Some recent reading:
1. The Portable MFA: published by the New York Writers' Workshop, this covers novels, short stories, non-fiction and poetry. Both interesting and useful for someone who hopes to eventually find the time to write a book;
2. Flawless: the story of the world's largest diamond robbery. A real life crime story. Fascinating;
3. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt: Toby Wilkinson's history of Egypt under the Pharaohs was a fascinating read - plenty of detail and a writing style that conveyed a feeling for this period of history. Subsequent visits to the ancient Egypt sections of the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art were more interesting as a result of reading this book. This one sparked a yearning to visit Egypt again;
4. The Age of Wonder: Richard Holmes' look at some of the scientific discoveries during the second half of the eighteenth century. In some respects, the book reads like a series of interlinked mid-length biographies starting with Joseph Banks and including other leading scientific figures such as William and Caroline Hershel and Humphrey Davy as well as some of the noteworthy scientific discoveries of the time. The emphasis is very much on the cultural or social impact rather than the science. A wonderful read;
5. Ulysses: James Joyce's novel is regarded my many as the greatest English language novel of the twentieth century. Having read (and enjoyed) Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, I was expecting to enjoy Ulysses as well. I didn't. I found the writing to be dense, impenetrable and, at times, incomprehensible. Above all, it was boring. I can't see myself reading anything else by Joyce after this.