Book Diary – January 2013

‘The Audacity of Hope’ by Barack Obama

Thursday 10th January – Friday 25th January

I embarked on this book with a great deal of anticipation. I have a lot of respect for Barack Obama as he seems a decent, honest, likeable politician (and it doesn’t seem like it’s often you can say that!).

However, I found the book a little hard-going. I think my main issue was the fact that it was clearly written for an American public, and so he is talking about an unfamiliar political system and using everyday American political language and examples to illustrate his points.

The other main issue was his portrayal of himself. As I’ve already mentioned, he seems an upright kinda guy and one must also bear in mind that he is a successful politician so is not going to be short on self-confidence and a certainty that he is backing the right horse, but many of the examples he cites seem to be polishing his reputation. I suppose the problem here is that it was written near the beginning of his political career and so, whether or not such doubt is justified, there will always be doubt about whether it was written with complete honesty and therefore he really is just a wholly admirable person, or whether it was written with one eye on the future, laying the foundations for his run at the presidency and so intended only to portray him in the most positive light possible. It is sad that even someone as removed from the situation as I am can be so wary and cynical about the situation.

About halfway through however, things improved slightly. I found myself making more progress but also doing so by setting targets – finishing a chapter being the most common one, or getting to the next page multiple of ten.

Things did improve slightly as the book went on. In fact, the final chapter, on the subject of family, was the most easily readable by far. It also contained fewer thinly-disguised policies and more personal anecdotes which meant that this was finally the moment when we see Obama the man rather than Obama the politician.

Overall, I’m glad I read it, but I found it more of a challenge than I had hoped it would be.

‘The Shape Of Water’ by Andrea Camilleri

Saturday 26th January – Sunday 27th January

After a succession of longer books, I needed something I could blast through in quick order. Having read at a rate of a book a week last year, only getting through three since the end of November was something of a drag.

This was a great antidote to the longer stories and was very enjoyable. The plot wasn’t anything wildly original  – a standard police procedural – but was done with a light and playful touch. The main detective was a refreshing change from the usual character, being neither divorced, an alcoholic, a maverick or a workaholic. I will certainly work my way through the Inspector Montalbano series and will probably investigate the respected TV adaptations.


One thought on “Book Diary – January 2013

  1. HAllo Phil, haven’t replied in a while,

    I wouldn’t expect too much from a politician’s book while he’s still in office and, therefore, has things he can lose. Bringing out a book like this reminds me of when Rooney got offered a multi-book publishing deal for his autobiography when he was just 22 or something. Seems more like a publisher knowing the book will sell than because someone has important things to say at that very point in time. When he’s had his spell in office and can discuss things without the fear of political reprisal, that’s when it will be more self-assured. I think.

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