This is the first of what might become a number of ‘off-topic’ pages. This one is for comment and discussion on books which are an important part of life in my household.

The most rewarding fiction I’ve read over the last ten years or so includes Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell), English Passengers (Mathew Neale), What is the What (Dave Eggers), The Tin Roof Blowdown (James Lee Burke), Sacred Hunger (Barry Unsworth), Ship Fever (Andrea Barrett), Primary Colors (Anonymous), Straight Man (Richard Russo), A Man in Full (Tom Wolfe), Filth (Irvine Welsh), I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb), How to be Good (Nick Hornby). I’d recommend all these as “good reads”.

Here’s an article on the 20 cliches used most commonly by book reviewers. Here’s a list of 119 words/phrases best avoided. And here’s a list of what I’ve read most recently – few of which have anything to do with either urbanism or Melbourne. I don’t have the time to review these books but would be happy to respond to any comments:


The orphan master’s son, Adam Johnson

Human Transit, Jarrett Walker

READ IN 2012

You shall know our velocity, Dave Eggers**

Alex’s adventures in numberland, Alex Bellos*****

You are not so smart, David McRaney*****

The edifice complex, Deyan Sudjic*****

Transport for suburbia: beyond the automobile age, Paul Mees***

Cold Light, Frank Moorhouse*****

How we decide, Jonah Lehrer****

The Street Sweeper, Elliot Perlman****

READ IN 2011

Leningrad: the epic seige of World War 2, 1941-44, Anna Read****

Thinking, fast and slowDaniel Kahneman*****

The sense of an ending, Julian Barnes****

The price of civilisation: reawakening American virtue and prosperityJeffrey D Sachs****

The secret river, Kate Grenville*****

Life, Keith Richards*****

New York: the novel, Edward Rutherford****

The better angels of our nature: why violence has declined, Steven Pinker*****

Atlantic: a vast ocean of a million stories, Simon Winchester**

Freedom, Jonathan Franzen****

Dead birds, Trevor Shearston****

The Finkler question, Howard Jacobson*****

Nothing to envy, Barbara Demick****

The gated city, Ryan Avent*****

Melbourne, Sophie Cunningham****

Ghostwritten, David Mitchell***

Brisbane, Matthew Condon*****

Parrot and Olivier in America, Peter Carey*****

Adapt, Tim Harford****

Winter’s bone, Daniel Woodrell****

Black glass, Meg Mundell****

Thunderstruck, Erik Larson***

The Emperor of all maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee *****

Dancing with strangers, Inga Clendinnen *****

The great stagnation, Tyler Cowen*****

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel *****

The thousand autumns of Jacob de ZoetDavid Mitchell ***

The consolations of philosphy, Alain de Botton ***

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot ***

The uncommon reader, Alan Bennett *****

READ IN 2010

Blink, Malcolm Gladwell ***

Power crisis, Rodney Cavalier ****

Disconnected, Andrew Leigh ***

Down and out in Paris and London, George Orwell ***

The rational optimist: how prosperity evolves, Matt Ridley *****

When we think about Melbourne, Jenny Sinclair ***

Imperial bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis **

The ghost map, Steven Johnson *****

Solar, Ian McEwan ***

Superfreakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner ****

Julian Comstock: a story of 22nd century America, Robert Charles Wilson ***

The road, Cormac McCarthy ****

Falling man, Don DeLillo ***

The disappeared, Kim Echlin ***

Generation A, Douglas Coupland ***

Better: a surgeon’s notes on performance, Atul Gawande *****

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell *****

Juliet: Naked, Nick Hornby *****

1776, David McCulloch ****

The Catcher in the Rye, J D Salinger **

Blackwater Lightship, Colm Toibin ***

7 Comments on “READING”

  1. […] There’s no particular connection to Melbourne or to urbanism in this article but as this is the first time I’ve ever been a real early-adopter, I thought I’d share my experience. Perhaps my rationale can be that I’ve always had a page on this blog titled My Reading. […]

  2. […] for example, hypertext links in each article like those that I and other bloggers regularly use (like this). If there’s a commercial issue, at least link to other Fairfax material such as an earlier story […]

  3. I wonder if you could suggest some good, readable intros to urbanism?



  4. Markus says:

    Thanks Alan – that’s brilliant.

    One is now on my ‘Wishlist’, the other is on my ‘To Read’ list. 🙂

  5. […] the Reading page in the sidebar. As things have turned out, there hasn’t been much interest in reading and […]

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