For my birthday, my wife gave me a very nice pair of shorts, which should last me a long time, and a copy of Andy Weir’s second novel, Artemis, which I read over the course of two days and hence hasn’t lasted me very long. So on average, well, averages turn out to be an unhelpful way to construe gratitude.
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The Perfect Distance

The Perfect Distance is a book describing the careers of Sebastian Coe (Conversative Lord, adviser to Nike and the IOC, and therefore more-than-slightly dubious, under some interpretations) and Steve Ovett, a shaggier-looking chap who was naturally talented and not whittled into a formidable middle distance runner by a obsessive father. (Not that Peter Coe doesn’t come from a long line of fathers who seem to be doing horrible things to ensure the success of their progeny (Tiger Woods’ dad, anyone?).

It’s also written by Pat Butcher, who as well as being the Financial Times’ sports writer, was the name of the pub landlady in East Enders, which really messed with my head while I was reading the book.
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Deskbound is a book about how terrible it is to spend your day sitting, and how you can remedy that if you’re stuck in a sedentary occupation (like mine – principally sitting at a desk typing at a keyboard). I’m reading it on my phone’s Kindle app, which feels slightly hypocritical if not just plain reckless, as one of the factors it suggests as a problem is how people read on their smartphones too much.
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Orphan X

Of the three books we purchased last Friday on the way to Hong Kong, Orphan X was most clearly an airport novel. Big enough to last for a long flight, but devoid of any taxing detail or subtext to grapple with when you’re on holiday. It didn’t disappoint, which is to say it was disappointing, and I was disappointed at myself for reading it.
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The Four

I read several books this weekend, one of them The Four by Scott Galloway. Scott Galloway is a professor at NYU Stern Business School, and also makes entertaining videos on Youtube where he explains the world of Silicon Valley through the medium of wearing a wig and miming to Adele. No, really. That’s how I first came to know of him, prompted to look at a dissection of Apple/Google/Amazon/Facebook by a colleague.
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Bad Science

At the airport bookshop yesterday, I bought a copy of Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science, which I then devoured between Singapore and Vietnam, pausing to have dinner, and then finishing in the early hours of this morning when sleep wouldn’t come.

Ben Goldacre is a doctor who also wrote extensively for The Guardian, debunking various examples of quackery and also focussing on things like the MMR hoax. The book starts off with some fun, lighthearted stuff about detox remedies and footbaths that appear to soak bad things out of your feet, but don’t really do anything at all, and gradually becomes more serious as he examines homeopathy, bad medical trials, and culminating in utterly depressing things like the South African government’s opposition to retrovirals (which led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths, because somebody thought orange juice would cure AIDS).
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