notes from JK

Booklog: The World According to Star Wars & When I Die

The World According to Star Wars – Cass Sunstein

A book on what Star Wars can teach us about constitutional law, democracy and family relationships? Yes, yes and yes. Even better, it’s brilliant fun. Renowned scholar Cass Sunstein absolutely sparkles in this book where he swoops through what George Lucas’ creative process teaches us about life, how the Force relates to religion and why parents should watch Star Wars with their kids. I absolutely adored this book, it’s a real quirky gem. But I do have one bone to pick – Sunstein claims that no knowledge nor affinity for Star Wars is needed to enjoy the book. I disagree, it will make little sense if you haven’t watched all the films at least once. Indeed on reading the book I found great pleasure in re-watching them all again with new insight. Just a wonderful, unusual book from a brilliant mind.

When I Die – Phillip Gould

A short, searing book told mostly from the personal perspective of political strategist Phillip Gould as he is diagnosed with and ultimately dies from cancer. It’s emotional, wrenching at points but deeply worthwhile. This is clearly a man who loved his family, but also had a huge appetite for his work and politics. Once can sense the battles within him as he suspects his work ethic may have contributed to his illness, and threatens to distract him from precious, now definitely finite, time with his family. He mostly stays true to what he identifies as the purpose for his illness: To share the experience in a direct and moving way, to help others and change how we talk about death and dying. And of course to have the conversations and time he needs to have with those closest to him. The book closes with messages from his family and close friends. He achieved his purpose and something more. A wonderful book.

In fiction:

Women – Charles Bukowski
Brutal, unrelenting, salacious and disturbing and points. It feels incredibly real, even if it is a life one would never want to live, one feels privileged that somebody was able to capture a slice of LA lowlife as eloquently and with grit as Bukowski did.  

Agent Running in the Field – John Le Carré
There are few authors so consistently good as Le Carré. I feel completely inadequate in the presence of his writing, how can he be so good? As with the great Henning Mankell, Le Carré has a talent that borders on magic: Writing gripping tales that also expose the great issues of our time in new and powerful ways. This is what great fiction writing should do – help us grow, learn and feel in ways we could never otherwise do. It’s another masterpiece. 

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