March of the Lemmings — Stewart Lee

It came up for £1.19 on an Amazon deal, or something like that, so i gave it a go.

As a stand up comedian i think Stewart Lee is really good and very enjoyable to watch: if you’re a person of lower intelligence then you will probably disagree with that statement, that’s fine, really, we can’t all be part of the liberal intelligentsia.

But as a newspaper columnist, he pretty much sucks donkey balls.   So why did i buy this book when, after all is said and done, it’s just lots of his newspaper columns regurgitated with foot notes?   Because i don’t read newspapers and had no idea that he sucked so badly at writing columns for them.   But i do now.

To be fair though, it’s hard to ridicule and take the urine out of a bunch of narcissistic psychopaths and sociopaths — the career politicos of our age — when they themselves revel in being caricatures of their own urine, faecal and menstrual stains and happily parade their utter incompetence across all public realms for all to see: which bizarrely does actually encourage middle england to eagerly clamour and queue to vote for more.   Why even attempt this satire and/or parody or whatever it is?   Because the newspaper offered him money to make the attempt because David Mitchell wasn’t up for it and he’d have been a fool to not take said money: he’s got a mortgage to pay after all.

So i got 11% into this and mostly got utterly fed up going back and forth to the footnotes that explain the minutiae of every column that no one really cares about other than broadsheet newspaper readers just in case these things become part of a clue in the cryptic crossword the next day.

So if you are one of those broadsheet readers then this might amuse you, or not, i don’t really care.   After 11% i’m done with it as i have many other more interesting looking books clamouring for my reading hours.   The problem with brexit now is that there’s nothing more to say or read on the matter that hasn’t already been said or read — all we’ve so far achieved is the creeping erosion of our legal rights and a trade deal with Japan that’s worse than the one we had when we were in the EU — all the other trade deals we were promised have not emerged.   The NHS is a complete mess, the economy is in tatters, unemployment is sky rocketing, Boris is determined to spend 100 billion to create 20,000 jobs building a new toy train set for the rich and wealthy while the old, decrepit, poor-people’s trainset’s franchises are all handing their franchises back to the government and are merrily washing their hands of the whole affair: the post brexit future is exactly what every remainer said it would be — but oh, thank heavens for corona virus, at least the leave camp have something else to blame for the mess we’re all in.

Stewart’s Page

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The Book of Tea — Kakuzo Okakura

In direct contrast to The Wisdom of Tea, in which we are taken on a 25 year journey of a Tea practitioner from their very first lesson, in The Book of Tea we are given the history of Tea itself and its associations through the ages with Eastern religions and philosophy.

As such, this book is wonderful and it makes one realise that there is so much more to Tea than simply throwing some tea leaves in a pot.   There are some great passages in this book where Kakuzo has some wonderful rants about western culture which are a delight to read.   One can really get a vision of just how coarse the Devon Cream Tea in a sea side cafe — not forgetting morning tea in mother’s finest china with a biscuit — is when compared to Japanese Tea in a traditional tea hut, even though the English will proclaim these two tea ceremonies of theirs as the height of culture.

A must read for all who enjoy reading about Japan and its culture, and anyone who enjoys a cup of tea, however you may take it.   Written over 100 years ago and is as relevant today as it was when it was written.

Kakuzo’s Page

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The Wisdom of Tea — Noriko Morishita

If you enjoy reading about Japan and its culture then this book will be very much for you.   In The Wisdom of Tea Norika tells us about her first 25 years journey learning all about Tea and in so doing gives us a wonderful view inside this part of Japanese culture that most of us would never have gotten to see.

Starting at 20 years old, Noriko is badgered into going to Tea lessons by her mother and cousin and only agrees to go so that she can go to a cafe with her cousin afterwards to hang out and be 20 year olds.   Little did she know at the time that 25 years later she would still be going to the same lessons every Saturday and writing a book about her experiences in the Tea room.

What looks from the outside to be a fairly simple thing, as Noriko takes us on her 25 year journey she makes us realise many of Tea’s facets and depths as she slowly learns that Tea is a life long learning experience that will only end when we end life itself.

After reading this book, all i can say is that if i knew where i could get Tea lessons near me i’d be signing up tomorrow.

Well worth a read for everyone interested in Japanese culture, Zen and other such things.

And if you haven’t read it already, do be sure to have a read of The Book of Tea, which further explores the history of this wonderful beverage and culture.

Noriko’s Page

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Citizen — Claudia Rankine

A rather different way of saying the things that need to be said, containing a mixed bag of poetry, prose, vignettes, etc., detailing what it’s like to be perpetually on the receiving end of racism, from micro-agressions to extremely overt racism.

Maybe, instead of forcing children to read Shakespeare and Dickens at school, we should be encouraging them to read books like this and encouraging them to engage in constructive dialogue with each other about the issues raised and the experiences of those on the receiving end of racism and other bigotry.   Racist is not something people are born, it’s something people are taught, and its very clearly up to schools and educators to start stepping up and making much more effort with the young minds in their care.

In the UK “Citizenship” and “Relationship” education is not on the curriculum until after 11 years of age: this is far, far too late.   How our societies are peopled — our citizens — and how we relate to those other citizens within our societies should be permanently on the curriculum from the very first day of school, not be left in the hands of young people’s peers, bad television, bad websites, and ignorant parents who read nothing but vile, tabloid drivel.   A child who has been nurtured badly up to the age of 11 is highly unlikely to respond to positive nuturing by over-worked, underpaid, stressed-out teachers after the age of 11.

Claudia’s Page

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