Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide, by John Cleese (Hutchinson, 2020)

A brisk overview of creativity as a concept and as part of writing and related practices. Straightforward and accessible (if geared to Cleese fans and to folk who know who William Goldman is) but undeniably brief, scarcely stretching to anything approaching book length. Still, some useful insights and experiences are noted.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists: A Graphic Novel, by Scarlett & Sophie Rickard (SelfMadeHero, 2020)

The working class lives of a team of decorators, and the impacts of capitalism upon them and their families. Hugely entertaining, detailed and effective graphic novelisation of the early 20th century socialist classic, and a fine book in its own right. Lots to appreciate in artistic and in adaptation terms, with the messages of the original coming through clear. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Thoreau and Me, by Cédric Taling (SelfMadeHero, 2020)

A hipsterish artist is challenged by the ghost of Thoreau to make a return to living in harmony with nature. Walden for beginners, basically, and charmingly done. Some good connections are made between the early 19th and 21st centuries, and there’s a tongue-in-cheek approach taken throughout that gently critiques the protagonist.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

The Forensic Records Society, by Magnus Mills (Bloomsbury, 2017)

A pub backroom hosts a weekly record listening session; rival groups soon emerge. Another of Mills’s deadpan absurdist satires/studies of entropy, this takes a sitcom setup (blokes in a pub) and weaves it into a parable about extremism, political infighting, the limits of faith and ideological purity. Highly recommended while also being for Mills fans only.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

 

A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind, by Shoukei Matsumoto [trans. Ian Samhammer] (Penguin Books, 2018)

A Buddhist monk’s guide to keeping home, head and heart clean. A clear and simple guide to living frugally, respectfully, and peacefully, though consideration of daily and other rituals of cleaning, care, order, and respect for one’s possessions and environments. A beguiling mix of household tips and zen philosophy; recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

On The Camino, by Jason (Fantagraphics Books, 2017)

An anthropomorphized account of a Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. A charming and melancholy graphic novel with some neat running gags and the imaginings of the protagonist’s movie-filled brain, this is a treat for anyone interested in walking, pilgrimages, and/or finding yourself a little bit. Lots to appreciate, rendered in simple black and white.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

We Have No Idea: a Guide to the Unknown Universe, by Jorge Cham & Daniel Whiteson (John Murray, 2018)

A layperson’s guide to astrophysics, from the presenters of Jorge and Daniel Explain the Universe podcast. And an excellent beast this is too, being both detailed and accessible, leavened with jokes and cartoons, and with enough explanatory reach and power to offer clarity and depth to their overview of some of the universe’s biggest questions. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Hero, by Lee Child (TLS Books, 2019)

A writer‘s perspective on what the concept of the hero signifies to them. A smart, clear monograph on different aspects of what a hero might be, on the origins of the word and its meanings, and its relationships to thriller fiction. Hints of autobiography and writing philosophy, plus a love of words, meanings, and implications.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Warrior Ethos, by Steven Pressfield (Black Irish Entertainment, 2011)

An overview of Spartan military and related philosophies. A clear and straightforward introduction, intended both as a primer for soldiers and to those addressing other conflict areas (creative struggles, etc). Useful and direct, not least if you appreciate the same author’s fiction and wider writings on creativity.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.