Reading of books has taken a back seat of late as I have been studying Words and Music, a level 3 Open University course as part of a BA (Humanities) Degree. It has been hard going although often enjoyable and fascinating, and I have encountered lots of music (e.g. opera, South Asian, and Renaissance) which hitherto had been a mystery to me. Just at the minute I am struggling with an assignment in which I am required to compare Regis' Missa L'Homme Arme with Byrd's Magnificat. I am bound to say that I find the academic approach to music analysis a tad contrived and indulgent, not to say turgid. But there you go.
Any road up, I have managed to squeeze in a few tomes meanwhile, three of which are:
The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett - the twenty-somethingth book in the Discworld series. The story features Cohen the Barbarian leading The Silver Horde of ageing heroes as they seek to return fire to the Gods, with explosives as interest. The wizards and Lord Vetinari get involved to stop them, using a flying ship and...so on, with hilarious results.
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A Abbott - written in 1884 as a satire on social hierarchy but intriguing as it challenges dimensional perception. He pretty much agrees with me that there may well be lots of dimensions we don't know about. Reassuring to discover this bloke had the same thought as me, one hundred years earlier, and I'm not as mad as the glazed looks I receive would suggest.
Riders of The Purple Sage by Zane Grey - his first successful book and definitive of the genre (ahem). It features religious and sexual oppression, cattle stampedes, shootings, heroism, horses, revenge and big hats.
Meanwhile, the fortnightly London Review of Books has been providing some erudite, incisive and informative reading matter including articles/reviews on subjects such as Laurent Gbagbo, the American Civil War, the Afterlife, higher education, espionage in World War II, and many more. Very stimulating - I only wish I could remember it all.