Popular Music - Michael Niemi
Rushing to Paradise - J. G. Ballard
Fighter Pilot - Duff Hart-Davis and Colin Strong
Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction - Sue Townsend
Johnny and the Bomb - Terry Pratchett
Everyday Life in Ancient Rome - F. R. Cowell
Melanie at the Jazz Café
Films seen at the cinema:
A book tagged 'The Nick Hornby of the Arctic' was bound to get my attention. Matti's coming of age in northernmost Sweden is sometimes funny, sometimes sad and sometimes gross, placing universal problems and feelings in a remote, snowbound setting.
I wish I could read this in the original and get all the dialect jokes. And that there were huskies in it, obviously. Otherwise a near-perfect read.
Rushing to Paradise
Ballard's death filled me with the urge to read some of his works, and to my great joy I found one on my sci-fi shelf I hadn't read before. This time round the dystopia is an island wildlife sanctuary turned into something more sinister by charismatic yet barking naturalist Doctor Barbara. The sights, smells and sensations are brilliantly described as always.
In 1981 this book-of-the-TV-series was an account of contemporary life in the RAF, following six hopefuls from their initial interviews at Biggin Hill all the way to the fast jet stream. Now it's a fascinating document of a time when war with Russia was a constant threat and you had to wear a collar and tie in the Officers' Mess. Bonus unintentional LOLs are the cadet named Al Stewart and the description of nuclear test drills in West Germany in which hooters go off at the base: 'there are hooters at the Married Quarters too'. I bet there are.
Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction
Reliably funny. Nitpick, though: surely Adrian's teacher wasn't actually called Miss Elf in the original secret diaries? I thought this was a nickname based on her love of pixie boots.
Johnny and the Bomb
More from Johnny Maxwell, a boy who worries too much and has extraordinary things happen to him. These two facts may be connected. Pratchett has succeeded in writing a children's book that touches on moral and philosophical issues while being funny and tense, but I still like Only You Can Save Mankind best of the trilogy.
Everyday Life in Ancient Rome
Some years ago, strange_complex kindly made me a list of useful books about, well, everyday life in Ancient Rome, which I have subsequently mislaid. Perhaps if I ask nicely she will make me another one?
It's noticeable how books about Rome reflect the interests and prejudices of the age in which they were written - so, in Cowell's book, Roman women stay at home doing housework 'just as they do in our day'.