The Institute of Public Affairs’ Foundations of Western Civilisation Program presents Five Favourite Books with Dr Bella d’Abrera

This new podcast series, hosted by Dr Bella d’Abrera is a series of discussions with guests about which books have been important in their lives.

5 Favourite Books with Dr Bella d’Abrera – Greg Sheridan: The Year of Living Dangerously

Listen to Greg’s take on Christopher Koch’s 1978 novel set in Jakarta during the events leading up to the coup attempt led by the Communist Party of Indonesia in 1965. The story is a rollicking adventure, political thriller and love story wrapped into one enduring novel. The characters are memorable, and the language is so evocative that its words are now used in the daily lexicon. As Greg says ‘a novel only does that if it’s a great novel.’

5 Favourite Books with Dr Bella d’Abrera – Greg Sheridan: The Sword of Honour Trilogy

This is a discussion of Evelyn Waugh’s masterful and epic work which follows Guy Crouchback’s experience of World War Two. Greg loves this book because it’s a celebration of Guy’s decency. Guy is not a superhero, he doesn’t have a particular high IQ, he doesn’t win the war and he doesn’t even win the girl.  But there is a theme of moral survival in the novel which comes through as it occurs to Guy during the course of the war that Stalin cannot be allowed to win.

5 Favourite Books with Dr Bella d’Abrera – Greg Sheridan: My Antonia

Find out why American author Willa Cather’s 1918 novel about immigrants’ experience in Nebraska, told through the memorable character of Ántonia Shimerda makes Greg’s favourite five books, even though he doesn’t like landscape writing, claims that he has no visual imagination, and normally chooses books with both rich dialogue and intellectual content.

5 Favourite Books with Dr Bella d’Abrera – Greg Sheridan: Leave it to Psmith

Greg explains why this particular Wodehouse is his favourite of all Wodehouse’s comic novels. It follows the adventures of Ronald Psmith (“the ‘p’ is silent, as in pshrimp”) who is always willing to help a damsel in distress. ‘Leave it to Psmith’ is, as Greg says, the moment in which Wodehouse declared himself a genius. The plot is farcical, the characters are everything you’d expect and more, the many similes will make you laugh out loud.

5 Favourite Books with Dr Bella d’Abrera – Greg Sheridan: The Everlasting Man

Greg’s final pick is The Everlasting Man which was published in 1925. Chesterton, who was an historian, a writer, a philosopher, a lay theologian and an art critic, was a prolific author, penning approximately 80 books, several hundred poems, 200 short stories and 4000 essays. Listen to Greg explain why this particular work, out of all the books Chesterton wrote, has been so important in Greg’s life.

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