It's been a funny start to 2017, that is to say odd rather than hilarious. Last week I met my pals, C and S for luncheon at a local eatery. C had bought her very photogenic son, T, who was as good as gold and after a suitable amount of cute baby noise generation, and batting off dotty old ladies* who wanted to play with T, we settled down for a natter.
I have, dear readers, recently been accused of being weird because I don't have an in depth knowledge of the goings on in the Kardashian family and would rather read a book instead. I announced this to C and S with some sadness. We then pooled our collective knowledge. All we knew was that Kim was robbed recently, and that there were several of them, all having names beginning with K. We ran rather dry on facts after that. I did consider Googling, but frankly couldn't be bothered and didn't think it would much enhance our lunch.
I know the Kardashians are very popular, and not having watched the programme, I could be accused of not being in a position to comment. However, I do feel calling someone odd for reading rather than watching reality TV is a little bit rude. It made me wonder dear readers whether you have ever been insulted because you like a good book. I am sure the Kardashians are excellent entertainment, but better than a Pratchett, Austen, Ishiguro Wodhouse or Christie**? For some yes, but not for me.
The whole "odd" accusation had me feeling very down, until I heard Sam Harris on one of his podcasts say that in order to have a mind worth having, then you need to understand science, the arts and the humanities. I paraphrased there, but I did like the idea of "a mind worth having". So, what would you read to help you develop a mind worth having? For me it would be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction:
- PG Wodhouse - for the laughs
- Agatha Christie - for the social observations
- Terry Pratchett - for wry observations on life, the universe and everything
- Richard Dawkins - for the rigorous biological science
- AC Grayling - for the philosophy and to make me think
- Christopher Hitchens - for the awe of his thought processes and writing
- Kazuo Ishiguro - for the beauty and sheer range of his writing
- Peter Ackroyd - for scandalous history
- The Encyclopædia Britannica - for the joy of opening it randomly and learning something obscure yet interesting (if you have never done this, then I urge you to. You will be enthralled and unbeatable in a pub quiz).
- Sam Harris - for the marvellous way he can deconstruct a problem and then construct an argument from the facts in front of him***.
What would be on your list dear readers?
*By the way, if you want to scare old ladies, look after someone else's child while they order food at a counter. When aforementioned dotty old lady comes to coo over the baby and asks how old they are, answer with "I don't know, he isn't my baby". The look of horror as they automatically assume you have kidnapped the child is brilliant. I should say that it is best to clarify that he belongs to your friend who is less than ten feet away otherwise you may have some explaining to do to the local constabulary.
** Insert your favourite author here
*** I really hope he isn't a fan of the Kardashians...