The weekend is upon us, and it’s time to turn to serious topics.
What books do you have on your nightstand? The weekend is always a good time for me to catch up on pleasure reading – and I’m always up for recommendations, so do share what you’re reading now.
Here’s what I’ll be reading this weekend.
Middle England – Jonathan Coe
I somehow missed this novel, and only learned about it when a colleague suggested I read it, and lent me her copy. I’m only a short way in, but I’m thoroughly enjoying this story of England in 2010-2012, in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis, and as London is gearing up for the 2012 summer Olympics.
The novel follows an interesting cast of characters: Benjamin, a writer dealing with his elderly father following his mother’s death, his niece, art professor Sophie, out to “make a success” of her latest relationship after a string of failures. Benjamin’s friend Doug is a liberal political columnist who one imagines writing Guardian-type op-eds. His privileged life in his 6 million pound villa always risks edging into the sanctimonious, leftist tone of his articles, threatening to expose his hypocrisy. Then there’s his “social justice warrior” daughter, Corrie, attending a posh private school by day and rioting and looting against “racist police and elitist society” in her free time. I’m only a short way in, but thoroughly enjoying the novel so far, with its strong writing and character development. Looking forward to my journey to ‘Middle England’ over the weekend.
Running with the Kenyans – Adharanand Finn
Full disclosure here. While I’m pretty athletic and love sports, there’s no way on earth I’d be reading sports books like this if I weren’t reading these with my younger son – a sports fanatic, with a weak spot for track and field. Together, we’ve read biographies on Usain Bolt, Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis. Now it’s time to explore long-distance running, and specifically the Kenyans who have dominated the sport in recent years.
I’ve been enjoying this book. The author, a weekend runner, hopes to discover the secrets of the world’s strongest long-distance runners by moving his family to Iten, in Kenya’s Rift Valley, and training with the world’s best as he prepares to run his first marathon. I’m about halfway in, and it’s shaping up to be an interesting read. It will also guilt me into cracking out my trainers this weekend to do my jogging, but thankfully, not alongside the indefatigable Kenyans. My son is already tough enough running company for me…