What We’re Reading – David Ashton

What We’re Reading

In a new seasonal feature, QR writers and readers tell us what’s on their reading lists for the summer.  This time – DAVID ASHTON

Non-fiction – currently reflects writing projects (e.g. ancient dragon-slayer & returning-hero narratives) rather than my usual interests. Only just finished Trevor Bryce’s Life and Society in the Hittite World (2004), a good example of concise, readable scholarship. Only just started George Cox’s erudite 2-vol Mythology of the Aryan Nations (1870) and Arthurian Legends of the Middle Ages (1871). Researching subjects from various angles to minimise error leads irresistibly to sidetracks. Such tempting tangents will include Ronald Fritze’s Invented Knowledge: False History, Fake Science and Pseudo-religions (2011), John Day’s Indo-European Origins: The Anthropological Evidence (2001) and James Holding’s Shattering the Christ Myth (2008).

Among modern historians I particularly admire Richard Overy (e.g. The Dictators & The Morbid Age), despite disagreement over occasional details, and look forward to 1939: Countdown to War (2009) if we get a sunny afternoon on the beach. I also bought John Mosier’s Deathride (2010) “debunking” Soviet WW2 propaganda, and Frank Dikotter’s Mao’s Great Famine (2011), which require careful study.

Fiction: So far into six chapters of Haruki Murakami’s weird 1Q84 (2011), a present from my son-in-law; apart from names it could be set in America as easily as Japan. This month in paperback, Peter James’ atypical thriller Perfect People would make an exciting film with a sad ending. I hope soon to recover from its anti-eugenic stance by reading Robert Heinlein’s Friday (1982) and then Ernst Jünger’s prophetic Glass Bees (1957). Little time for lighter stuff, except for Private Eye magazine (especially Craig Brown’s brilliant parodies), though dipping now and again into Robert Benchley’s My Ten Years in a Quandary, which kept me amused as a boy sailing back from Australia.

I sometimes use TV for effortless intake of its rare quality drama or movies, plus programmes like Have I Got News for You, Dad’s Army or Poirot.

DAVID ASHTON writes from Norfolk


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