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Coming the Week of July 22nd

The first installment of Beyond the Veil an in-depth look at Arkham Horror The Card Game, It Came From the Tabletop Podcast, a look at FOMO, reviews of Undaunted Normandy and Starlight Stage, and more TBA.

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What BOOK(s) are you reading?

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15 May 2019 13:22 #297086 by Sagrilarus

Gary Sax wrote: Just picked up the new Atkinson history about the revolutionary war. Excited.


I just finished The Immortal 400 which is about the vaunted Maryland and Delaware units of Washington's army. A good read in a similar vein.
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15 May 2019 16:14 #297109 by Gary Sax
I'll put it on Goodreads!

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10 Jun 2019 22:22 #298218 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic What BOOK(s) are you reading?
NOT ON FIRE BUT BURNING by Hrbek. Very good, nice shot, SF read about alternate realities and intolderance. Dystopian, but not MAZE RUNNER trash.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG: A LIFE by De Hart. Kind of blasé bio of a totally fascinating person. I wish a better writer had access to RBG. She did not fuck around.

WIZARDS: MAGICAL TALES FROM THE MASTERS OF MODERN FANTASY by various. Gene Wolf has a story in here, Gaiman, Card (actually good!), and others. Just cool stories about wizards and magic.
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08 Jul 2019 21:22 #299403 by DarthJoJo
Finished Graham Greene's The Honorary Consul last night. Not as good as the big four of his Catholic works but not not worth reading either. It has all the classic Greene hallmarks, affairs, the religiously devout and religiously apathetic, alcoholism, the unyielding beliefs of everyone, repeated arguments with the repeated lack of resolution, the unbearable tension conveyed purely through dialogue. What makes it weaker is that its lead character is devoted to his distance from close personal relationships, inability to love despite numerous affairs. Doctor Plarr is a man who feels nothing while Major Scobie and Maurice Bendrix feel too much. There is little to grasp onto Plarr for the reader.

Followed that up by checking his Wikipedia page for fun facts. He was friends with Charlie Chaplin! In honor of Greene's eightieth birthday, the brewery founded by his great-grandfather (Greene King) used a special label!
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09 Jul 2019 11:29 #299443 by barrowdown
Since my last post, I finished The Russian Revolution by Richard Pipes. It is an excellent and engaging book. On the other hand, it felt like the longest book I have ever read due to its large pages, small font, and dense material. Plus its over 900 pages long. I can normally read around 60 pages an hour on dense nonfiction, but I was barely making it 35-40 pages in this one. As for the actual material, Pipes does a good job covering a very broad subject and including lots of detail on contributing factors and trends.

After that, I took a light break from history and read Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, which greatly disappointed me. I guess I was expecting a much better book and ended up with an okay summer read. It felt to me like a book that was patting itself on the back for its "daring" concept. I probably would have preferred it if it moved either heavier into the American racism or the cosmic horror. Instead it felt like a crappy amalgam of the two.

Then it was onto a trio of books on the Battle for Normandy: Overlord by Max Hastings, D-Day by Antony Beevor, and Six Armies in Normandy by John Keegan. Overall, I thought the three provided some good coverage though they each have their individual quirks. Keegan is much more positive on Montgomery than the other two and kind of underplays Montgomery's failings in Normandy. While all three are impressed by Germany's ability to defend in Normandy and their organizational fluidity, Hastings is definitely a little too far on the side of Wehrmacht worship. He talks about the amazing German defense and impressive ability to defend while barely mentioning the defensive advantages of the Norman terrain and only chalking it up to German defensive tactics. Two paragraphs later he will then mention how "well, yeah, the Allies managed to mount a defense against the German counterattack, but that was only because Norman terrain is soooo easy to defend. Anyone can do it!" All three were worth a read though.

I am currently reading Red Famine by Anne Applebaum on the Ukrainian famines of the 1920s and 1930s and the Soviet attempt to crush Ukraine's spirit. I'm a few chapters in and really enjoying it though it is very brutal in parts.
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09 Jul 2019 11:50 #299448 by RobertB
Tore through N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy. The books won back to back to back Hugos, and I can see why. I hope Hollywood comes to her house and drops a truckload of money on her doorstep. Then I hope they don't screw it up.
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09 Jul 2019 11:55 #299451 by barrowdown

RobertB wrote: Tore through N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy. The books won back to back to back Hugos, and I can see why. I hope Hollywood comes to her house and drops a truckload of money on her doorstep. Then I hope they don't screw it up.


Oh, they would screw it up. I am sure it would be turned into a summer blockbuster. Big fancy rock CGI powers! Cool CGI rock eaters! Impressive CGI landscapes!

I very much enjoyed Broken Earth when I read it earlier this year. It was excellent and relied much more on character development than on fantasy tropes. My wife read her Inheritance trilogy, which she also liked a lot but not as much as Broken Earth. She is almost done with Dreamblood, but seems less impressed with that one. I might give one of them a try next time I need a nonfiction break.

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09 Jul 2019 13:03 #299458 by quozl
Replied by quozl on topic What BOOK(s) are you reading?
I recently finished the Mistborn trilogy. I liked the first book. The other two I found tedious. Why does every novel need to be 750 pages now?
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09 Jul 2019 13:18 #299460 by barrowdown

quozl wrote: I recently finished the Mistborn trilogy. I liked the first book. The other two I found tedious. Why does every novel need to be 750 pages now?


Continuing the Jemisin is awesome thoughts from above, all of her books are well under that with only two approaching 500 pages. Most of the rest are around 400 pages and do not feel like they have been truncated.
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09 Jul 2019 14:03 #299463 by Shellhead
After several months of not reading any books, I recently started reading Lovecraft's Monsters, an anthology of stories featuring monsters of the Cthulhu Mythos written by authors not normally associated with the Cthulhu Mythos. The editor is Ellen Detlow, who has won numerous awards for past anthologies. The writers include Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Bear, and Joe R. Lansdale. There is a nice section at the end where Detlow gives a brief background on all the featured monsters. The opening story by Gaiman is a humorous one about a werewolf in Innsmouth. I specifically bought this for the story "Black as the Pit, From Pole to Pole," which features the further adventures of the Frankenstein Monster and hasn't been reprinted since the '70s. I was a bit young for the story when I read it at age 11, but look forward to trying again now.
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09 Jul 2019 14:12 - 09 Jul 2019 14:15 #299465 by dysjunct
Went on vacation, which is seemingly the only time I get to read these days.

Meddling Kids. Careened between amusing geek culture Easter eggs and tiresome geek culture Easter eggs. It was okay but not great, but at least fast and breezy.

Unprepared to Die. A combination true crime and music history book. It takes a dozen different Anglo-American murder ballads ("Stagger Lee," "Tom Dooley," etc.) and traces the history of both the song and the crime that inspired it. Fascinating to watch how music changes and morphs with the needs of its audience, and of course lurid true crime details are always gruesomely entertaining. Highly recommended.

Down the Great Unknown. History/outdoors. The story of the first exploration of the entire length of the Colorado River. Captained by a one-armed Civil War veteran who was more enthusiastic and optimistic than say "skilled" or "prepared." Surprisingly, not everyone died, even though the trip was full of boneheaded decisions, like "hey, our boats are so hard to portage past rapids due to all this food, so let's dump 500 pounds of it over the side. Surely there will be ample game in the desert!" A nice reminder that nature is not your friend, doubly so before the modern age when a helicopter comes to rescue you if you get a hangnail.

Agents of Dreamland. A novella, pretty entertaining. A bit like off-brand Delta Green.

Your Money or Your Life. A classic of personal finance that I finally got around to reading. I've been pretty on board with the FIRE movement for a while, so most of the messaging was old hat by the time I got to it. It still had some good exercises, like calculating your "real wage." That's your annual salary, minus everything you spend to make it (gas, clothes, alcohol to relieve stress, lunches out, drinks with coworkers, etc.), divided by all the hours you spend to make it (so not just your 40/week, but commuting time, time needed to unwind, time going to optional-but-not-really events, etc.). For most people it's a shockingly low number compared to what they're expecting. For me, my real wage is about $12 less per hour than what I make on paper. Even though I agreed with the overall message, I always need more frugality beaten into my brain. Highly recommended.

Common Sense on Mutual Funds. Another classic, by godfather and patron saint John Bogle. But, mostly telling me what I know: index funds are superior, fees charged by hotshot investment managers almost always cancel out whatever extra performance they can wring out of the market. So index, stay the course, don't try to time the market. I guess it's a testament to Bogle's influence that almost everyone agree with this except for people with a financial incentive to disagree, e.g. brokers.
Last edit: 09 Jul 2019 14:15 by dysjunct.
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09 Jul 2019 16:44 #299473 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic What BOOK(s) are you reading?
I just finished CIRCE by Madeline Miller. I can recommend this. Very cool tale of the nymph/witch, not reveling in the same details of the Greek mythos you've all heard, but touching on them as events in her life and context. Has a kind of Cormac McCarthy rhythm to its brief declarative sentences. I liked it a lot.

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12 Jul 2019 13:23 #299604 by DarthJoJo
John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came From the Cold. Even having read him before, I still underestimate Carré. So it’s a spy novel? Like James Bond? No, like the real stuff: lying, talking, tailing and shaking tails. And then you think it’s all hard men, but then there’s the emotional gut punch of the ending.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is still my favorite Carré, but the man is solid.
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13 Jul 2019 13:50 #299615 by Sagrilarus
Have any of you read the Gideon Smith books? Graphic Audio has them 20% off and I’m thinking about buying the first one.

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15 Jul 2019 10:31 #299650 by Joebot

quozl wrote: I recently finished the Mistborn trilogy. I liked the first book. The other two I found tedious. Why does every novel need to be 750 pages now?


I read the first book and was really lukewarm on it. I considered reading the others, hoping that they get better. Sad to hear that the first one was the best one! I wasn't compelled to read anything else by Sanderson, but I do have The Way of Kings quietly collecting dust on my to-read shelf.

I finished The Darkness that Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker while on vacation. I know I'm 15 years late to reading this, but I liked it. It's grimdark fantasy in the vein of like Steven Erikson or Joe Abercrombie, but not nearly as good as either of those guys, unfortunately. Bakker doesn't have any of the pitch-black humor of Abercrombie, nor any of the jaw-dropping scope or action of Erikson. But it was good. Really interesting world-building, once you get your brain wrapped around all the different cultures and nations. Bakker just drops you into the deep end with the crazy fantasy names, but if you keep at it, it all settles out eventually. I'm intrigued enough to keep reading, and I hope the second book is even better.

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