The Book Thread

  • I recently finished Love All by Elizabeth Jane Howard, of whose work I'm a great admirer. It was one of her last novels and tells the stories of two families and the connections between them, set in England in the late 1960s.

    I'm now reading music journalist Dylan Jones's book about The Witchita Lineman, in my view one of the best songs ever written and certainly in my top 10 favourite songs. One thing I've already learned that I didn't previously know: when Jimmy Webb wrote it and sent it to Glen Campbell, he hadn't even finished it. He was still developing it but wanted Campbell's thoughts on his work in progress. The next thing he knew, Campbell had recorded it and that was that.

    Abandon all reason

  • I just finished Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell. Without ever naming him it tells a story of Shakespeare's family, left alone in Stratford-upon-Avon for months while he worked in London, and how during one of these extended absences his young son dies.

    It's beautifully written and has one of the most moving endings of any book I've read. So much so that, sitting here in the café at Eden Court arts centre I was in tears. With actual sobbing and everything.

    Abandon all reason

  • If you can stomach a dystopian novel set in a tuberculosis sanatorium prior to World War One, read The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. Very heavy going. I thought the place was going to be exposed as a fraud, as people kept arrivng, and being diagnosed, and never leaving (as in Hotel California). Recommended.