I've just had a week of sunshine, sand and babysitting, so I read:
It did make me think though. Not just about globalisation and the "rise of big business", but also about marketing, and toys and the terrifying statistic, which may or may not be true that children are exposed to 20,000 products before they are 15. Actually, that must be true, mustn't it ? As must the fact that toy manufacturers "are in the business of the new and shiny, the biggest and the best, the glittery and magical, the fast and addictive. The toy industry has two big advantages over other industries. Our products are the easiest to sell and our customers are the easiest to sell to."
My children are still too little to be materialistic, but that sentence is still one of the most frightening things I've read in months.
Then I picked up The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
I've wanted to read this for some time, having read extracts from it in magazines, and having had it recommended by several people, including Diney, who has had an amazing, enlightening and compelling encounter on the back of it.
I cannot now recommend it highly enough. It is set in 1962 in Mississippi. Martin Luther King is still alive, Rosa Parks has sat in the white seat of a segregated bus. It is only fifty years ago and it is a different and horrifying world. One which makes me, born fifteen years later, and fifteen thousand miles away, ashamed to be white.
I laughed, I cried, I determined to find out more about this period in history, and, more important to make sure that my girls read it. To understand that there are good things and there are bad things, but that some things are always wrong. And should never be forgotten.
You'll have worked out by now what a cry-baby I am, so it'll come as no surprise that this one made me weep too. But it also made me snigger. It's very silly, but also witty, readable and, yes, thought-provoking.
The Greek gods are real, alive, and living in north London. Apollo is a television psychic, Artemis a dog walker, Aphrodite runs a phone sex line. Their divine power is waning. They are bored and lonely. Until they meet Alice and Neil...
I read it in about an hour. I enjoyed every minute of it. I can't really remember what happens now.
And yet again, I don't get what the Booker Judges saw. The White Tiger was fine, it really was, but it wasn't even the best book I read on holiday much less all year, (to be honest it was probably third equal in the holiday rankings, and there were only four entrants).
I found the premise (a series of letters to the Chinese Premier) silly and contrived, and I still don't understand what it added to the novel as a whole. The plot was interesting, and the descriptions of India compelling and often shocking, but there was little in the way of suspense, and, most importantly, I found the character of the White Tiger himself disappointingly predictable. The killer with the moral compass would have been so much more interesting had he had more ambiguity. The Times thought it was a masterpiece. Nadine Gordimer found it too determined to shock. I just thought it was a bit dull. I suspect I am missing something...
Beatitudes For Guiding Leaders
1 day ago