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Nicholas Whyte

Nicholas Whyte is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Member: nwhyte

CollectionsACCA2015 (27), Your library (5,804), Read but unowned (182), All collections (6,013)

Reviews3,231 reviews

Tagssf (1,410), doctor who (1,225), non-fiction (937), non-genre (653), children (614), audio (470), unread (433), 2008 (371), 2009 (348), comics (309) — see all tags

Cloudstag cloud, author cloud, tag mirror

About meHusband, father of three, Irish, European, UK citizen, liberal, political analyst, science fiction fan, psephologist, lapsed medievalist, aspiring polyglot.

About my librarylanguages, politics, history, science fiction

(most religion books belong to my wife)

What I am reading/listening to at present
What I might read / listen to next

I am experimenting with running various reading lists, each tagged with a single letter:
a: non-fiction, in order of entry onto my LibraryThing catalogue.
b: non-fiction, in order of popularity on LibraryThing as a whole.
c: non-fiction, as owned by me before start of this year and previously read by my livejournal f-list.
d: fiction other than sf, in order of entry onto my LibraryThing catalogue.
e: fiction other than sf, in order of popularity on LibraryThing as a whole.
f: fiction other than sf, as owned by me before start of this year and previously read by my livejournal f-list.
g: sf in order of entry onto my LibraryThing catalogue.
h: sf, in order of popularity on LibraryThing as a whole.
i: sf, as owned by me before start of last year and previously read by my livejournal f-list.
j: sf, as acquired by me during last year and previously read by my livejournal f-list.
k: winners of the Tiptree, BSFA and Arthur C Clarke Awards which I haven't reviewed in the last ten years, in order of winning the award.
l: unread New Adventures of Doctor Who.
m: unread Eighth Doctor Adventures.
n: unread New Who books, in order of LibraryThing popularity.
o: unread Old Who books (other than New Adventures), in continuity order.
p: The History of Middle Earth
r: books about the Tudor period, especially Ireland, in order of acquisition
s: books by writers of colour, in order of acquisition.
t: books on the shelves at end 2005, otherwise not accounted for, going backwards in LT entry order.
u: books acquired since end 2005, otherwise not accounted for, in LT entry order.
v: books I have already read but haven't reviewed on-line, ranked by LT popularity.

GroupsBloggers, Comics, Doctor Who, Editors, Researchers, Whatever, Facebook Users, Feminist SF, Flaggers!, I Survived the Great Vowel Shift, Irish Librarythingers, Languageshow all groups

Favorite authorsBrian W. Aldiss, Iain Banks, Alan Barnes, Nicholas Briggs, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jacqueline Carey, Arthur C. Clarke, Daniel Clowes, Paul Cornell, Roald Dahl, Robertson Davies, Philip K. Dick, Neil Gaiman, Misha Glenny, Graham Greene, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Ursula K. Le Guin, Carl Hiaasen, Zoran Zivkovic, Ismail Kadare, Guy Gavriel Kay, David Langford, Fritz Leiber, Barry Letts, Rebecca Levene, H. P. Lovecraft, Ken MacLeod, Ian Marter, Mark Mazower, Ian McDonald, Juliet E. McKenna, C. E. Murphy, Flann O'Brien, Terry Pratchett, Christopher Priest, Marcel Proust, Kurban Said, Saki, Bob Shaw, Neal Stephenson, Charles Stross, Sheri S. Tepper, Eric Thompson, Hunter S. Thompson, J. R. R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, Jo Walton, John Wyndham, Roger Zelazny (Shared favorites)


Favorite bookstoresFNAC Brussel, Het Besloten Land, Sterling Books, Strand Bookstore, Treasure Trove, Waterstone's Brussels


Also onDopplr, Facebook, LiveJournal, Skype, Twitter, Yahoo Messenger

Real nameNicholas Whyte

LocationLeuven, Belgium

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/nwhyte (profile)
/catalog/nwhyte (library)

Member sinceSep 16, 2005

Leave a comment


Hello Nicholas,

I have enjoyed greatly many of your reviews, but I especially want to thank you for you magisterial work on Gibbon's Decline and Fall. I have read no more than half a dozen chapters from it so far, yet I have already found your comments and quotations very helpful. I do hope to read the whole work one day and I am sure your chapter-by-chapter analyses will again prove indispensable. Thanks again.

With very best wishes,
I see we share many of the same books on Library Thing -- Rankin, Larsson, PD James, Clarke, Tolkein, etc. Since we have similar tastes, try my new mystery/ suspense novel, The Undertaker. It's a great beach/ pool read. It's on Kindle, Sony, Nook, and the other e-book sites, and it has a dozen 5-Star reviews now. You can also follow my writing at

Enjoy, Bill Brown
My thanks for your review of Lud-in-the-Mist. Now I come here and find that you have written 2,261 reviews in almost 6 years and have a life too. I will slink away quietly.
I got a chuckle out of your review of Vicious Circles and Infinity. I'm currently using this book in a discussion group comprised of just the "teenage proto-geeks" you mention. The Russell/Whitehead thing is quite amusing.
I came across your review of Emma's war which you wrote some time ago,and wanted to tell you how much I liked it. I picked up this book on a Friends of the Library sale, had to read it then reread it , even outline the historical stuff,but looking back on 2 years of reading (nothing like being retired) this is one book that I would put on the top 10 of those I had read. It is interesting...the author is from my home town, and also that her being in the Sudan was an experiment by an Atlanta newspaper editor to send reporters abroad...not that that lasted for very long.
I enjoy reading your reviews of Doctor Who books. We usually agree.
I like your recent string of Shakespeare reviews. Very nice to read something that isn't rehashed and the standard "what can I say about ____ that hasn't been said before?"

Thanks for your comment about my interzone review. You are right, I was reading the 4th anthology - which is what the copy in my library says it is. But somehow or other librarything's database had combined this title (and one other version of the 4th anthology title) with the 5th anthology - hence my confusion. I've now separated and recombined these with the correct entries in the LT database, after which I'll amend my review.

Thanks again!
I just read your review on "Black garden". It was a very good book and balanced. It still gave me feeling of displeasure of what people can do.
I read 4 years ago and 3 years ago I visited this Nagorno Karabagh. It is very beautifule there. I recomend a book by V.A. Shnirelman. I have not looked through your library. But you can contact me if you are interested.

I think I will have a further look into your library

Rune Norheim

Just read your review of "The Dispossessed" which I just finished myself. Was intrigued by your view on the Le Guin's treatment of Thu as the most stereotyped and least explored of the forces in the book. My personal take on this, as someone who comes from the other side of the Iron Curtain, is that she chose well not to give us any "direct" experience of Thu. I can cope with characters' prejudice against something they've never experienced. I don't think I could have coped with Le Guin trying to describe something she had never had any direct experience of, and I did. Not sure if that makes any sense...

Hello, I read your review of A.Merritt's "The Moon Pool". I thought your comment about O'Keefe was interesting. Particularly concerning "the O'Keefe of Coleraine...The old gaelic aristocracy". Do you know where I could read up on this?
Nicholas Whyte

thanks for joining the proust group

David Perrings
Quoth Nicholas (16th June)
>>I'm a bit shocked by your comment that the Mabinogion is "full of people with silly Welsh names". Some might say that "Tseng" is a silly name!

Hullo Nicholas.

Now in general there are two categories of "silly" names (note the use of quotation marks. Ones which have a alternative meaning (either inadvertant or advertant) and ones which sound unusual or just plain weird.

In the first category you have names which are descripive of something (often the subject) e.g. "Colonel Blimp" "The Knights Who Say Ni". This can also include good old fashioned puns (often sexual) e.g. "Damien Thong". You also can get combinations of the two e.g. "Dick Manual" (often these could be crudely called "porn-star names" - both descriptive of the subject AND incorporating punning/sexual innuendo).

In the second category you have names which are grammatically convoluted or just extremely lengthy such that they sound both discordant and amusing to the ear. "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysilio​" (coincidentally also Welsh) is an example. A slightly less politically correct example is the batting line-up of the Sri-Lankan cricket team, where names are generally extremely long, convoluted and sound "silly" (note the use of quotation marks) to the untrained ear.

Welsh names in the Mabinogion fall into the second category. The issue of whether names sound "silly" in this case is largely a vowel/consonant thing. In Welsh a number of letters which are consonents in English are vowels in Welsh. Therefore to the untrained (English) ear many of the names employed in the work sound grammatically convoluted and slightly wacky (in a word: silly). QED.

You will note two adjuncts to this:
a) One's categorisation of a name as "silly" is highly culturally conditioned. A Welsh or Irish person would obviously not find names in the Mabinogion remotely silly. A llama-seller from slightly south of Cuzco would probably struggled to see why Anglo-Saxons find "The Knights Who Say Ni" (or even "The Knights Who Say Ecky-ecky-ecky-ecky-P'tang, Zzoo-Boing, gdgdbaaoizen") remotely amusing.
b) The name "Tseng" does not qualify as "silly" under either category 1) or 2).



PS Good to see someone reads my reviews!
See that you have 'Field of Bones' by Philip Orr, I just read a review in 'History Ireland'. Anything to add to your review? Worth buying? I added it to my library, however it is not yet available in the US.
Ah: I see from yur blog that you've found it!
Re your review; I think there's a fold-out map of Beleriand in the back of my copy of The Children of Hurin (left it at home, can't check right now)...
The idea probably hasn't entered his mind yet.
What? George W. Bush hemmed in by legal and political restrictions??
Wow! We share so many interests, and 84 books! You seem to be a Paddington fan too? And GTD? And Cold Comfort Farm!
I'm commenting because we posted Catcher in the Rye at the same time. I'm not sure why its such a cult hit, Salinger's other works are definately more engaging and better written, but having read Catcher when I was 16, I have to say I felt like that was me - not the external moneyed elite stuff, but the internal confusion. Just my two cents -
Have a great day.
Thanks for joining Reading Resolutions!
Evening. I finally succumbed to the lure. I've nearly used my free slot already. Scary...
Hey! Are you on If so, who? If not, ignore all this.
Has your copy of Star-land weathered the years well? I'm planning on restoring mine sometime in the next couple of years, as the binding glue has completely failed.
I looked at rachelrichardson's collection because she happens to be the only person except myself who has catalogued a copy of "Salonica and after" and I noticed your enquiry. I thought I might tell you that Rosalind Heywood in her book "The Infinite Hive", about unacknowledged human capacities like telepathy and ESP has an anecdote from her experience as a very young nurse in Macedonia during WW I on pages 85-89 of the Chatto hardback edition of 1964.
With best wishes, gibbon
Hey-ya. We do have a lot of overlap. It seems like we both have an affinity for the classics.

I wish I had half of your sci-fi collection, though. Unfortunately, it seems like people don’t want to let their sci-fi go into the used-book circuit around here, so I’ve been semi out of luck. But I’m working on it.
My wife found Silence and Honeycakes similar in style to his other more popular-market oriented books, ie he's drawing on his extensive knowledge of the Desert Fathers but much more focussed on making it relevant to now rather than as a history lesson. She found it a very refreshing approach.

(I should add that I haven't read most of our "religion"-tagged books, and have only tagged as "unread" those that I do intend to read someday!)
I see you have "Silence and Honeycakes" by Rowan Williams. How is it?
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