My criteria for beach reads was covered here. As well as a few light fiction reads, I also want something to think about and takes me out of my comfort zone. Well, this book, Pythagoras: His Lives and the Legacy of a Rational Universe certainly did that!
Kitty Ferguson's clear-eyed passion for her subject makes this account of the little we know of Pythagoras's life approachable and readable, although why a theorem that had been proposed long before Pythagoras put his name to it was finally attributed to him remains caught in the "hinge of legend and history". (Lesley McDowell, The Independent) I didn't know a lot about Pythagoras, and throughout school struggled with his theorem. It might have helped to have read this book then! It certainly gave me food for thought.
I talked about my love-affair with the films of Nora Ephron here and so decided I should read something she'd written other than her only novel, Heartburn. I turned to her hilariously poignant collection of reflections, I Remember Nothing and other reflections. Filled with insights and acute observations that hit hard, it is written in her own inimitable style and had me snorting out loud at some of her more outrageous (but true) reflections on life.
Ephron writes about falling hard for a way of life (“Journalism: A Love Story”) and about breaking up even harder with the men in her life (“The D Word”); lists “Twenty-five Things People Have a Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised by Over and Over Again” (“There is no explaining the stock market but people try”; “Cary Grant was Jewish”; “Men cheat”); reveals the alarming evolution, a decade after she wrote and directed You’ve Got Mail, of her relationship with her in-box (“The Six Stages of E-Mail”); and asks the age-old question, which came first, the chicken soup or the cold? All the while, she gives candid, edgy voice to everything women who have reached a certain age have been thinking . . . but rarely acknowledging.
My final beach read for 2012 was If You Want to Write by Barbara Ueland. This has been recommended to me SO many times over the last year that it was a must. Although it was originally written in 1938, it contains good advice for would-be-writers, including the mantra that everyone is talented and original and has something to say. That's a good starting point for any writer I reckon! She takes a lot of her inspiration from William Blake and ends with 12 points for the writer to keep in mind. She talks a lot of sense and I know this is one book I'll be going back to over and over, dipping in and out of it as the need arises.