I had the idea to start this website because I wanted to learn a bit about website design. I suggested reviews because I've been an avid reader all my life and I knew that reviewing would give us an endless source of new material to post.

I studied English literature and Communications many years ago, now. I worked as an English teacher for 25 years.

I prefer 'literature' rather than genre fiction, and I enjoy reading non-fiction, too. However, I try to read a variety of books. My reviews tend to be favourable since I choose which books I wish to read and review, unlike a professional reviewer.

My site tag is taken from my love of mountain biking. The Blue Mountains west of Sydney is a great place to do this. Unfortunately, as I get older, I've become unfit. I tend to work on this site and read books more these days.

I hope to improve the functionality of this site over time as my skills improve ... very, very slowly ...

▼ Reviews


On Reading...

I’m going to take it as an axiom that the act of reading plays a vital role in the forming and conditioning of sensibility in the life of the committed reader. What interests me is to try to puzzle out the nature of that role. But before I do, I feel that I should pause over the word sensibility. It is, I realize, a humanist term that is slipping from usage; in our age of hard-edged critical terminology it suggests a fin-de-siècle precocity. What is sensibility, besides being the counterpart to sense? It is neither self nor ego; neither identity or personality. While these are designations for something one either has or is, sensibility is more of a construct. The old sense of the word is of a refinement or cultivation of presence; it refers to the part of the inner life that is not given but fashioned: a defining, if cloudy, complex of attitudes, predilections and honed responses. And for this very reason I want to have the term available. For while it can be many things, serious reading is above all an agency of self-making. When undertaken freely, the effort of engaging a book shows a desire to actualize and augment certain inner powers. The reader assumes the possibility of deepened self-understanding, and therefore recognizes the self as malleable. Reading is the intimate, perhaps secret, part of a larger project, one that finally has little to do with the more societally oriented conceptions of the individual.

Sven Birkets, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in the Electronic Age, Faber and Faber, (1994), page 87

My Mr Anderson Reading List

Toriaz took an idea from social media of using a cart to house books she hoped to read. She called her cart Karl, after a favourite book vlogger on YouTube, Eric Karl Anderson. I liked the idea enough to steal it from her. I bought my own book cart from IKEA and named mine after the same vlogger, this time with a nod to The Matrix: Mr Anderson.

My idea is that I will only read books from Mr Anderson, and each book will receive a date when it was given to him. My former To Be Read List on this page has therefore been replaced. The idea is that I don’t pass over books that have been in the cart too long. At the moment, all my books held by Mr Anderson are dated from 1 April 2020, but that will change over time as I remove books from the list and add new ones. It's currently alphabetical, but my date system will eventually change that.

Date Author Title
1/04/2021 Anthony Beevor Stalingrad
1/04/2021 Brit Bennet The Vanishing Half
1/04/2021 T.C. Boyle Outside Looking In
1/04/2021 Mikhail Bulgarov The Master and Margarita
1/04/2021 Susanna Clarke Piranesi
1/04/2021 Wilkie Collins The Moonstone
1/04/2021 Avrid Doshi Burnt Sugar
1/04/2021 Bernadine Evaristo Girl,Woman, Other
1/04/2021 Richard Flanagan The Living Sea of Waking Dreams
1/04/2021 Stephen Fry Heroes
1/04/2021 Stephen Fry Troy
1/04/2021 Kate Grenville A Room Made of Leaves
1/04/2021 Vasily Grossman Stalingrad
1/04/2021 Tom Holland Dominion
1/04/2021 Clive James The Fire of Joy
1/04/2021 Hiromi Kawakami People from my Neighbourhood
1/04/2021 Cixun Liu The Supernova Era
1/04/2021 David Lodge Ginger, You're Barmy
1/04/2021 James McBride Deacon King Kong
1/04/2021 David Mitchell Utopia Avenue
1/04/2021 Haruki Murakami First Person Singular
1/04/2021 D.B.C. Pierre Meanwhile in Dopamine City
1/04/2021 Steven Pinker Enlightenment Now
1/04/2021 Thomas Pynchon Gravity's Rainbow
1/04/2021 Edward Said Orientalism
1/04/2021 Zadie Smith The Autograph Man
1/04/2021 Ali Smith Summer
1/04/2021 Tim Winton Land's Edge
1/04/2021 Virgina Woolf The Waves