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Showing posts from May, 2016

She's out of step with the style...

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I've said it before but it bears repeating: doing an arbitrary reading challenge in a modern public library is going to lead to a high occurrence of urban fantasy, chick lit and cozy crime novels. I'm not (necessarily) passing judgement here, just stating a fact. And if this is what most library users enjoy reading, I'm very much out of step.

My recent read fell into the second of these categories. Learn Love in a Week by Andrew Clover might be written by a man and have a review from a man on the front cover but it is most definitely chick lit. Arthur and Polly have been together for ten years (and three children) and their marriage is starting to get stale. Keeping a job she hates to fund Arthur's creative lifestyle, Polly finds herself resenting her husband's lack of earning potential and laziness around the house. Desperate to write and sell a teen novel, Arthur wants his wife to be more supportive and less rigid. When their two former paramours appear on the sce…

Is male chick lit a thing?

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Well, I suppose it must be. There's that Nicholas Sparks chap whose every sentimental offering is snapped up by Hollywood like a bad remake and, apparently, there's this Andrew Clover fellow too. This is my next arbitrary read and I've got to admit that I've been a bit slow in making a start on it. After all, Learn Love in a Week has a proper chick-lit cover and a very conventional plot: with a marriage on the rocks, will the wife be able to resist The One Who Got Away? And my answer: who cares?

No, that's mean. I've just not had much luck with this kind of book in the past. When I read Anyone for Seconds?, I actually became angry about how the gender roles were almost aggressively traditional, as if not wanting children is degenerate. Not all chick-lit is that way, I know, but the schmaltzier the cover, the more worried I become.

What gives me hope here is that having a male author in a typically female genre might lead to some deeper insights into the male char…

A thoroughly modern predicament

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One of the benefits of working in an academic library is the ready availability of smart books on a huge variety of interesting subjects. Thanks to this, I've recently read a book about the paranoia of bibliophobes, an exploration of punk music's links with dadaism and the situationist movement, and a history of early computing. If I was capable of retaining information, I'd probably be feeling a lot better informed right now.

The book pictured, Affluenza by Oliver James, is one of the best random picks I've made so far. It's by a prominent psychologist and broadcaster who believes that modern capitalism is making us both physically and psychologically unwell. He claims that we are trained to value the wrong things in life, having goals and motives that are to do with wealth gain and materialist satisfaction rather than more emotionally satisfying objectives. Not only does this poison our relationships with one another, it makes it almost impossible for those afflic…