Recent Reads

Some more books I’ve read and enjoyed recently….

We Bought a Zoo. Benjamin Mee

The full title of the book pretty much describes the main plot line of the book The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever but that’s certainly an excuse that can be used to avoid reading this book. It’s great.

The story revolves around Benjamin Mee and his families bid to turnaround the struggling Dartmoor Wildlife Park (now the Dartmoor Zoological Park) in Devon despite knowing practically nothing about running a zoo or caring for the exotic animals inside.

I watched Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in the 2011 film of the same name but thankfully it didn’t spoil the book at all, Hollywood has very much had their way with the story.


Mafia State. Luke Harding

Luke Harding’s memoirs of his time as the Guardian’s Moscow make for a pretty mind blowing insight into the inner workings of the Russian Federation and how, even long after the end of the KGB, the FSB continues to harass foreign journalists and stifle free speech. Though as we’ve seen recently with our governments (US and UK) they can’t be trusted too much either.


Fire and Steam: A New History of the Railways in Britain. Christian Wolmar

I’ve always had a real passion for Britain’s railways, something I probably inherited from my Dad, but this book certainly isn’t just for train anoraks. It’s a fascinating look at the history of the railways and how they shaped our nation. From the early days of Stephenson’s Rocket and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway to British Rail and their state today this book pretty much covers it all. It’s by no means short but will leave you far from bored.


Killing Floor. Lee Child

I decided to read the first Jack Reacher book after reading about the recent film release staring Tom Cruise (I haven’t got around to seeing the film yet). A stranger in a sleepy Georgia town, Jack Reacher find’s himself accused of his own brother’s murder and a fast paced action thriller ensues. Despite some of the comments on Goodreads  (link below) I found it to be pretty exciting and an easy read.



Recent Reads

Some books I’ve read, and enjoyed recently….

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Jonas Jonasson (translated by Rod Bradbury)

A funny and heart-warming story about Allan Karlsson and his flight from an old people’s home on his 100th birthday. Drug dealers, explosions and communist dictators are all involved and the way Jonasson interlaces Allan’s story with almost every pivotal event of the 20th Century is brilliant.A geriatric Forrest Gump if you will.

The translation is just brilliant, you’d have no idea it was originally written in Swedish. The author is also a pretty interesting fellow.

One of the best books I’ve read in a long while.


Bad Lands. Tony Wheeler

Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet, recounts his travels to some of the most dangerous, repressive and least travelled countries in the world.Countries featured include; North Korea (of course), Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Albania and Burma.

It makes for an interesting read with lots of anecdotes and short history lesson about each country. I’d recommend the book, but can’t say I’ll be visiting any of the countries soon.


Life After Death. Damien Echols

In 1994, Damien Echols, along with two others, was convicted of murdering three young boys as part of a “Satanic Ritual” — a crime he didn’t commit. They became known as the West Memphis Three. Released after over 18 years on Death Row this is a honest, open and often terrifying account of his time there.

The injustices Damien and the other two boys experienced often saw my jaw hitting the floor, but the love of a woman he’d never met, Lorri Davis, who mounted a campaign to release him restored my faith in humanity.

Having previously known nothing about this case I caught a Guardian article about him and bought the book. I’m glad I did, and will probably try to check out several of the documentaries that have been made about the case now.


The Eagle Has Landed. Jack Higgins

Having seen and enjoyed the 1976 film starring Michael Caine, I picked up this book for cheap on the Kindle store.

It’s by no means a literary classic but the story of a crack German parachute regiment taking over a sleepy East Anglian town to try and assassinate Winston Churchill is a classic war caper and an entertaining read. Reminded me of my childhood passion for Commando Comics.