What We're Reading

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Neil

Best of Friends, by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury 2022)

Best of Friends follows the lives of two women from Karachi, from 1988 when they are teenagers, then in London in 2019 when they are successful career women. They have been loyal if combative friends despite following very different career paths, one in finance, the other in human rights. The book's portrayal of their lives and long term friendship is powerful and profound, tender and insightful. An incident in 1988 echoes and resonates over the years, and ultimately impacts their friendship in the present.

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Neil

City in Europe: From Allison to Guardiola: Manchester City's Quest For European Glory, by Simon Curtis (Icon 2022)

Simon Curtis is a journalist and manchester City fan who has been following this contradictory football club for many years. In this book he chronicles the club's various failures and rare successes in European competition since 1969, and it was published on the eve of their ultimately successful campaign in 2023. It's a book for the super fan, not just the football super fan, but the City super fan.

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Neil

The Crewe Murders: Inside New Zealand's Most Infamous Cold Case, by Kirsty Johnston & James Hollings (Massey, November 2023)

This is probably the most comprehensive and authoritative overview of this most perplexing murder, which took place in 1970. Arthur Allen Thomas was notoriously tried twice, found guilty both times despite very shonky evidence, then finally pardoned. The murders have never been solved. This account by an investigative journalist and an associate professor of journalism, looks at the entire case, reviews all the evidence, interviews many surviving witnesses, and presents some new information. It's compellingly written, persuasive and convincing.

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Neil

Deck, by Fiona Farrell (Vintage 2023)

Taking its form from Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, The Deck describes six days during a pandemic, as a group of people escape to a house in the country, where they eat, drink, and tell stories about their lives. It's a brilliant and propulsive read, addictive, inventive, written in an archly satirical style, funny and thought provoking. In the background of the reading of this book is the uncertainty of what is happening in the rest of the world, as the pandemic in the novel seems rather more serious than COVID!

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Neil

John Mulgan and the Greek Left, by C.-Dimitris Gounelas and Ruth Parkin-Gounelas (Te Herenga Waka University Press 20230

This superbly researched book chronicles John Mulgan's activities in Greece from 1943 until his still mysterious death in a Cairo hotel in 1945, at the age of 33. It's a fascinating story, and casts new light on both Greek politics during and after the war, and Mulgan himself. He ran a resistance group in the wilds of the Roumeli region, carrying out guerrilla actions against the Nazi occupiers.

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Neil

Did I Ever Tell You This?, by Sam Neill (Text 2023)

A hilariously entertaining and beautifully told memoir, episodic and anecdotal, this is a triumph os storytelling. Sam Neill turns out to be a charming companion, by turns gossipy, self-effacing, amusingly grumpy, and very moving - he's undergoing treatment for cancer, which appears to be working. The book includes quite a number of charming family photographs as well as pictures from his long and prolific film career. This is a terrific memoir, worth reading even if you're not familiar with many of his movies.