Review: C S Lewis: A Life – Alister McGrath

When I first saw this book, C. S. Lewis: a Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet I wondered why anyone would want to write another biography of C S Lewis. After all, George Sayer, A N Wilson, Roger Lancelyn Green, Walter Hooper have all published biographies of Lewis. Most Lewis fans will also be familiar with […]

Review: The Hare with Amber Eyes – Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal is a renowned ceramic artist who’s work has been exhibited in Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum. He can trace his ancestry back to a wealthy Ukrainian family who made their fortune from grain exporting and later banking, and who had spacious and luxurious homes in Vienna, Tokyo and Paris. […]

Review: The Perfect Nazi – Martin Davidson

I didn’t much like this book but don’t believe in letting my less complimentary reviews live forever on the Internet so have deleted it. 11 June 2013

Review: Life as a Literary Device – Vitali Vitaliev

British readers may remember Vitali Vitaliev from his time as Moscow correspondent on David Frost’s 1990s television programme, Saturday Night Clive, and many broadcasts on BBC Radio 4. Vitali was born in the Ukraine, eventually defecting to the West, living in Britain and Australia, and eventually returning to London where he is a successful journalist […]

Review: The World of Yesterday – Stefan Zweig

Even since reading Stefan Zweig’s remarkable description of psychological co-dependency in his novel, Beware of Pity, I’ve tried to read every thing I can get my hands on by this fine writer. In recent years, a minor publishing industry has developed around Zweig, with Pushkin Press leading the way with quite a few volumes of […]

Review: How to Live, A Life of Montaigne – Sarah Bakewell

Like many people, I occasionally flirt with philosophy, but usually find it too abstract and inaccessible – unless of course it is set in the context of a life well-lived (or perhaps not so well!), when the personal story of the philosopher helps his teachings come alive. For this reasons, I enjoyed reading the […]

Review – The Silences of Hammerstein: Hans Magnus Enzensburger

Most readers in Britain are so well-supplied by books in their own language that they rarely venture into reading books in translation and therefore miss out on the best literature of other European nations. About a third of titles reviewed on A Common Reader are European books in translation and I am pleased to add […]

Review: Seeing Things – Oliver Postgate

I came to this book, Seeing Things by Oliver Postgate, with a mild sense of curiosity, expecting it to be a quick skim-through rather than an in-depth read. How wrong I was. Within a few pages I was hooked on this witty, beguiling life-story, a tribute to a man who reminds us how much we […]

Review: For Richer For Poorer – Victoria Coren

Sometimes you read a book which opens your mind to a world so different to your own that you wonder at the diversity of the human race as you say, “these people are so unlike me”. I am not a gambler and I don’t play poker, but I found For Richer For Poorer thoroughly entrancing […]

Review: Conspirator, Lenin in Exile – Helen Rappaport

I find that some of the most interesting history books are those which focus on a neglected aspect of a person or event and Conspirator, Lenin in Exile, provides a fascinating and very readable portrait of Lenin and his long-suffering wife Nadya during a period of their lives which few bother to study. Helen Rappaport’s […]