Christmas Book Purchases: A Few Ideas from The Spectator

This is a small idiosyncratic selection from the numerous pre-Christmas yearly recommendations by book reviewers of The Spectator, London‘s multi-faceted weekly magazine founded in 1828.

From the first of two instalments in The Spectator (16 November 2013):

Nobly immune to (but enraged by) the Kindle invasion, Roger Lewis highly recommends three physical books on books, including The Library: A World History by James W.P. Campbell as “another lavish and melancholy tome”.

Two reviewers select Charles Moore’s first volume of his Margaret Thatcher biography as outstanding.

One of journalist and writer Michela Wrong’s selections is Rory Campbell’s Comandante: The Life and Legacy of Hugo Chavez. “a bracing exploration of modern-day dictatorship which contains a merciless exposition of how a complacent middle class allowed a society and economy to be hijacked by a wily egomaniac”.

As well as two positive recommendations, Ian Thomson offers an interesting counterpoint to the standard rave reviews of Clive James’s translation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, which he judges to be “egregiously overrated”, mainly for “its fusty-sounding language”.

In the following issue of The Spectator (23 November 2013), the following three items caught my eye.

Philip Henscher is very enthusiastic about “an instant classic of autobiography”, the Bengali Tapan Raychauduri’s The World in Our Time (published in India by HarperCollins).

James Walton takes up the cudgels for Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life, which he feels has not sold as well as expected by previous reviewers.

Matthew Parris introduces readers to the potential delights of Rob Hutton’s amusing exposé of English journalese: Romps, Tots and Boffins. The Strange Language of News, which is the one I think I will buy myself for Xmas.

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