning novel The Power has been talked about so much, that I felt like I knew it before I started to read it. The book wasn’t the speculative dystopian novel that I was expecting it to be, though. Instead, I found a political crime thriller that is exciting and tension-filled, making for a pacey and entertaining read. Continue reading