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I just read 'Wasted' by Mark Johnson.


Its an autobiography describing his rather dysfunctional childhood, his path from there into heroin addiction and finally how he has set his life back on a more positive track.


What struck me about the book was how honest he was about everything that happened to him. I started reading it before I went to sleep - sleep got delayed until 3am when I finished it.

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'Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad. Pretty grim stuff but very good nonetheless. It's got lots of words that I don't know so I'm reading it alongside a dictionary, which is good cos you get to learn lots of new stuff. Anyone else here read it? I'm studying it for my degree so any opinions would be helpful :)


iA key text in the post-colonial field, eh no?? ... (where u studying?) But I can't think of it now without imagining grunty old Brando in Apocalypse Now ... the story goes (I quote) "Francis Ford Coppola believed that Marlon Brando was familiar with Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and had prepared for the role before the legendary actor arrived on the set. When Brando did come out, Coppola was horrified to find that Brando had never read "Heart of Darkness", did not know his lines, and had become extremely fat (Kurtz had always been written as a tall but starvingly-thin man). After some panicking, Coppola decided to film the 5'10" Brando as if he was a massively built, 6'5" brute (to explain Brando's size) and steered the camera clear of Brando's huge belly ..." So apparently Coppola spent days reading "Heart of Darkness" out loud to Brando on the set ...


Otherwise, I read a GREAT novel a few weeks ago, the first truly GREAT novel I've had hands on in a long time - Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Master_and_Margarita . It had been on my bookshelf for years and I'd picked it up a couple of times but always got stuck at the first Pontius Pilate chapter - but this time I persevered and it was absolutely transporting .... can't recommend it highly enough. Fabbie ...


Hi, I'm studying in Edinburgh. The Apocalypse Now story about Brando is funny and kinda sad i think too, to think he used to be such a dane. I've read HoD about 5 times now and can rate it as one of my favourite books ever.


As for now, I've nearly finished 'The Stornoway Way' which is the best recent novel I've picked up for years. All Shetlanders should read it especially. It's very funny and forlorn at the same time. Read it.


I'm at Strathclyde and we had to read Heart of Darkness on our course too - couldn't get into it though :(

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you mean fiction Ann Cleeves has written a couple. Not read any of them myself, but been told they are a good read.


Many thanks for this passing reference! I was just about to send off to Amazon for something else so ordered both Raven Black and White Nights. The effect of the latter was to keep me up till 2 am as I just had to find out whodunit!


I don't really read crime as a genre but I enjoyed these two hugely; they kept me guessing till the very last page. Plus I ended up getting the map out to work out which bits of geography had been transposed where! Then there was the fun of wondering which if any of the characters were based on real people (better keep my thoughts on that one to myself) and discovering on the author’s website today that I had at least correctly identified Busta and Bonhoga (aka Tony's mill...) as two of the locations.


Would be interested to hear if anyone else has read them? According to her website she has just finished the third of the planned quartet and it is set in Whalsay.


And then I discovered I wasn't the only one who thought well of White Nights: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/article3798814.ece

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Just read, 'Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha' by Roddy Doyle,


It was a really good read and a must for mothers of little boys, things might have changed but I would think it still worth a read, made me laugh out loud but there were a few sad bits.


It's about a 10 year old growing up in Ireland, but could have been anywhere, it's written as a 10 year old boy thinks.


Might be good for any males to remind them of their childhood.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I recently finished reading “Two Caravans†by Marina Lewycka--an interesting and often comical narrative about migrant workers in England.


I also recently finished “Slam†by Nick Hornby--perhaps this is aimed at a younger audience, but an enjoyable enough read nonetheless.


I am currently reading “The Fight for English--How language pundits ate, shot, and left†by David Crystal. I am not far into this book yet, but the author seems to have a magical knack of making grammar and punctuation interesting, while offering a comprehensive account of the evolution and usage of the English language.



As an aside, I was interested to read in a recent copy of The Shetland Times that Will Self will be in Shetland later this year. I have read a couple of his books--namely the Burroughsesque “My Idea of Fun†and “Dorianâ€, a modern day version of the Oscar Wilde classic--both of which I enjoyed immensely.

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I read Derren Brown's 'Tricks of the mind' on the ferry last night. Was ok enough, but nothing revealing about particular tricks, as I was hoping. It's not quite a self-help book, not quite a debunk book but covers a number of different topics from memory techniques, sleight of hand, a look at 'bad science', hypnosis, cold reading, NLP, and so on. Lots of different subjects discussed and handled with a professional yet light-hearted approach.


Overall it's pretty well written and peppered with amusing anecdotes. Worth a read if you're into this kind of thing.

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By strange coincidence, a second crime writer was writing his own procedural novel set in Shetland (name of the outlying island changed/fictionalised) at exactly the same time that Ms Cleeves wrote Raven Black. This came to light when she won the Crime Writers award, by which time the unfortunate author's book setting had to be re-located to the Western Isles. Still a decent read and it can even be found in our own Times Bookshop.


'Tis a small world, after all. :wink:


Your humble servant...


Post Script - personally, I recommend any of James Lee Burke's elegiac prose, and (as a close second) the first four novels of John Connolly (Britain's closest comparison to the sublime JLB).

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I enjoyed Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time", so I thought I would read another of his: A Spot of Bother.


About half-way through now. It's very well written, and appears to be a tale of how self-absorbed and isolated we really are, set in a mundane environment, following the lives of some pretty ordinary characters. Despite the unglamorous setting, however, it's very entertaining and retains momentum easily.


Haddon's writing is as seamless and accessible as ever. However, unlike Curious Incident, this is not a book for both children and adults; the topics handled are much more 'grown up'. Don't expect more Curious Incident because this is an entirely different book.

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I am currently reading 'The Right Attitude to Rain' by Alexander McCall Smith - the third instalment in the Isabel Dalhousie series. It's not as similar to the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency as you might think - it's a lot darker in tone, although still very readable. The first two books are 'The Sunday Philosophy Club' and 'The Right Attitude to Rain'.


I have also compiled a large summer reading list - it reads as follows:


Last King of Scotland - Giles Foden

Arthur and George - Julian Barnes

High Fidelity - Nick Hornby

Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive - Alexander McCall Smith

Black Swan Green - David Mitchell

Famous Writers' School - Steven Carter (which I found in Fopp last year and bought for a laugh as I am studying creative writing at uni :lol: )

Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Steep Approach to Garbadale - Iain Banks

The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie

Atonement - Ian McEwan

He Kills Coppers - Jake Arnott (purely from seeing good ol' Steven Robertson on the telly version - he's even on the front cover of the book I have 8) )

Wicked - Gregory Maguire

The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory


Wish me luck :lol:


Finished Last King of Scotland today, having begun it on Thursday night - riveting stuff! Read it if you can.

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I have just finished "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, and what a desolate road it is.

A grim journey through post apocalyptic America where a sense of foreboding awaits you on every page, but there's always a glimmer of hope. A real page turner and definitely worth a read--it took me two sittings.


Just read it and it kind of made me glad that I am closer to checking out of this world than I am to checking in. Well worth anyone reading.

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