Joe McGann: My six best books | Books | Entertainment

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FLESH AND BLOOD: A HISTORY OF MY FAMILY IN SEVEN SICKNESSES by Stephen McGann, Simon & Schuster, £8.99

I read very little fiction these days. I get enough of that in my job, I guess.

This is by my brother Stephen and he has created a rattling good read.

He includes the Irish potato famine, which is why we ended up in Liverpool, and we had a great-uncle who survived the Titanic.

INTO THE SILENT LAND: TRAVELS IN NEUROPSYCHOLOGY by Paul Broks, Atlantic, £11.99

How we think and how that shapes society have been a hobbyhorse of mine for years. This is fantastic – part case studies, part essays on consciousness and existence – and he writes beautifully and evocatively.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: MAD PILGRIMAGE OF THE FLESH by John Lahr, Bloomsbury, £14.99

A brilliant biography by a great critic. I’ve performed in a couple of Williams’ plays and I’m fascinated by that post-war period of American literature.

Without being fawning, Lahr has a great sympathy for the man, who is outspoken, outrageous and tragic.

THOMAS PAINE’S RIGHTS OF MAN by Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic, £9.99

Paine, the great English thinker, is a hero of mine and Hitchens tackles his famous book which argues against monarchy and was a cornerstone of the American revolution. It’s a précis of how to do literary criticism.

SAPIENS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANKIND by Yuval Noah Harari, Vintage, £9.99

Harari wears his intelligence lightly and writes in an accessible way. It’s an exhaustive anthropological study but I rattled through it. It’s constantly surprising and enriching.

TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE by Mitch Albom, Sphere, £8.99

I bought this when a friend was coping with his partner dying. It’s a lovely little book by a sports writer who meets his old university lecturer Morrie, who has a degenerative disease, every Tuesday. It’s amusing and full of wisdom.



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