The Reading Room

Books for June

My choice of reading for the month ahead….

treeFollowing a series of gift vouchers for Amazon bestowed upon me for my recent birthday I decided to order three books with one in reserve. I have literally dozens upon dozens in stock waiting to be read but these vouchers were burning a hole in my virtual pocket and had to be spent!

I have long been a sucker for the political diary and my brother gave me a copy of the late Tony Benn’s diary, one in a series he produced before he died. I have no affinity with either Benn or the Labour Party but I am fascinated by British history and particularly the period of the said diary from the mid to late seventies and this is full of choice moments from that period.

So I bought the abridged version of the complete set, I don’t like  Benn sufficiently enough to warrant having half a dozen volumes on my already full bookcase so this seemed the most logical answer. The entries are revealing to say the least, the deep divides that killed his party in the run up to the 1979 election is plain to see. There is a wonderful entry from 1978 when he describes sitting outside the Cabinet room waiting for a meeting and an approaching James Callaghan, hearing Benn cough, remark “Nothing trivial I hope”!!!!

Next up is another diary, this time by ex-US President Jimmy Carter. I find Carter an interesting man, his political and statesmanlike stature has grown immeasurably since he left office. Considered by most a disaster during his presidency he will be remembered most for the Iranian hostage crisis and least for his attempts to highlight the issue of climate change. As an elder statesman it is hard not to like Carter and agree with much of what he says, he is right in his opinion of America’s current position in the world and how the rest of us view his country. I look forward to reading this diary and his considerable efforts and achievements in moving the Middle East peace treaties forward.

Finally I return to America with a book on drugs, famous drug users and how it affected their music, art, writing and films. ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ by Martin Torgoff deals with the American drug culture from 1945 to 2000. Torgoff’s book covers every period of artistic movement since the Second World War and how drugs inspired and then consumed those artists. For many, the drug-fuelled Sixties have always been a period of great interest because of the music it inspired whilst I have long been interested in the hangover from that era which was the 1970s and the progression into cocaine and heroin abuse. But this book isn’t just about Charlie Parker, Timothy Leary, Gingsberg et al, it also deals with those ‘ordinary’ people who became caught up in the romantic notion of expanding their own spiritual consciousness until it became a full-blown addiction and the inevitable fall-out which narcotics inflicts upon the user.

So, three non-fiction books for June, as Summer (hopefully) kicks in proper in July I shall return to some fiction and share my choices. Feel free to share your current or future reads with us.

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