Recent reads:

I try to keep a running commentary on the books I've read.

The writing I like:

Novels by Nevil Shute

Nevil Shute was an English engineer who lived in the first half of the 20th century. Just too young to get killed in the first World War, and just too old to see active service in the second. He lived in the Golden Age of aviation, when small aircraft cost about as much to run as a car , and every level piece of grass was a landing strip.

As every good writer does, he writes what he knows about. Many of his novels are set in the world of aviation, some on the sea, some about the east, where he traveled. He wrote about emigration to Australia, because he had done it himself. His stories have the uncanny feeling of smoothness, they start and grow and reach a climax and stop when its over. There's very little, or no, artificial building of tension, and every bit fits. Some would find his stories boring, but I think they're beautiful.

Fantasy by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is the author of the Discworld novels. It is an inhabited world at the edge of reality, a disk-shaped world, supported on the backs of four elephants, who stand on the shell of a giant turtle. It is world where the gods go around breaking the windows of the atheists' houses, where Death does house calls, where witches are honoured (you won't dare not), where wizards like food and leisure, where there's no racism, because speciesism is much more interesting. But most of all it's a world inhabited by very human sapient species. It's a world where rulers can be cruel, just or incompetent. Where prejudice, appearance and crime competes with truth, ability and honesty: and usually there's no clear winner. His novels are witty, funny, and makes you think seriously about human behaviour.

The poetry of AE Housman

I always thought poetry bunk, until I read Housman.

He, standing hushed, a pace or two apart
Among the bluebells of the listless plain
Thinks, and remembers how he cleansed his heart
And washed his hand in innocence in vain.

If you think this has no meaning, you may be right. Poetry need not have any meaning. Housman convinced me in a lecture The Name and Nature of Poetry

Not surprisingly, it was Nevil Shute that introduce me to Housman. In 'Beyond the Black Stump' he quotes the following poem.

Oh, when I was in love with you,
 Then I was clean and brave,
And miles around the wonder grew
 How well did I behave.

And now the fancy passes by,
 And nothing will remain,
And miles around they’ll say that I
 Am quite myself again.

Bartleby has an online edition of Housman's first volume of poetry "A Shropshire Lad"