**** Designer Magazine's Book Selections For The Month ****
The Book Against God by James Wood
Thomas Bunting is a modern day Billy Liar, except rather that retreat into a fantasy world he lives out his lies and fantasy in a very real world. A thoroughly charming person to watch from a distance, although admittedly it would be hell to know such a person, "The Book Against God" tells the tale of Bunting as his marriage is disintegrating before his eyes and his father, a Parish Priest, is on his death bed. For most people this would be a wake up call to grow up, but Bunting continues to work on his life's work, an atheist rant inspired by philosophers such as Camus which he calls "The Book Against God", instead of completing his long over due PHD.
Deep down Bunting wants to communicate honestly with those around him, but there's a mechanism which means he just can't stop telling the smallest of lies regardless of the fact that to tell the truth would have no real consequences. With his father critically ill it triggers something inside which inspires him to tell the truth for once in his life and when he chooses to do so it couldn't have been at a more inappropriate moment.
In "The Book Against God", James Wood has written a novel which is impossible to put down and in Thomas Bunting has created a character with depth. Throughout the book there's a great satisfaction when Bunting gets away with one of his minor lie's to either his wife or his associates and secretly you're willing him on all the way. Without giving the ending away it would be interesting if James Wood could write a sequel and peer into Bunting's life a few years down the line as there have been few characters as engrossing as this in recent history.
"The Book Against God" is out April 17th. For more info www.randomhouse.co.uk
Jesus by A.N. Wilson
Although A.N. Wilson has written award winning biographies on the lives of Sir Walter Scott and Tolstoy you could say they both fade into significance when compared to his work on Jesus. Originally published in 1992 "Jesus" aims to separate the Jesus we all know in the New Testament with the actual man himself.
Written in such a way that it allows those unfamiliar with the finer details of the Gospels (I include myself in this category as I haven't been to Church since my days in the Boys Brigade) to understand how to read and interpret the Gospels whereas those people familiar with the text are advised to skip to the fourth chapter. Obviously with such a book it goes without saying that much of what Wilson write is speculation, but the Gospels themselves were written several years after Jesus passed and therefore are open to question themselves. With so many wars and conflicts the result of people's interpretation it's interesting read and analysis of the New Testament which goes against the grain of ideas entrenched in history.
I personally read the book as a total sceptic and was looking for answers to back up my own lack of faith in organized religion. However it's a book which hopefully will challenge a few pre-conceived ideas of both the believers and the non-believers amongst us and that is after all what Wilson set out to do.
"Jesus" is out now. For more info www.randomhouse.co.uk
The Invisible Grail by John Simmons
When "No Logo" by Naomi Klein was first published it lifted the lid on the exploitative capitalist systems of the Multinational companies that were being hidden by marketing and subliminal advertising integrated into our education system. John Simmons recognizes that consumers have grown tired of brash images and his book "the Invisible Grail" is aimed at businesses to encourage the use of language to create an emotional connection between the product and the consumer.
While the book is aimed at business, the theory involved can be used by anyone from counter-revolutionary groups to anti capitalist demonstrators to use the same tools against big businesses. Simmons and Interbrand, the company which he is Verbal Identity Director for, has worked with 70 of the Fortune 100 companies in the world and therefore the very same methods being used in this book are the very same methods that Multi-National companies are using to ensure the masses buy their products.
This is a book which is useful to a wide spectrum of people from small business trying to find their way in the market and student studying the concepts of business through to Multi-National companies and the anti capitalist organization which fight against them.
"The Invisible Grail" is out now. For more info www.etexere.co.uk
Tilting At Windmills: How I Tried To Stop Worrying And Love Sport
by Andy Miller
Sport. You either love it or you hate it. I'm in the latter category and the thought of being selected (as I duly was each year) for the Interform Rugby Tournament at School still haunts me now. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh as I didn't exactly hate every single sport. Sure football, rugby, cricket and hockey were absolute no no's but I can still remember the occasion when I launched a massive 3 pointer in Basketball or the fact I used to win badminton hands down every single time.
"Tilting At Windmills" follows Andy Miller, a self confessed Crazy Golf addict, on a humorous journey to discover what the British love about sport. The opening quote from Umberto Eco sums up the book perfectly: I don't hate soccer, I hate soccer fans...he cannot understand why you are not a fan yourself". Flitting between QPR matches and boat races and then back to his own Crazy Golf missions which take him everywhere from Skegness to the European Miniature Golf Championships in Latvia.
This is a book written for all those people who skipped school on a Wednesday afternoon to avoid whichever horrendous sporting ritual they had that week. It's a book for people who don't understand why it's so important that Man United win the treble. Above all though it's a humorous book that looks behind the religion of sport in a unique way.
"Tilting Windmills" is out now. For more info www.penguin.com
The Making Of The Poets: Byron And Shelley In Their Time
by Ian Gilmour
They say that one has to truly suffer for their art. Byron and Shelley were two people that almost certainly suffered for their art, but it's with this suffering that they produced truly great art. Although they both came from different backgrounds their similar experiences led them to come together as kindred spirits in their former years and like all genius is was certainly true that the gods die young.
Both Byron and Shelley suffered at the hands of their respective headmasters and it's said that for a whole year Byron was never formally educated for a whole year. The institutions in question were more interested in discipline than learning and as a result everything they learnt was out of the school classrooms. Both at Eton and Harrow their was culture of flagging and indeed sexual abuse was a regular occurrence.
"The Making Of The Poets" gives you an insight into what impact their childhood's had on their art in later life and how these experiences forged a friendship between the two. There is so much I could day about the unique details this book unveils, but the best advise is really to buy a copy yourself and find out the real story of two geniuses.
"The Making Of The Poets" is out now. For more info www.randomhouse.co.uk
Anti-War / Anti Capitalist Special
No Logo by Naomi Klein – www.fireandwater.com
The bible of the Anti Capitalist movement includes everything you need to know. With such a comprehensive detailed look it can be quite daunting for people who are just looking for a simple overview
The Huey P Newton Reader – www.sevenstories.com
The most comprehensive book on the history of the Black Panthers features essays and speeches from Huey P Newton himself. Much of what is included about the Vanguard movement of the 60s and 70s is still relevant to today's Anti Capitalist and Anti-War movements
Power And Terror by Noam Chomsky – www.sevenstories.com
Noam Chomsky is seen as one of the leading figures in the movement and is a source of inspiration for many people. "Power And Terror" presents the latest in Chomsky's thinking though a series of lengthy talks and interviews. The Seven stories website also is a major source of many African American and Anti-Capitalist books so check out the website for the full catalogue.
All books featured in Designer Magazine's Book Club are available at Waterstones
You can also make purchases online from the web sites listed above
BOOK CLUB ARCHIVES
* The Long Suit by Philip Davies
* Talk Of The Devil by Riccardo Orizio
* This Is Craig Brown - The Very Best Of Craig Brown
* Practical Astrology By Numbers - Simon G Brown
* Sound Recording Advice by John J Volanski
* Gangs Of New York by Herbert Asbury
* Revolution – The Making Of The Beatles White Album by David Quantick
* Adult Entertainment by Chloe Poems
* Where Did It All Go Right? by Andrew Collins
* Hip Hop Immortals – Vol 1