God Collar

I’ve just read God Collar by Marcus Brigstocke. It’s about his struggle with the concept of God, in particular the God of the Abrahamic faiths – Christianity, Judaism and Islam. I’ve always liked Mr. Brigstocke and have enjoyed his appearances on the Now Show, Argumental and QI, to name a few. I think he’s funny, clever and, as much as any of us are, pretty sensible.

The book, unsurprisingly perhaps, utilises quite a few personal anecdotes, as well as quite long passages about his wife and children and his friend James, to whom the book is dedicated. The passages about how much he loves his kids and how wonderful he thinks they are really made me want to have some of my own. This is a man who really appreciates what’s important in life and is lucky to have found it.

There’s also a very interesting section about his early years, and how miserable he was. I can certainly relate to this, having struggled with depression and anxiety since I was very young.

All the above makes the book sound more like an autobiography, which it most certainly is not. The author merely uses some details from his life to illustrate points about what sort of God he would like there to be and what sort of God it seems many people actually believe in. I’ve wrestled with much the same difficulties and, again, felt a strong empathy towards Marcus Brigstocke.

All in all, a very funny, intelligent book and well worth reading, whether you believe in a God of some sort or not, or whether you’re undecided. Honest, charming and very hard to put down.

The Last Unicorn

I’ve just finished reading The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, as recommended by Juliet. I confess that I was a little sceptical about how good a book about a unicorn was likely to be. I was wrong – it’s absolutely delightful. The style reminds me a little of Japanese folk tales: beautiful, somewhat sparse and often a little odd but always charming, entertaining and an absolute joy to read.

The story itself sounds like fairly standard fare (a unicorn sets out to discover what became of all the other unicorns and picks up companions and adventures along the way) but there’s much more to it than that. There’s real beauty here, both in the prose and in the ideas and characters.

I haven’t yet seen the animated film of the book but I’m going to try to do so. In the meantime, I recommend this very highly indeed.

Unseen Academicals

This morning I finished Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, having started it only a couple of days previously. It says something about how enjoyable this book was that I read it so quickly; it was just too good to put down.

This book is the usual blend of characters from Ankh-Morpork: the wizards of Unseen University, Lord Vetinari etc. – even a quick cameo from Death, my favourite. It also introduces some new ones, in particular Mister Nutt, a person of surprising ability given his lowly position as a candle dribbler at the University. This story revolves around football (that’s soccer to you Americans) and, while I have no interest at all in the game, that didn’t matter as what the book’s really about is people and a chance for Mr. Pratchett to philosophise once again.

If you like the other Discworld books, you’ll probably enjoy this one. If you haven’t tried any yet I think this would be a poor place to start as the assumption is that the reader is reasonably familiar with the location and major characters already.