February Reading List

Here’s what i read this month:

If nobody speaks of remarkable things – Jon Macgregor
A debut novel set in a suburban street in some northern town, revolving around the events of one sunday afternoon and the aftermath. the ‘prose poem’ moments most usually grate but otherwise it would be unkind to malign a highly commendable and modestly readable first novel.

The Mathematical Brain – Brian Butterworth
A psychologist surveys our mathematical abilities – well almost – we don’t really know much about the whys and wherefores of maths skills so mainly he looks at our most basic arithemetic and some of the suprising things ever so rarely that can go wrong with it. It succeeds as an Oliver Sacks type book but fails to paint a bigger picture or explain what it describes.

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience – Mark Johnson
A worthwhile intro to the topic that i mainly read to suck up to Prof Johnson and his cronies.. nonetheless, it is excellent on the research into development of Cognition, in particular in brings very up to date with the most plausible modern stance on what regrettably is called the ‘nature-nuture’ debate.. the neurophysiological chapters are excellent.

Introduction to Connectionist Modelling of Cognitive Processes – McLeod, Plunkett & Rolls
superb connectionist textbook – really gets to the heart of modelling and the motivations behind it.. excellent worked examples/exercises to run through using the provided software.. didn’t really understand connectionism in any more than a theoretical way until i had read this hands-on primer.

Love among the chickens – P G Wodehouse
An early Wodehouse, written in 1906 when he was first finding his comic voice and inimitable style. All the usual elements are there – though the timing and execution of the jokes has yet attained the stamp of genius.

I, Lucifer – Glen Duncan
Cunning, crackling and blackly comic. A highly ambitious 1st novel attempting to be a first person account by Lucifer himself. it carries off the wit, intelligence and erudition of the dark prince and even does well in capturing the malevolence and seduces you into feeling that maybe Satan is misunderstood.

Mother London – Michael Moorcock
Moorcock has an effortless fluency in his writing that brings alive the neglected corners of London. The story follows the meanderings of three ‘lunatics’ from the moment the bombs start falling in the Blitz upto the mid 80’s of Thatch, the book too meanders not seeking to tell a tale but to weave together descriptions of Londoners-London and to paint portraits of the outsiders who are at home in such an diverse and unusual city. I wasn’t here then but it really feels like he’s talking about the same town i experience every day– fantastic!

Three – Georges Perec
Three short tales by oddball french genius Perec including The Exeter Text which uses no vowels other than ‘E’ – using up all the ones he had left over after excluding them from his novel ‘A Void’, an eye-wetting read.. and the mind boggles at the job the translator achieved!


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