In Search of Robert Millar by Richard Moore

Millar

More cycling and this time it’s a biography of Robert Millar. Until very recently Millar was the best stage racing cyclist this country has ever produced. And even after the efforts of Wiggins he’s still the best climber we’ve ever had. His prime was a little before I started watching the tour but I still remember watching him race towards the end of his career. Thinking back to that time it was very different to now. He was pretty much a lone wolf. As the book makes out though that’s a position that suited him. I don’t think he would have done well in today’s Team Sky environment – far too regimented for him. It’s that loner mentality that’s lost Millar his place in the British cycling pantheon really. Which is a shame. However, his talent and tenacity shine throughout the book. And ultimately, like all good cyclists, he’ll be judged on his palmares – something I’m sure he’d prefer anyway.

The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters by Mark Henderson

geek

A change of tack now and we’re back to the contemporary world. The Geek Manifesto is an impassioned plea for science to play a more important role in the life of the country. From politicians to the police to teachers to environmentalists – and more – Mark Henderson shows how science could, and should, be used. He speaks about the lack of investment, the lack of understanding, and sometimes the abuse that science gets. I’m not a geek, well not a science geek anyway, but it’s hard to argue with many of the points made.

The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell

Kindly

Next book up and this time The Mrs decided to get involved. She bought me this book as a gift. Some of her friends had talked about it at dinner and, knowing that I was writing this blog, she put two and two together. This isn’t really a book I would pick up myself. I don’t read a lot of fiction and the memoirs of an SS officer during the final solution probably wouldn’t even make it to the top of that list. Having said that though some times it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and read something you wouldn’t usually expose yourself to. This was a controversial book – not just because of the subject matter – with some people thinking it a pile of rubbish and others lauding it as a great work of literature. Personally I thought it was good if flawed. There’s certainly a talented author at work here – some of the sections are fantastically well written and engrossing, the allegorical references to Greek mythology are a step above most bog standard writers. But then there are sections of gratuitous scatological nonsense too. It’s uneven, unlikeable, in fact at times it is downright unpleasant – but then if the point of art (and literature is certainly an art form) is to provoke thought and The Kindly Ones certainly does that.

The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters

Chimp

So. it’s been a little while since I’ve blogged. It’s not because I haven’t been reading. Instead I’ve just been a little lax at actually getting around to blogging so here’s the first of a few posts at once. The Chimp Paradox is a book I was really interested to read. As is probably becoming apparent I like cycling and I’ve been reading a lot in magazines and watching in documentaries about what British Cycling and Team Sky have been up to. One person who constantly appears is the team psychologist Dr Steve Peters – he’s the guy who gets this amazing athletes to deal with the pressure and expectation of competition. This book sets out his ideas about how the brain operates. More crucially it talks about how to manage the rational, human side of your brain and the more irrational, emotional, side of your brain – a side he labels your chimp. Overall I thought the book was very interesting and there was certainly some good stuff in there. Understanding and dealing with your emotions rather than attempting to stifle or ignore them. But some of the descriptions got to be too distracting – chimps and humans were one thing – planets, moons, asteroid belts, gremlins, and more were too much. If I didn’t know what he’d achieved I’d probably be put off by all the gimmicks but knowing that this works makes me look at it again. A book that’s worth a second look.