Tag: crime fiction

Summer Reading Choices: Helen Rappaport

This is the first in a short series of summer reading recommendations from some of the authors I have interviewed in recent months. New posts will appear as they arrive.

Helen RapppaportOur first guest is historian Helen Rappaport. Helen studied Russian before becoming an actress, but in recent years she has developed a successful second career as an author, specializing in Russian history. You can hear my interview with her about book, Conspirator: Lenin in Exile on the Blackwell website by clicking here.

Here is her recommendation:

Girl with the Dragon Tatoo coverAs a historian in love with real people and real lives, and one who reads virtually no fiction – ever –  let alone contemporary fiction, I was totally gripped by the first two books of  Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy* like no other crime novels I have ever read. And for me that is saying something.

Why did they have such an impact on me? Simple: it’s all down to the brilliant, quirky, compulsive and utterly believable central female character, Lisbeth Salander, the best feisty heroine created by a male writer ever, in my humble estimation.

The Girl who Played with Fire coverAnd, weirdly, I just love all the technobabble about computers and hacking and the internet, probably because I am a Luddite who finds even laptops hard to work on. I am saving book three, like a guilty box of the very best chocolates, for hunkering down in bed with in the autumn.

* The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl  Who Played With Fire.

Books of the Decade – Mark Vernon

Mark VernonMark Vernon is a writer, broadcaster and journalist.  His academic interests led him from physics to philosophy via theology (he began his professional life as a priest in the Church of England). He went freelance ten years ago and now writes regularly for the Guardian, The Philosophers’ Magazine, TLS, Financial Times and New Statesman, alongside a range of business titles, including Management Today. He also broadcasts, notably on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time.

Plato's Podcasts coverMark’s most recent book is Plato’s Podcasts: The Ancients’ Guide to Modern Living. You can hear a podcast about that book by clicking here. His other publications include: Wellbeing, After Atheism, The Philosophy of Friendship, and Science, Religion and the Meaning of Life.

On Religion, John Caputo (2001)

Caputo: On ReligionThis book appeared in 2001. Had those folk who waged battle in the God wars of the decade read it first, we might have had a more informed debate.

Caputo aims to do a difficult thing: define religion. He does so with great verve, seeing that at heart, religion is a form of love – for good or ill.

The Athenian Murders, José Carlos Somoza (2001)

Somoza: Athenian MurdersIt is rare for a novel to combine the excitement of the thriller with the insight of great philosophy.

Umberto Eco manages it, and Somoza does too, in a plot that starts with an apparently minor conundrum and ends up engaging nothing less than the secret of knowledge itself. Brilliant.

The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around Your Head, Raymond Tallis (2008)

Tallis: Kingdom of Infinite SpaceI read this book whilst taking a long train trip, and it was so engaging that when I got off, I’d swear I saw the world in brighter colours.

Tallis combines the science of the body with the philosophy of consciousness and, pulling no punches, produces a truly remarkable exploration of what goes on with our heads.