Sunday, 7 June 2009

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover
Bad Science
by Ben Goldacre

"How do we know if a treatment works, or if something causes cancer? Can the claims of homeopaths ever be as true - or as interesting - as the improbable research into the placebo effect? We are obsessed with our health. And yet we are constantly bombarded with inaccurate, contradictory and sometimes even misleading information."
This is compulsory reading for every individual in the country. I wouldn't say it's a classic of literature - the author's a doctor after all, and if he were a genius writer he could probably make a lot more money from writing. But it lays out how and why we are misled by journalists, which is where most of us pick up our knowledge of the latest scientific results. It's even made me want to go back and read the original scientific papers again, and believe me, they are hard going.

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A History of Modern Britain
by Andrew Marr

"From the Second World War onwards, Britain has been a country on the edge: first of invasion, then of bankruptcy, then on the vulnerable front line of the Cold War and later in the forefront of the great opening up of capital and migration now reshaping the world."
I was reading this for what seemed like years - it's quite a thick book, and hard going. He does try to include a bit about things like fashion in the 1960s and music in the 1970s, but the book is really shaped around the politicians, which is unsurprising given Andrew Marr's background as a political commentator. Mr A says he's going to read it now.

Image of the book cover
The Parasites
by Daphne du Maurier

narrated by Eleanor Bron
"Maria, Niall, and Celia have grown up in the shadow of their famous parents: their father a flamboyant singer and their mother a talented dancer. Now pursuing their own creative dreams, all three siblings feel an undeniable bond, but it is Maria and Niall who share the secrets of their parents' pasts."
Unfortunately, not up to her usual standard; the pace is stately and there are few excitements. It's about a theatrical family, and the three children who are allowed to run wild. Eleanor Bron is a great reader, though.


Anonymous said...

Lola's dad writes: I bought five copies of 'Bad Science' to give to people, and Lola's was one of them. So I'm glad she liked it.

Don't Bug Me! said...

I shall be picking up my copy of Bad Science this summer when I wing my way over the Atlantic to visit my Mum. Looking forward to it.