It's been a while since I posted a review roundup hasn't it! Some would say it's because I haven't been reading much, so...

It's been a while since I posted a review roundup hasn't it! Some would say it's because I haven't been reading much, so it hasn't seemed worth it to post a roundup, but I would call that cynicism. If we try hard enough, you and I can just pretend that I read these books in February, because I'm a super fast reader and I read a lot and that's a fact.

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

"Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future."

I bought this book for about 50p from a charity table at Sainsbury's. It doesn't have a back cover and it looks like someone used it as a doorstop for a few years, but it was readable and that's all that matters.

Cloud Atlas is 6 stories in one. Its overarching story is that of one soul travelling through time and inhabiting different bodies, but each life it lives is a new and interesting story about the way humans treat each other. Particularly, the way in which we enslave or bully or generally rule over each other.

At first, I was a bit bored. I found it hard to get into or care about. But as the stories went on I found myself caring more about some than others, and it was the variety that really helped me get into it. By the end, I loved it.

But it was still a bit too long for me. I'm a fan of being concise, and long books take me a long time to read because I can't face reading them on the train. It's not exactly a deal breaker, but it doesn't endear me to a book, when it's thicker than my nan.


Outer Dark - Cormac McCarthy

"Ive seen the meanness of humans till I dont know why God aint put out the sun and gone away."

Culla and Rinthy Holme are brother and sister, and we join them holed up in a cabin waiting for their child to be born. Culla is ashamed, so when Rinthy gives birth, he leaves the baby in the woods while she sleeps, telling her it has died. But Rinthy won't be fooled, and when she discovers the lie, she sets off across the country to find her child.

This is McCarthy's second novel, published in 1968, and even though it came early in his career, you can see that he always had the talent he has today. It has the same darkness, sparseness and inimitable style as all his other works, even if it doesn't have some of the action to grab you and shake you around.

A must-read for any McCarthy fan, but not necessarily for someone who's looking for a first McCarthy read. For that, I'd recommend something like No Country for Old Men.


The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins

This is a 400 page argument against belief in God. It's not nasty or belittling, it's just matter-of-fact rebuttals to the most common arguments that religious people make that God exists. But you could be as nice as you wanted in a book like this, and it would still be controversial, because people get so angry about this stuff.

Sometimes Dawkins goes on a bit and says in many, many words what could have been said in a few. But most of the time, he articulates very well those points which many of us might have wondered over the years but never really put into words. Like, why do we have to tip-toe around "respecting" (i.e. not questioning) other people's beliefs, no matter how little evidence they have for those beliefs? And why is it okay to indoctrinate children into life-changing religion, when they're clearly not old enough to make informed decisions about it themselves?

Did you know that the percentage of people who identify as atheists or agnostics in the UK has increased from 14% to 42% in the last 55 years?

I don't like debating my beliefs anymore. I did when I was a teenager, but now I just think that as long as you're not hurting anyone else, you can believe what you want. The trouble is, a lot of people use their beliefs as an excuse to hurt people.