Tag Archives: Ben Watt

Books I Read in March 2023

Lessons Ian McEwanLessons by Ian McEwan spans the life of Roland Baines, born shortly after the Second World War. Taking in several major world crises from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Chernobyl disaster to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as intimate domestic events, ‘Lessons’ is a sprawling epic and easily McEwan’s longest novel. Some elements of Roland’s early life are strongly autobiographical, including his childhood spent partly in Libya and his discovery late in life that he has a half-brother, as McEwan did in 2002. However, it is the repercussions from the piano lessons Roland received at boarding school that have the most significant impact on his life. I read but didn’t review McEwan’s previous novel ‘Machines Like Me’ in 2019 which I didn’t think was among his best work, but I would say that ‘Lessons’ is very much a return to form and genuinely engrossing. Many thanks to Vintage Books for sending me a review copy via NetGalley. Continue reading

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More Books I Read In February

Hello World Hannah FryHello World by Hannah Fry, subtitled ‘How to Be Human in the Age of the Machine’ looks at the role of algorithms in modern life, from our everyday internet use to the justice system to creating works of art. Most of the discussion around algorithms tends to focus on the negative impact they can have with sat navs sending drivers off the edge of a cliff and data privacy concerns being two of the most well-known examples. Fry also looks at the positive benefits of algorithms as they are undoubtedly useful in research contexts such as monitoring cell patterns in order to diagnose cancer earlier. The real-world examples of how humans interact with algorithms are concisely written and this is an engaging popular science book which is straightforward enough for a layperson to grasp as an introduction to a complex topic. Continue reading


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