We here at JPG are interested in all types of media and we thought it would be fun to share what we are reading right now!
Matthew is Reading – Man in The High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Phillip K Dick is one of the greatest Sci-Fi writers of his time and his work continues to be televised today, 35 years after his death in 1982. Some of his most well-known work includes “Minority Report”, “A Scanner Darkly”, “Ubik” and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” which provided the basis for “Blade Runner”.
I have recently started reading “The Man in the High Castle”; about 20 pages in so far! The novel is based in a dystopian world that considers the outcome of the Axis forces prevailing in World War Two. America has been divided between the Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States. Dick’s novels often fuse social, psychological and political themes into a dystopian world, where he explores concepts of what our universe could be like. Having enjoyed his previous work I am thoroughly looking forward to what direction “The Man in the High Castle” will take.
Joe is reading – Arsene Wenger: The Inside Story of Arsenal Under Wenger by John Cross
You can say what you like about Arsene Wenger, but to me he is a true hero and an icon, a father figure even! Having been in charge of Arsenal since I opened my eyes he has been a true mainstay in my life. Reading about his history with Arsenal has been brilliant, you often forget how much of a revolution he was transforming a boring team into the most entertaining in the league. The insights into his tenure are fascinating from the nutritional informational to dressing room behaviours. I would highly recommend to any football fan.
Hannah is reading – The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
I have been loving autobiographies recently, mostly by women in media, the best autobiography I have read so far was Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, an unapologetically funny read with lots of lessons along the way; no doubt I will be picking it up again. After reading consecutive autobiographies I wanted something a little different so I have recently started reading The Snowman. The Snowman is a Norwegian crime novel set in Oslo following a detective on a hunt for a serial killer whose calling card is a snowman. Even though I am only a few chapters in I already know I am going to enjoy this book, the main character detective Harry Hole is very intriguing and I’m sure there is a lot more to know about him. I am fascinated with true crime and listen to the Generation Why podcast religiously so I think the Snowman will be right up my alley.
Jane is Reading – The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary.
‘In his powerful book The Fred Factor, motivational speaker Mark Sanborn recounts the true story of Fred, the mail carrier who passionately loves his job and who genuinely cares about the people he serves. Because of that, he is constantly going the extra mile while handling the mail, and sometimes watching over the houses, of the people on his route, treating everyone he meets as a friend. Where others might see delivering mail as monotonous drudgery, Fred sees an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those he serves.
We’ve all encountered people like Fred in our lives. In The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn illuminates the simple steps each of us can take to transform our own lives from the ordinary into the extraordinary. Through stories about Fred and others like him, Sanborn reveals four basic “how to” principles that will help us bring fresh energy and creativity to our life and work: how to make a real difference every day, how to become more successful by building strong relationships, how to create real value for others without spending a penny, and how to constantly reinvent yourself.
By following these principles, and by learning from and teaching other “Freds”, you too can excel in your career and make your life extraordinary. As Mark Sanborn makes clear, each of us has the potential be a Fred. The Fred Factor shows you how.’
Antonio is reading – Italo Calvino’s – Invisible Cities
Not many novels can conjure up the full force of the imagination like Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. The 1972 novel follows the conversations between the adventurer Marco Polo and the ageing emperor Kublai Khan, as he enigmatically describes the nature and dynamics of 55 fictitious cities as they are added to the expanse of Khan’s empire.
The descriptions of the cities are framed like short prose poems and are labelled in categories such as:
Cities & Names
Cities & the Dead
They are utterly consuming, and somehow manage to fully realise entire generations of dreamy cityscapes in under a page. For instance, here is the main excerpt from the city Baucis (known as the subtle observer):
“After a seven days’ march through the woodland, the traveller directed toward Baucis cannot see the city and yet he has arrived. The slender stilts that rise from the ground at a great distance from one another and are lost above the clouds support the city. You climb them with ladders. On the ground the inhabitants rarely show themselves: having already everything they need up there, they prefer not to come down. Nothing of the city touches the earth except those long flamingo legs on which it rests and, when the days are sunny, a pierced, angular shadow that falls on the foliage.
There are three hypotheses about the inhabitants of Baucis: that they hate the earth; that they respect it so much they avoid all contact; that they love it as it was before they existed and with spyglasses and telescopes aimed downward they never tire of examining it, leaf by leaf, stone by stone, ant by ant, contemplating with fascination their own absence.”
The way Calvino continually plays with concepts of memory, linguistics & human nature in such confined frames is truly astounding, and makes the book endlessly readable. I have spent many long journeys re-reading certain city descriptions and trying to unpack their secrets with little success, mainly because it feels almost impossible to fully bring them to flesh as a physical image. Like the final vestiges of a dream, the cities never reveal themselves as a whole – they appear only fleetingly in a real space and then disappear amongst the full but clouded picture. Ultimately, this is what makes it so compelling and enjoyable.
There is no better book to have as a travel companion wherever you go, and you will soon find yourself selecting your favourite cities and committing parts of their strange form to memory. I would also heartily recommend the audiobook by John Lee as bedtime listening, as his soothing voice and the indistinct atmosphere of the cities make for the perfect transition to the dream world.
If you have any reading suggestions let us know!