Posted by: billpurdue | November 25, 2010

Unpublished titles- what are we missing?

I wasn’t sure whether to mention this book in  my blog since it isn’t available to buy anywhere, nor is it available from the public library, since it is an unpublished autobiography. However, I thought it so good, that I really felt it deserved a few column inches. Just a Simple Seaman by Andrew Parks (subtitled “an autobiography by no one famous”) is Andy’s own account of his  childhood and his first few years in the Merchant Navy.

Andy grew up in Wiltshire, a long way from the sea, so it was a bit of a surprise to his parents when he told them that he would like a career on the ocean wave. Nonetheless his parents were fully supportive and Andy went on to enjoy a successful career at sea. In the book, he tells of his first voyage – more than half way round the world – which was very eventful and it’s the voyage he says he remembers the best. Now semi-retired, he has had time to put down on paper his memories of those first years at sea and the book ends at the point where he meets Ruth, his wife-to-be. So, hopefully, there will be a part 2.

Andy says that he has tried to get the book published, but to no avail. I was fascinated and found it hard to put down and it occurred to me that there may be hundreds of other books   out there which have not quite made it into the publishers’ catalogues, many of which are probably well worth reading.


I’ve just spent an hour or so in the very pleasant company of a reading group which is temporarily based at Forest Town Library, near Mansfield. As Mansfield Library is closed for a major refurbishment until well  into 2011, the group meets at Forest Town instead on a monthly basis. I really enjoyed being in the company of this group of lady bibliophiles (men are not excluded – it’s just that there are no males in the group at the moment) who were discussing a book by Robert Harris called The Ghost [Arrow, £7.99 978-0099525127]. (The cover illustration is of the film tie-in edition.)

It’s a page turning political thriller with one of the central characters, Adam Lang, a thinly veiled copy of Tony Blair – or is it? Anthony Holden in the Guardian describes Adam Lang as  “a Labour PM slavishly subservient to an incompetent American president” – well who else could it be?

I should say that my visit to the group was not to take part in the discussion, but to find out how the group operates (no two reading groups are the same) and also ask individual members what they enjoyed about being a member of a book group. I plan to include my report and photograph in my monthly column in the Chad in January.

By the way, thanks for having me and for the coffee and biscuits!

How the brain makes up its mind

That’s the subtitle of a book by Jonah Lehrer called The Decisive Moment [Canongate £8.99 9781847673152]. In it the author sets out to explain how we make decisions and how we can make better ones. I have to say that I have only read the first chapter or two of this book, but for those interested in popular psychology, this should be a good read. He illustrates his points by taking examples of decision making in all walks of life – airline pilots, cricketers and American football players to name but three. I think a lengthy description of the necessity for good decision making in the game of American football did help to put me off a little, but perhaps I should have persevered. Why not try this book yourself and tell me what I missed?

By the way, Lehrer’s next book Proust was a Neuroscientist is due in January



  1. My sincerest thanks…

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