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The meaning of everything : the story of the Oxford English Dictionary / Simon Winchester.
Author: Winchester, Simon.
Publisher: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2003.
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 1/04/2019 9:31:03 PM
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It all started in 1860 with a speech and progressed to a team of dedicated researchers putting slips of paper into an array of pigeon hold, and the final outcome was the Oxford English Dictionary. In his very readable style, Winchester gives us a brief history of the development of the English language and a comprehensive history of the writing of the said dictionary.
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And yet... : essays / Christopher Hitchens.
Author: Hitchens, Christopher, author.
Publisher: : Allen & Unwin, 2015 -- Crows Nest, New South Wales : Allen & Unwin, 2015. -- ©2015.
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:26:54 PM
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This book is a collection of Hitchenss published essays that were written in the decade prior to his death. While some are of less relevant as the years and events have passed since they were written, they all reflect his sharp intellect and insight. But what I most valued reading this book was that in an essay on George Orwell, he mentioned The Road to Wigan Pier in which Orwell described the lives of coal miners in northern England during the 1930s and my grandfather and his father were coal miners in northern England before and during this time.
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The secret / Rhonda Byrne.
Author: Byrne, Rhonda, author.
Publisher: New York : Atria Books ; Hillsboro, Ore. : Beyond Words Pub., c2006. -- New York : Atria Books ; Hillsboro, Ore. : Beyond Words Pub., c2006.
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:22:32 PM
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The core motif of the book is that positive thinking will bring results and the more positive the thought, the greater the results. Interspersed with quotes from like-minded writers and public speakers, the book covers such topics as money, relationships and health, the book teaches how the application of positive thinking will bring success to the area of ones life in question. This is all well and good and while I did enjoy the book, in particularly its succinctness, it completely ignored that there just might be other factors standing in the way of the success one seeks that all the positive thinking in the world might alleviate but not eliminate.
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The honorary consul / Graham Greene ; with an introduction by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Author: Greene, Graham, 1904-1991, author. -- Shakespeare, Nicholas, 1957-, author of introduction, etc.
Publisher: London Vintage Books, 2004. -- ©1973.
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:17:51 PM
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I bought this book for some light reading whilst working in Saudi Arabia where I wouldn't have access to a bookshop for some time and wasn't disappointed. Greene paints the picture of a bungled kidnapping of the honorary consult in Buenos Aires and the tension doesn't relax. Greene also only partially describes the backstories to the characters such that this ambiguity adds to the tension of the present.
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Slaughterhouse-five ; or, The children's crusade : a duty-dance with death / Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Author: Vonnegut, Kurt, author.
Publisher: London : Vintage, [2016] -- copyright1969
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:08:44 PM
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I read this book in one day on a train from NYC to Niagara Falls, Ontario having remembered seeing the film taken from it some 30 years prior and some of the plots were as strange as I recalled. It is partly an anti-war book and by taking a very unusual perspective, is cannily effective. Yet at the same time it's a sci-fi fantasy book. It's one of those books that belongs in the 1,000 books everyone should read lists, but one thats best borrowed from the library as one read is enough.
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On Chesil Beach / Ian McEwan.
Author: McEwan, Ian, author.
Publisher: London Vintage Books, 2015. -- ©2007.
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:06:46 PM
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This was an enjoyable read although it could have been ended a few pages after the scene on the beach instead of a chapter after.
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Tuesdays with Morrie : an old man, a young man, and life's greatest lesson / Mitch Albom.
Author: Albom, Mitch, 1958-, author.
Publisher: : Hachette Australia, 1998 -- Rydalmere, N.S.W. : Hodder Headline, 1998. -- ©1997.
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 10/03/2019 7:47:31 PM
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15 years after his graduation, Albom called upon his favourite professor at university, Morrie Schwartz only to discover he had recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. They then spent Tuesdays together with Schwartz tutoring and imparting his lifes lessons to until he died. The book is an account of those lifes lessons and its written in a style which brings the reader into the room and being a part of the conversation. Its one of those books that deserves to be re-read every few years.
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Infidel [electronic resource] / Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Author: Hirsi Ali, Ayaan.
Publisher: [London, UK] : Simon & Schuster UK, 2008.
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 10/03/2019 6:12:54 PM
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Born and raised in Somalia before gaining political asylum in the Netherlands to escape a forced arranged marriage, Ali, not content to live on Dutch social security, learned Dutch, obtained a master's degree in political science and was elected to the Netherlands parliament. She discovered that not wearing a burqua didn't invite men to harass her, she read extensively and eventually became an atheist. Her collaboration with Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh on the film 'Submission' about the subjugation of women in Islam lead to van Gogh's murder and made her a target. She recounts her life from her earliest memories to the point when she had resigned from parliament following controversies about her application for asylum and her move to the USA. Her contrast between the life she'd experienced under Islamic rule in Somalia with that in the Netherlands is a welcome relief from those who argue that the West should apologise to everyone for everything as is her refusal to take on the label of victim and thus demand lifetime sympathy for such. An interesting and inspiring read.
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Homage to Catalonia [electronic resource]
Author: Orwell, George.
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2013.
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 10/03/2019 6:06:59 PM
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Having read Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984 in high school and enjoyed them both, I really enjoyed this book, a factual account of his time in Barcelona, Spain fighting for the republican government against the fascists lead by Franco. Orwell joined the POUM, a Trotsky-leaning communist group whereas the larger International Brigade was Moscow-Stalin leaning. While at the front, members of the various anti-fascist groups there were others got on with each other, away from the front, there was significant infighting with the International Brigade intent on liquidating the POUM. Reading Homage to Catalonia, its easy to see the reality Orwell experienced in Spain were reflected in many of the themes of Animal Farm and 1984. I recommend this book for anyone who has enjoyed Animal Farm and/or 1984.
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All quiet on the Western Front / Erich Maria Remarque ; translated from the German by Brian Murdoch ; afterword by Brian Murdoch.
Author: Remarque, Erich Maria, 1898-1970 -- Murdoch, Brian O., 1944-
Publisher: London : Vintage, 1996. -- London Vintage, 1996. -- ©1994
Review by: Coates, Stephen William Mr  on: 27/01/2019 3:28:22 PM
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I read this book in preparation for listened to an ABC Radio National discussion of it in circa 2015 and, having read many books on history which told of the political machinations, battles and treaties, but this one told of one soldier's experience in the trenches and it's effect on him, his platoon and his family away from the front. He says at the beginning of the book, simply tries to tell [the stories of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped [the war's shells, were destroyed by the war. The book does this admirably.
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