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What books are you reading?

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19 Jun 2017 13:08 - 19 Jun 2017 13:11 #250139 by Shellhead
I often have two or three partially-finished books on my nightstand. Sometimes I'm not in the mood for one book so I will switch to a different one in the stack. Library books tend to get the right-of-way, because of the time limit.

Right now, I am about halfway through The Unit, by Terry DeHart. Post-apocalypse survival featuring a married couple and their two teenage kids. The father is a retired Marine, and the family car broke down two weeks before the opening of the story due to EMP from a nuclear strike. The year isn't specified but feels like it roughly now. The writing is solid but nothing special, aside from doing short chapters titled for the POV character in each chapter. This allows the writer to tell the story from the viewpoint of each family member, as well as other characters. There is often partial overlap between two consecutive chapters, so you get the experience of two different interpretations of the same event. The violence seems realistic, and the characters are reasonably well-developed. If you like post-apocalypse stories, this is a good one.

EDIT: One odd thing about the POV chapters is that they consistently cycle through the same order, at least for the four family members. Somehow that made this story feel a little bit like a good AmeriTrash game. Like each person gets a turn to take some actions, playing towards a co-op goal.
Last edit: 19 Jun 2017 13:11 by Shellhead.

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19 Jun 2017 14:38 #250148 by Sagrilarus
Just finished McCullogh's The Wright Brothers and I'm starting to cool on him as a writer. He seems very in the pocket of his lead characters at times, focusing too much on their perspective. The book is good, gives an indication of how far ahead they were than everyone else in the field.

I'm onto An Empire of Wealth by Gordon and it's a non-stop-thrill-ride . . . about 19th century economics. Solid writer, is covering a very broad subject very quickly and very well. We'll see how it goes.
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23 Jun 2017 20:05 - 23 Jun 2017 20:13 #250363 by CranBerries

SuperflyTNT wrote: Sounds like my experience with Infinite Jest. Couldn't get past few hundred pages of bleeech


Why I'm Waiting for the Right Man to Tell Me to Read Infinite Jest

I just finished Colson Whitehead's The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death .

It's about the author playing in the World Series of Poker, on assignment. Colson Whitehead said this is the book he wrote to get all the jokes out of his system before he wrote The Book That Terrified Him (The Underground Railroad). Whitehead is sarcastic and funny, and I finished it. His descriptions of Poker misfits reminds me of the subculture of, you guessed it, boardgamers. He doesn't write unsympathetically, but it was an uncomfortable mirror to gaze into for 200+ pages. Whitehead had just gotten divorced, and wore a hoodie emblazoned with "The Republic of Anhedonia".

The unexpected central subject in “The Noble Hustle” is self-loathing. This shag carpet is unfurled with the book’s first sentence: “I have a good poker face because I am half dead inside.”

Also from the book: “Pick your fights like you pick your nose: with complete awareness of where you are.”
Last edit: 23 Jun 2017 20:13 by CranBerries.
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24 Jun 2017 12:43 #250378 by Shellhead

cranberries wrote:

SuperflyTNT wrote: Sounds like my experience with Infinite Jest. Couldn't get past few hundred pages of bleeech


Why I'm Waiting for the Right Man to Tell Me to Read Infinite Jest


www.avclub.com/article/woman-has-been-sl...ite-jest-year-256801

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24 Jun 2017 14:01 #250382 by drewcula
I just finished 'The Night Ocean' by Paul La Farge. It's an alternative history of the relationship between H.P. Lovecraft and R.H. Barlow. I hated it. Worse, hating it makes me feel like I'm a homophobic racist.
I'm about to pick up 'Cit of Mirrors' by Justin Cronin. It's been on my shelf for a year, but I needed to wait. I'm going in with a lot of trepidation. I loved the amalgamation of 'The Passage.' Crazy stuff, and well written. The sequel, 'The Twelve' seemed like a lack luster rush job. I don't know if this final volume in the trilogy will be worth it, but I'm 2/3 into it. I gotta step it up, put on my reading glasses, and read this thing on principle.
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24 Jun 2017 19:55 - 24 Jun 2017 19:55 #250388 by Gary Sax
I'm reading Return of a King, about Afghanistan during the great game, and it is GREAT. It's history but it's one of those incredibly engagingly written nonfiction books. Definitely recommend it. Fun stuff.

Also, dudes getting blinded in this mofo left and right.
Last edit: 24 Jun 2017 19:55 by Gary Sax.
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24 Jun 2017 21:23 #250390 by CranBerries

Gary Sax wrote: I'm reading Return of a King, about Afghanistan during the great game, and it is GREAT. It's history but it's one of those incredibly engagingly written nonfiction books. Definitely recommend it. Fun stuff.

Also, dudes getting blinded in this mofo left and right.

I have The Great Game sitting on my shelf as Pax Pamir fan fiction, that I still need to read! But I'll have to add this to my list. It doesn't help that our library has been surplusing books on the era and region that I have been slurping up like a whale slicing through a cloud of minnows.

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12 Sep 2017 12:32 - 12 Sep 2017 12:48 #254116 by ThirstyMan
I picked up Alan Moore's Jerusalem over the summer. I decided to buy this on the back of reading Providence (comic book) by the same but this is leagues ahead.

What a great thrill ride. His writing is just excellent. It's a biggie though and clocks in at more than 1000 pages.

It's about Blake, Bunyan, James Joyce, Northampton and the Eternal City and spans hundreds of years. At times written like an SF story and at other times like a thriller. One of the early vignettes about a man, in the 1850s, painting St Paul's dome in London is undoubtedly one of the most frightening and heart rending stories I have ever read. I was moved to tears. He writes in a variety of literary forms including social realism, children's fantasies, stage drama and extreme science fiction. This man is a genius.

I'm telling you, this a must read by one of the great writers of our time.
Last edit: 12 Sep 2017 12:48 by ThirstyMan.
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12 Sep 2017 12:43 #254118 by Shellhead
Two recent books that I read were recent installments of their respective series:

Honky-Tonk Samurai, by Joe R. Lansdale, starring Hap Collins & Leonard Pine
The Perdition Score, by Richard Kadrey, starring Sandman Slim

Both books ended the same way, even though they are in different genres. They were published just months apart, in 2016, so it's probably just a coincidence.

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12 Sep 2017 13:49 #254123 by CranBerries

Shellhead wrote: Two recent books that I read were recent installments of their respective series:

Honky-Tonk Samurai, by Joe R. Lansdale, starring Hap Collins & Leonard Pine
The Perdition Score, by Richard Kadrey, starring Sandman Slim

Both books ended the same way, even though they are in different genres. They were published just months apart, in 2016, so it's probably just a coincidence.


I really liked the early Sandman Slim books but my interest wained after he took up residency in Hell. I need to return to those.

I finally read John LeCarre's The Spy Who Came in from The Cold . I had wrongly assumed that LeCarre got more cynical as his career progressed, but this book is as bleak as anything he's written. I really liked it.

I've read a bunch of his later stuff, and the experience of watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy after having listened to the audiobook years earlier was one of my top movie going experiences.

I'm also reading Daemon by Saurez. It's kind of an airport thriller that my brother-in-law who is in computer security recommended. It's ok, but I'm really looking forward to LeCarre's latest book, which is a sequel of sorts to "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," "Legacy of Spies." LeCarre is like 87, so it looks like he is capping off his life's work, and the book is getting great reviews .

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12 Sep 2017 17:00 - 12 Sep 2017 17:01 #254140 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic What books are you reading?
I read Neal Stephenson/Nicole Galland's book, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.. It was okay, not great. To me, it feels like it wants to be two books, with one of them being a typical Neal Stephenson rushed ending, a'la Seveneves. I thought it was worth my time, but wasn't the Awesomest Book Evar.

I also went back and reread Patrick Lee's Travis Chase series, The Breach, Ghost Country, and Deep Sky. It's a little different from your standard "shadowy organization with even more shadowy enemies" thriller. There's a little bit of fake science a'la Michael Crichton, so if you like that sort of thing you'd like this series
Last edit: 12 Sep 2017 17:01 by RobertB.

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13 Sep 2017 08:49 - 13 Sep 2017 08:50 #254170 by stoic
Replied by stoic on topic What books are you reading?

cranberries wrote:

Shellhead wrote: Two recent books that I read were recent installments of their respective series:

Honky-Tonk Samurai, by Joe R. Lansdale, starring Hap Collins & Leonard Pine
The Perdition Score, by Richard Kadrey, starring Sandman Slim

Both books ended the same way, even though they are in different genres. They were published just months apart, in 2016, so it's probably just a coincidence.


I really liked the early Sandman Slim books but my interest wained after he took up residency in Hell. I need to return to those.

I finally read John LeCarre's The Spy Who Came in from The Cold . I had wrongly assumed that LeCarre got more cynical as his career progressed, but this book is as bleak as anything he's written. I really liked it.

I've read a bunch of his later stuff, and the experience of watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy after having listened to the audiobook years earlier was one of my top movie going experiences.

I'm also reading Daemon by Saurez. It's kind of an airport thriller that my brother-in-law who is in computer security recommended. It's ok, but I'm really looking forward to LeCarre's latest book, which is a sequel of sorts to "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," "Legacy of Spies." LeCarre is like 87, so it looks like he is capping off his life's work, and the book is getting great reviews .


If you're going to read just one narrative fictional book about the beginnings of the Cold War, "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" is surely an indispensable classic. Though extremely short and less evolved than his later novels, I think that it is LeCarre's best. It teaches you that when States engage in a Cold War, they must wage war not only against the enemy, but against their own supposed values and their own citizens. Everyone and everything suddenly become expendable in the spy game for the greater glory of victory in the Cold War.

If you like this genre, then do plan a visit to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC; also, its free podcast, SpyCast, is also worth a listen.
Last edit: 13 Sep 2017 08:50 by stoic.
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20 May 2020 19:34 #310486 by dysjunct
Reading the first Narnia book for homeschooling. I am conflicted. I loved Narnia as a kid but I don't think it holds up at all.

Leaving the (very ham-handed) Christian allegory aside, the plotting is just not very good. The story takes forever to get going; most of the first third of the book is spent moping around the weird old country house, and arguing with Lucy about whether she had a brief teatime in Narnia. Once the story does get going, it is not great. The kids don't really do much of anything. They wander around and things happen to them. None of them has a very strong character besides Edmund, who is clearly the jerk. Then Aslan shows up and nothing the kids do really matters.

Theologically it's a mess. There's a whole chapter about the Deep Magic which governs Narnia, which was set in place by the Emperor-Over-the-Sea (i.e. God), and Aslan (the son of the EOTS, i.e. Jesus) is completely bound by it. I guess this is to explain why Jesus can't just beat up Satan, but it comes across as really just ... weird.

I think I will skip the rest of the series and switch to The Hobbit or some other fantasy that's not so message-y.
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20 May 2020 21:22 #310488 by DarthJoJo
I don’t think any of the Narnia books had the tightest plotting outside of Caspian, maybe. Dawn Treader is pretty picaresque. Silver Chair and Last Battle have pretty clear through lines but climax early to have lots of weird stuff just be observed.

I think one of Lewis’ great strengths in his fiction, Narnia and beyond (Till We Have Faces excepted), is a sense of comfort and safety. There is terrible evil and characters make great sacrifices, but you always feel that things will be okay. It’s like everything is set in the Shire. It’s there in the first line of Lion, Witch, Wardrobe. The Pevensie children are in the country to escape the war. Soldiers are dying and the cities aren’t safe now, but everything will be alright.

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20 May 2020 21:30 #310489 by christopherwood
Jack Vance.

Award-winning scifi, fantasy, and mystery writer, amazing vocab & sense of tone & pace, wonderful characters and plots. Prolific, too. He is my favorite writer.
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