November Book Reviews with Unity Books' Chloe Blades
If you’re a veracious reader who finds pleasure in life’s challenges, like mountain climbing or marathons, The Books of Jacob is similar in feat. Taking seven years to translate and at over 1000 pages, it’s been crowned Nobel laureate Tokarczuk’s magnum opus. It chronicles the life of 18th Century Frank Jacob, a charismatic sexually exploitative messianic leader who’s aim was to upend convention. Put your finger on the plot of this tome and it will appear as a plasma ball of maps, voices, spirits, travel, backward page numbers and a complex Jewish history, but at the core, as Tokarczuk says, is “a universal tale about the spirit of rebellion”. The book’s proven to be so politically divisive Tokarczuk has her own security.
At 59, Stanley Tucci has as The New Yorker put it become “a sex symbol of the digital age”, which is obvious if you’ve seen him rustling up a Negroni in a suit from the splendour of his outdoor kitchen. Usually at first sight of a recipe in anything but a recipe book, I hate it. Only Nora Ephron could get away with such audacity, but then I read Taste. Stanley’s introduction to his Italian heritage and 1960s New York upbringing meanders into the beautiful relationship with his late wife, the grief of losing her, and the fortuity in attending Emily Blunt’s wedding in Lake Como and being “stalked” by his now second wife, Felicity Blunt. His stories are fascinating, contemplative and interwoven with exceptional humour and divine food. There’s a lot to be learnt about human resilience and joy from Mr Tucci.
Books are like friends. You have them for a reason, a season or a lifetime. You decide which are for a season (spotted in the book exchange bus stop) and for a reason (tucked in a box in the loft). This one’s for a lifetime. Beautifully bound in dark blue and gold, Christchurch Art Gallery’s Peter Vangioni holds a magnifier to the fine details of Hammond’s art with an exclusive interview between Hammond and Tony de Lautour, and essays and text by experts offering insightful musings on the artist’s craft. Hailed as an artist ahead of the curve, Hammond’s haunting bird-people perched in mythological landscapes often depicted the fragility and endangerment of the human species, making this an unwittingly relevant read for your table.
I doubt you’re a stranger to the subconscious urge defined by the 21st century to touch your phone. Here, in this genuinely life-changing read, professor Newport argues his case for digital minimalism. Not to be confused with eradication, rather learning to live with the technology you need more meaningfully. It’s easy to be seduced by the small gains social media notifications offer, but they’re short lived, devoid of humanity, and a waste of the time you could be using getting acquainted with a good whiskey while reading a book of my recommending. This is the 30-day digital declutter that will take you into a better 2022, which invites you to rediscover the pleasures and possibilities of the offline world.