Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Good Book

It's 20 days before we go on holiday. That means tomorrow it's down to the teens, and that means extra excitement. And I thought it couldn't get any more exciting when a parcel from New in Chess arrived yesterday. Ok, perhaps I'm exaggerating, but it's still quite exciting to get mail that isn't requiring you pay something. Mail, like books, is in jeopardy of being taken over by its electronic sidekick, and I for one will be sad if that happens. I admit, that email, smart phones and mobile internet access has made my life easier, and that I would now be lost without my chess database, but I still carry books around with me, and a notebook and pencil.

My work involves long hours, but with gaps between the schools and classes I have to visit. There is however, usually not time to drop back home, so I'm often driving around Melbourne all day. It can be pretty boring at times so I'm filling my time reading and working through chess books. I'm currently reading Peaches for Monsieur le Cure by the wonderful Joanne Harris.

I first read "Chocolat" probably 10 years ago and have read other novels by Joanne Harris (who by the way is excellent to follow on Twitter @Joannechocolat). Food and mystical themes pervade her writing and she has the ability to bring emotions to life through words. Try "Blackberry Wine", a novel narrated by a bottle of wine! I have a massive list of books to read as well, which is great except that the list is continually expanding and I don't have time to keep up. I have joined the social network "Goodreads" and have found interesting discussion about books, some reviews that I sometimes agree with, and sometimes take issue with, and recommendations for books which I would otherwise never have thought to read. It's even made me think about my reading habits, and I have decided it's time to read authors from more varied backgrounds. I've set myself the challenge of reading 80 novels before I die by authors from different countries. I would be glad to hear of any novelists from non English speaking countries that you could recommend, though I'd have to have it translated to English!

Chess books won't count towards the 80 (I'm going for fiction) which is a shame as I have chess authors from Bosnia, USA and Norway. I couldn't help but get Simen Agdestein's reissued work on the young Magnus Carlsen, and I've started reading this already. The story of the prodigious talent that is Magnus Carlsen from his first steps in chess until he became a Grand Master at just 13 is amazing and as it's written by someone who was right there to witness it and help in making it happen, this book was a must for me. A chess author that I really like is Ivan Sokolov, mainly because he loves to attack and talk about agressive systems. His new book is about the Initiative and Sacrifice, and though I've yet to really get going with it, it looks great. The American author I've purchased is a young player Daniel Naroditsky. He was only 14 when he wrote Mastering Positional Chess, and I want to see how a 14 year old comes across as a communicator. Of course there is no dounbting how strong Naroditsky is, but even the very strongest of players have not been able to convey their messages well. Anyway, the examples look good and there is a lot of commentary which is a good thing, but that is on a first glance.

So you can call me conservative, a Luddite or whatever, but I just prefer books to kindles, ebooks etc. And I'll be writing another blog post in the future about my love of bookshops compared to buying online....


  1. That Carlsen book looks interesting, I was thinking about picking it up myself. Tie breaks in the World Cup. Kramnik is vulnerable for the first time, could your predictions be spectacularly awful yet again? hehe

  2. I'm so bad as predicting winners :D. Thankfully I'm not a gambler, as I would be so in debt...