June 2020: Reading Round-up (Lockdown Edition 2)

June 2020: Reading Round-up (Lockdown Edition 2)

Books I've read (or finished reading) in May and June 2020.
Books finished in May and June 2020.

The latest one sentence summaries of the books I’ve read between the last round up in April 2020 and the end of June 2020.

Non-fiction

Mariana Mazzucato “The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy”: Excellent book that takes to task economics as a subject (for getting disconnected from the notion of value), and big businesses that have become financialised, focusing on short term returns for their shareholders (and themselves), rather than (re-)investing, while also offering a solution to the identified problems.

Muriel Gray “The First Fifty: Munro-Bagging Without a Beard”: I remember enjoying Gray’s television series about climbing Munros from many years ago, and while the text does now seem a little dated (1991), it still has its moments.

David Attenborough “Adventures of a Young Naturalist”: The early career of the UK’s favourite naturalist covers his expeditions for the Zoo Quest series, but does raise the moral dilemma about whether the animals should have been left to thrive in the wild, or captured and put into captivity (not always for conservation purposes).

Olafur Eliasson “In Real Life”: The fascinating book that accompanies 2019’s exhibition at Tate Modern comprises several interviews by Eliasson with experts and practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds; he manages to bring them all together in a coherent way that informs his practice as an architect and designer. (Note: this is the book without a spine in the image, which is how it was published, for some reason!)

Robert Elwall “Evocations of Place: The Photography of Edwin Smith”: Smith was a fantastic photographer, and this book provides plenty of insights into his career and his methods, with a wide selection of photographs that illustrate why he was (and still is) held in such high regard.

Angus Peter Campbell, Shona Grant and Lesley Hardy “Oighreachd ar Sinnsearan (Catching the Spirit of South Uist and Eriskay)”;
Shona Grant and Lesley Hardy “Dualchas àraid agus prìseil (A Unique and Precious Culture)”: Two beautifully curated companion volumes of the photographs of Dr Kenneth Robertson, who lived and worked in South Uist and Eriskay for many years, evocatively capturing the spirit of the place and the people in the 1950s and 60s.

Adam Sobsey “Chrissie Hynde: A Musical Biography”: An unofficial biography which never quite makes up its mind about what it really wants to be, and ends up falling short on all levels as a result.

Fiction

Louise Welsh “No Dominion”: The final part of the excellent Plague Times trilogy, published in 2017, unwittingly (and scarily) predicts some of the situations we have seen arise during the time of Coronavirus.

Ali Smith “Spring”: The third part of Smith’s seasons series is another keenly observed critique of modern life in the UK, this time focusing on the immigration system and the way that detainees are so badly treated.

Giacomo Leopardi “Moral Fables Followed by Thoughts” (Translated by J.G. Nichols): Leopardi, who is regarded as one of Italy’s finest poets, was a true polymath (poetry, philosophy, philology and more), and this interesting volume combines his Moral Fables with his Thoughts, many of which will still resonate with people today, even though he died in the early 19th century shortly before his 39th birthday.

Poetry

W.B. Yeats “The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats”: A marathon, not a sprint, which reflects Yeats’ prodigious poetry output, covering a very wide range of topics, and illustrating his mastery of pretty much any, and every style of writing verse.