This week’s reading


People all have different reading habits. Some like to read several books at a time. Others like to read a book from cover to cover in a single sitting. Many enjoy reading a few pages at a time. Some insist on finishing every book they start.

Me, I am a binge reader. I like to read a book over a couple of days, so that I can remember details. I also have to be engaged from the first page, or I give up. I never read a book more than once.

This all means that I read very few books during term time. Teachers tend to have to work in the evenings, and when I am tired I read magazines rather than books, because I have difficulty concentrating. Being a type A personality, I very seldom relax enough to do one thing at a time. During evenings and weekends I do chores, blog, and watch television simultaneously. When I had covid, my husband knew I was sick because I lay on the sofa watching movies for a week.

However, when things calm down and I relax enough, I like to read. This week I have been reading:

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (who also wrote Into the Wild)

  • In 1997 I was teaching CARR (Computer Aided Research and Reporting) at Rhodes University in South Africa. One of my students, Cathy O’ Dowd, took a leave of absence to climb Everest as part of the South African team. She succeeded, and later climbed Everest from the other side. The whole expedition, however, was rather controversial – not just because it was the most deadly one ever at that time, but also because the South African team was filled with drama, walkouts, and rather dubious dealings. For this reason I have always been interested in reading about Everest, and the drive of so many to climb it. Someone asked George Mallory why he did it and he famously answered ‘because it’s there’. There are other interesting books about Everest (Cathy O’ Dowd has written two), but I think Into Thin Air is the best. If you have read that one, I can also recommend The Mountain: My Time on Everest by Ed Viesturs.

It’s So Easy (and other lies) by Duff McKagan

  • I had previously read Watch you Bleed by Stephen Davis, which is the story of Guns n’ Roses. I like some songs by Guns n’ Roses (Patience, November Rain, Estranged, Sweet Child o’ Mine) but for the most part, I have never been a big fan. What fascinates me more is that they were really degenerate, sleazy lowlifes, even by 1980s Sunset Strip standards. They lived like rats, made it big, and then spectacularly exploded into industrial scale drug use and infamous tantrums by their genuinely mentally ill lead singer. How anyone wanted to manage them I have no idea. Yet their music lives on, with four or five of their songs being used in the new Marvel Thor movie. I have head some people say that after Guns n’ Roses, rock and roll died. I am not sure how true it is, but the genre did take a back seat.
  • Duff McKagan’s autobiography was a totally different read though. One I would recommend, even if you are not interested in the band. He has the same street urchin, homeless, drug-addled and alcoholic past as the other members of the band. But he pulled himself out of it through incredibly hard work (which he details in the book), and ends up first and foremost a devoted husband and father of two daughters with two beloved dogs. He dropped out of high school but later fought his way into and through college in order to be able to figure out band finances. He is extremely well read (which came later in life). I found the book incredibly inspiring and well-written. He really did drag himself out of the gutter, and not once does he sound self-pitying (as addicts often do). He is also not unkind about anyone else in the band and is very humble and self-deprecating.


Next on my list is Freddie Mercury: A Kind of Magic by Mark Blake. I love Freddie Mercury!

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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