Book Thread

Discussion in 'Media Central' started by RickDeckard, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    In 2012 I've read, starting with the most recent:

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
    The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    A Farewell To Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
    The Origins of Political Order, by Francis Fukuyama
    The Great and the Good, by John Giles
    Coalescent, by Stephen Baxter
    Russia: A Journey to the Heart of a Land and its People, by David Dimbleby
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
    Living in the End Times, by Slavoj Zizek
    Crime and Punishment. by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    For now this is just a placeholder. I'll review some of the above and provide thoughts on what follows. I've a bit of time off now and need to decide what to read next.

    As you may see, I've been trying to read some of the "classics" over the last while, having at one point been alarmed at how few I'd read. I had spent my teenage years, for example, reading Star Trek novels and UFO conspiracy nonsense.
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  2. Dr. Drake Ramoray

    Dr. Drake Ramoray 1 minute, 42.1 seconds baby!

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    This past year I've gone through Shirley Rouseau Murphy's Joe Grey series, from Cat on the Edge to Cat Bearing Gifts, (out just last month) and Rita Mae & Sneaky Pie Brown's Mrs. Murphy series. Currently I'm reading Hiss of Death, the most recent paperback release.
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  3. Muad Dib

    Muad Dib Probably a Dual Deceased Member

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    I'm actually taking a break from historical reading and doing a little reading for fun. Right now I'm reading The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor.
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  4. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Haven't read nearly as much this year as I should have.

    I think I read most of the same Fukuyama book, The Origins of Political Order this year. I know I read Anthony Everitt's The Rise of Rome this year.

    I read the first half or so of Richard Miles' Carthage Must Be Destroyed. And I think I read Asimov's Foundation this year as well.

    On the Russian front, I've been reading random sections of Гари Поттер и Узник Азкабана (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), but it's very slow going. My German holds up better: I'm reading German novelizations of The Empire Strikes Back (Das Imperium Schlägt Zurück) and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Der Zorn des Khan) and am getting by without the aid of a dictionary, although an occasional word or sentence can be quite cryptic.

    New Years Resolution: Read 10 books (and finish them!) this year.
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  5. gul

    gul Revolting Beer Drinker Administrator Formerly Important

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    I am a big fan of the classics, but in reviewing recently read items on my kindle, I see I've veered in another direction. Books this year:

    Istanbul Passage (Joseph Kanon)
    Strangers from the Sky (Margaret Bonano)
    The Big Con (David Maurer)
    The Letter of Marque (Patrick O'Brian)
    Painted Ponies (Tammy Rainey)
    The Lost Colony (Tonio Andrade)
    The Reverse of the Medal (Patrick O'Brian)
    The Far Side of the World (Patrick O'Brian)
    Devil in a Blue Dress (Walter Mosley)
    Boardwalk Empire (Nelson Johnson)
    Down Island (Mark Hill)
    From Russia with Love (Ian Fleming)
    Galapagos (Kurt Vonnegut)
    Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War (Karl Marlantes)
    The Rum Diary (Hunter S. Thompson)
    The Republic of Pirates (Colin Woodard)
    Much of the collected Sherlock Holmes
    About half way through re-reading Moby Dick
    First chapter of Just in Time (John Castle)
    About to start Spear of Destiny (Trey Garrison)
    Probably a few others
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  6. Muad Dib

    Muad Dib Probably a Dual Deceased Member

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    Finished it. Interesting story, but I didn't like the writing style. It's written in present tense, rather than past tense, and I thought the style was kind of annoying.

    As for the story, it was fairly well thought out and is an interesting character development on the Governor. It has some interesting twists and turns where you go, "Holy shit! I didn't see that coming!" Such is the goodness of The Walking Dead franchise.

    With a better writer, it would have been as good as anything we've seen on the show. It does give a little more background of events of the epidemic and a real "Holy shit!" moment right at the end regarding the Governor.

    On a scale from 1-5, I give it :muad: :muad: :muad:. It loses 2 points over the writing style.
  7. Pylades

    Pylades Louder & Prouder

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    Using gul's trick of recently read (or rather bought) Kindle books:

    Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception (Meyer, Pamela) - about 20% done
    Stranger in a Strange Land (Heinlein, Robert A)
    The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement (Goldratt, Eliyahu M., Jeff Cox) - read about 60% (had to)
    Sloppy Seconds: The Tucker Max Leftovers (Max, Tucker)
    The Second World War (Beevor, Antony) - read the first 20% or so then got stuck
    Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (Kaku, Michio) - read the first 35% or so
    Hilarity Ensues (Max, Tucker)
    The History of Korea (Kim, Djun Kil)

    There were a bunch of re-reads as well as some paperbacks but remember them at the moment.
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  8. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

    Ostensibly a childrens book, although a brief preface from the author expresses the hope that it will be enjoyed by those of all ages. I have a vague memory of reading some or all of this as a young child, but I couldn't recall the details. It's definitely "layered" in that the simple adventure story that a child might grasp isn't all there is to it by a long shot.

    I won't summarise the plot, which isn't that substantial, or really "the point" but best not to read on if you're unfamiliar.
    I found striking how the make-believe world of Tom and Huck, with its pirates and robbers, contrasted with the "real world" of the novel depicting actual bandits of those types - the unglamorous reality seemed to suggest the uncomfortable awakening of adulthood, also apparent in the mini-economy that the kids have for their marbles and other trinkets, contrasted with their "becoming rich" in the end and deciding it's not all that great after all.
    Then there's some musing about the nature of freedom, and how appealing a thing is only when it's forbidden - staying out late, even painting the fence!
    There are pokes at the religion of the adults in the book too, reflected in the medium of superstitions of the children - doctrines never fulfilled, but also never questioned.

    There's a risk that with a book like this, that it is so infleuntial that even people who haven't read it might find it "old hat" given its influence on popular culture. The use of vernacular was no doubt a novelty in its day, but not any more. And personally I can recognise Tom Sawyer in everything from Enid Blyton's adventure books to Dennis the Menace and Bart Simpson. But none of this really subtracted from the enjoyment. The best praise I can give it is that it made me want to be a kid again. :(
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  9. Diacanu

    Diacanu Comicmike. Writer

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    Make 4 of 'em Harry, and you'll almost be halfway there. :diacanu:
    And, it'll only take an afternoon apiece.

    ....unless, you go digging for all the little Easter eggs, that'll take a year. :P
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  10. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    I forgot to count graphic novels, in which case I read large sections of all four of your Harry books, as well as Hush, A Death in the Family (Robin dies!!!), and Batman: Year One.
  11. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - overrated given its reputation, I thought. Yeah, some interesting stuff about obsession, chasing a dream and so forth, some beautiful prose too. But it's all a bit of a soap opera. 3/5

    The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman - Dreadful, lazy rubbish. An attempt to deconstruct the gospels just ends up piling embellishment upon embellishment, none of which is worth it given the trivial point the author seems to be making. 1/5
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  12. Baba

    Baba Rep Giver

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    I read lord of the rings trilogy in one day.
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  13. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    SPOILERS

    Well, I initially found Zizek interesting in that he challenged orthodox narratives about almost everything. Certainly gets you thinking. But it quickly became fairly exhausting. He seems to be contrarian for the sake of it, and some of what he's driving at appears to be going in what I consider a fairly dangerous direction.

    It's easy to see why The Brothers Karamazov is so acclaimed. I obviously don't share his philosophical conclusions, but it's clear that Dostoevsky was confronting some serious questions to his faith; and he recognises the problems that he's hurdling in order to maintain it. It could be said that Ivan isn't given a fair hearing, particularly the way the story turns out, but I took the chapters where he speaks (Mutiny & The Grand Inquisitor) as devastating arguments against religion, probably the most potent I'd ever read. The attempt to answer these was, from my perspective, unsuccessful, and Dostoevsky needed to return to the "all things are permitted" meme and its consequences in order to balance them. I love Russian history too which obviously helped.
  14. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    Okay, I've slowed down considerably since the new year. Only two more since then.

    The Secret Footballer by Anon.
    Allegedly written (though you can never be sure) by a current Premiership soccer player. He gives the lowdown on the lifestyle and the goings on within the game from an insiders point of view. Fairly light stuff, but gives some interesting insights nonetheless. It kind of lost me a bit by the end because he's by necessity being so vague about his own career that when he starts talking about personal things like depression, it's difficult to put it into any sort of context.

    Cycles of Time by Roger Penrose.
    I said that The Secret Footballer was a light read. This is not. I normally glide through popular science books with little trouble, but this hardly belongs in the category - given how complex and technical it is, it could almost be a textbook, requiring an advanced physics degree to fully get to grips with. About a third of it went straight over my head, and the rest was tough going. Nevertheless the concepts are interesting and I 'got' enough of it to understand roughly what was being said. Penrose is proposing a new cosmological theory, CCC in shorthand which is in some ways similar to the oscillating universe theory, but brought bang up to date, incorporating things like the accelerating expansion of our universe and information loss in black holes. It's ultimately not fully convincing, but a worthwhile contribution.
  15. Dr. Drake Ramoray

    Dr. Drake Ramoray 1 minute, 42.1 seconds baby!

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    Re-reading The Silent Speaker by Rex Stout while I'm waiting for my copy of The Big Catnap by Rita Mae & Sneaky Pie Brown (due into my bookstore next week).

    A quick clip of the A&E adaption of The Silent Speaker, and the foxiest that Cynthia Wattros has ever looked.

    [YT="The Silent Speaker, Archie goes to fetch Phoebe Gunther to Wolfe."]d2dfQ1hEQ00[/YT]

    :shades:

    Edit: Julian Ritchings the other guy in the scene besides Tim Hutton & Cynthia Wattros, has always been my first pick to play Jonathan Crane, aka, the Scarecrow, from Batman's rogues gallery.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
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  16. The Esquire of Gothos

    The Esquire of Gothos The Squire of Gotham

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    The novel "Frankenstein" is a good interesting read. I read it decades ago. I never read "Dracula" all the way through. Has anyone here read "Dracula"? Mary Shelley's original isn't the same thing at all as many of its media adaptations have been over the decades. Many of those have been more derived/derivations of it, somewhat if not completely loosely based if you will. Though I never read Bram Stoker's signature novel cover to cover, I imagine it's the same situation there. Anyone who's read "Dracula" can feel free to weigh in.
  17. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Never read the novel Frankenstein, but I think Kenneth Brannagh's 90s film--with Robert DeNiro as the monster!--comes closest to being a faithful adaptation.

    I read Dracula when I was a teen and enjoyed it, though it's quite a bit different from most movie versions of the character (Bram Stoker's Dracula with Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, and Gary Oldman is very close to the novel).
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  18. The Esquire of Gothos

    The Esquire of Gothos The Squire of Gotham

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    It's an interesting read. Kenneth Branaugh was very faithful to the book. I appreciated DeNiro playing the monster, but Eric Menyuk or Richard Kiel would've been good too.

    Hard to believe the Oldman "Dracula" film is now OVER a score old! I should get "Dracula" from a library & read the whole book.

    "The Count of Monte Cristo" is another good read. Back in '02 I read the novel mere days before seeing the Caviezel film in the theater. Suffice it to say I was disappointed. :(
  19. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    The Stand by Stephen King.
    I'd never read King before so decided to sample his work. This is one of the longer books I've read, at 1325 pages in this version, which contains a lot of additional material that wasn't in the first release. I've mixed feelings about it. It's very readable and the characters are engaging and well written, impressive given that there are quite a few of them. But the plot is pretty incoherent, as are the themes of the book, there's deus ex machina throughout and the ending is unsatisfying. King says that he was going for an American Lord of the Rings, and I can't say that he was successful in that. Maybe his Dark Tower series is more so.

    An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina.
    A lot of you will have seen Hotel Rwanda, which tells of a hotel manager who saved hundreds of people during the 2 week Rwandan genocide in 1994. This is the book. It's not brilliantly written, but I imagine that if the language had been any more florid, it might have been tough to read. These are absolutely shocking events, and there's interesting background about the culture and history of Rwanda that helps one understand them a lot more. The shameful inaction of the west is underscored repeatedly.
  20. Nova

    Nova livin on the edge of the ledge Writer

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    I'm part way through my second attempt at a Jack McDevitt book - one pimped on the cover with a quote from King calling him the "logical heir to Asimov and Clarke"


    um....no. It's not BAD...but it's quite ordinary.
  21. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    Two very good ones...

    The Adventures of Hucklberry Finn by Mark Twain
    More mature than Tom Sawyer (see above) and more weighty. At times hilarious, others sad, others exciting, I can imagine that this caused quite a stir when released both for the devastatingly anti-racist content and the use of the vernacular - the latter is commonplace now but not then.
    It's only let down a bit by the last section, where the tone seems to change, and I hear that Twain was having difficulty coming up with an ending.

    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    Not quite as good as A Tale of Two Cities, and I felt that it dipped a bit in the middle, but there's something delightful about Dickens' prose, his world is intoxicating and his characters are well-rounded and sympathetic. There are twists and turns galore, not predictable but not contrived either. I can't believe its taken me so long to get into his books, and he has a small library of other classics waiting for me. Probably David Copperfield next.
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  22. John Castle

    John Castle Banned Writer

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    Well, let's see. This year, in no particular order:

    The Spear Of Destiny by Trey Garrison

    Callahan's Con by Spider Robinson

    True Grit by Charles Portis

    And re-read some old favorites by Mickey Spillane, namely I, The Jury and My Gun Is Quick.
  23. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    Mickey Spillane suffered from premature ejaculation? :no:
  24. Dr. Drake Ramoray

    Dr. Drake Ramoray 1 minute, 42.1 seconds baby!

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    I'm maybe two-thirds of the way through Rita Mae Brown's Murder Unleashed right now. The Reno books are OK, but they just don't click with me as well as the Mrs. Murphy series.
  25. John Castle

    John Castle Banned Writer

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    No way to guess. But he probably liked amazon women.
  26. NAHTMMM

    NAHTMMM GLORIAAA!!

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    Finished a 1915 collection of Greatest Short Stories today. I'd like to name a favorite or two, but they all rate a "great" at the least. :) The only two titles I recognized going in were "The Man Who Would Be King" and de Maupassant's "The Necklace" but there are some big names too. It was a little exciting to finally get around to reading stories by Pushkin and Dumas.
  27. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    I finished a biography of La Fayette. Haven't decided yet what I'm going to start next. Possibly Ethan Allen or John Marshall.
  28. El Chup

    El Chup Fuck Trump Deceased Member Git

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    Rick, find and read a book called Lipstick Jihad. I think you'll find it fascinating.
  29. Dan Leach

    Dan Leach Climbing Staff Member Moderator

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    Most books I've read over the past few years have been a bit disappointing. Im just starting 'Dune' which so far is pretty good but I'm only at the beginning, even the 'song of ice and fire' series had me a little underwhelmed.

    But one series that had me gripped all the way through, and I cant wait to read them again is the 'Foundation' series. Awesome stuff, at the least 3 first 3 books, the only ones I've read.
  30. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

    I can't think of anything comparable, mixing both the epic and intimate. I didn't want it to end, or I want a sequel, or something. It illuminates completely the social and historical situation in 19th century Russia. Real personalities mixed with fictional ones until you have trouble telling which ones were real and can barely believe that some weren't. Astounding.

    If I had to make some criticisms, I'd say that Tolstoy goes much too easily on the Russian aristocracy. And that his reaction against the "Great Man" theory is too extreme. Napoleon had no more effect on history than an individual peasant. Really?
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