Sunday Review

Book I’m reading now

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Books read last week:

Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett

DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You by Misha Glenny


Films watched last week:

Locke (rewatched)


War for the Planet of the Apes


TV shows I will watch this evening:

Russia with Simon Reeve

Tunes for Tyrants: Music and Power with Suzy Klein


Articles I enjoyed reading last week:

“How Vulgarity Normalizes Predators” by Leah Libresco Sargeant

“The Science of Spying: How the CIA Secretly Recruits Academics” by Daniel Golden

“Binders Full of Asininity” by Jonah Goldberg


Sunday Review

Song I listened to on repeat last Thursday:


Book I’m currently reading:

Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett


Books I’m supposed to be reading:

Family Britain by David Kynaston

A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman

The Power by Naomi Alderman


Books read last week:

The Happy Atheist by P Z Myers

What If? The World’s Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been by David McCullough et al.


Films watched last week:

White God (2014)

Robin and Marian (1976)


Podcasts I haven’t listened to in months:

The Guardian Long Read


All Songs Considered


TV shows I will watch this evening:

Electric Dreams: Impossible Planet

The Child in Time


Historical images I have been unable to forget:

Don Sturkey’s photographs of Dorothy Counts on her way to school

Alice Seeley Harris’s 1904 photograph of a Congolese man staring at his daughter’s amputated hand and foot

Sunday Review

Books read last week:

The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas Fleming

Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar by Tom Holland

Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977–2002) by David Sedaris


Books I’m skimming to keep up with my fifteen-year-old nephew:

Moral Luck: Philosophical Papers 1973-1980 by Bernard Williams

The Concept of Mind by Gilbert Ryle

The Mechanical Mind: A Philosophical Introduction to Minds, Machines, and Mental Representation by Tim Crane


Books which, by remaining unread, have led me to reevaluate my relationship with Allah:

One Fat Englishman by Kingsley Amis

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter


Film I watched because it was mentioned in Austerity Britain

Passport to Pimlico


Films I watched last week because I am yet to teach my wayward heart to do my mind’s bidding:


Underworld: Rise of the Lycans


Films I intend to watch next week, come hell or high water:

Notes on Blindness

White God


TV series recommended to a pair of confused Jehovah’s Witnesses, apropos of nothing:

Masters of Sex

The Handmaid’s Tale

American Gods


TV shows with 2+ episodes sitting unwatched on my Sky Q box:

Garrow’s Law


Doctor Foster

University Challenge

The Brain with David Eagleman

Never trust a business with an intercap.

“We are all centaurs now, our aesthetics continuously enhanced by computation. Every photograph I take on my smartphone is silently improved by algorithms the second after I take it. Every document autocorrected, every digital file optimised. It is difficult to think of a medium where creative practice has not been thoroughly transformed by computation and an attendant series of optimisations.”

From Lithub: “10 of the best short stories ever published in Playboy”

Kwame Anthony Appiah: “For hundreds of years, mathematicians tried to do what was called ‘squaring the circle.’ Once you get clear about what’s involved there, you can see that it doesn’t even make sense to propose to ‘square the circle’ because it can’t be done. But it took a while to figure out that it couldn’t be done. A long while. So a lot of our thoughts are really not thoughts, they’re things masquerading as thoughts.”

“It’s cool to think about works of literature enjoying a kind of afterlife, free from their meddling makers; about poems rising triumphantly from the ashes of poets.”

“Four hundred and fifty-four scripted original series aired in the U.S. in 2016. The industry needs writers and, black-hole-like, is sucking in galaxies of them.”

About 9 percent of all tweets today are exactly 140 characters.

“So compressed – so efficient – is late-style [Iain] Sinclair that often he only gives you a scattering of nouns and asks you to fill in blanks for yourself: ‘Ballard. Hitchcock. English vices. Punishment pleasures. Rear Window meets High-Rise.’ It’s flat-pack prose, to be self-assembled by the reader and shot through with the readymade flotsam of Sinclair’s consciousness. Like all true styles it’s infectious stuff. Read a bit of him and you start to think like him. Read too much and you might try to write like him.”

“Traditionally, US book covers tended towards literal interpretation, driven by the complexity of the US market: the image that motivates readers in southern California to pick up a copy of a book is likely to be different to what appeals to readers in South Carolina. As a result, US jackets have tended to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and that does not make for good design.”

Kwame Kwei-Armah has been announced as the new artistic director of the Young Vic.

“Most voters treat politics like a spectator sport or, even worse, a brutal contact sport. The completely ignorant are what Brennan calls ‘hobbits’; by contrast, those who root for one team and hate the other are ‘hooligans.’ For hooligans, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing: They understand enough to be deeply convinced that their team is on the side of the angels and that the other side are devils. But they are incapable of rationally weighing policy options or even comprehending their own basic interests. For the hooligans, it’s all about identity.”

Everything must burn.

“We live in a society where the individual is far more empowered, but that brings other challenges. Once the mob gets going, it is very easy to silence authors, or to get publishers to pull books from publication. And that raises questions about the books that are getting out: who is writing them? And who is being approved to write them?”

“Is there a distinction between xenophobia and racism? If there is, then it would be that in the case of xenophobia, people who have never seen these other people before may be frightened, but they wouldn’t proceed from a theory of superiority.”

Fran Liebowitz: “I wouldn’t say that I dislike the young. I’m simply not a fan of naiveté. I mean, unless you have an erotic interest in them, what other interest could you have? What are they going to possibly say that’s of interest? People ask me, Aren’t you interested in what they’re thinking? What could they be thinking? This is not a middle-aged curmudgeonly attitude; I didn’t like people that age even when I was that age.”

Sunday Review

Books I’m Reading:

Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar by Tom Holland

Family Britain, 1951-1957 by David Kynaston


Books I will start reading this week, inshallah:

One Fat Englishman by Kingsley Amis

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter


Books I will return to the library unread:

The Girls by Emma Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Books recently recommended to strangers on trains:

Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves by Sarah B. Pomeroy

American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry by Ned Sublette and Constance Sublette


Articles I enjoyed reading last week:

“A Quick Reminder of Why Colonialism Was Bad” by Nathan J. Robinson (Current Affairs)

Anne Enright on the underrepresentation of women in Irish literature (London Review of Books)

“Imagining the Future of Nigeria: Accessing Africa Through Sci-Fi” by Deji Bryce Olukotun (Lithub)

Emma Brockes on Martin Amis. Anne Enright on Amis’s new book. (The Guardian)


Films watched last week:

The Levelling

Robocop (2014)


TV shows I’m looking forward to:

The Child in Time (BBC1)

“Once an algorithm knows you better than you know yourself, institutions such as democratic elections and free markets become obsolete, and authority shifts from humans to algorithms. Instead of fearing assassin robots that try to terminate us, we should be concerned about hordes of bots who know how to press our emotional buttons better than our mother, and use this uncanny ability to try to sell us something. It might be apocalypse by shopping.”

Anne Enright: “I have met men, not just in Ireland, who are happy to say that they don’t read women. They. Just. Can’t. There are so many problems ‘with’ women. They write about feelings and not facts (they take and do not give). They use qualifications, modifiers, metaphors. They go all fuzzy on you.”

From US Trade Publishing by the Numbers.