Honoré de Balzac on the impossibility of knowing Paris wholly

I can’t seem to draw myself away from classic French literature of late. Proust is always on my reading cycle - À la recherche du temps perdu is nothing if not a perpetual undertaking - but over this past year or so I’ve also been continually dipping … [Read more...]

Behind the Pen: John Steinbeck on the life and death sequence of book writing

I have always considered that while some writers must be glad to see the back of a book they're working on, most must feel quite sad and melancholic about coming to the end, and letting go of something they have devoted much time and effort to. They … [Read more...]

Behind the Pen: Norman Mailer on the influences of Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner

Remarkably, Dwayne Raymond’s Mornings with Mailer (Harper Perennial) has sat untouched on my bookshelf for four years. Or rather it had done until I randomly picked it up on Friday and began reading it. This tender and intimate memoir, which recalls … [Read more...]

Robservations: Of Schopenhauer, on overreading and ignoring the classics

It’s not often that I get deep and meaningful on a Sunday morning, but I did today when I stumbled across an essay collection from nineteenth-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), hosted at the always useful University of … [Read more...]

Behind the Pen: Martha Gellhorn on what journalism gave her

In previous posts I've used my 'Behind the Pen' feature on RobAroundBooks solely for interviews. However, moving forward I want to share and discuss more about the beautiful minds who gift us their words. And so I'm expanding this feature to include … [Read more...]

READING… by candlelight

‘READING..’ is a new feature that I’m bringing to RobAroundBooks in which I explore the very act of reading, and the ways in which the experience can be enhanced and enriched. In the first of this series I’m looking at reading by candlelight, and the … [Read more...]

Journeying through the Constellation of Genius

A book that I had a great fondness for last year but never got to spend a lot of time with, was Kevin Jackson’s Constellation of Genius (Hutchinson). Coming with the premise that 1922 was the ‘annus mirabilis’ of the modernist movement - mainly … [Read more...]

Costa Short Story Award 2013: And my vote goes to…

Well, I've had a blast reading through this year’s Costa Short Story Award shortlist. The journey has taken me among other places, from a logger’s camp in British Columbia to a sheep farm in Australia, via a basement workshop in Ireland and an … [Read more...]

Why Cheever loved Monday mornings

Everybody hates Monday morning, right? Well, maybe not everybody. Here's John Cheever writing in 1952, barely able to contain his excitement at the prospect of catching the 08:22 train on a Monday morning. The fact that he had just enjoyed a … [Read more...]

Robservations: Of smartphone addiction…

Very strongly do I feel, that the smartphone is the most invasive and controlling invention that humans have ever created. We have become mindless slaves to the technology, and it's a sad sight to behold. Don't get me wrong. I find my smartphone … [Read more...]