I'm trying to become a better writer, and thus far the academic writing that I have had to do for university hasn't helped much. I tend to have neither much time to write nor many thoughts worthy of being written down and dumped out into the internet; however I'll try to write every now and again and hopefully we'll see some improvement in quality over time. If nothing else, I'll just post which books I've read. If you have any feedback, feel free to email me (alexcabrahams [at] gmail [dot] com).
- 2017 Books
Nov 14, 2017
- Transferring universities: from Oxford to Harvard
Aug 6, 2017
- 2016 Books
Dec 31, 2016
- 2015 Books
Jul 27, 2016
- Review: The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
Jul 14, 2015
- From Oxford to Harvard
Jul 12, 2015
- Review: The Candidate by Samuel Popkin
May 29, 2015
- Churchill's 'The Dream'
Mar 30, 2015
List of books I’ve read in 2017 so far. Last updated on 20th November. Averaging about 3 books per month.
In the few years since I transferred from Oxford to Harvard, about half a dozen people who were thinking of making a similar move have found my brief blog post on the switch and have emailed me with questions. I am incredibly glad that I transferred, so I am very happy to help others do the same; definitely do reach out if you have questions! But there have been some common themes and questions in the emails, so I’ll try to save you time by answering some of them here.
Last updated this list on 31st December 2016; 36 books in about 52 weeks, averaging about two thirds of a book a week. I have read quite a bit of science fiction this year, plus the usual politics and history.
I compiled this list at the end of last year with the intention of putting it up here, and completely forgot to do so. Will do better with 2016.
The Player of Games is the first fiction book recommended by Mark Zuckerberg’s Year of Books project, so I thought I’d give it a go. Sci-fi is a deceptively hard category, because it is so easy to fall into one of two traps: you either focus too much on the ‘science’ part which sets up the dystopia/future scenario to the detriment of the fundamental character development part, or you do the reverse, and almost forget to keep the ‘science’ part cohesive and you end up just annoying your readers with plot holes. This book manages to avoid both.
I’ve thought a lot about the best way to put this, and after writing a long version I’ve decided to go for a briefer post instead. So here it is: I’m transferring out of Oxford and into Harvard.
The Candidate by Samuel Popkin (2012) is about the different types of presidential campaigns and how they should be run. Popkin is a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego and a sometime presidential campaign adviser. To my surprise, the book was not as fascinating as I was expecting; this effect is due not to its central subject matter but to the abstract way it is sometimes presented by its author. Still, Popkin’s approach to presidential campaigns is worth a discussion.
While Churchill is known well as a politician, soldier, historian and even painter, his fiction writings are not widely read. I dug up a book my mother had given me a long time ago when I was clearing out my childhood bedroom in her house. It was called ‘The Dream’ by Winston Churchill. Churchill wrote it at a low point in his career following his election defeat after the war, and it is a simple story. It begins with Winston restoring an old painting of his father, Lord Randolph. Randolph had had a short but meteoric political career, reaching Chancellor of the Exchequer, but died when Winston was twenty, and he had always held a Victorian disdain for his sensitive son.