I once asked Ken Follett, one of my favourite authors, how to become a good writer, his answer was simple, you have to read lots! So I do.
Here’s a selection of some that I have enjoyed (or not, in a few cases) over the last few years.
Elizabeth Gilbert - "Signature of all Things"
This is the first book of Elizabeth Gilbert that I have read, and it may well be the last. I won’t read her earlier works for fear they won’t measure up, and I will approach her future work with much trepidation, for fear of expectation. The Signature of All Things is a masterpiece, on the surface a well told tale of the extraordinary life of Alma Whitaker, spanning eight decades through the 19th century, written with incredible insight and detail, in a prose that makes you hang on to every sentence waiting to see what happens next. Yet the narrative is not about a life of adventure or drama (although it does contain it’s share of that, too), but about the spirit and endurance of humanity, and ultimately evolution. It’s fictional, but interwoven into the times so cleverly it could well be the story of a heroine whose values and fortitude was beyond heroic. It will remain one of my all time favourite books forever.
Rob Mundle - "Great South Land"
A great read (or I should say listen, as I did on Audible), Rob Mundle has a talent for narrating historical facts in a way that makes it interesting and enjoyable. I learnt a lot from this book, great insights into a fascinating period of maritime exploration and its motivations. Intriguing stories of how coincidence, greed, bravery and quite literally escapism shaped the time leading up to the discovery of Terra Australis. Our history could have been quite different with just another tack here, a wind change there….
Rutger Bregman - "Utopia for Realists"
This is not just about universal income, it is a book that challenges almost every antiquated notion about what our affluence is built on. It is a book pointing the way towards an alternative future, a world were we can realistically move towards an end to poverty and inequality. The author bridges the gap between history and present reality, without pontificating, carrying not just many convincing arguments for his beliefs, but doings so with both humility and insight into the human condition. Brilliant.