Sunday 31 May 2009

Picked up a good book

One of the things I find most frustrating is that I'm not particularly well-read. I went through a phase in my 20's when I started to read some of the classics and some more challenging modern fiction. I even bought Ulysses, but put it away until I was ready for it.

Truth is, I don't think I'll ever be ready for it. I got fed up one day when reading some impenetrable passage of magical realism by an author whose name I cannot remember and picked up Julian Rathbone's The Last English King instead. This was different, this And interesting. And very moving.

After Rathbone, I got into Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden, Steven Pressfield and then went back to David Gemmell (I read Gemmell's fantasy novels when I was a teenager and loved them; my 13 year-old son has subsequently worked his way through my ageing collection of Gemmell paperbacks with great energy and passion.)

From historical fiction, I moved on to factual historical books (again, something I read a lot of when I was a teenager)and also discovered a love for books about engineering and popular science. And that, broadly, is where my tastes lie now. In fact, my current reading list covers rather typical 40-year-old-male territory. By the side of my bed, should you choose to look there, you will find books on Alexander the Great, Anglo-Saxon England, Victorian Engineering, D-Day and disused railway lines. Oh, and also an autobiography by Bill Bruford.

In fact, probably the only constant in my reading habits over the last quarter of a century has been books on rock music. And I think Bruford has just written one of the best of them.

Bruford's book is not yer typical kind of book about rock. If you're after a straightforward canter through Bruford's musical life, then this isn't the place to start. Instead, it's a portrayal of the world-view of an unusually thoughtful musician coming to the end of his career. Sure, there are some interesting anecdotes in there about Yes and Crimson and Genesis, but this book is valuable because of its insight, because it makes you think.

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