Saturday, 6 October 2012

Nice Work and Talking About Books

I recently read Nice Work by David Lodge. It’s a book set in Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s, and it sees the relationship between two completely different people – Dr Robyn Penrose, an English lecture at the University of Rummidge (a fictional university in around the same place as Birmingham) and Vic Wilcox, a high up factory boss. 

I think this book says a lot about the context of the time. You definitely sense that constant panic and uneasiness, with the lack of job security and the recession crippled society. I also think it also says a lot about people. Compared to Robyn, Vic is quite a relatable character. Robyn seems like the sort of character purely constructed to highlight the author’s point, Lodge’s point being how she is forced to sell out her own values in order to keep the dominant social order. But overall it was a pretty good book. 

However, it wasn’t until I talked about Nice Work with other people and got their perspectives on it, that it really opened up for me what I liked and disliked about the book, as well as several other points which I hadn’t previously thought about.

I think it’s easy to underestimate the value of talking about books. Sure, you get a lot from simply reading books. But books should be talked about. They should be analysed. After all, most books have some sort of comment on society, whether deliberate or not. 

So today, I want to open the forum to you. What have you been reading? What did you like/dislike about it? What do you think it says about society, or even just what did you gain from it?


  1. Nice Work sounds interesting, I'll have to check it out some time :) I my current book, which I am reading for a second time this year, is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, in which Capote retells the story of a true murder case and follows the journey of the killers in the aftermath, portraying them as human being rather than just reckless monsters. I think the point was to make us question why people commit crimes like that rather than just assuming that had a bad upbringing or they weren't right in the head, or if a bad upbringing was the reason, to make us feel sympathy for them instead of hate. It's a bit controversial but I really enjoyed it. Have you read it?

    Was Nice Work a book you are studying or just a read for fun? Talking about books is definitely a great way to explore different aspects of them.

    1. Whoa, that sounds really intense! But I love the idea. It sounds like a really great, insightful book. I love it when books force us to question things, or change our perspective. It's nice to get a little wake up call from time to time. No, I haven't read it! Perhaps I'll have to change that sometime soon.

      Nice Work is a book I'm studying. It was strange, because loads of people on my course told me they really didn't like it, or even hated it. I thought it was really good. But everybody is entitled to their own opinion.