Members recommend – May 2010

How to do Better Creative Work HOW TO DO BETTER CREATIVE WORK

Steve Harrison
Prentice Hall, £14.99 or £8.58 on AmazonHands-on advice with a pleasingly bullshit-free tone. Veers between the somewhat obvious and the genuinely thought provoking (thankfully more the latter). Although somewhat biased towards agency heads/account people/the DM fraternity there’s more then enough writerly advice to make reading it worthwhile. Straight into my top ten books on business comms. Roger Horberry

Buy on Amazon: How to do Better Creative Work

Meltdown MELTDOWN

Southbank
If you can get tickets, then it’s time to book Meltdown at the Southbank. This is my kind of festival: indoors, decent loos, excellent coffee and cake, by the river, a tube ride away from my bed and assembled by the magnificent Richard Thompson, whose lyrics are dark, subtle and magnificent and whose guitar playing is sublime. If anyone else is going to see the Duckworth Lewis Method or 1000 Years of Popular Song, email and we can meet up for a beer by the Thames. Sarah McCartney
Stuff We Really Like STUFF WE REALLY LIKE

Music
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I plonked myself down at my desk and said, ‘I need inspiration’. As if by magic, it appeared. Over on another desk lay a book. Its otherwise plain dustjacket bore the Beatles line, ‘Because the world is round, it turns me on’. The subsequent 780-odd pages contain everything the people at Manchester design agency Music like, from swearing and spending money to Ingrid Pitt and 80s electronica, presented with academic tome-like, serif-fonted restraint but brimming with wit and passion. Lord knows how long it took them. Of course, I like that they like a good many of the things I like. Johan Cruyff, Armchair Thriller and Steely Dan’s Aja make me feel I’m in good demographic company. Two more lovely features – it’s delightfully non-alphabetical, but has an index (an index!), and the spine says ‘vol 1’, suggesting there’s more to come. It’s not for sale, but if you ask nicely, Music will let you have one. Like I said at the start… Jan Dekker
The Act of Love THE ACT OF LOVE

Howard Jacobson
Vintage, £7.99 list, or £5.15 on AmazonNot my favourite Howard Jacobson novel, and a lot darker and bleaker than his early romps. Nevertheless this is a minutely observed, expertly written novel brimful of sardonic humour and nifty turn of phrase. It’s the story of antiquarian bookseller Felix Quinn and his extreme efforts to become a cuckold. He believes the pain of jealousy is the only way to feel the true force of love, and slowly-but-surely lures his wife into the arms of hand-picked lover. Archly comic, ultimately tragic, Jacobson reveals the pain and longing of sexual obsession in all its intensity and ridiculousness. Jim Davies

Buy from Amazon: ‘The Act of Love’

To the Holy Shrines TO THE HOLY SHRINES

Sir Richard Burton
Penguin Classics, £4.99 or £3.64 on AmazonCurrently, I’m traversing the Middle East and North Africa disguised as a Sufi dervish, narrowly avoiding calamity and catastrophe at every turn. I speak figuratively, of course. The physical traveller in this case is Sir Richard Burton. Not he of Pontrhydyfen who married Elizabeth Taylor, but the one who is described memorably by Wikipedia as ‘an English explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, ethnologist, linguist, poet, hypnotist, fencer and diplomat.’ If he was alive today he’d probably win Masterchef too. Our mode of transport is ‘To the Holy Shrines’ (Penguin Great Journeys), and a comprehensively disguised Sir Richard is setting out to become the first Christian to travel to the Muslim shrines at Mecca and Medina. He would probably be killed if discovered, so there’s deep tension in this story, along with rollicking adventures in seamy corners of Cairo and aboard anarchic pilgrim boats on the Red Sea. Our audacious writer and hero isn’t entirely free of bombast, and he probably wasn’t the first westerner to reach those sacred sites, but his report provides us with a rich and rare portrait of the region in the middle of the nineteenth century. In a word, temerarious. Tim Rich

Buy on Amazon: To the Holy Shrines

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