selling some books



Attention book people! I’m selling off some (many) books again. Mostly fiction this time. Generally SF/Fantasy/Literary. Non fiction listed at the bottom.


If you want something and are in Wellington, let me know either via PM or in comments. Make an offer better than a second hand dealer will give me, which is not hard. Will let it run a week or so. Whoever makes the best offer gets the book.

Key: Author, Title, Type, Condition, (special comments)

Type: H = Hardback, P = paperback, TP = trade (large) paperback, X = ex-library

Condition: A+ = as new/very good, A = average, A- = below average (will note any noteworthy damage)


Ian R Macleod – The house of storms HX, A,

Ian R Macleod – The Light Ages PX, A

Ellen Datlow (ed) – Supernatural Noir PX, A (short story anthology)

Charles de Lint – Muse and Reverie HX, A (short stories)

Steve Rasnic Tem – The man on the ceiling PX, A

M John Harrison – In Viroconium P, A

Jonathan Lethem – Motherless Brooklyn P, A

Richard Arthur – I of the sun PX, A+ (looks real weird)

Ryu Mitsuse – 10 Billion Days and 100 Billion Nights TP, A+ (billed as the greatest Japanese SF novel ever; it isn’t remotely like anything else)

Richard Kadrey – Dead Set HX, A+

Catherynne Valyente – Six Gun Snow White HX, A+

Joe R Lansdale – Dead Aim HX, A+

Christopher Priest – The Separation HX, A (won BSFA and Arthur C Clarke awards)

Christopher Priest – Fugue for a darkening island P, A-

Christopher Priest – The Islanders P, A (won BSFA)

Vernor Vinge – Marooned in real time P, A

Stanislaw Lem – The invincible P, A-

Stanislaw Lem – His master’s voice P, A-

Steve Aylett – The crime studio PX, A-

Michael Marshall Smith – What you make it P, A- (short stories, back cover munched)

Adam Roberts – Polystom TP, X, A

Adam Roberts – Gradisil HX, A

Theodore Sturgeon – E Pluribus Unicorn P, A- (short stories, probably rare now)

Storm Constantine – Wraethu (omnibus containing enchantments of flesh and spirit, bewitchments of love and hate, fulfilments of fate and desire) P, A

Rudy Rucker – Hylozoic HX, A+

Charlaine Harris – Dead until dark HX, A (first of the books True Blood was based on)

Pohl & Kornbluth – Wolfsbane P, A- (prob rare)

Christoper Moore – Bloodsucking freaks P, A

Daryl Gregory – Harrison Squared HX, A+

Carolyn Ives Gilman – Dark Orbit HX, A+

Steve Aylett – Only an alligator

Steve Aylett – The velocity gospel

Steve Aylett – Dummyland

Steve Aylett – Karloff’s circus (these are a set of four, all PX, A)

Roberty Shea and Robert Anton Wilson – The Illuminatus Trilogy PX, A- (legendary, every home should have one, fnord.)

Liz Williams – Snake Agent PX, A

Liz Williams – Precious Dragon HX, A

Paul di Fillipo – Ribofunk HX, A-

Greg Egan – Incandescence TP, A

Keith Roberts – Pavane P, A- (fairly sure this won the world fantasy award?)

Charlie Stross – Singularity Sky HX, A

James Blish – Doctor Mirabilis P, A- (well foxed, vivid on cover, book looks super odd)

Clive Barker – The hellbound heart P, A (hellraiser movie based on this)

Clive Barker – Chiliad: A Meditation HX, A+

Iain M Banks – Surface Detail HX, A

Ian Esslemont – Night of Knives TP, A (part of Erikson’s Malazan books world)

Ian Esslemont – Return of the Crimson Guard HX, A+

Michael Moorcock – Count Brass: the tale of the eternal champion vol 14 (omnibus containing Count Brass, The Champion of Garathorn, The Quest for Tanelorn) TP, A

Patrick Rothfuss – The Wise Man’s Fear TP, A

China Meiville – The Scar HX, A- (sequel to Perdido St Station)

Stephen Donaldson – The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (omnibus containing The Wounded Land, The One Tree, White Gold Wielder) TP, A

Legends (stories by Martin, Feist, Jordan, Le Guin, Pratchett, King, Goodkind, etc, set in their most famous worlds) TP, A

Tim Powers – Hide Me Among the Graves HX, A

L Sprague de Camp & Fletcher Pratt – The Compleat Enchanter (omnibus) P, A

Jack Williamson – Darker Than You Think P, A+

A. A Attanasio – Killing with the edge of the moon HX, A

Jo Walton – The King’s Name HX, A

Daniel Fox – Hidden Cities PX, A

Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman – Fall of the Kings PX, A

JK Rowling – Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

Lavie Tidhar – The Bookman PX, A

Michael Moorcock – The Eternal Champion – the tale of the eternal champion vol 1 (omnibus containing The Eternal Champion, Phoenix in Obsidian, The Dragon in the Sword) P, A

Glen Cook – Water Sleeps (vol 9 of the black company) P, A-

Shaun Hick – The Army of Five Men P, A

Charlie Huston – My dead body

Charlie Huston – every last drop

Charlie Huston – half the blood of brooklyn (these 3 all PX, A)

Literary fiction/other

Alice Munro – The Beggar Maid P, A-

Margaret Atwood – Oryx and Crake P, A

Dambudzo Marechara – The house of hunger P, A+

Yann Martel – The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios HX, A

Robert Rosenberg – This is not civilisation HX, A

John Steinbeck – The moon is down P, A-

Darragh Mckeon – All that is solid melts into air HX, A

Allen Wheeler – The illusionless man P, A- (looks real weird)

Sir Thomas Mallory – Le Morte d’Arthur P, A (medieval epic poem version of Arthurian cycle)

Zadie Smith – White Teeth P, A

Denis Johnson – Tree of Smoke TP, A+ (National Book Award winner)

Denis Johnson – Fiskadoro P, A

Thomas Hardy – Tess of the D’ubervilles P, A-

Bruce Dickinson – The adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace TP, A

Bruce Dickinson – The Missionary Position TP, A (these two are toilet humour penned by Iron Maiden’s vocalist.)

William Burroughs jr – Speed H, A (no dust jacket. Not that this is NOT William S Burroughs but his son. Probably quite rare?)

Geoff Ryman – 253 P, A

Goethe – Faust part one P, A-

Andre Gide – The Immoralist P, A-

John Steinbeck – The Grapes of Wrath P, A-

Zhang Jie – Leaden Wings P, A

Michael Ondaatje – The English Patient P, A (Booker prize winner)

Elliot Perlman – Seven types of ambiguity

David Baldacci – The Winner

Russell Hoban – My Tango with barbara Strozzi PX, A

Russell Hoban – Amarylis Night and Day P, A

Tibor Fischer – The Thought Gang P, A

Amos Oz – Scenes from village life P, A

Thomas Pynchon – Against the Day HX, A

Thomas Pynchon – Vineland HX, A

Thomas Pynchon – Mason and Dixon PX, A

Jose Saramago – All the names H, A+ (nobel prize winner)

Elfriede Jelinek – Women as lovers P, A (nobel prize winner)

Luisa Valenzuala – The Lizard’s Tale

Paul Ableman – I hear voices P, A

Jean Cocteau – Les Enfants Terribles P, A-

Gregory David Roberts – The Mountain Shadow HX, A+ (sequel to Shantaram)

Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy P, A

Alice Munro – Lives of girls and women P, A

Fritz Zorn – Mars P, A

John Fowles – Daniel Martin PX, A

Yiyun Li – Kinder than solitude HX, A+

Jorge Luis Borges – Collected Fictions TP, A (incredible, only selling as I have two copies)

Jack Kerouac – Visions of Cody P, A-

William Faulkner – Mosquitoes P, A- (actually falling apart)

William Faulkner – The Mansion X, A

Michel Houllebecq – The map and the territory HX, A

VS Naipaul – A bend in the river (booker winner)

Anna Kavan – Asylum piece

Milorad Pavic – The dictionary of the Khazars P, A (female edition)

Victor Pelevin – Omon Ra P, a

Julian Barnes – The sense of an ending P, A (booker prize winner)

Atiq Rahimi – The Patience Stone HX, A

Doris Lessing – Briefing on a descent into hell P, A- (did she win the nobel in the end?)

Yukio Mishima – Spring Snow P, A-

Alberto Moravia – The woman of Rome P, A-

Richard Ford – The Sportswriter P, A

Michael Cunningham – Specimen Days HX, A

GK Chesterton – The Father Brown Stories (ombnibus collecting all of them) H, A (no dust jacket)

Colm Toibin – The Blackwater Lightship P, A

Charlie Huston – Caught Stealing HX, A

Dylan Thomas – Collected Poems 1934-1952 P, A-

George Macdonald – What’s Mines Mine TP, A

Henning Mankell – Chronicler of the Wind HX, A

Magnus Mills – Explorere of the new century HX, A

Victor Hugo – The Laughing Man H, A- (no dust jacket)

NZ fiction

Charlotte Grimshaw – The night book TP, X, A

Nestor Notabilis – I know someone who knows someone who knows Kevin Roberts quite well P, A

Laura Solomon – Black Light P, A

Lloyd Jones – Mister Pip P, A-

Maurice Shadbolt – The New Zealanders P, A

Elizabeth Knox – Black Oxen TP, A+

Non fiction

Glyn Daniels – The megalith builders of western Europe P, X, A-

Peter Tompkins – The secret life of plans P, A-

Timothy Garton Ash – Facts are subversive P, A

Regis Debray – Revolution in the Revolution? P, A-

Ravlich – Freedom from our social prisons HX, A

Chalmers Johnson – The Sorrows of Empire H, A+

Immanuel Wallerstein – The political economy of contemporary africa HX, A- (no dust jacket)

Bill Schul – the psychic powers of animals P, A-

Judy Mcgregor (ed) – Dangerous democracy: news media politics in NZ. P, A

Ducley Baker – GK Chesterton HX, A

Adrian Berry – Harrap’s Book of Scientific Anecdotes HX, A

Carl Sagan – The Dragons of Eden P, A-

James Belich – Making Peoples H, A (no dust jacket)

Lawrence Krauss – A Universe From Nothing P, A

Daniel Pinchbeck – Breaking open the head TP, A

Hofmekler- Macimum Muscle, Minimum Fat TP, A

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – The Secret of Secrets vol 1 TP, A-

Sogyal Rinpoche – Glimpse after Glimpse: daily reflections on living and dying P, A

Ranginui Walker – Struggle Without End P, A

Carlos Castenada – The teachings of Don Juan A Yaqui way of knowledge P, A-

Caitlin and John Matthews – The Western Way: a practical guide to the western mystery tradition P, A

Susan Blackmore – The Meme Machine P, A

John Randall – Parapyschology and the nature of life P, A-

P.R Reid – The Colditz Story P, A-

Ricardo Semler – Maverick! P, A

Hans Eyseneck – Astrology: Science or Superstition? P, A

John Dower – Embracing Defeat: Japan in the aftermath of WW2 P, A+

Arnd Schneider and Oscar Zarate – Mafia for beginners P, A

Beelzebub’s Tales To His Grandson – brief review


The other day I finished reading Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson by G.I. Gurdjieff.

Gurdjieff’s stated intent for the book is “To destroy, mercilessly, without any compromises whatsoever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world.”

The result is extraordinary.

A long, astonishingly diverse, intentionally difficult, sprawling, bizarre, cosmological, deeply hilarious, sort-of science fiction novel, containing a legominism for an incredibly contemporary and relevant spiritual teaching, it is more or less the most amazing book I have ever read, and quite indescribable in any normal way.

While perhaps too steep an ask for anyone not interested in the teaching, regardless I believe there is enough of value here for anyone who makes it to the end; and I am certainly very glad I read it, and grateful to Gurdjieff for his efforts.


One caveat: it certainly can’t be completely understood from one reading. But despite the effort I can imagine re-reading it.

reading 2015 vol 2

So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport

Interesting argument that following your passion as a means to find meaningful work is less smart than getting really good at something and building from that. Short and full of padding, but the nugget of gold contained within is pure.

Kettlebell Simple and Sinister – Pavel Tstatsouline

Brutally simple Russian kettlebell protocol from the guy that brought kettlebells to the West. Effective.

The Man In The High Castle – Philip K Dick

Read this maybe 20 years ago and didn’t think much of it. It read a lot better this time, now I have more knowledge of history, the I Ching, and Japanese culture, and PKD’s general philosophy on reality. Set in a world where Germany and Japan won WW2 and have partitioned an occupied America. (Was this the first major alternate history novel? Essentially creating a genre?) A very weird choice to turn into a TV show.

Enchanted Night – Stephen Millhauser

Delightful novella from a Pulitzer prize winning modern fabulist. Dreamy romantic fantasy drenched literature. One unusual, or perhaps usual, night in a small town.

So You Don’t Get Lost In The Neighbourhood – Patrick Modiano

Novella musing on memory, identity and reality from the recent Nobel prize winner. Pretty weird, the narrative sort of dissipates as it goes, as the narrative turns out to not be the point.

Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

Novel. Great evocation of 18th century Iceland as we follow the last woman to be executed in Iceland, a mix of intense reconstruction from documentation and narrative extrapolation.

Book Launch – Chandler Bolt

Useful book about launching books.

A Night of Serious Drinking – Rene Daumal

Curious, inventive, and very fun. A short metaphysical/esoteric novel from the 1930s, in a satirical and pataphysical tradition, steeped in Gurdjieff’s perspective. Blindingly funny in places, with more philosophical subtlety present than at first glance. While I would still recommend Mt Analogue by Daumal over this, I think I am more likely to reread this one.

reading 2015 part one

Have been very slack at logging reading this year. Does anyone read these or care, anyway? Who knows. But they are useful for me. So here is a recap, glancing through my diary. Feel like I read a lot less than usual this year. I also think I am getting a lot of my mental stimulation from podcasts these days.


The Pastel City – M John Harrison

First in the Viriconium series. Oddly angled fantasy, a very different mood and mode, elegiac and austere. Written back in the 70s, maybe? Harrison is a wonderful writer and this is bizarre and neat.

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know – Ranulph Fiennes

Autobiography of adventurer/explorer/mad bastard Fiennes. What I read of it was entertaining.

Occupational Hazards – Rory Stewart

Scottish dude ends up running a really large province in Iraq under the Coalition Provisional Authority after the US invasion. Really fascinating insight into what trying to run a country and make things better is like when the country is messy and complex, and the area you are in charge of has its own very distinct history and culture from the rest of the country. Things do not go well. Great read.

Think Two Products Ahead – Ben Mack

Really excellent book about marketing and how to think about marketing and communicate what you are doing by a, well, wizard.

8 Tribes: The Hidden Classes of NZ

That book about NZ being made up of 8 tribes. Meh. It was short to skim. Deservedly forgotten.

What We See When We Read – Peter Mendelsund

Really interesting book by a designer – so there was lots of wild design as a book – who loves to read, about what goes on in our heads as we read, and how we visualise and imagine and interact with words. Definitely worth a look if that sounds like you.

Capital in the 21st Century – Thomas Piketty

Epic tome about inequality and how it isn’t going to go away, and in fact has and will worsen, because of how our economic system is structured. Compelling argument. Necessary to be familiar with at least the introduction.

Ritual – Malidoma Some

West African shaman describes the function, role and importance of ritual in the life of his people, with some eye-opening stories.

Conversation – Theodore Zeldin

Something short and light about the art of conversation, I think.

The Laughing Monsters – Denis Johnson

Novel, gave up real quick, Johnson is great but wasn’t in the mood.

Prophet – Brandon Graham (comic)

If you want some very very weird sci fi comics, this is your jam. Epic scope, weird, mad, fun. The most Metabarons-esque thing since Metabarons.

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains – Neil Gaiman

Nice short story with illustrations, sort of the darker side of Gaiman.

Autobiography – Miles Davis

Entertaining ride, didn’t get too far. Jazz guys were a pretty wild crew, back in the day.

Money: Master The Game – Tony Robbins

Pretty exceptional book about managing money and investing. Robbins used his access to the most successful billionaire investors in the world to model what they are doing and put it together in a system. Essential.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich – Ramit Sethi

Irritating smartarse Indian teaches you money management and investment. Very sharp, good material, but annoying.

A God Somewhere – John Arcudi (comic)

Random grab from the library. Neat take on someone actually getting super powers and the guy who remains his best friend through it.

The Wake – Snyder (comic)

Ditto random. Award winning comic. Decent.

Neonomicon – Alan Moore (comic)

Alan Moore turns his genius to modernising Lovecraft. Really fantastic, and easily the darkest and nastiest thing I have read by him. So good.

Ecko Rising – Danie Ware

Random genre novel from the library on a whim. Sort of a sf/fantasy mashup. Shades of Thomas Covenant without the prose ability. A heavily implanted hi-tech assassin wakes up in a fantasy world, doesn’t know what is going on but has some special abilities in the local sense. Fast, fun read.

New Spring – Robert Jordan

Never knew this existed until I found it and read it. A prequel to the Wheel of Time, which I read a bunch of when I was much younger, then gave up on 300 pages into book 6 when nothing had happened for those 300 pages. This prequel features Lan and Moiraine 20 years before the first book, and how they got to where they got to at the start of the first book. It was really fun to reconnect with that world, though man does Jordan go on and on. Like, a hundred pages of this book could have been summarised in a paragraph or twp, but the depth of the world is amazing.

What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars – Jim Paul

Really useful book about when to get out, and how not to lose money, and the inner psychological game of money and investing. Biggest takeaway is this amazing question: if you were not already in your current situation, would you want to get into it?

The White Lama – Alejandro Jodorowsky (comic)

Fun times as Jodo does Tibet.

An Interpretation of Universal History – Ortega y Gasset

This was actually pretty fascinating. Dude takes on Toynbee’s model of history by showing that the Rome Toynbee takes as an exemplar of civilisation never existed on those terms.

Guide to Tranceformation – Richard Bandler

Bandler returns and summarises his life’s work. Best book you could get on NLP.

Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie

Hugo Award winner? Real good for reasons it is difficult not to give spoilers about. Slowly uncovering just who the main character is and their history is exceptional.

Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace

Read about 4/10 of it, which is an immense amount of this tome. It is incredible and Wallace is obvious genius and deserving of whatever praise is heaped upon him. Still, too long, eh? Gargantuan, genius, very funny, very dark, very empathic. No wonder the poor bugger topped himself. Sort of hope to get back to it someday.

Radical Acceptance – Tara Brach

Skimmed it. Woo Buddhist positive psychology.

Bold – Peter Diamandis

Very very interesting book about accelerating change and exponential technologies and what that means for changing the world via business. We are living in very interesting times.

Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl

Classic book by psychiatrist holocaust survivor about the experience of Auschwitz and what separated those who survived from those who didn’t. Incredible, powerful, stark view into humanity, and what is really important. Essential.

Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie

Sequel to the above. Still enjoyable but much less interesting since most of what there is to be revealed has been revealed.

Magic and Mystery in Tibet – Alexandra David-Kneale

Woo. If you only read one book on Tibet, this is the one. French woman travels around Tibet in the early 1900s, spending time with hermits and magicians and in monasteries and documenting her experience and the stories people told her. There was some wild and crazy shit happening in Tibet, and credible miraculousness.

6 Months to 6 Figures – Peter Voogd

Sharp, punchy, entrepreneurial book. I rate it.

The Metabarons – Alejandro Jodorowsky (comic)

Jodorowsky’s masterwork, in a number of ways. A lot of what would have gone into Dune made its way into this. Mindfuckingly epic account of a thoroughly unreasonable lineage as they tear the galaxy apart.

Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

Read a chapter, Gaiman doing storytelling, was not in the mood.


Moore does Lovecraft in Lovecraft era. Still coming out. Nice.

The Death Cure – James Dashner

Third part of the Maze Runner trilogy. Saw the first movie randomly, the second movie is way better and I recommend it, read this cos I couldn’t be bothered waiting for the third movie. A lot must have changed in the second book to movie adaptation. Anyhow. Decent enough. Very YA.

Beyond the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo

Absolutely extraordinary. Pulitzer prize winning journalist gets to know slum dwellers in Mumbai over several years. Writes up an eventful period of their lives as a novel, essentially nonfiction but written novelistically and based on immense interviews etc. Shattering, profound.

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself – David Lipsky

Lipsky spent a week interviewing David Foster Wallace on the last leg of the book tour launching Infinite Jest, as Wallace was in the process of going stratospheric. Fascinating as an account of a guy coping with the descent of fame, and as an insight into a remarkable mind. A film of it came out, End of the Tour, haven’t seen it.

Hard To Be A God – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Russian SF from way back. Russian observer-scientists go to another planet to document the Renaissance happening in a medieval world… except it doesn’t seem to be happening, if anything, a reversion to barbarism is underway. Great novel. I read it cos I saw the insane, incomprehensible film version at the film festival a year or two ago, and wanted to know what the hell actually happened.

The Magus – John Fowles

The first 3/4 of this are an astonishing novel. The end, well, lost me a bit. But hell, the quality of Fowle’s prose, and the intensity and observation he brings to bear, are exceptional, and the dizzying weirdness of the island and the elaborate charade the narrator is caught up in is unforgettable.

The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu

Modern Chinese SF, apparently a bestseller there. Very unique take on first contact and Earth being invaded by aliens, through a very different cultural and historic lens. Recommended.

Killer in the Rain – Raymond Chandler

Early novella from Chandler.

Teaching the Dog to Sing – Jonathan Carroll

Recent novella from Carroll, whom I hadn’t read in years. Alright, I guess.

Harvest – Jim Crace

Multi award winning Irish novel of the end of the era of peasant farming before enclosure. Beautifully written.

Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy’s most intense and darkest vision of the old West. If it was the first thing of his I’d read it would have taken my head off. Incredible evocation of landscape and nature and random brutality and the ugliness of humanity, in astonishing prose.

A Visit From The Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

Pulitzer prize winning novel, told through a bunch of different tangentially related characters set over many years, about growing up and the changes time wrings. Really well done.

The King’s Justice – Stephen Donaldson

Fantasy novella from a real master of fantasy. Good good shit.

Beasts of No Nation – Uzodinma Uweale

Novel about a child soldier somewhere in Africa caught up in a cycle of senseless violence and destruction. Short and unpleasant. Weirdly similar vibe to Blood Meridian, come to think of it.


Lovecraft, magic, and belief

“A few months before he died Lovecraft wrote to a friend, ‘If the Necronomicon legend continues to grow, people will end up believing in it.'”

— Grimoires: A History of Magic Books – Owen Davies (p268)

reading second half of 2014

Reading slowed dramatically in the second half of last year, or at least my enthusiasm for blogging about it did.

Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm – Stephen Harrod Buhner

Took over a month on this. Easily one of the most extraordinary books I have ever read. Top ten recommendation, all time. Was published in 2014. Buy it now. Will attempt a proper review soon.

Batman: Odyssey – Neal Adams

If you are a comics person, go find this and read it right now. Don’t find anything out about it. Just trust that it is the most bugfuck and deranged piece of Batman ever. There are no words. Astounding. (If you aren’t a comics person, read Sandman or Watchmen or something instead, and become a comics person.)

If you know you won’t read this, read this extremely entertaining summary of the first few issues here.

…here is the best quote from a Neal Adams interview about Odyssey:

Q: Can you give us an overview of the plot?
Adams: I cannot give you an overview of the plot.

The Arabian Nightmare – Robert Irwin

Pretty unclassifiable novel by a historian of Arabian storytelling modes, and obviously influenced by them. Dreamlike and bizarre, labyrinthine and dusky, deeply deeply weird. Fun but eventually perhaps does not combine its wonderful parts into something more.

Fasting – Stephen Harrod Buhner

Book about the physical, psychological and spiritual components and effects of fasting for longer durations. Lucid and concise.

Supergods – Grant Morrison (skim)

Skimmed this. Interestingish history and philosophy of modern era comics, but not what I was looking for.

Jesus’ Son – Denis Johnson

Really good, deceptively simple book of short stories, mostly dealing with down and outs and addicts of various stripes. Would definitely re read. There is something going on here.

The Search for a Moral Compass – Kenan Malik  (skim)

Quite an epic undertaking, attempting to look at more or less the development of moral attitudes of the whole world over time. Inevitably does some disservice to particular viewpoints, as no one can have a good enough grip on all of them to comment authoritatively. Still would be worth returning to.

Reality is Broken – Jane McGonigal (skim)

Interesting enough musing on the relation between games and reality.

Zero to One – Peter Thiel

Billionaire founder of Paypal and Palantine, friends with many other billionaire tech founders, gives his take on how to found a successful tech company. Vital reading if that is your interest. Pretty fascinating for its iconoclastic take on capitalism in general, if you are an economics minded person.

Behold the Man – Michael Moorcock

Messed up dude with a bit of a Christ complex gets in a time machine and goes back to the time of Christ and kind of ends up becoming Christ except worse.

Life’s Missing Instruction Manual – Joe Vitale (skim)

Compendium of insights gathered across an interesting guy’s life. Actually seemed pretty decent.

Money: Master The Game – Tony Robbins

Possibly completely essentially; Robbins first book in 20 years. Robbins has amazing access to many of the most successful investors in history, and models their methods and teaches them to you. Incredible resource. Need to get back to it and finish it.

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

Won the Booker Prize a few years ago. Really well done short novel mostly about ageing and how our perspective and memory changes.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Patrick Rothfuss

Novella. Peculiar, light, and ethereal, much like its only character. Rothfuss explores the reality of a minor but fascinating character from his epic novel series, and comes up with this totally weird, autistic yet hauntingly close to how we all work, thing. Not quite sure what anyone unfamiliar with the series would make of it, but would be very curious to find out. I think it is interesting enough to stand on its own.

Edge of Dark Water – Joe R Lansdale

Sort of like a dark nightmare Huckleberry Finn. After the death of a friend, dustbowl-era american south kids in the wops make a break for their future down the river, pursued by hideous family, corruption and evil. A great voice and realisation of character and setting. Occasionally nasty but never unbearably so.


Buckminster Fuller on changing perspective


“Repeatedly, on different occasions, as I gazed heavenward at the celestial orbs, I struggled to perceive myself as looking “out” instead of “up”.

It worked.

Suddenly, on a drive in the Mojave Desert, there came a moment as sun and horizon began to merge, when I really was looking out from the surface of Spaceship Earth. I found myself feeling for the first time a passenger on a great sphere hurtling through the cosmos. Venus was just coming into view, and the nearly full moon was at the eastern horizon. Sun, moon and planet described the great arc of the ecliptic. At that instant I knew the location of poles and Equator. I felt a sense of place, of proper relation, that I had never known before.

My awareness of the world, the whole universe, was revolutionized, transfigured, in an instant. For the first time, my felt experience of reality was coinciding with what my intellect had long known to be true. It was an initiation, a rite of passage. I felt for the first time a citizen of the cosmos. I was no longer tied to a language-conditioned flat earth.

And there was a sense of communion with all humanity, with all living things, in the knowledge that we were all related through one common center, earth’s center of gravity, all passengers on an infinitely precious star-faring vessel.

I know others who have shared the same experience. It is joyous, in that something old is suddenly seen in a new light. It is awesome, because it affords a glimpse at a reality far grander than we have been conditioned to perceive. And it is sobering, because it reveals how deeply conditioned (mesmerized, if you will) we can all be by habitual patterns of language and thought.”


– From Fuller’s Earth – Buckminster Fuller


Lispector on writing


“I write because I have nothing else to do in the world: I was left over and there is no place for me in the world of men, I write because I’m desperate and I’m tired, I can no longer bear the routine of being me and if not for the always novelty that is writing, I would die symbolically every day.”

– from ‘Hour of the Star’ by Clarice Lispector


reading july 2014

Hmm. Reading seems to have resumed apace. At least a lot of skimming.

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth – Chris Brogan

Cheerleading for doing business your way, man, cos the world is your oyster if you are willing to march to the beat of your own drum, ra ra. Upbeat, good content but a little feel-good and all about the smart branding and having great anecdotes than having much new to say. More motivational than how-to. Solid though.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right – Atul Gawande

Doctor who pioneered the use of checklists for surgery (resulting in less infections, more lives and money saved, etc) explains the process by which this came about, and why checklists are simple and damn useful. Good stuff.

The Drawing of the Dark – Tim Powers

Goddamn this is good fun. Entertaining and wild and weird; a sort of historical fantasy with a kitchen sink approach. (Wondering how the hell I had not read Powers before. He was won pretty much every award that matters in the field.) Big ups.

The Life Coaching Handbook – Curly Martin

No-nonsense, even a little brutal; coaching with NLP and hard nosed business savvy. Useful.

The Inner Game Of Tennis – Timothy Gallwey

Brilliant. Probably the best self-help type book I have ever encountered. Uses learning to play tennis as a metaphor and worked example for how to live life itself. Totally recommended.

Who Fears Death? – Nnedi Okorafor

Awesome. Set in a future Africa, post-disaster, with lingering technology and resurgent magic, and a generally dystopic yet deeply African culture, thematically dealing with war crimes, abuse, and gender really well, while being an intense yet rollicking good read. Okorafor is a literature professor whose parents were Nigerian, and has visited a lot.)

Creative Visualisation – Shakti Gawain

Skimmed. Pleasant new age fluff, most notable perhaps for the occult sources it references in its select bibliography, and acknowledging its blatant steals from that area.

Do Muslim Women Need Saving? – Abu-Lughod

Really interesting book from an anthropologist with 20+ years field experience working with Muslim women taking on the Western portrayal and framing of Muslim women, and having a serious whack at feminism in the process. Excellent, recommended if the subject matter interests you.

Linchpin – Seth Godin

Godin rarely makes an impression on me, which is why I don’t really read him. Feel good create the future of culture ranting, scans well but lacking oomph.

Maori Mentoring and Paths To Wellbeing: Te Huarahi o te Ora – Rachael Selby and Alex Barnes

Not quite what I was looking for from the title. Book about a Maori community/hapu introducing a mentoring program and how it went.

Myths To Live By – Joseph Campbell

Yeah, Campbell really is amazing, eh? This set of lectures is brilliant. If you have never read Campbell, this is a pretty good place to start. Hero With a Thousand Faces is foundation to any understanding of story and psychology. This collection is more wide ranging but top shelf liquor all the way.

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

Skimmed a bit. Polemic is a weird form. A mix of bang on truth to power, and ranting.

Selected Stories – Alice Munro

One of those literary writers who is kind of showing everyone else how to do it, but is less well known as she only writes short stories. Well worth it. Didn’t read enough of them to have a lot to say, but something I will buy and investigate further.

Transparent Things – Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov is highly energetic and obviously a genius but I really struggle to get into him or go back to him once I have put the book down. This well regarded novella seemed amazing for the first 15 pages, not sure why I didn’t get back to it.

The Marble Swarm – Dennis Cooper

Blurb quotes claim he is the most important transgressive novelist since Burroughs. Read 40 pages. Sort of interesting, and while indeed pretty twisted and transgressive, the palpable unreality of the characters, scenario, and everything meant I didn’t give a damn. Gleeful meaningless unpleasantness.



bacterial utopia or oblivion


Recently somehow came across this very interesting fellow: Stephen Harrod Buhner. Author of 20 or so books, a wide ranging scholar interested in all kinds of interesting stuff, I recently listened to a couple of interviews with him. Both were wide ranging and there was little overlap between them, and the content was at times so wild and exciting I ordered one of his books, which hasn’t happened in a while.

By way of a sampling of what I mean by wild and exciting: bacteria build cities with streets and buildings; plants take psychotropic drugs and respond to them in much the same way humans do; an apple tree can get itself drunk; if antibiotics stop working in the next 10-15 years, we will also lose surgery, as you can’t cut people open if they are susceptible to infection – the ramifications of this for modern medicine are total, and he argues we will return to herbal etc remedies by necessity, and has written books about herbal antibiotics and antivirals etc…

(A fascinating counterpoint to this is Craig Venter’s current work in creating synthetic life. Essentially, he can now analyse a bacteria, digitize its DNA, send that digital code around the world, and rebuild the organism synthetically from that digital code – while synthetic it will be alive and able to self-replicate etc. The speed with which this is becoming possible is what may save us from the failing of antibiotics. As Howard Bloom argued back in ’98 in Global Brain, we need to get our species wide global brain up and running to combat the billions of year old bacterial global brain that will otherwise kick our ass.

As Buckminster Fuller said, whether it will be utopia or oblivion will be a touch and go relay race until the very end; and this bacterial struggle is one of the clearest illustrations of that.)

Ultimately Buhner argues that the way out of all this is for people to reacquaint themselves with their thinking/feeling/sensing intuitive direct knowing and follow what that tells them. For example, the first generation of psychoanalysts were never trained, they just created the field. We have the ability in ourselves to come up with new things, and need to use it.

The thread of Buhner’s work I found most interesting is the plant intelligence side of things, and it is a fabulous extension of what Jeremy Narby was talking about in Intelligence in Nature back in 2005 and that I was writing about in my main nonfiction book about consciousness back in ’08. His compelling vision is of a very alive and aware cosmos in constant interaction and dialogue with itself, and his reasons for thinking this are electrifying.

So I am awaiting a book in the mail, with a reasonable hope it will be able to live up to expectation. Also, nice to feel intellectual stimulation again.




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