What have I been reading?

Surrounded, as I have been this week, by death I picked up a copy of Sum (Forty tales from the afterlives) by David Eagleman. What a joy it is. It is a slim book packed full of short stories about heaven, hell and the afterlife. Some are lingering still, some I didn’t quite ‘get’, and others require a second or third reading. There were echoes of CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce and all those jokes which begin ‘a man died and went to heaven…’

Imagine that in the afterlife you relive all your experiences but this time with the events reshuffled in a completely new order where they are all grouped together. So you take all your pain at once (27 hours of it) but then you are agony-free for the rest of your afterlife. 18 months in queues, one year reading books, two years of boredom, two weeks wondering what happens when you die, three weeks realising you are wrong…

Imagine that when you arrive in the afterlife you discover that God is a huge fan of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley because finally he has met someone who understands him…

Imagine that death is a dream – someone else’s dream in which you play a part along with other actors. In between scenes you all stand around backstage and hope that the next dream will involve a restaurant and you can get a free meal out of it…

Imagine that God is a married couple and humans created in their own image, although on certain nights when they’re feeling liberal, each creates a member of the opposite sex, just to see what it’s like…

The author is a neuroscientist and writer and this book is just packed full of bizarre, funny and strange stories that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.

After the joy of our last Book Group book The War of Jenkins’ Ear by Michael Morpurgo, which was recommended by the Church Times, I read War Horse by the same author. Ever since I read the Chronicles of Narnia and a couple of books by Madeleine l’Engle I have really been into children’s books. The War Horse tells the story, from the horse’s point of view, of Joey from colt to farmhorse to the battlefields in France. All along the way there are people who love him and others who abuse him, and you’ll need your hankies at the end. It tells of the futility of war in an exceptional way and of love and loyalty. This book is not just for children and I’d love to see the play which has received rave reviews.

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