Report on Love of Country

A small but cosy crew enjoyed a discussion around Madeleine Bunting’s offering at the Waterloo Bar last week. The book on the table was Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey.
Thanks in advance for advance reviews from Brian and Declan. The general view was in line with your fine observations.
Much appreciated were the parallels (language, culture) between the Hebrides and Ireland and for providing an entrée into unexplored aspects of Scottish/Highland/Hebridean history and culture. Most felt that Bunting did a very good job of weaving together tales from a journey with a rich background of cultural, historical and geographical points of interest.

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Random Report on Sourdough

It’s almost a year to the day since I happened to stumble upon Annabel Scheme and spent the day engaged and enthralled.
I was already a huge fan of Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore/Ajax Penumbra 19691 and – if it’s any mark of appreciation for this superb author’s capabilities – I accidentally read Sourdough straight through today after it magically appeared on my Kindle this morning (I pre-ordered it a few weeks back). This is becoming a bit of a habit now. Continue reading

Report on the Lost Book of the Grail

Thanks for tonight. A stalwart crew and I wanted to get this back to you so we can plan for the busy next two months. Thanks in advance to Joe of his comments.
The Lost Book of the Grail was generally well received and as Joe noted ‘good but but great’ seems to have really summed up the wider club’s appreciation of the tome. I do think (and hope) that it was widely enjoyed and that the skilful weaving of time back and forth over 1000+ years of history was notable.

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Report on the Descent of Man

Thank you for what was again an engaged and free flowing discussion around The Descent of Man. Thanks Brian in advance for sending along your own evaluation.  Your thoughts well expressed and seemingly consistent with much of the discussion on Thursday.
There was general appreciation of the book and I am in a bit of an awkward posiion her as the low score outlier attempting to present a balanced report. It was a fine choice of a read if only for engendering engaged and lively discussion .

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Embracing Complexity. Craving Simplicity

More a caution than a critique, I was fascinated and left to ponder Peter Liu’s time-based spatially informed map presented in the MapBox Blog this week. I think that the concept is absolutely sound and the implementation is skilful, thoughtful and very efficient. It’s an impressive conceptualisation of how to rethink data representation for a particular decision-making process. That being said, it is probably important to realise that it calls for considered appreciation of the thought behind it and how we can take advantage of interactive way finding technology and not lose sight of the varied ways we get from A to B. Liu’s blog post is a very well articulated explanation of the thinking behind the reconnection and we need more of this sort of thing. But it raises some serious questions about technological dependence and critical engagement with the data we rely on today. Continue reading

Report on A Man Called Ove

A smaller than normal group convened for ruminations on a Man Called Ove last Wednesday and thanks for the submissions in advance of the meeting.
Ove sparked great discussion both via email and also in person so in that was certainly a good choice for provocation. As the final votes will show it cast a divided appreciation. I think Joe’s remarks occupied that middle group of enjoyed but not moved and set a marker of 5/5.5 for such a performance.

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Report on The Naked Swiss by Claire O’Dea

And so the Swiss…..
The Naked Swiss were well received into the Waterloo Bar ;-)
The general appreciation of the book was quite positive – some reading to substantiate or illuminate their own feelings and connections with the Swiss – most reading purely for general interest. The use of anecdotal injection was appreciated and did enliven what was otherwise relatively dense recitation of statistics. This certainly substantiated that the author did a fine job of marshalling research to address the myths that she aimed to address, but left a sense with some that it may have been somewhat tending to the journalistic in this regard. Good journalism though.

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Report on Norse Mythology by Gaiman

As with the past few novels, ‘Norse Mythology’ was generally well received. The overarching question asked was: Where was Neil Gaiman’s contribution to the canon. There was a sense that tales were well told and that length, language and introduction made for both an accessible and enjoyable read. The Gods are patently malicious, arbitrary and outright capricious. In that the author catches the sense and delivers.
Mortals are mere playthings and the nature of the Gods and their traits explains much about how a culture can perceive the natural world. Continue reading

Report on the HillBilly Elegy by JD Vance

Reporting back on our discussions I reflect that Hillbilly Elegy was not badly received, so first off thanks to Mike and Fergal for that coalition recommendation – again escaping the dreaded penalty round of drinks. Thanks to Joe for his round of drinks to allow for a brief visit.
The Elegy did have mixed reviews and the general pronouncement seemed to be that it did not actually tell us anything we did not already know – but they we are such and erudite and well informed group ;-)

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