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Read The Books You Should Have Already Read

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clemmetarey
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Re: Read The Books You Should Have Already Read

#321

Post by clemmetarey » October 22nd, 2018, 1:34 pm

I just remembered I posted here, whoops.

Sebby, what about "will you please be quiet, please?" ?

This morning I started Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, I loved the film so I'm very eager to read it. The book I have also include Tristan and The Road to the Churchyard.

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#322

Post by clemmetarey » November 2nd, 2018, 10:50 am

I finished Thomas Mann's novellas a few days ago. Death in Venice was a good read, although I was a bit disappointed. It focuses a lot more on him and the transformations and change of attitude he's going through in order to catch the kid's attention. They are some elements from the book missing from the film, which I think was best as it probably would have made the film a bit creepy.
Tristan was my least favorite of the three, it's a metaphorical story in the same vein as Venice, with the idea of putting your life in danger for beauty.
The Road to the Churchyard on the other hand was my favorite, it is very short (about 10 pages) but more wouldn't have been necessary as the situation narrated is very self-explanatory of the ordeals the main character went through. It is very intense and would make a great short film.

I also read Beckett's Waiting for Godot. So far it is the best play I've ever read, albeit I haven't read that many. The dialogues are fascinating, nothing of any interest is ever said, we don't know who they are, what they want, why they're waiting but the two acts are filled with unexpected development that keeps the reader's attention. They also meet two very peculiar characters that play an enormous part in the general crazyness going on.

I haven't decided what I'll read next, but it'll probably be The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Has anyone read it?

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#323

Post by Leopardi » November 3rd, 2018, 3:15 am

Nope, haven't read The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and hadn't even heard of it before you mentioned it, but it does seem to be awfully popular on Goodreads (plus my partner and our friend both have it down as to-read). Should I know this one?

I finished The Enormous Room earlier this week. Not exactly my cup of tea, primarily because the story itself (to me anyway) was loose and secondary to Cummings' portraits of his friends in prison, most of which I just didn't relate to or care about. I also have a pet peeve about books that write foreign phrases (in this case French) or speech quirks phonetically, and there was plenty of this on every page (the only exception to this rule that I can think of is The Pickwick Papers, which gave us Sam Weller, who is absolutely wonderful).

I don't know if there's anyone to pick for right now, but if I'm wrong please let me know! Here's my list:

1. Selected Journalism 1850-1870 (Charles Dickens, 1850-1870). "[Selections] from the pieces Dickens wrote after he founded Household Words in 1850 until his death in 1870. It contains 'Night Walks', 'On Strike' and 'New Year's Day' which are among Dickens' most remarkable pieces." One of my favourite writers.

2. What's Bred in the Bone (Robertson Davies, 1985). The second novel in Davies' celebrated Cornish Trilogy, this series, and Davies' writing in general, so affected my sister that she actually got a tattoo of the title quote some years ago. Shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.

3. Mysteries (Knut Hamsun, 1892). "Mysteries is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysteries stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer - and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated as a spirit of near tragedy...But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of prussic acid..." (Penguin Classics description). A much-lauded work by one of the creators of the modern novel.

4. Count Roderic's Castle (Anonymous, 1794). "With a fast-paced plot that features many of the elements for which the Gothic novel is known--brave heroes and detestable villains, ancient castles, dark dungeons, and a vengeful spectre--Count Roderic's Castle (1794) was one of the most popular of the early Gothic novels issued by the famous Minerva Press." (From book jacket)

5. The Landslide (Stephen Gilbert, 1943). "Will my poor book ever be read by anyone? It is about a dragon and a sea serpent, and a kind of prehistoric dog and an old man and a boy and a priest. I sent it to a publisher last July and it has been lost ever since. I know it is good...It is unlike any story that has ever been written before." (from the back of the book). An early work by the author of Ratman's Notebooks (the book on which the film Willard was based)

6. The Ox-Bow Incident (Walter van Tilberg Clark, 1940). "The Ox-Bow Incident is a searing and realistic portrait of frontier life and mob violence in the American West...an emotionally powerful, vivid, and unforgettable re-creation of the Western novel, which Clark transmuted into a universal story about good and evil, individual and community, justice and human nature." (from the back of the book)

7. A Traveler at Forty (Theodore Dreiser, 1913). "[A Traveler at Forty contains] the pregnant observations of an old hand at looking, the sharp remarks and annotations of the creator of Hurstwood, Cowperwood and Pete Gerhardt. The book rises completely out of the commonplace, and becomes something new, illuminating and heretical." (H. L. Mencken) One of my favourite writers offers one of my favourite literary sub-genres, the travel book. This will be more than 900 pages of pure gold, I have no doubt.

8. The Mysteries of London (George W. M. Reynolds, 1844-1848). "The government feared him. Rival authors like Charles Dickens, whom he outsold, despised him. The literary establishment did its best to write him out of literary history. But when George W.M. Reynolds, journalist, political reformer, Socialist, and novelist, died in 1879, even his critics were forced to acknowledge the truth of his obituary, which declared that he was the most popular writer of his time....The Mysteries of London is a sprawling tableau, seeking to depict life as Reynolds saw it in mid-Victorian London and expose what he viewed as gross injustice toward the poor." (from the back of the book). A massive tome (volumes I and II together are more than 2300 pages), and an astounding literary tour de force from publisher Valancourt Books.

9. The Wayward Bus (John Steinbeck, 1947). "The Wayward Bus...is John Steinbeck's Californian Canterbury Tales...This powerful and unsentimental novel becomes a story of crisis and passion, love and longing, as the travellers reveal their secrets and journey away from their pasts and towards, possibly, the promise of the future. The Wayward Bus, with its profound insight into human desires and failings, remains one of Steinbeck's most powerful novels." (blurb from the Penguin edition). One of my favourite American writers.

10. War of the Classes (Jack London, 1905). "Self-educated, London was heavily influenced by the works of Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche. This, along with his earlier experiences converted him to socialism as he explains in this volume." (from the Goodreads blurb)

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#324

Post by sebby » November 17th, 2018, 1:27 am

War of the Classes for Leopardi.

I finished Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver and must say I am no longer enamored with him. His economical style seems so forced and doesn't serve his stories well in most cases. His snapshots of American life are largely insipid and pointless. Ironically for a minimalist he sure likes to wallop you over the head with his hammer of literary gravity. Very much a product of his time, and not one that has aged well.

01 we / zamyatin
02 so you don't get lost in the neighborhood / modiano
03 the housekeeper and the professor / ogawa
04 fear / woodward
05 the little stranger / waters
06 contact / sagan
07 three men in a boat / jerome
08 the silence of the girls / barker
09 ghost story / straub
10 delores claiborne / king

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#325

Post by weirdboy » December 14th, 2018, 6:21 pm

funkybusiness wrote:
October 17th, 2018, 4:38 am
alright, how about you try out Notes from the Underground? hopefully your edition has decent notes about the references. I think it'd be a bit wonky of a read without the context of the 1860s within which he wrote it, see especially the emancipation of the serfs two years prior, Chernyshevsky, the Populist movement and Utopianism. I've found it a bit odd how it's seemingly his most famous work (or at least his most read, as it's short, or there abouts, maybe Crime and Punishment is a bit higher on the list) considering how it's the most of-the-moment, context-dependent of any of his mature works.

here's a list from me, for whoever comes next:
1. Gulliver's Travels
2. Finnegans Wake
3. And Then There Were None
4. The Portrait of a Lady
5. Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition

I have finished a first read through of Notes from the Underground. My copy did not have notes on historical context, but having read some other Russian works from around that era (i.e. other Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, etc.) I did have at least a basic grasp of those so I decided to just go ahead and dive in.

Frankly, I didn't like this book nearly as much as his later works; it feels immature and under-developed by comparison. One thing that stands out to me is that the protagonist of this work feels almost like a prototype for characters in his later works--particularly I get a sense of Ivan from Brothers K, who is always writing diatribes that nobody reads, and more than a little bit of Raskolnikov's social detachment. The events, too, are further developed in later novels--the entire series of interactions with Liza here are repeated with more depth and development in Sonya. I have never really done background reading on Dostoyevsky's personal life, but it feels to me like he personally is imbuing his characters with his own social detachment and sense of inferiority.

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#326

Post by weirdboy » December 14th, 2018, 6:56 pm

sebby wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 1:27 am
War of the Classes for Leopardi.

I finished Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver and must say I am no longer enamored with him. His economical style seems so forced and doesn't serve his stories well in most cases. His snapshots of American life are largely insipid and pointless. Ironically for a minimalist he sure likes to wallop you over the head with his hammer of literary gravity. Very much a product of his time, and not one that has aged well.

01 we / zamyatin
02 so you don't get lost in the neighborhood / modiano
03 the housekeeper and the professor / ogawa
04 fear / woodward
05 the little stranger / waters
06 contact / sagan
07 three men in a boat / jerome
08 the silence of the girls / barker
09 ghost story / straub
10 delores claiborne / king
I have only read a few of those, so based on that limited subset I will choose Zamyatin's We for you. Those in glass houses should not cast stones, however, so I'll post up my updated list. I already crossed off a couple of others listed here, so I'm backfilling with new selections.

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
I have read a couple other John Irving Novels, (e.g. World According to Garp) but not this one, which seems to be universally recommended. So, time to see what the fuss is all about.

2. Middlemarch by George Eliot/Mary Anne Evans
This one is on a bunch of "you're an illiterate noob if you have not read this" lists, so I though maybe I should read it. Prior to seeing it appear on all these literary lists I had not even heard of it, so I suppose I should feel especially out-of-touch with the literati.

3. The Trial by Franz Kafka
I read The Metamorphosis several times, but never this one. I have, of course, seen the Orson Welles film and liked it quite a bit. I can see that it shares a lot of similar themes from The Metamorphosis.

4. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Been meaning to read it for years, and still have not.

5. Madness and Civilization by Michel Focault
(not the beer, but if I can get one of these while i'm reading it I'd be ecstatic!)
Image

6. Tess of the d'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
Another one of those classics I never got around to because I assumed it's a romance novel.

7. Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
I am on the fence about this one, as I felt the editing on Murakami's last novel was pretty awful, and it ended up being overlong and repetitious. I'm hoping this one is a bit better now.

8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I have read other stuff from Tolstoy but never this one. In fact, I have never seen a film or TV adaptation either. I don't really know anything about the story whatsoever. But it's been sort of irritating the back of my brain ever since my then-girlfriend and I started talking about it many years ago.

9. Charles Chaplin - My Autobiography - Jack Hrkach
Would be interested to hear Chaplin's personal perspectives on the demise of silent film, and being ostracized from the US.

10. The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
I know a bit of the history around Mishima, and have seen Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, but I have so far neglected to actually read any of his novels. So, I thought it would be worth doing that.

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#327

Post by weirdboy » December 21st, 2018, 5:25 pm

I suppose nobody else is reading anything?


I am about halfway through Middlemarch now.

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#328

Post by OldAle1 » December 21st, 2018, 6:25 pm

I'm reading, though very slowly, as I have been for a lot of years now. Movies have been too large in my life and continue to be and I just haven't made the time for reading anything serious alas. Perhaps I'd be more motivated if I had a bottle or two of Hill Farmstead to match whatever I'm perusing... :cheers:

Anyway I believe I read Middlemarch or at least part of it in college, 30 years ago ... read a fair number of mid-18th-century English novels including a few by Hardy, but they've evaporated from memory for the most part now.

What I have been reading, because I have had particular moments in which to make time for it over the last few months, is Atlas Shrugged, unquestionably the worst book of any kind, perhaps the worst work of art of any kind that I've ever read/experienced. And yet it''s fascinatingly bad, not so-good-it's-bad exactly though there have been many laugh-out-loud moments for me; unfortunately those laughs tend to catch in the throat when I realize that, like Mein Kampf, this is a book that people have taken seriously and have used to destroy other people and better ideas, and are now destroying my country and perhaps the world with it's help. And no, I don't think that's hyperbolic. The whole book and Ayn Rand's whole career are, at heart, justifications to in effect say "FUCK YOU I ONLY CARE ABOUT MYSELF" to the world, and millions of people have taken it to heart, and believe somehow that the world is a better place when we all tell it to fuck off and steal and cheat and thieve our way to wealth and power on our own with no regards for anyone or anything else.

I'm about halfway through. I hope to write about it at a little length later - not that it needs more reviews, or that I necessarily have any original thoughts on it, just that I need to write about it to justify reading it I think, even if only a couple of people here ever read what I put down.

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#329

Post by weirdboy » December 21st, 2018, 6:29 pm

Yes I had recently read Atlas Shrugged earlier this year--after having given up on it at some point some year ago--and I found myself continually rolling my eyes and getting frustrated with how poorly that novel is written. I cannot believe Rand considered that her magnum opus. How embarrassing for her.

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#330

Post by OldAle1 » December 21st, 2018, 9:48 pm

I gave up on AS also, about a decade ago. One of my projects that's been brewing for a few years now has been to finish every book I started but didn't finish - novels, I should say, I'm not necessarily obsessive about collections or non-fiction. And the Rand book just happened to be first in the queue.

It IS poorly written for sure, though I've read many, many books that are worse - sometimes far worse - from the standpoint of writing alone. I mean, I used to be a pretty serious SF/fantasy geek and I've read both a lot of early pulp SF (1900s-1940s) and derivative fantasy novels of the past 20-30 years; you haven't seen really atrocious writing until you've plowed through Dennis McKiernan's LOTR rip-off The Iron Tower. With Rand I think it's a combination of dreadful, offensive, mean-spirited and solipsistic "philosophy" combined with just very dull and repetitive writing. I think the most common phrase in the book is "I know it" which is no surprise given her monstrously inflated ego. To me it's like the written equivalent of Triumph of the Will if it had been directed by Chris Columbus.

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#331

Post by Leopardi » December 22nd, 2018, 1:41 pm

Weirdboy, go for A People's History of the United States next. It's been more than twenty years since I read it, but I seem to remember thinking it was a worthwhile departure from traditional history books.

Haven't read anything by Ayn Rand. It's not that I have a problem reading anything on the opposite side of the sociopolitical spectrum (although considering the lengths of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead it seems like a long time to be annoyed), I think it more has to do with not actually wanting to own the books she wrote, I find them aesthetically revolting, not sure exactly why. I wouldn't want to get them out of the library either, considering their lengths and the short lending time. Also that she counted Nietzsche as an early influence and yet seemed to pervert his philosophy into something monstrous is something I may find hard to countenance. I guess someday I'll get around to her, but it's by no means a priority for me.

I've finished A Gentleman in Moscow , not a bad book by any measure but I'm not sure why it came so highly recommended to me. It has a panache to it that is endearing but I felt the story itself was a little too disjointed and unbelievable to truly capture my heart. And approaching it from the point of view of a character study doesn't quite work either, the Count does have a likable humanity to him despite his urbane veneer but I'm not sure the author went deep enough into these aspects of his character to be convincing in his portrait. Still, a good book overall.

Here's my list:

1. Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870 (Liza Picard). Since I had such success with Dr. Johnson's London by the same author, I'll throw this one on the list next.

2. Printer's Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History (Rebecca and J. P. Romney). The title says it all - I like books and like history, so this will be right up my alley, I'm sure. The excerpts I've read so far show great promise.

3. Working (Studs Terkel). "Perhaps Studs Terkel's best known book, Working is a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, from a policeman to a piano tuner, this book provides an enduring portrait of people's feelings about their working lives." (from the back of the book). I'm hoping to have the same success with this book as I had with Terkel's Hard Times, a masterful oral history of the Great Depression.

4. Connections (James Burke). "In this highly acclaimed and bestselling book, James Burke brilliantly examines the ideas, inventions and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological advances of today. With dazzling insight, he untangles the pattern of interconnecting events: the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to the major inventions of the world." (from the back of the book). I loved the television miniseries way back when, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick this book up.

5. The New Physics (ed. Paul Davies). I purchased this book back in the early 90's with every intention of reading it, and did, in fact use it a few times during my undergrad physics years, but I've never actually read it all the way through. Each of the 18 chapters is written by an expert in their respective field (Hawking, Guth, Leggett, Salam and other big names appear here, for example) and the text looks to be written at a level an advanced undergraduate physics student could understand. It should be interesting to see how each of the topics has changed over the last quarter century, and how many of the predictions made have been proven correct.

6. The Last of the Wild Rivers (Wallace A. Schaber) A book devoted entirely to the Du Moine watershed, the last of the ten major Quebec tributaries of the Ottawa River to resist hydro and mining development as well as colonization, according to the back of the book. Some local history for a waterway that's about a five minute walk from where I live (the Ottawa River, that is, not the Du Moine).

7. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (Mary Roach) A lighthearted look at what we know about death and the afterlife from a scientific (and pseudo-scientific) perspective. From the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

8. Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns) In 1903 there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire nation and most people had never seen a “horseless buggy”—but that did not stop Horatio Nelson Jackson, a thirty-one-year-old Vermont doctor, who impulsively bet fifty dollars that he could drive his 20-horsepower automobile from San Francisco to New York City. Here—in Jackson’s own words and photographs—is a glorious account of that months-long, problem-beset, thrilling-to-the-rattled-bones trip with his mechanic, Sewall Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud. (from book jacket). I loved the documentary and this has been sitting on my shelf for almost 15 years, I bet, so it's due to be read.

9. The Printer's Devil (Bill Fairbairn) "Bill Fairbairn started as a printer's devil in Scotland setting up newspaper headlines by hand 60 years ago. His vagabond reporter years in three continents followed in quick pursuit. This tale outlines some of the people and events he encountered in Canada working for newspapers, radio and magazine." I met this fellow at a book fair a few years ago and picked up his book since he (and it) sounded interesting. Time to give it a try!

10. George & Rue (George Elliott Clarke) "A masterful blend of fiction and reality from one of Canada's most daring and original writers", Clarke takes us to the ghettos of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and paints a miserable and suffocating portrait of mid-century Africadian life. Mr. Clarke was Canada's former Poet Laureate, a winner of the Governor General's Award for poetry, and has been at the Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair the last two years. He seems to have a friendly and dynamic personality and I'd like to read this, his first novel, before I speak to him at next year's fair (if he's there, and if I can build up the courage to).

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#332

Post by OldAle1 » December 22nd, 2018, 2:49 pm

The first two of those look pretty interesting Leopardi, and some of the others only slightly less - I haven't really perused this thread so perhaps you mention it, but I take it you are or have been something of a collector? I used to go to book fairs and antiquarian book stores quite a lot in my years in Chicago (1987-2000) and have amassed a collection that is really too large, but I've so far been incapable of getting rid of much. I have a copy of Working and was lucky enough to see Terkel once live, interviewing Siskel and Ebert; remember very little about it now unfortunately.

As to Rand - get the books used if you have any interest at all in reading them, they should be easy enough to find in a big city like Ottawa - here they're easy to find everywhere of course. Got my copy of Atlas Shrugged for $1-2 at Goodwill I think. My own feeling as to reading stuff I disagree with is that it's useful in understanding the other side as it were - of course there are far better expounders of conservative political and economic philosophy(ies) going back to Burke, but let's face it, modern American politicians aren't reading Burke or even Milton Friedman, they're reading Rand because she has like supermen and S&M and trains and stuff. I think it's useful to see just how bankrupt, morally vicious, and anti-intellectual the whole movement is at it's core, which is her. And to be fair there are actually things I like in the book which make it less-awful to read than it might be if it were just one long speech about absolute economic freedom for the capitalist overlords after another (though much of it is that). Rand's loving descriptions of machinery and factories remind me, ironically enough, of Soviet montage-era films, and the subplot about finding the magical motor is actually kind of an exciting mystery, or could be in other hands. This is not to say that I'd really recommend it, merely to say that from my perspective there's enough intentional and unintentional humor and little bits of storytelling to make it palatable enough - enough that I think I'll finally finish it. And I only read it while waiting for my mother at her endless doctor's appointments and, starting in January, hours of therapy/exercise per week. For whatever reason this works - I have something to look forward to just on specific occasions, and I don't ever read so much that I get utterly bored. But perhaps I'm more a masochist than most people, at least when it comes to reading fiction.

Next up after Rand - if I do keep up my reading pace - is finishing off another very long book which I started years ago, In Search of Lost Time. I got through half of it in 2016 and then pretty much stopped reading when the fall movies started coming out that year. Thankfully the index/summary is good enough that I can probably just pick up where I left off.

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#333

Post by maxwelldeux » December 23rd, 2018, 5:21 am

Leopardi wrote:
December 22nd, 2018, 1:41 pm
Weirdboy, go for A People's History of the United States next. It's been more than twenty years since I read it, but I seem to remember thinking it was a worthwhile departure from traditional history books.
I "read" that a couple years ago (listened to it) and loved it - fantastic take on US history from outside what you normally get. My wife used to date a history professor who taught from that book.

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#334

Post by Leopardi » December 24th, 2018, 1:04 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2018, 2:49 pm
The first two of those look pretty interesting Leopardi, and some of the others only slightly less - I haven't really perused this thread so perhaps you mention it, but I take it you are or have been something of a collector? I used to go to book fairs and antiquarian book stores quite a lot in my years in Chicago (1987-2000) and have amassed a collection that is really too large, but I've so far been incapable of getting rid of much. I have a copy of Working and was lucky enough to see Terkel once live, interviewing Siskel and Ebert; remember very little about it now unfortunately.

As to Rand - get the books used if you have any interest at all in reading them, they should be easy enough to find in a big city like Ottawa - here they're easy to find everywhere of course. Got my copy of Atlas Shrugged for $1-2 at Goodwill I think. My own feeling as to reading stuff I disagree with is that it's useful in understanding the other side as it were - of course there are far better expounders of conservative political and economic philosophy(ies) going back to Burke, but let's face it, modern American politicians aren't reading Burke or even Milton Friedman, they're reading Rand because she has like supermen and S&M and trains and stuff. I think it's useful to see just how bankrupt, morally vicious, and anti-intellectual the whole movement is at it's core, which is her. And to be fair there are actually things I like in the book which make it less-awful to read than it might be if it were just one long speech about absolute economic freedom for the capitalist overlords after another (though much of it is that). Rand's loving descriptions of machinery and factories remind me, ironically enough, of Soviet montage-era films, and the subplot about finding the magical motor is actually kind of an exciting mystery, or could be in other hands. This is not to say that I'd really recommend it, merely to say that from my perspective there's enough intentional and unintentional humor and little bits of storytelling to make it palatable enough - enough that I think I'll finally finish it. And I only read it while waiting for my mother at her endless doctor's appointments and, starting in January, hours of therapy/exercise per week. For whatever reason this works - I have something to look forward to just on specific occasions, and I don't ever read so much that I get utterly bored. But perhaps I'm more a masochist than most people, at least when it comes to reading fiction.

Next up after Rand - if I do keep up my reading pace - is finishing off another very long book which I started years ago, In Search of Lost Time. I got through half of it in 2016 and then pretty much stopped reading when the fall movies started coming out that year. Thankfully the index/summary is good enough that I can probably just pick up where I left off.
Yep, I have a small collection (maybe 200 volumes?) of what I'd call antiquarian books that I've been accumulating over the last twenty years or so. Nothing too expensive (a few might be worth upwards of $500, but most are under $100). I'm primarily a reader, not a collector, though, so when I pick up older books they're usually hard-to-find titles of authors I like, out of print to those of us who don't often use an e-reader. If I had more money this might change, of course!

Seeing Terkel live must have been amazing - he seemed like a real character!

Finding a copy of Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead wouldn't be an issue here - they're depressingly popular in Canada, too. My problem is that, once I've purchased a book, I'm loath to sell it even if I detest it, so if I were to buy anything from Rand I'd feel obligated to keep it around and carry it like an anchor for the rest of my days. And yeah, I've heard similar appraisals from others as well, there seem to be a few titillating things to keep your attention along the way, but a thinking person can't help but see how shallow and hollow the whole thing is. This might be one of those rare circumstances for me where I'll pick them up as e-books so I don't have to worry about having them around afterword, and may not feel so obliged to finish them if I find I can't stomach them.

In Search of Lost Time (well, Swann's Way, anyway) is on my top ten list of books I own that I'm dreading to read (I've posted it over on the ICM Goodreads page). I'm not sure I know anyone that's finished it, to be honest, although I know plenty who have tried!

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#335

Post by Leopardi » December 24th, 2018, 1:22 pm

maxwelldeux wrote:
December 23rd, 2018, 5:21 am
Leopardi wrote:
December 22nd, 2018, 1:41 pm
Weirdboy, go for A People's History of the United States next. It's been more than twenty years since I read it, but I seem to remember thinking it was a worthwhile departure from traditional history books.
I "read" that a couple years ago (listened to it) and loved it - fantastic take on US history from outside what you normally get. My wife used to date a history professor who taught from that book.
I do love a history book that presents things more from the perspective of the people rather than the primary shapers of history (there are plenty of those books around), I find it really helps to crystallize how things were at a certain time and place, to whatever extent that's possible, anyway. Dates, major events and big names are an essential part of history, of course, but it feels very sterile on its own to me, ultimately, so it's always a treat to find something that digs a little deeper, as this book does.

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#336

Post by OldAle1 » December 25th, 2018, 6:37 pm

Leopardi wrote:
December 24th, 2018, 1:04 pm

Yep, I have a small collection (maybe 200 volumes?) of what I'd call antiquarian books that I've been accumulating over the last twenty years or so. Nothing too expensive (a few might be worth upwards of $500, but most are under $100). I'm primarily a reader, not a collector, though, so when I pick up older books they're usually hard-to-find titles of authors I like, out of print to those of us who don't often use an e-reader. If I had more money this might change, of course!

Seeing Terkel live must have been amazing - he seemed like a real character!

Finding a copy of Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead wouldn't be an issue here - they're depressingly popular in Canada, too. My problem is that, once I've purchased a book, I'm loath to sell it even if I detest it, so if I were to buy anything from Rand I'd feel obligated to keep it around and carry it like an anchor for the rest of my days. And yeah, I've heard similar appraisals from others as well, there seem to be a few titillating things to keep your attention along the way, but a thinking person can't help but see how shallow and hollow the whole thing is. This might be one of those rare circumstances for me where I'll pick them up as e-books so I don't have to worry about having them around afterword, and may not feel so obliged to finish them if I find I can't stomach them.

In Search of Lost Time (well, Swann's Way, anyway) is on my top ten list of books I own that I'm dreading to read (I've posted it over on the ICM Goodreads page). I'm not sure I know anyone that's finished it, to be honest, although I know plenty who have tried!
I sometimes wish I had only 200 books but the collection is probably over 4000 now - albeit most of it is not expensive/valuable. I also have since about 2000 or so sold books on eBay so that's part of it, and I don't find it hard to part with things if I bought them for that purpose, or even occasionally if I didn't intend originally to re-sell them. Still I understand not wanting to sell your only copy of a book, even if you hate it, that's something I've only done a couple of times.

As to Proust, I know, or rather knew (haven't seen either for over 10 years and doubt I'll be in contact with them again) two people who have read it straight through; one of them not surprisingly is a literature professor, who when I knew her had read it once in English and once in French; the other is a somewhat famous movie critic who has written about the experience of reading it in conjunction with reviewing Ruiz' film adaptation of the last part. It was actually seeing the Ruiz film and reading that review that got me to finally attempt the book, and I've no doubt I'll finish it; while it is quite difficult in some respects, it really does come together once you've gotten a ways in, if you can make time for it every day, and even having only read half of it 2 years ago, I feel pretty confident that when I'm finished it will be easy to call it my favorite novel. The way Proust gets into people's psychologies and the way he deals with inner anguish, particularly over love and longing, is absolutely incredible; it really is a book that makes me re-think myself, far beyond the affect any other work of fiction has had on me.

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#337

Post by Leopardi » December 29th, 2018, 4:19 am

OldAle1 wrote:
December 25th, 2018, 6:37 pm
Leopardi wrote:
December 24th, 2018, 1:04 pm

Yep, I have a small collection (maybe 200 volumes?) of what I'd call antiquarian books that I've been accumulating over the last twenty years or so. Nothing too expensive (a few might be worth upwards of $500, but most are under $100). I'm primarily a reader, not a collector, though, so when I pick up older books they're usually hard-to-find titles of authors I like, out of print to those of us who don't often use an e-reader. If I had more money this might change, of course!

Seeing Terkel live must have been amazing - he seemed like a real character!

Finding a copy of Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead wouldn't be an issue here - they're depressingly popular in Canada, too. My problem is that, once I've purchased a book, I'm loath to sell it even if I detest it, so if I were to buy anything from Rand I'd feel obligated to keep it around and carry it like an anchor for the rest of my days. And yeah, I've heard similar appraisals from others as well, there seem to be a few titillating things to keep your attention along the way, but a thinking person can't help but see how shallow and hollow the whole thing is. This might be one of those rare circumstances for me where I'll pick them up as e-books so I don't have to worry about having them around afterword, and may not feel so obliged to finish them if I find I can't stomach them.

In Search of Lost Time (well, Swann's Way, anyway) is on my top ten list of books I own that I'm dreading to read (I've posted it over on the ICM Goodreads page). I'm not sure I know anyone that's finished it, to be honest, although I know plenty who have tried!
I sometimes wish I had only 200 books but the collection is probably over 4000 now - albeit most of it is not expensive/valuable. I also have since about 2000 or so sold books on eBay so that's part of it, and I don't find it hard to part with things if I bought them for that purpose, or even occasionally if I didn't intend originally to re-sell them. Still I understand not wanting to sell your only copy of a book, even if you hate it, that's something I've only done a couple of times.

As to Proust, I know, or rather knew (haven't seen either for over 10 years and doubt I'll be in contact with them again) two people who have read it straight through; one of them not surprisingly is a literature professor, who when I knew her had read it once in English and once in French; the other is a somewhat famous movie critic who has written about the experience of reading it in conjunction with reviewing Ruiz' film adaptation of the last part. It was actually seeing the Ruiz film and reading that review that got me to finally attempt the book, and I've no doubt I'll finish it; while it is quite difficult in some respects, it really does come together once you've gotten a ways in, if you can make time for it every day, and even having only read half of it 2 years ago, I feel pretty confident that when I'm finished it will be easy to call it my favorite novel. The way Proust gets into people's psychologies and the way he deals with inner anguish, particularly over love and longing, is absolutely incredible; it really is a book that makes me re-think myself, far beyond the affect any other work of fiction has had on me.
Wait, you have more than 4000 antiquarian books? Or 4000 books total? If the former, my mind is boggling! In total I guess I have north of 2000 volumes, most of them paperbacks, about half of which I'd file under 'classics' (you know the type, Penguin, Oxford, Signet, etc.), and the 200 antiquarian books are often writers in this group that Penguin et al haven't bothered to publish (not yet, anyway), plus curios that have been out of print for a century or more. Even if it's 4000 total, that's a very impressive collection, I wouldn't want to be in your shoes if ever you move! I went through that misery in May and will probably have to again next year. It's the one time I regret having a library this size!

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#338

Post by OldAle1 » December 29th, 2018, 4:27 am

No, 4000 total. If we go by a dictionary meaning of "antiquarian" - say, books that are at least 100 years old and rare/collectible, I have probably less than 100 and certainly less than 200. Most of my "collectible" books are from a certain few writers - first, early or special editions - such as H.G. Wells, Gene Wolfe, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mark Helprin. Lot of SF/fantasy. And some modern first editions, and certain publishers like Arkham House. Collectible kids books - several editions of the Oz books, Alice in Wonderland. Collectible paperbacks, most dating from 1940-1975 or so. Etc. But I own a lot of books that are not collectible in any sense, just things I've accumulated. I'm 53 and have been a bibliophile since I was probably 10 or so, and I've never thrown anything out apart from the occasional really damaged or falling-apart book, so that's a big part of the size of the collection. And going to library book sales where everything is .25-.50, it's easy to amass a lot of stuff. If only I read them nearly as fast as I've bought them!

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#339

Post by Leopardi » December 29th, 2018, 10:00 pm

It sounds like we're cut of the same cloth; I became a bibliophile a little later in life (14 or so) and I tend toward SF/horror rather than SF/fantasy, but I collect kid's books as well (Horatio Alger, Dodie Smith, etc.) and have been known to haunt library sales on occasion. Agreed, I'd feel better about the book collection if I could just keep up with it! I'm a solid ten years behind in my reading at this point...

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#340

Post by Leopardi » January 20th, 2019, 10:56 pm

I've now read War of the Classes and, while it was interesting enough, didn't really do much for me as a whole. There wasn't the systematic discussion of Darwin, Marx and Nietzsche that I was hoping for (although his references to them are, by and large, transparent), and the latter is interpreted in a 'might makes right' way that, while typical for the time (1905), is largely dismissed by experts today. He goes on at length of examples that feel dated now. Nevertheless, his writing is prescient at times (there's a very brief mention of what might be interpreted as the military-industrial complex here, for example) and intuits that (painting in broad strokes, of course - the book is too short to go into any significant detail) the modern world will move on a path either of socialism (or, one can assume, its political relatives like social democracy) or oligarchy. As I said, it was interesting, but I would have preferred it twice as long with more depth on his sources.

I'll pick The New Physics for myself next. It's a long one that will need to be read slowly and carefully so I expect I won't be back to pick another book until May or so.

1. Selected Journalism 1850-1870 (Charles Dickens, 1850-1870). "[Selections] from the pieces Dickens wrote after he founded Household Words in 1850 until his death in 1870. It contains 'Night Walks', 'On Strike' and 'New Year's Day' which are among Dickens' most remarkable pieces." One of my favourite writers.

2. What's Bred in the Bone (Robertson Davies, 1985). The second novel in Davies' celebrated Cornish Trilogy, this series, and Davies' writing in general, so affected my sister that she actually got a tattoo of the title quote some years ago. Shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.

3. Mysteries (Knut Hamsun, 1892). "Mysteries is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysteries stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer - and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated as a spirit of near tragedy...But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of prussic acid..." (Penguin Classics description). A much-lauded work by one of the creators of the modern novel.

4. Count Roderic's Castle (Anonymous, 1794). "With a fast-paced plot that features many of the elements for which the Gothic novel is known--brave heroes and detestable villains, ancient castles, dark dungeons, and a vengeful spectre--Count Roderic's Castle (1794) was one of the most popular of the early Gothic novels issued by the famous Minerva Press." (From the book jacket of the Valancourt edition)

5. The Landslide (Stephen Gilbert, 1943). "Will my poor book ever be read by anyone? It is about a dragon and a sea serpent, and a kind of prehistoric dog and an old man and a boy and a priest. I sent it to a publisher last July and it has been lost ever since. I know it is good...It is unlike any story that has ever been written before." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). An early work by the author of Ratman's Notebooks (the book on which the film Willard was based)

6. The Ox-Bow Incident (Walter van Tilberg Clark, 1940). "The Ox-Bow Incident is a searing and realistic portrait of frontier life and mob violence in the American West...an emotionally powerful, vivid, and unforgettable re-creation of the Western novel, which Clark transmuted into a universal story about good and evil, individual and community, justice and human nature." (from the back of the Penguin edition)

7. A Traveler at Forty (Theodore Dreiser, 1913). "[A Traveler at Forty contains] the pregnant observations of an old hand at looking, the sharp remarks and annotations of the creator of Hurstwood, Cowperwood and Pete Gerhardt. The book rises completely out of the commonplace, and becomes something new, illuminating and heretical." (H. L. Mencken) One of my favourite writers offers one of my favourite literary sub-genres, the travel book. This will be more than 900 pages of pure gold, I have no doubt.

8. The Mysteries of London (George W. M. Reynolds, 1844-1848). "The government feared him. Rival authors like Charles Dickens, whom he outsold, despised him. The literary establishment did its best to write him out of literary history. But when George W.M. Reynolds, journalist, political reformer, Socialist, and novelist, died in 1879, even his critics were forced to acknowledge the truth of his obituary, which declared that he was the most popular writer of his time....The Mysteries of London is a sprawling tableau, seeking to depict life as Reynolds saw it in mid-Victorian London and expose what he viewed as gross injustice toward the poor." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). A massive tome (volumes I and II together are more than 2300 pages), and an astounding literary tour de force from publisher Valancourt Books.

9. The Wayward Bus (John Steinbeck, 1947). "The Wayward Bus...is John Steinbeck's Californian Canterbury Tales...This powerful and unsentimental novel becomes a story of crisis and passion, love and longing, as the travellers reveal their secrets and journey away from their pasts and towards, possibly, the promise of the future. The Wayward Bus, with its profound insight into human desires and failings, remains one of Steinbeck's most powerful novels." (blurb from the Penguin edition). One of my favourite American writers.

10. The Discourses (Niccolò Machiavelli, 1513). "In this book Machiavelli enshrines his most complete political treatment: his fundamental attachment to republics...For a political republic, he says, is liberty's best bastion, if only its people maintain their civic virtue." (From the back of the Penguin edition).

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#341

Post by RBG » January 20th, 2019, 11:06 pm

well i also fell out of the thread but i'm reading stendhal's the red & the black and middlemarch is on the list

plus i just got this; looking forward to it!

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#342

Post by Leopardi » January 20th, 2019, 11:19 pm

Welcome back to the thread! I don't know what it is, exactly, about nyrb books but I swoon every time I see one. I wish they had a complete collection you could buy - sure, it would be expensive, but it would give me something to fantasize about, at least. They have a book of the month club which I'd love to be a part of, but it's prohibitively expensive if you live outside the U.S., unfortunately. I haven't heard of this title before, but I agree, it sounds fantastic! Added to my mental wish list...

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#343

Post by RBG » January 20th, 2019, 11:55 pm

the nyrb covers are the best. and i love seafaring adventures :)
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#344

Post by weirdboy » January 21st, 2019, 5:40 am

I finished Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States some time back but forgot to update the thread. It definitely had some interesting tidbits that I did not learn in my more traditional history classes, but I also felt that there was an awful lot of very poorly sourced information. Not precisely lacking citations, but there were many citations of other historians whose sources were unclear to me. The other thing that bothered me was that while I appreciated his objectives, I would very much have liked a more "balanced" book. He talks about this in either the last chapter or afterward (I cannot remember which now) but says that he decided his extreme viewpoint expressed in the book was justified because he was trying to balance out the extreme viewpoints of the right. In my mind that is not a good way to balance anything at all. I'd rather hear both sides with well-reasoned arguments than two people shouting opposite but extreme views from the rooftops.

I will have to post an updated list later on, as I want to spend some time figuring out how to fill in some of the gaps I've created in my current list.

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#345

Post by sebby » January 26th, 2019, 1:47 am

the wayward bus for leopardi

i finished we and was pretty disappointed with it. political sci-fi ages terribly. exceptions only seem to include that which by happy accident remains relevant to the current day (a la 1984), or that which is intensely entertaining and / or written in a distinctive / impressive manner (vonnegut).

this is neither.

new list

01 the shell seeker / r pilcher
02 shirley jackson: a rather haunted life / r franklin
03 the housekeeper and the professor / y ogawa
04 a christmas carol / c dickens
05 the little stranger / s waters
06 all the light we cannot see / a doerr
07 empire of deception / e jobb
08 it happened in boston? / r greenan
09 when you are engulfed in flames / d sedaris
10 jude the obscure / t hardy
Last edited by sebby on March 7th, 2019, 10:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

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#346

Post by weirdboy » February 19th, 2019, 1:27 am

I'm about a quarter of the way through Ulysses and it's fantastic. I am ashamed that I have waited until now to read any Joyce. This stuff is right up my alley.

I recall trying to read Finnegan's Wake a long, long time ago and giving up after a few pages due to the transcription of the accents making it so difficult to understand what people are saying. So, I think what I may try to do is listen to it on audiobook.

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#347

Post by funkybusiness » February 19th, 2019, 2:00 am

re: nybr, they used to sell a complete set on their website but I don't see it there anymore. If I'm remembering correctly, it was a massive discount. too bad.

@weirdboy, would you happen to know what edition of Ulysses you're reading? I'm obsessed with Joyce.

I'm still making my way thru Finnegans Wake as was picked for me a few months back, without an apostrophe, the title is sentence, plural persons and then a verb (!). Irish history (both real and mythic) and Indo-European roots are giving me the most trouble, simply due to a complete unfamiliarity with the topics. The rest is great fun. Here's a reading of one of the less opaque sequences, the tale of the Prankquean.

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#348

Post by weirdboy » February 19th, 2019, 3:39 am

funkybusiness wrote:
February 19th, 2019, 2:00 am
@weirdboy, would you happen to know what edition of Ulysses you're reading? I'm obsessed with Joyce.
I had to do a bit of sleuthing but it appears the one I'm working on is the 1937 Bodley Head edition.

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#349

Post by funkybusiness » February 19th, 2019, 4:28 am

That one's alright. the 61 Modern Library/Penguin/Viking/&c. is still my preference, which is a (much more widely available) reset of the Bodley Head 60 edition which is a revision of the 36 edition. The Oxford reprint of the 1922 Shakespeare and Company is worthwhile as well, it's uncorrected but contains a host of emendations at the back, including and correcting/comparing Joyce's own list of errata.

Definitely avoid the 84 Gabler (which many older, say, mid-80s to late-90s texts will refer to/recommend) unless you're reading the 3 volume Synoptic Edition, which is nifty, it shows all the previous editions, proofs, galleys and notes simultaneously.

I've yet to check out the Slote edit from last year but I've heard good things.

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#350

Post by Leopardi » April 1st, 2019, 2:33 am

I'm a few chapters from the end of The New Physics (should finish in about a week), but I'm far enough along to render a verdict. This is a challenging book, about as dense as you can expect while still being intended (I think) for a general audience. Concepts often fly by unabsorbed unless paragraphs are read multiple times, slowly, and I get the impression many of the authors were more focused on giving a thorough survey of their field rather than breaking down ideas so that they can be solidly understood.

Having said that, the breadth of material contained in this volume is breathtaking. Ignoring some of the necessarily out-of-date information (we don't yet have gravity waves here, nor do we have the top quark, let alone the Higgs boson, for example), it's an excellent general survey of the history and development (post-Golden Age) of each field of physics, written by the foremost figures in those respective fields. How cool is that? Favourite chapters include Leggett's on low temperature physics, Bruce & Wallace's chapter on critical point phenomena and Isham's chapter on quantum gravity, while Longair's chapter on the new astrophysics felt overlong and Ford's chapter on chaos felt a little brash (I enjoyed his views on the issues surrounding quantum chaos, however).

All in all a challenging but rewarding read! I'll pick It Happened in Boston? for sebby so he can let us know exactly what happened (or didn't happen) there.

Here's my list:

1. Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870 (Liza Picard). Since I had such success with Dr. Johnson's London by the same author, I'll throw this one on the list next.

2. Printer's Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History (Rebecca and J. P. Romney). The title says it all - I like books and like history, so this will be right up my alley, I'm sure. The excerpts I've read so far show great promise.

3. Working (Studs Terkel). "Perhaps Studs Terkel's best known book, Working is a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, from a policeman to a piano tuner, this book provides an enduring portrait of people's feelings about their working lives." (from the back of the book). I'm hoping to have the same success with this book as I had with Terkel's Hard Times, a masterful oral history of the Great Depression.

4. Connections (James Burke). "In this highly acclaimed and bestselling book, James Burke brilliantly examines the ideas, inventions and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological advances of today. With dazzling insight, he untangles the pattern of interconnecting events: the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to the major inventions of the world." (from the back of the book). I loved the television miniseries way back when, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick this book up.

5. The Last of the Wild Rivers (Wallace A. Schaber) A book devoted entirely to the Du Moine watershed, the last of the ten major Quebec tributaries of the Ottawa River to resist hydro and mining development as well as colonization, according to the back of the book. Some local history for a waterway that's about a five minute walk from where I live (the Ottawa River, that is, not the Du Moine).

6. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (Mary Roach) A lighthearted look at what we know about death and the afterlife from a scientific (and pseudo-scientific) perspective. From the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

7. Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns) In 1903 there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire nation and most people had never seen a “horseless buggy”—but that did not stop Horatio Nelson Jackson, a thirty-one-year-old Vermont doctor, who impulsively bet fifty dollars that he could drive his 20-horsepower automobile from San Francisco to New York City. Here—in Jackson’s own words and photographs—is a glorious account of that months-long, problem-beset, thrilling-to-the-rattled-bones trip with his mechanic, Sewall Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud. (from book jacket). I loved the documentary and this has been sitting on my shelf for almost 15 years, I bet, so it's due to be read.

8. The Printer's Devil (Bill Fairbairn) "Bill Fairbairn started as a printer's devil in Scotland setting up newspaper headlines by hand 60 years ago. His vagabond reporter years in three continents followed in quick pursuit. This tale outlines some of the people and events he encountered in Canada working for newspapers, radio and magazine." I met this fellow at a book fair a few years ago and picked up his book since he (and it) sounded interesting. Time to give it a try!

9. George & Rue (George Elliott Clarke) "A masterful blend of fiction and reality from one of Canada's most daring and original writers", Clarke takes us to the ghettos of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and paints a miserable and suffocating portrait of mid-century Africadian life. Mr. Clarke was Canada's former Poet Laureate, a winner of the Governor General's Award for poetry, and has been at the Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair the last two years. He seems to have a friendly and dynamic personality and I'd like to read this, his first novel, before I speak to him at next year's fair (if he's there, and if I can build up the courage to).
[/quote]

10. Nonlinear Fiber Optics (Govind P. Agrawal) This title belongs on the list perhaps more than any other. It's considered the Bible of modern fiber optics (one of them, anyway), which is the field in which I work, so I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read it yet, even though it's been sitting on my shelf for years now.

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#351

Post by OldAle1 » April 9th, 2019, 8:16 pm

I just completed a novel! This would not have been news to me or my friends or family 20 years ago or even 10 but movies have taken up nearly all of my arts & entertainment time for the past several years, and when I do read it tends to be bits and pieces of film-related stuff, or a smattering of other nonfiction. Or re-reading of favorite novels. This was the first time I completed a first-time-reading of a novel in several years.

Unfortunately it wasn't that good, but fortunately it was very short. It was The Indians Won, the first novel (1970) by Martin Cruz Smith, who went on to attain a fair degree of success with Gorky Park a decade or so later, which was made into a successful movie in 1983 and spawned a bunch of sequels. This novel - which Cruz himself admits was quickly written (I'd call it "slapdash") and very imperfect in his intro to the paperback edition - is about just what you'd expect it to be about: it's an alternate history story in which the Native Americans somehow beat back the advance of the American army after Custer's defeat in 1876, and eventually establish an Indian Nation which bisects the USA. I read it in two days while standing in line for movies and it was a quick easy and moderately enjoyable read under those circumstances, but it's not very well realized at all and way, way too short for such a big subject. The 1876-78 main plot, in which a charismatic (and I'm guess made-up, I haven't bothered to look this stuff up) and highly educated Indian leader brings the western tribes together to fight off the US troops isn't terrible though Smith's descriptions and characterizations are thin even by the standards of pulp fiction, but the modern-day sequences where an Indian Nations representative is in talks in Washington to try to fend off potential nuclear war are really shoddy, and the fact that Smith somehow imagines WWI and II happening more or less the same way they did in our reality, barely mentions women or other races at all, and doesn't give more than the faintest notion of what relations between the two nations have been, let alone relations with Mexico, Canada or the rest of the Americas, really makes the book feel like it was thought up in an afternoon. Still, this is an area in the alternate history subgenre that is surprisingly thin so if the idea interests you it might be worth a casual look. It''s also refueled my interest in this area so I may take a look at some of Harry Turtledoves massive AH oeuvre before long.

Also still reading Atlas Shrugged - I've stopped juts before John Galt's speech because I want to read that all in one go and find the perfect 2-3 hour period to do it. It continues to boggle my mind that this and Rand in general are the founding texts for the modern American "conservative" movement; its as if rock and roll had descended from The Shaggs or most contemporary comedians and sitcom writers considered Gilligan's Island to be the Olympus of American comedy. Except of course that The Shaggs and Gilligan are harmless and probably didn't have contempt for 99% of the human race.

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#352

Post by RBG » April 11th, 2019, 2:10 am

don't diss the shaggs :lol: only band talented enough to play three different songs at once
icm + ltbxd

NO GODS NO MASTERS

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#353

Post by Leopardi » April 13th, 2019, 11:25 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
April 9th, 2019, 8:16 pm
I just completed a novel! This would not have been news to me or my friends or family 20 years ago or even 10 but movies have taken up nearly all of my arts & entertainment time for the past several years, and when I do read it tends to be bits and pieces of film-related stuff, or a smattering of other nonfiction. Or re-reading of favorite novels. This was the first time I completed a first-time-reading of a novel in several years.
Yeah, I feel like far too much of my time is spent watching films rather than reading, I'd like to find my way back to a better balance between the two, but haven't found anything that works yet, though. In a very serious rut over here.

Another book finished, The Wayward Bus. I thought it had a very strong beginning, nice development of character that I've come to expect from Steinbeck, but the last third of it seemed a bit aimless to me, not quite enough punctuation on it to stay with me. It's B material from him but, frankly, his B material is still head and shoulders above a lot of his contemporaries.

I'll pick Printer's Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History for myself next. Here's my list:

1. Selected Journalism 1850-1870 (Charles Dickens, 1850-1870). "[Selections] from the pieces Dickens wrote after he founded Household Words in 1850 until his death in 1870. It contains 'Night Walks', 'On Strike' and 'New Year's Day' which are among Dickens' most remarkable pieces." One of my favourite writers.

2. What's Bred in the Bone (Robertson Davies, 1985). The second novel in Davies' celebrated Cornish Trilogy, this series, and Davies' writing in general, so affected my sister that she actually got a tattoo of the title quote some years ago. Shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.

3. Mysteries (Knut Hamsun, 1892). "Mysteries is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysteries stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer - and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated as a spirit of near tragedy...But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of prussic acid..." (Penguin Classics description). A much-lauded work by one of the creators of the modern novel.

4. Count Roderic's Castle (Anonymous, 1794). "With a fast-paced plot that features many of the elements for which the Gothic novel is known--brave heroes and detestable villains, ancient castles, dark dungeons, and a vengeful spectre--Count Roderic's Castle (1794) was one of the most popular of the early Gothic novels issued by the famous Minerva Press." (From the book jacket of the Valancourt edition)

5. The Landslide (Stephen Gilbert, 1943). "Will my poor book ever be read by anyone? It is about a dragon and a sea serpent, and a kind of prehistoric dog and an old man and a boy and a priest. I sent it to a publisher last July and it has been lost ever since. I know it is good...It is unlike any story that has ever been written before." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). An early work by the author of Ratman's Notebooks (the book on which the film Willard was based)

6. The Ox-Bow Incident (Walter van Tilberg Clark, 1940). "The Ox-Bow Incident is a searing and realistic portrait of frontier life and mob violence in the American West...an emotionally powerful, vivid, and unforgettable re-creation of the Western novel, which Clark transmuted into a universal story about good and evil, individual and community, justice and human nature." (from the back of the Penguin edition)

7. A Traveler at Forty (Theodore Dreiser, 1913). "[A Traveler at Forty contains] the pregnant observations of an old hand at looking, the sharp remarks and annotations of the creator of Hurstwood, Cowperwood and Pete Gerhardt. The book rises completely out of the commonplace, and becomes something new, illuminating and heretical." (H. L. Mencken) One of my favourite writers offers one of my favourite literary sub-genres, the travel book. This will be more than 900 pages of pure gold, I have no doubt.

8. The Mysteries of London (George W. M. Reynolds, 1844-1848). "The government feared him. Rival authors like Charles Dickens, whom he outsold, despised him. The literary establishment did its best to write him out of literary history. But when George W.M. Reynolds, journalist, political reformer, Socialist, and novelist, died in 1879, even his critics were forced to acknowledge the truth of his obituary, which declared that he was the most popular writer of his time....The Mysteries of London is a sprawling tableau, seeking to depict life as Reynolds saw it in mid-Victorian London and expose what he viewed as gross injustice toward the poor." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). A massive tome (volumes I and II together are more than 2300 pages), and an astounding literary tour de force from publisher Valancourt Books.

9. The Discourses (Niccolò Machiavelli, 1513). "In this book Machiavelli enshrines his most complete political treatment: his fundamental attachment to republics...For a political republic, he says, is liberty's best bastion, if only its people maintain their civic virtue." (From the back of the Penguin edition).

10. On the Eve (Ivan Turgenev, 1859). "A love story with a tragic ending, On the Eve (1859) portrays the everyday life and scenery of a Russian country estate with the consummate descriptive gift for which its author had already become famous. Much of the novel's pleasure lies in its humorous sketches of the gentry; and its sadness, in Turgenev's fluid and exquisite sense of love's emotional weather." (from the back of the Penguin edition).
[/quote]

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#354

Post by sebby » April 22nd, 2019, 2:53 am

ox-bow for leopardi

it happened in boston did not resonate with me. i understand why it's heaped with praise but greenan just can't get out of his own way much of the time. i don't care if you're unceasingly clever; but man is it a turn off if i catch you trying so damn hard to be unceasingly clever.

01 the shell seeker / r pilcher
02 white teeth / z smith
03 outlander / d gabaldon
04 the running man / s king
05 freshwater / a emezi
06 olive kitteridge / e strout
07 the autobiography of miss jane pittman / e gaines

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#355

Post by Leopardi » May 6th, 2019, 12:58 am

I've finished Printer's Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History. I'll admit that the humour in the first chapter or two didn't always work for me, but once I'd adapted to the tone of the book I enjoyed it quite a bit. Some of the stories I had never heard before (e.g. the acrimony behind the Doves type) and some I knew, at least in part, but regardless I found them entertaining and easily digestible.

I'll choose The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman for sebby since it's the book I'd most likely read on the list (except for The Running Man, as I've already read it).

Here's my list:

1. Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870 (Liza Picard). Since I had such success with Dr. Johnson's London by the same author, I'll throw this one on the list next.

2. Working (Studs Terkel). "Perhaps Studs Terkel's best known book, Working is a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, from a policeman to a piano tuner, this book provides an enduring portrait of people's feelings about their working lives." (from the back of the book). I'm hoping to have the same success with this book as I had with Terkel's Hard Times, a masterful oral history of the Great Depression.

3. Connections (James Burke). "In this highly acclaimed and bestselling book, James Burke brilliantly examines the ideas, inventions and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological advances of today. With dazzling insight, he untangles the pattern of interconnecting events: the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to the major inventions of the world." (from the back of the book). I loved the television miniseries way back when, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick this book up.

4. The Last of the Wild Rivers (Wallace A. Schaber) A book devoted entirely to the Du Moine watershed, the last of the ten major Quebec tributaries of the Ottawa River to resist hydro and mining development as well as colonization, according to the back of the book. Some local history for a waterway that's about a five minute walk from where I live (the Ottawa River, that is, not the Du Moine).

5. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (Mary Roach) A lighthearted look at what we know about death and the afterlife from a scientific (and pseudo-scientific) perspective. From the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

6. Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns) In 1903 there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire nation and most people had never seen a “horseless buggy”—but that did not stop Horatio Nelson Jackson, a thirty-one-year-old Vermont doctor, who impulsively bet fifty dollars that he could drive his 20-horsepower automobile from San Francisco to New York City. Here—in Jackson’s own words and photographs—is a glorious account of that months-long, problem-beset, thrilling-to-the-rattled-bones trip with his mechanic, Sewall Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud. (from book jacket). I loved the documentary and this has been sitting on my shelf for almost 15 years, I bet, so it's due to be read.

7. The Printer's Devil (Bill Fairbairn) "Bill Fairbairn started as a printer's devil in Scotland setting up newspaper headlines by hand 60 years ago. His vagabond reporter years in three continents followed in quick pursuit. This tale outlines some of the people and events he encountered in Canada working for newspapers, radio and magazine." I met this fellow at a book fair a few years ago and picked up his book since he (and it) sounded interesting. Time to give it a try!

8. George & Rue (George Elliott Clarke) "A masterful blend of fiction and reality from one of Canada's most daring and original writers", Clarke takes us to the ghettos of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and paints a miserable and suffocating portrait of mid-century Africadian life. Mr. Clarke was Canada's former Poet Laureate, a winner of the Governor General's Award for poetry, and has been at the Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair the last two years. He seems to have a friendly and dynamic personality and I'd like to read this, his first novel, before I speak to him at next year's fair (if he's there, and if I can build up the courage to).

9. Nonlinear Fiber Optics (Govind P. Agrawal) This title belongs on the list perhaps more than any other. It's considered the Bible of modern fiber optics (one of them, anyway), which is the field in which I work, so I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read it yet, even though it's been sitting on my shelf for years now.

10. Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (Norman Davies) "Europe's history is littered with kingdoms, duchies, empires and republics which have now disappeared but which were once fixtures on the map of their age. What happened to the once-great Mediterranean 'Empire of Aragon'? Where did the half-forgotten kingdoms of Burgundy go?...This original and enthralling book peers through the cracks of history to discover the stories of lost realms across the centuries." (from the back of the Penguin edition)

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#356

Post by PirateJenny » May 8th, 2019, 9:00 am

Edit - misread the rules.

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#357

Post by Leopardi » May 18th, 2019, 9:57 pm

I've finished The Ox-Bow Incident and, while I'm tempted to compare it to the film, I watched it far too long ago to be able to do it adequately. I remembered the basic story and that it didn't impress me as much as I thought it would at the time, and so I was a bit reluctant to read the book, to be honest. As it turns out, this was a mistake. The book is beautifully put together, a blend of meticulously crafted description and dialogue that captures the time and place but never excessively, and all of this to frame a story whose message is easily as relevant today as when it was written, an intelligent commentary on a difficult topic. As Clifton Fadiman writes in the commentary, this novel is a western in the same way that The Maltese Falcon is a detective story; there's a lot more going on here than a simple read will capture, and a treasure trove for the careful and thoughtful reader. Highly recommended.

I'll pick Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870 next, since it's been on the list for three years now, I believe. Here's my list:

1. Selected Journalism 1850-1870 (Charles Dickens, 1850-1870). "[Selections] from the pieces Dickens wrote after he founded Household Words in 1850 until his death in 1870. It contains 'Night Walks', 'On Strike' and 'New Year's Day' which are among Dickens' most remarkable pieces." One of my favourite writers.

2. What's Bred in the Bone (Robertson Davies, 1985). The second novel in Davies' celebrated Cornish Trilogy, this series, and Davies' writing in general, so affected my sister that she actually got a tattoo of the title quote some years ago. Shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.

3. Mysteries (Knut Hamsun, 1892). "Mysteries is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysteries stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer - and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated as a spirit of near tragedy...But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of prussic acid..." (Penguin Classics description). A much-lauded work by one of the creators of the modern novel.

4. Count Roderic's Castle (Anonymous, 1794). "With a fast-paced plot that features many of the elements for which the Gothic novel is known--brave heroes and detestable villains, ancient castles, dark dungeons, and a vengeful spectre--Count Roderic's Castle (1794) was one of the most popular of the early Gothic novels issued by the famous Minerva Press." (From the book jacket of the Valancourt edition)

5. The Landslide (Stephen Gilbert, 1943). "Will my poor book ever be read by anyone? It is about a dragon and a sea serpent, and a kind of prehistoric dog and an old man and a boy and a priest. I sent it to a publisher last July and it has been lost ever since. I know it is good...It is unlike any story that has ever been written before." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). An early work by the author of Ratman's Notebooks (the book on which the film Willard was based)

6. A Traveler at Forty (Theodore Dreiser, 1913). "[A Traveler at Forty contains] the pregnant observations of an old hand at looking, the sharp remarks and annotations of the creator of Hurstwood, Cowperwood and Pete Gerhardt. The book rises completely out of the commonplace, and becomes something new, illuminating and heretical." (H. L. Mencken) One of my favourite writers offers one of my favourite literary sub-genres, the travel book. This will be more than 900 pages of pure gold, I have no doubt.

7. The Mysteries of London (George W. M. Reynolds, 1844-1848). "The government feared him. Rival authors like Charles Dickens, whom he outsold, despised him. The literary establishment did its best to write him out of literary history. But when George W.M. Reynolds, journalist, political reformer, Socialist, and novelist, died in 1879, even his critics were forced to acknowledge the truth of his obituary, which declared that he was the most popular writer of his time....The Mysteries of London is a sprawling tableau, seeking to depict life as Reynolds saw it in mid-Victorian London and expose what he viewed as gross injustice toward the poor." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). A massive tome (volumes I and II together are more than 2300 pages), and an astounding literary tour de force from publisher Valancourt Books.

8. The Discourses (Niccolò Machiavelli, 1513). "In this book Machiavelli enshrines his most complete political treatment: his fundamental attachment to republics...For a political republic, he says, is liberty's best bastion, if only its people maintain their civic virtue." (From the back of the Penguin edition).

9. On the Eve (Ivan Turgenev, 1859). "A love story with a tragic ending, On the Eve (1859) portrays the everyday life and scenery of a Russian country estate with the consummate descriptive gift for which its author had already become famous. Much of the novel's pleasure lies in its humorous sketches of the gentry; and its sadness, in Turgenev's fluid and exquisite sense of love's emotional weather." (from the back of the Penguin edition).
[/quote]

10. Voices of Victorian London: In Sickness and in Health (Henry Mayhew, 1851). "Verbatim, unflinching interviews with poor working Victorians from a journalist whose interviews, published in a national newspaper, influenced Charles Dickens' creation of characters in his novels ...The journalist Henry Mayhew tramped the streets of London interviewing working people; this selection from his work London Labour and the London Poor shows how they coped with the ups and downs of health and illness while continuing with the daily trial of scratching a living and feeding their families. The people Mayhew met showed remarkable resilience and a surprising sense of humor about their lot in life." (from Goodreads).

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#358

Post by Leopardi » June 2nd, 2019, 5:15 pm

I've finished Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870. Such an interesting read, just like the last I read from dear Liza (Dr. Johnson's London). If you enjoy Gaskell, Thackery, Dickens or Meredith and want to go behind the scenes of their novels, understand the mindset and daily life of the typical London citizen (from the destitute all the way to the royals), this is the book for you. The level of research, the dedication to capturing the spirit of the age, is impressive. For example, the first chapter is dedicated to the smells of London - what other history book will give you that? A great read, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book by Picard (and excited to discover she's written another one, published in 2017: Chaucer’s People), which I've added to the list.

The natural follow-up to Victorian London is Dickens' Selected Journalism 1850-1870, so I'll go with that one. Here's my list:
SpoilerShow
1. Working (Studs Terkel). "Perhaps Studs Terkel's best known book, Working is a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, from a policeman to a piano tuner, this book provides an enduring portrait of people's feelings about their working lives." (from the back of the book). I'm hoping to have the same success with this book as I had with Terkel's Hard Times, a masterful oral history of the Great Depression.

2. Connections (James Burke). "In this highly acclaimed and bestselling book, James Burke brilliantly examines the ideas, inventions and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological advances of today. With dazzling insight, he untangles the pattern of interconnecting events: the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to the major inventions of the world." (from the back of the book). I loved the television miniseries way back when, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick this book up.

3. The Last of the Wild Rivers (Wallace A. Schaber) A book devoted entirely to the Du Moine watershed, the last of the ten major Quebec tributaries of the Ottawa River to resist hydro and mining development as well as colonization, according to the back of the book. Some local history for a waterway that's about a five minute walk from where I live (the Ottawa River, that is, not the Du Moine).

4. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (Mary Roach) A lighthearted look at what we know about death and the afterlife from a scientific (and pseudo-scientific) perspective. From the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

5. Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns) In 1903 there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire nation and most people had never seen a “horseless buggy”—but that did not stop Horatio Nelson Jackson, a thirty-one-year-old Vermont doctor, who impulsively bet fifty dollars that he could drive his 20-horsepower automobile from San Francisco to New York City. Here—in Jackson’s own words and photographs—is a glorious account of that months-long, problem-beset, thrilling-to-the-rattled-bones trip with his mechanic, Sewall Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud. (from book jacket). I loved the documentary and this has been sitting on my shelf for almost 15 years, I bet, so it's due to be read.

6. The Printer's Devil (Bill Fairbairn) "Bill Fairbairn started as a printer's devil in Scotland setting up newspaper headlines by hand 60 years ago. His vagabond reporter years in three continents followed in quick pursuit. This tale outlines some of the people and events he encountered in Canada working for newspapers, radio and magazine." I met this fellow at a book fair a few years ago and picked up his book since he (and it) sounded interesting. Time to give it a try!

7. George & Rue (George Elliott Clarke) "A masterful blend of fiction and reality from one of Canada's most daring and original writers", Clarke takes us to the ghettos of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and paints a miserable and suffocating portrait of mid-century Africadian life. Mr. Clarke was Canada's former Poet Laureate, a winner of the Governor General's Award for poetry, and has been at the Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair the last two years. He seems to have a friendly and dynamic personality and I'd like to read this, his first novel, before I speak to him at next year's fair (if he's there, and if I can build up the courage to).

8. Nonlinear Fiber Optics (Govind P. Agrawal) This title belongs on the list perhaps more than any other. It's considered the Bible of modern fiber optics (one of them, anyway), which is the field in which I work, so I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read it yet, even though it's been sitting on my shelf for years now.

9. Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (Norman Davies) "Europe's history is littered with kingdoms, duchies, empires and republics which have now disappeared but which were once fixtures on the map of their age. What happened to the once-great Mediterranean 'Empire of Aragon'? Where did the half-forgotten kingdoms of Burgundy go?...This original and enthralling book peers through the cracks of history to discover the stories of lost realms across the centuries." (from the back of the Penguin edition)

10. Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s (Liza Picard) "Making use of every possible contemporary source diaries, memoirs, advice books, government papers, almanacs, even the Register of Patents Liza Picard presents a picture of how life in London was really lived in the 1600s: the houses and streets, gardens and parks, cooking, clothes and jewellery, cosmetics, hairdressing, housework, laundry and shopping, medicine and dentistry, sex, education, hobbies, etiquette, law and crime, religion and popular beliefs." (from Goodreads)

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#359

Post by sebby » June 2nd, 2019, 9:38 pm

working for leopardi. love studs.

the autobiography of miss jane pittman was a poorly written mess. scattered and unfocused storytelling, which is really a shame given its clever conceit. and that conceit i'm sure is the sole reason for its undeserved rep. books are the hardest kind of art to recommend to yourself, i've found, and it's been a year of poor exploration so far.

so with those failures in mind i'm going to try for a page-turner or something adjacent next to cleanse the palette.

01 marlena / j buntin
02 why we sleep / m walker
03 carrie / s king
04 woman in the dunes / k abe
05 liar and spy / r stead
06 Turn Right at Machu Picchu / m adams
07 the common good / r reich
08 empire of deception / d jobb
09 summer of night / d simmons
10 the passage / j cronin

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#360

Post by Leopardi » July 24th, 2019, 3:32 am

I've finished Selected Journalism 1850-1870, all in all an enjoyable read with a very strong start (my favourite pieces were in the first section, dedicated to personal reflections mainly from childhood and adolescence) and plenty of descriptions of his interactions with London and its denizens, particularly the downtrodden and the working class. Be warned, though, there are also entries in here that are less interesting and more for the Dickens completist. Considering the challenge it would be to find some of these pieces outside of their original publications, I think it's definitely worth a look.

Sebby, I'll choose Why We Sleep for you, since I see it's listed as 'to read' on four of my Goodreads friends' lists (and, of course, sounds interesting). Here's my list:

SpoilerShow
1. What's Bred in the Bone (Robertson Davies, 1985). The second novel in Davies' celebrated Cornish Trilogy, this series, and Davies' writing in general, so affected my sister that she actually got a tattoo of the title quote some years ago. Shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.

2. Mysteries (Knut Hamsun, 1892). "Mysteries is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysteries stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer - and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated as a spirit of near tragedy...But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of prussic acid..." (Penguin Classics description). A much-lauded work by one of the creators of the modern novel.

3. Count Roderic's Castle (Anonymous, 1794). "With a fast-paced plot that features many of the elements for which the Gothic novel is known--brave heroes and detestable villains, ancient castles, dark dungeons, and a vengeful spectre--Count Roderic's Castle (1794) was one of the most popular of the early Gothic novels issued by the famous Minerva Press." (From the book jacket of the Valancourt edition)

4. The Landslide (Stephen Gilbert, 1943). "Will my poor book ever be read by anyone? It is about a dragon and a sea serpent, and a kind of prehistoric dog and an old man and a boy and a priest. I sent it to a publisher last July and it has been lost ever since. I know it is good...It is unlike any story that has ever been written before." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). An early work by the author of Ratman's Notebooks (the book on which the film Willard was based)

5. A Traveler at Forty (Theodore Dreiser, 1913). "[A Traveler at Forty contains] the pregnant observations of an old hand at looking, the sharp remarks and annotations of the creator of Hurstwood, Cowperwood and Pete Gerhardt. The book rises completely out of the commonplace, and becomes something new, illuminating and heretical." (H. L. Mencken) One of my favourite writers offers one of my favourite literary sub-genres, the travel book. This will be more than 900 pages of pure gold, I have no doubt.

6. The Mysteries of London (George W. M. Reynolds, 1844-1848). "The government feared him. Rival authors like Charles Dickens, whom he outsold, despised him. The literary establishment did its best to write him out of literary history. But when George W.M. Reynolds, journalist, political reformer, Socialist, and novelist, died in 1879, even his critics were forced to acknowledge the truth of his obituary, which declared that he was the most popular writer of his time....The Mysteries of London is a sprawling tableau, seeking to depict life as Reynolds saw it in mid-Victorian London and expose what he viewed as gross injustice toward the poor." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). A massive tome (volumes I and II together are more than 2300 pages), and an astounding literary tour de force from publisher Valancourt Books.

7. The Discourses (Niccolò Machiavelli, 1513). "In this book Machiavelli enshrines his most complete political treatment: his fundamental attachment to republics...For a political republic, he says, is liberty's best bastion, if only its people maintain their civic virtue." (From the back of the Penguin edition).

8. On the Eve (Ivan Turgenev, 1859). "A love story with a tragic ending, On the Eve (1859) portrays the everyday life and scenery of a Russian country estate with the consummate descriptive gift for which its author had already become famous. Much of the novel's pleasure lies in its humorous sketches of the gentry; and its sadness, in Turgenev's fluid and exquisite sense of love's emotional weather." (from the back of the Penguin edition).

9. Voices of Victorian London: In Sickness and in Health (Henry Mayhew, 1851). "Verbatim, unflinching interviews with poor working Victorians from a journalist whose interviews, published in a national newspaper, influenced Charles Dickens' creation of characters in his novels ...The journalist Henry Mayhew tramped the streets of London interviewing working people; this selection from his work London Labour and the London Poor shows how they coped with the ups and downs of health and illness while continuing with the daily trial of scratching a living and feeding their families. The people Mayhew met showed remarkable resilience and a surprising sense of humor about their lot in life." (from Goodreads).

10. The Letters of George Gissing to Eduard Bertz 1887-1903 (George Gissing, 1887-1903). "Collection of 189 letters and post card to his German friend Eduard Bertz which provide a record of a part of Gissing's strange life about which there has been speculation and doubt, because they reflect his personality and give a clear picture of how he developed the ideas for his books, how he wrote them and how he was treated by the publishers of the day." (from YesterYear Books). I'm a big fan of The Nether World, one of Gissing's early works that Bertz no doubt influenced, so I'm eager for an inside look into their friendship.

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