Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 19 & 20 - 2012

Book 19: Flat Earth News: An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media by Nick Davies – 397 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media. WARNING! Are newspapers seriously damaging your insight? Does what you read every day contain lies, PR, propaganda and distortion? Find out who's controlling your news in this shocking expose from the ultimate insider.

This is a really important book. I stumbled upon it in the back of another book (I think it was Female Chauvinist Pigs) and when I was working in London I found it in Barnes and Noble and bought it. It was not lost on me that I discovered the TV show ‘The Newsroom’ about two months after I read this book, late one night while staying in New York City with my parents, after I’d finished my stint in London. This book compliments what the show is trying to do.
Davies worked on Fleet Street, home of London’s media, and in Flat Earth News, he takes apart the mess that is the media industry in the modern day, and why not a word of what it spews out can be trusted, not because of the evil desires of the Murdoch’s of the world to direct what we think, but rather to make money. Cutting, and cutting, and cutting back the budgets for journalism teams while expecting faster and faster news coverage in order to ‘get the scoop’ before anyone else has resulted in news that is barely news, human interest crap to keep the masses watching, but providing little actual truthful news about what is happening in the world. Davies details how this has come to be, how pervasive it is, and what media outlets are the worst. There is, in fact, a whole chapter dedicated to the Daily Mail, which is one of my favourite papers to read online, despite the fact that I know its utter trash. This book confirms that view (I still read the Daily Mail – its hilarious!). All in all, along with the noble endeavor of the Newsroom (even if some consider it completely fanciful), this is an important book, highlighting the critical thinking we all need to apply when watching the news.

19 / 50 books. 38% done!

6564 / 15000 pages. 44% done!

Book 20: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – 533 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder - and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

I put this book on my to-read list, but I was wary given how popular it is (the more popular a book with the general public, the worse I tend to find them). Then I went to the Netherlands and my cousin recommended it to me, telling me she’d even gone to the trouble to read it in English. So, again, when I went to that Barnes and Noble, I picked up a copy. It sat on my nightstand till almost the end of my stay in London, and then I took a train trip to Belgium and took it with me. And I was engrossed! Because unlike the Twilights of the world, this is a damn good book. I don’t read a lot of murder/crime mysteries, but this one is an exception. It’s a complex, clever plot set in an unusual setting for someone like me who has never been to Scandinavia (but really wants to go!). There is a lot of description, a lot of background, but the style of writing doesn’t make it feel onerous or boring or designed to fluff out the story – the writing style is almost clinical, but substantial enough to make you genuinely interested in the characters, to give them humanity. It is fast paced, and the story is really, really fascinating as a stand alone as well as in the context of the rest of the trilogy (which I went on to read). I also really liked the fact that neither Lisbeth nor Mikael are perfect people. There not necessarily ridiculous attractive, they are flawed, they are selfish, and they hurt people. But their determination to solve the mystery of Harriet Vanger’s death, and their strange relationship with each other is, in my opinion, the true achievement of this book. One of the few internationally popular books that deserves its place at the top.

20 / 50 books. 40% done!

7097 / 15000 pages. 47% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – 700 pages
-        The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of the Iliad by Caroline Alexander – 277 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages
Tags: academic, british, crime fiction, in the media, international, literature, murder mystery, mystery, non-fiction, sexual violence

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded