And the year’s book count is…

What's On the Bookshelf?


Yes, I know that there are still five days left in 2010, but I doubt that I will finish Les Miserables by then (reading a non-abridged translation…current update is: finished Book One). I’m hoping to finish Les Miserables before I return to school mid-January.

2010 was a good year for me, book reading wise. Way back in middle school, my favorite teacher suggested that I make a list of every book I read. Took a few years, but I finally got around to it. I think it’s a pretty successful exercise, and I’ll be continuing in 2011.

2011, along with having my list of what books I’ve read, will include a list of movies I’ve watched. I considered starting it this October, when I started watching a TON of classic and generally awesome movies. But that list will start January 1st as well.

As for the books I read this year, there were a few stand-outs, particularly in the getting-me-to-be-creative front. First up is Dante’s La Vita Nuova/The New Life. I read The Prince with the thought that Macchiavelli’s work would help with word-building (particularly around the power department), but it was Dante’s reshaping poetry that really stuck.

For sheer captivation, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy really grabbed my attention. I guess that 2010 was the year of the Spy for me, reading three works by John Le Carre, Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale and numerous books on spy television for my epic thesis.

And, to keep me from losing sight on the small things, Alexander McCall Smith’s works. I’ve caught up with his wonderful 44 Scotland Street series and am anxiously awaiting the release of the next one. Plus, I met Mr McCall Smith, which was wonderful.

So, what does 2011 have in store for me? Well, after finishing Victor Hugo’s epic Les Miserables, I have no idea. I want to read some of Len Deighton’s stuff, and will probably read Smiley’s People by John Le Carre (I must know how the Karla saga ends).

TU: Arrival

Thesis Updates

Thesis research is going well. This is definitely the most fun I’ve had researching a paper. I’m reading books, both fact and fiction, about spies and spy television. I’ve got my next trip to the library planned (Monday!) to pick up a book by John LeCarre and to return Casino Royale. I hope to find a book about Britain and the Cold War, or at least a European perspective on it. That may prove difficult, but I’ll try my best.

Once I finish this viewing of The Prisoner, I plan on watching a few episodes of The Avengers. I picked up a few DVDs from the library. Should keep me busy for a couple of days.

I’m really hoping that I’m able to get Secret Agent AKA Danger Man from one of the out of town libraries. It has been on my watch list since December. I’ve seen a few of the 30 minute episodes and am anxious to see the hour long ones as well. So many of the academic sources I’ve found on The Prisoner discuss Danger Man as well, so I consider it vital viewing. So vital, I may have to buy the series when its rereleased this fall.

The book I’m currently reading, simply entitled Spy Television is fascinating. It has the history of the different shows and some cultural analysis as well. I intended only on reading the intro, conclusion and the chapter on the McGoohan shows, but going from start to finish–I can’t put it down.

What’s on the Bookshelf? Vol. 14

What's On the Bookshelf?

Up to 14 already? And I don’t even review every book I read (though it sure seems like it!)

The Irregulars by Jennet Conant is a remarkable story. Its the story of the British spy ring in WWII Washington, and focuses specifically on Roald Dahl (yes, he of James and the Giant Peach).

While I found Conant’s writing a bit prone to cliches (or at least over familiar turns of phrase) at times, the story line is absolutely fascinating. Truth really is more interesting than fiction. The characters are larger than life, but at the same time, real. Dahl, the charismatic RAF pilot. David Ogilvy, the polling genius. William Stephensen, the Canadian head of the BSC. And, of course, Ian Fleming.

There are some real laugh-out loud moments (intentional, I’m sure), as these amatuer spies are quite spirited.

I’d wanted to read this book since Entertainment Weekly reviewed it last year…and my roommate had me read some of Dahl’s adult short stories (including “Genesis and Catastrophe” which I urge everyone to read).

This book is really what got me thinking that my WIP should be set during WWII. I was half way there already. I just needed the proper encouragement.

And somehow, in one photograph and a paragraph, I got on a Leslie Howard kick. Must update my Netflix queue.

Recommended for any one who has an interest in WWII espionage or Roald Dahl.