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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lost At Sea by Jon Ronson

I feel like I should have heard of Jon Ronson before but I confess he's a new name to me. He's an investigative journalist mainly for the Guardian (a paper I buy sometimes) I think and he's written a few books. Lost At Sea is a collection of articles which have appeared in his name around 3-4 years ago.

There's no discernable order to the articles which is one of the alluring points of the book. The articles can literally be about anything, but nearly always are about unusual people and/or unusual situations. Some of the articles are excellent, a few are less good but there's not a bad article in the whole book. I award Lost At Sea 9 out of 10.

The title story is about a fairly normal person, who disappeared on a cruise voyage and the cruise-line have been very unhelpful at getting to the truth. Most of the articles though are about people who live bizarre lives like the real life super heroes on America, there are a couple of game show contestants who go to extreme lengths to get on shows and win them, and even a trip to Alaska to find the town where  it is always Christmas. Ronson in every case goes and talks to the people involved and sees for himself what the story is.

Ronson is a great writer and very funny on occasions - he's also very good at getting to the point without being boring. I'll definitely have to read some more of his stuff. Unfortunately my own rules forbid me to take anything else by him out should it crop on another bookcase! When I've finished this challenge he'll be high on my list to return to that's for sure.

Next up is book 43, which is the first full scale biography of a major historical figure, Karl Marx. I must admit to having a soft spot for the Nineteenth Century and have read a few biographies from this period especially of British people in the heyday of our nation.  Marx was German but he lived in London for a large part of his life and largely made his name here to the best of my recollection.

I'll be interested to read about Marx - and his wife who is also the subject of this book. I'm not especially interested in his politics, more about his life and that of his wife. Good biographies allow you to live the lives of others vicariously and you can learn things from them which you can apply to your own life. Two books ago I read another biography, about Alfred Wainright, and it helped to put parts of my own life into perspective. Alfred Wainright was a minor figure though in the grand scheme of things - Marx is one of the giants of the Nineteenth century and one of the most influential thinkers of all time.

It's a 700 page book so I may take a couple of weeks to read this one!

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