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This is a question Books

We love books. Tell us about your favourite books and authors, and why they are so good. And while you're at it - having dined out for years on the time I threw Dan Brown out of a train window - tell us who to avoid.

(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:40)
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The book that made me like my degree again
Reading books when it's for work is a rather dull activity to participate in. I hated every dry publication and dessicated article I was forced to grate across my eyes over the course of my undergrad degree. Author x says blah, author y says meh... ad infinitum. All these writers and their damned, comprehensively explained, thoroughly argued opinions! I detested them... all bar one.

I found it nestling in between maps and journals in the Oriental Studies Library, and it was a thing of beauty. The covers were embossed, tooled and gold-leafed leather; they'd been worn from the fervid handling of a hundred-and-fifty years of academic fingers, and the spine was shot to buggery.

And inside was this intrepid, Victorian vision of eager archaeology in the wilds of Iraq - where locals were on hand to do the digging for tea and cake, and the overawed government was quite happy to sell its nation's treasures to the highest bidder.

It was highly romanticised, skipped over the horrors of disease amongst the workers and poor artefactual recording... but it was popular archaeology. It was written to entertain, enthuse, and decorate the coffee tables of the nouveaux riches. And the author's interpretations were the only bloody interpretations, because he wrote about them first.

I also liked it because it had nice pictures in it. Most academic books don't have pictures :-(

incidentally, it was Austin Henry Layard's "Nineveh and its Remains"
(, Wed 11 Jan 2012, 21:20, Reply)

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