Just finished two new books in a row. It’s an unusual feature of my life that I am relaxed enough to do this; normally, when my head is too full of stuff, or my diary is too full of deadlines, I tend to be too tired in the evening to give my full attention to reading. At the moment, most of my colleagues seem to be chasing exam marking deadlines, so I feel slightly guilty at this, perhaps, but then I’ve been using the time to think about some new ideas for research, so not too guilty. And, as I mentioned, reading some books; so, onto these.
Both were birthday presents, neither my choice, which made them all the more interesting. The first was by Barack Obama — never been a great one for political memoirs; why spend money on buying a book full of lies; or, at least, honest attempts at deception. Actually, though, Obama writes very lucidly and entertainingly. In this media and fame driven world, I guess this is as good an recommendation for presidency as any. The books interesting, although a bit motherhood and apple-pie; so saying that I agree with a lot of it, doesn’t really say much. Perhaps the most telling line was from the section on foreign affairs: we must, he says, act multi-laterially when possible, with international agreement; and international agreement doesn’t mean “armed only with the signatures of Britain and Togo”. Depressing, rather than insulting, because he is right.
On the other hand, Enough is about the problems with ever seeking for more of, well, lots of different things. As an information and music junkie, perhaps, you might think this is not a great message for me; but as it happens, I’m quite ascetic; I’m don’t have that many things and like to keep the things that I have; I’m not a great traveller. I even thought very hard about buying a new bike, and didn’t spend nearly as much as I could have because, well, the one I bought was enough. Enough is a funny, entertaining and timely rant about the more, more culture that we live in. Good read, well worth looking at.