A Common Reader is . . .
. . . written by Tom Cunliffe, of East Sussex, England

It consists of book reviews and more general articles about reading and currently receives over 10,000 unique visitors each month. So far 299 book reviews have been published.

I live with my wife Margaret in East Sussex, having managed to return to God’s own county after many years in exile. A couple of years ago I managed to get early retirement after a lengthy career in I.T. and am now able to devote myself to many of my interests including reading, walking and playing the guitar and mandolin.  I retain a vestige of usefulness by running websites for a couple of local organisations and fixing computer problems for friends and family (a never-ending task!).

I have always been unable to live without books and for example, the thought of a train journey without a book to hand fills me with anxiety.  Some years ago I realised that by reading so many books I was actually forgetting most of them within a few weeks (or even days) of finishing them, so I started to write reviews, firstly for Amazon and then for my own website.

Having now retired from a career in which I ended up writing reports for government ministers and H.M. Treasury on the latest I.T. debacles it is a pleasure to be able to write about one of the things I love – books – without needing to submit the results to consultation, quality assurance and political correctness reviews.

I have written reviews of a few books by Gregor Von Rezzori and have brought them together with some biographical information .

I have become interested in the life of Jan Karski, a major figure in the Polish Resistance in World War 2. 

I have written a study guide to W G Sebald’s novel Austerlitz.

I live in the county of Sussex and publish reviews of books by or about writers who lived in the county such as Hillaire Belloc and Rudyard Kipling.

Walking the Hexagon – Terry Cudbird

In my last post I mentioned three books about men on extended walks. This time, rather than fiction, I am writing about a real-life walk, during which Terry Cudbird retired from work and decided to walk the coast of France, an epic journey by anyone’s standards. Just before his retirement, Terry was on holiday with his wife in the French Alps and told her that he would like to walk some of the Grand Randonées (the network of long-distance footpaths that cross the country in all directions). His wife must be either very tolerant or else wanted time on her own, for she replied, “why don’t you do it now, before you become decrepit”.

Idiomantics – Philip Gooden and Peter Lewis

I occasionally review books about language and the origin of words and was drawn to Idiomantics which has the subtitle, “The Weird World of Popular Phrases”. With a recommendation from Gyles Brandreth (host of the BBC radio show Wordaholics) I decided to read the book to see how it compared to the rest of my collection of “word” books. The book is similar in format to The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth, which I featured late last year, and the book is equally entertaining. The phrases are arranged into 13 chapters with titles such as Corridors of Power, The Daily Grind and National Identity. Each phrase is covered by up to two or three pages describing the origin and use of the phrase phrase and the results are often surprising. A useful index is provided at the end and I found that quite most of the common phrases I could think of covered in it.

The Lower River – Paul Theroux

Its a long time since I read a new novel by Paul Theroux. Most of his more well-known books were written in the 1980s and 90s (see Wikipedia list here) and I remember them as being very high quality reading experiences although I found his later work less satisfying. his year we’ve got a new novel from Theroux, The Lower River, and I’m pleased to say its a welcome return to form. Some of Theroux’s novels are semi-autobiographical and when he writes about Africa, as he does in The Lower River, his writing has an authority born of personal experience. As a young man he joined the Peace Corps and went to teach in Malawi. After a controversial time there he moved to Uganda and taught at Makere University where he began a long-term friendship and working friendship with V S Naipul, with whom he had a much publicised falling-out when Theroux published his book Sir Vidia’s Shadow in 1998.

Ideas For Chair Rail Decoration

You can find loads of chair rail ideas for ornamental purposes. Far more than simply horizontal strips of wood, seat rails have grown to be an immensely important component of a room’s general experience and style during the last few years. In case you’re remodeling or building a house, think…

Tiki Hut – A True Tropical Identity

Tiki huts have a selection of potential programs for business owners. One particular that instantly comes to mind is a tiki bar. These’re typically built adjoining a restaurant or maybe bar to offer a genuine outdoor tropical theme. This’s true, especially in temperate coastal areas. Sticking to the pattern of…

World of Area Rugs

While there is absolutely nothing bad with randomly visiting a neighborhood shop to decide on an area rug, it is generally better to do your research before carrying out some shopping. Area rugs are available in such a broad range of designs and styles that picking a single one may…

Strategy Games For You

In the previous model video games have moved from dots and lines, through the enormous arcade systems to a feature that everybody is able to have access too, and must attract almost everybody. A primary reason they usually don’t is since so a lot of these titles are what might…

DVD Collecting Anime Fan Tips

In the United States alone, it’s believed that a huge number of individuals take part in a pastime that is generally remarked as anime collecting. Those people are called otaku, they are people obsessed with anything anime and collect anything from DVD’s to otaku t-shirts. Anime collecting consists of the purchasing, storing,…

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