Constellation of Genius by Kevin Jackson

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I had no idea so much happened in 1922. Kevin Jackson argues that this was the year that modernism was born. We follow the year, diary format, going through every major event that took place – political, economic, literary, artistic, and more. It was absolutely fascinating. So many incredible talents, So many important events. I learned a lot and it inspired me to go away and learn more about the people and things he spoke about. Perhaps some of them will appear in this blog?

The Watchers by Stephen Alford

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So far I’ve read almost 40 books, I’ve liked each and every one of them in one way or another. Some more than others. Some entirely. Some only slightly. I guess I’ve been lucky that it took until now to meet a book I wasn’t that fond of. It’s not that The Watchers is bad. It’s not – although the writing style isn’t for me. It’s mostly that I felt there was something more interesting, more exciting, and more involved lurking behind the stories in this book. I always wanted to know more and instead was left frustrated.

Pirates of Barbary by Adrian Tinniswood

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When we think of pirates it tends to be sailing the Caribbean with wooden legs, parrots and pieces of eight. But there was a whole other pirate menace for hundreds of years that operated out of the north African coast harassing ships throughout the Mediterranean. Covering the whole span of their activities this book does a nice job of covering both the characters involved and also the quasi-official politics of their situation. These were not mere renegades but in many cases the primary economic activity for many of these cities. Their rise and fall is charted in great detail. An enlightening read.

Why We Build by Rowan Moore

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Something totally different for this book. Architecture. I’ve always been interested in buildings and spaces. I would have liked to have been an architect but sadly I never had the creative or artistic skills necessary. This book is a series of essays really about various points around architecture. Some are more successful than others. Some carry the authors own prejudices more heavily than others. But that variation still makes them interesting and thought provoking. It will make you look at buildings, and the spaces in and around them, in a whole other light.