Book choice for October 2008

Brideshead Revisited [suggested by Chloe Brew]

front cover

The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh's novels, "Brideshead Revisited" looks back to the golden age before the Second World War.  It tells the story of Charles Ryder's infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly-disappearing world of privilege they inhabit.  Enchanted first by Sebastian at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognize only his spiritual and social distance from them. [from]

The book has its own Wikipedia page.

About the Author

Evelyn Waugh was born in 1903 and was educated at Hertford College, Oxford. In 1928 he published his first novel, Decline and Fall, which was soon followed by Vile Bodies (1930), Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938).  In 1945 he published Brideshead Revisited and he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1952 for Men at Arms.  Evelyn Waugh died in 1966.

Naturally, he too has his own Wikipedia page.


Shortlisted for this month

The nominator can now decide whether to bring one, two, or three books to be chosen by the group (or mandated in the case of only one book being selected).  This month, Chloe suggested two other books besides the above:

Bad Science

Bad Science

How do we know if a treatment works, or if something causes cancer?  Can the claims of homeopaths ever be as true - or as interesting as the improbable research into the placebo effect?  Who created the MMR hoax?  Do journalists understand science?  Why do we seek scientific explanations for social, personal and political problems?  Are alternative therapists and the pharmaceutical companies really so different, or do they just use the same old tricks to sell different types of pill?  We are obsessed with our health.  And yet - from the media's 'world-expert microbiologist' with a mail-order PhD in his garden shed laboratory, via multiple health scares and miracle cures, to the million pound trial that Durham Council now denies ever existed - we are constantly bombarded with inaccurate, contradictory and sometimes even misleading information.  Until now.  Ben Goldacre masterfully dismantles the dodgy science behind some of the great drug trials, court cases and missed opportunities of our time, but he also goes further: out of the bullshit, he shows us the fascinating story of how we know what we know, and gives us the tools to uncover bad science for ourselves. [amazon]

About the Author

Ben is an award winning writer, broadcaster, and medical doctor who has written the weekly Bad Science column in the Guardian since 2003.

He appears regularly on Radio 4 and TV, and has written for the Guardian, Time Out, New Statesman, and the British Medical Journal as well as various book chapters.

He has won numerous awards, including "Best Freelancer" at the Medical Journalists Awards 2006, the Healthwatch Award in 2006, "Best Feature" at the British Science Writers Awards twice, for 2003 and 2005, and the Royal Statistical Society's first Award For Statistical Excellence in Journalism (�250 and an engraved crystal paperweight!).
The above taken from the Bad Science website.  Ben Goldacre also has the ubiquitous Wikipedia page.

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

Novel by Anthony Burgess, published in 1962.  Set in a dismal dystopia, it is the first-person account of a juvenile delinquent who undergoes state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behavior.  The novel satirizes extreme political systems that are based on opposing models of the perfectibility or incorrigibility of humanity.  Written in a futuristic slang vocabulary invented by Burgess, in part by adaptation of Russian words, it was his most original and best-known work.  Alex, the protagonist, has a passion for classical music and is a member of a vicious teenage gang that commits random acts of brutality.  Captured and imprisoned, he is transformed through behavioral conditioning into a model citizen, but his taming also leaves him defenseless.  He ultimately reverts to his former behavior.  The final chapter of the original British edition, in which Alex renounces his amoral past, was removed when the novel was first published in the United States. [amazon]

As a group we do have a tendency to suggest books with their own Wikipedia page.

About the Author

Anthony Burgess is the pen name of the polymath who was born John Burgess Wilson in Manchester, England on 25 February, 1917 to a Catholic family of Irish and Scottish ancestry.  His mother, Elizabeth Burgess Wilson, and his only sister, Muriel, died in the influenza epidemic the following year, and the loss of his mother had a profound effect upon Burgess's life and work.

Burgess was educated at Xaverian College and the University of Manchester.  He served in the Army from 1940-1946.  In 1942 he married his first wife, Llewela (Lynne) Jones, in Bournemouth while he was musical director of an army dance band.  For much of the Second World War he was stationed in Gibraltar.

After the war, Burgess moved with Lynne to Adderbury.  While there he wrote his first two novels, A Vision of Battlements and The Worm and the Ring, although neither were published until years later.

In 1956 his first novel to be published, Time for a Tiger, appeared under the name of Anthony Burgess.  He continued to balance his teaching and writing careers, completing his Malayan Trilogy with the novels The Enemy in the Blanket (1958) and Beds in the East (1959).  By the end of 1962 he had published seven novels, including The Doctor is Sick, The Worm and the Ring, and A Clockwork Orange, and two translations upon which he had collaborated with Lynne.

The above abridged from his short biography at his personal website and amazingly there's also a Wikipedia page.


Previous Months' Book Choices

September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006