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Read The Books You Should Have Already Read

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Leopardi
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Re: Read The Books You Should Have Already Read

#361

Post by Leopardi » September 3rd, 2019, 12:01 am

I finished Working and, once again, Studs Terkel hits one out of the park with a fascinating dive into how people across a broad spectrum of the working world feel about their jobs. It was compiled at a very interesting time, the early 70s: Women were moving into the workforce in greater numbers, racial integration was (often slowly and grudgingly) taking effect, and jobs were just beginning to disappear in noticeable numbers (in some industries) during the infancy of robotics. The interviews are candid and insightful, and it's astounding how easy it is to become invested in a person over just a couple of pages; a few times I went so far as to google the names of the interviewees to see if I could find out more about them. There are often multiple perspectives from different people in the same industry, same company, same assembly line. We're treated to a wide variety of American jobs: We hear about the grueling life of miners and sharecroppers. We hear from a retired president of a conglomerate, a yacht salesman. We hear from a few names known in cinematic circles (Rip Torn and Pauline Kael), three paperboys, two telephone operators, a piano tuner and a bathroom attendant. And I found them all fascinating, every one of them.

Terkel is a master of the oral history, and this book will (or should) give a deeper respect for the countless jobs you'll never have firsthand experience with, and may never have given a second thought about. It will probably be the best book I'll have read this year, and comes with my highest recommendation. Looking forward to picking up more from him when I have an opportunity.

I'll choose Voices of Victorian London: In Sickness and in Health for myself next, keeping to the theme of working class life in 19th/20th century Britain and America.
SpoilerShow
1. 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.

2. 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).

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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!

6. 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).

7. 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.

8. 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)

9. 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)

10. Dr. Johnson's Lichfield (Mary Alden Hopkins) "A portrait of Dr. Samuel Johnson, focusing on his life before the publication of Boswell's Life of Johnson, in his home town of Lichfield. Several historic figures, including James Watt, Erasmus Darwin, as well as Richard and his daughter Maria Edgeworth, are also featured." (from Goodreads)

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#362

Post by sebby » September 10th, 2019, 11:17 am

Spook for Leopardi, if only bc I've heard Mary Roach on so many podcasts and interviews over the years. Her PR team is fantastic. Maybe her writing is as well.

I gave Why We Sleep the ol college try but couldn't finish it. I found it too tedious fact-checking and seeing what kind of cherry-picking was going on and at some point I realized I didn't find the underlying premise interesting enough to continue on. I've given up on more books this year than in any other. By quite a margin. Not a banner year so far.

01 the sportswriter / r ford
02 the largesse of the sea maiden / d johnson
03 otis redding: an unfinished life / j gould
04 goodbye stranger / r stead
05 liar and spy / r stead
06 american pastoral / roth
07 deep water / p highsmith
08 empire of deception / d jobb

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#363

Post by Leopardi » September 15th, 2019, 2:58 pm

I've finished Voices of Victorian London: In Sickness and in Health, a work similar to Terkel's Working in that it focuses in large part on the working life of poor, but colder and somehow smacking of exploitation a bit (I don't think this was Mayhew's intent, mind you, more the editing job of this digest version). It sells books but I, personally, didn't come away feeling a connection to the interviewees, just a relief that I wasn't born in Victorian London under their circumstances. An interesting read, definitely, and it made me want to get my hands on Mayhew's original, much larger work, London Labour and the London Poor, which I think and hope will cleave to Terkel's spirit in a way this book didn't quite.

Sebby, I'll choose American Pastoral for you. I haven't read anything by Roth but the book does look interesting enough. 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. 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.

10. A Child's History of England (Charles Dickens, 1851-1853). "The historian as optimist – but not so much for his subject as for its recipients. Fed up with the way British history was presented to children in the mid-nineteenth century, and well-acquainted with the theories of Mr Gradgrind (still with us), Dickens determined upon doing the job ‘for his own dear children’ all by himself." (from Books For Keeps) "Dickens confessed that he was composing the book so that he could prevent his children from embracing 'any conservative or High Church notions.'" (from Wikipedia)

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#364

Post by mightysparks » September 26th, 2019, 7:03 am

Leopardi, I choose Mysteries since it sounds the most interesting to me.

I've been interested in reading again, but wanna try and read some stuff outside the NPR list. I've been trying to find a way of exporting my entire Calibre library to Excel without luck, so instead I'm using the random book option to pick stuff (which likes to choose stuff on the NPR list of course..)
SpoilerShow
1. Gardens of the Moon (Steven Erikson, 1999. First book in the Malazan Empire series, NPR) / High fantasy
The novel details the various struggles for power on an intercontinental region dominated by the Malazan Empire. It is notable for the use of high magic, and unusual plot structure. Gardens of the Moon centres around the Imperial campaign to conquer the city of Darujhistan on the continent of Genabackis.

2. Shards of Honor (Lois McMaster Bujold, 1986. First book in the Vorkosigan Saga series, NPR) / Science fiction
When Cordelia Naismith and her survey crew are attacked by a renegade group from Barrayar, she is taken prisoner by Aral Vorkosigan, commander of the Barrayan ship that has been taken over by an ambitious and ruthless crew member. Aral and Cordelia survive countless mishaps while their mutual admiration and even stronger feelings emerge.

3. Dolores Claiborne (Stephen King, 1992) / Psychological thriller
Suspected of killing Vera Donovan, her wealthy employer, Dolores Claiborne tells police the story of her life, harkening back to her disintegrating marriage and the suspicious death of her violent husband, Joe St. George, thirty years earlier. Dolores also tells of Vera's physical and mental decline and of her loyalty to an employer who has become emotionally demanding in recent years.

4. Killing Floor (Lee Child, 1997. First book in the Jack Reacher series) / Thriller
Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He's just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he's arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn't kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn't stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

My dad is a huge fan of this series.

5. Out of the Silent Planet (C. S. Lewis, 1938. First book in the Space Trilogy, NPR) / Science fiction
In the first novel of C.S. Lewis's classic science fiction trilogy, Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet's treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the 'silent planet' – Earth – whose tragic story is known throughout the universe...

6. Red Dragon (Thomas Harris, 1981. First book in the Hannibal Lecter series) / Crime, Psychological Horror, Thriller
A second family has been massacred by the terrifying serial killer the press has christened "The Tooth Fairy." Special Agent Jack Crawford turns to the one man who can help restart a failed investigation: Will Graham. Graham is the greatest profiler the FBI ever had, but the physical and mental scars of capturing Hannibal Lecter have caused Graham to go into early retirement. Now, Graham must turn to Lecter for help.

7. To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Philip Jose Farmer, 1971. First book in the Riverworld series) / Science fiction
When famous adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton dies, the last thing he expects to do is awaken naked on a foreign planet along the shores of a seemingly endless river. But that's where Burton and billions of other humans (plus a few nonhumans) find themselves as the epic Riverworld saga begins. It seems that all of Earthly humanity has been resurrected on the planet, each with an indestructible container that provides three meals a day, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, a lighter, and the odd tube of lipstick. But why? And by whom?

8. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte, 1847) / Tragedy Gothic
The story revolves around the tempestuous romance between Heathcliff, an orphan who is taken home to Wuthering Heights on impulse, and Catherine Earnshaw, a strong-willed girl whose mother died delivering her and who becomes Heathcliff's close companion.

Hard to find a good plot summary of this :/ I know everyone here's probably read it or seen it, but annoying.

9. The Enemy (Charlie Higson, 2009. First book in the The Enemy series) / Horror
Charlie Higson's The Enemy is the first in a jaw-dropping zombie horror series for teens. Everyone over the age of fourteen has succumbed to a deadly zombie virus and now the kids must keep themselves alive.

I remember being really excited for this when I first watched The Fast Show.. I forgot it was a teen novel..

10. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum, 1989) / Crime, Thriller, Horror
Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets, well-tended lawns and cozy homes. A nice, quiet place to grow up. Unless you are teenage Meg or her crippled sister, Susan. On a dead-end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make.

LOVED the film, not sure how similar the book is.
"I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don't want." - Stanley Kubrick

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#365

Post by Leopardi » September 27th, 2019, 2:56 pm

I've read Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Very much in the 'fluff' column, I also found it quite interesting, with a number of interesting anecdotes I hadn't heard of before and a colourful cast of characters to keep the reader engaged along the way. Roach's sense of humour may not be for everyone, but it grew on me after a while.

Mighty, I'll choose Out of the Silent Planet for you, since I don't think I've read anyone's opinions of Lewis' works outside of the Narnia series. I'm regretting now not writing my review earlier - I finished Spook on Monday but was too busy to write, so I've started A Traveler at Forty already. Between that and The Mysteries of London I'll have about 3300 pages to read before I get to choose another book, so I may not update here until the spring!
SpoilerShow
1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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!

4. 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).

5. 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.

6. 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)

7. 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)

8. Dr. Johnson's Lichfield (Mary Alden Hopkins) "A portrait of Dr. Samuel Johnson, focusing on his life before the publication of Boswell's Life of Johnson, in his home town of Lichfield. Several historic figures, including James Watt, Erasmus Darwin, as well as Richard and his daughter Maria Edgeworth, are also featured." (from Goodreads)

9. Singing Tales Of Africa (Adjai Robinson). "In this book, Adjai Robinson has retold seven of his favorite singing tales - tales that are meant to be shared...Included is the story of greedy Bra Spider who becomes the finest dancer that ever was seen; the lazy dog who caused death to come to the world; Ijomah, the mistreated stepchild who discovers she has a magical power over her fruit trees." (From the dust jacket) I really enjoyed The Palm Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and thought I'd delve a little deeper into Yoruban folk tales. This collection from 1974 looks like a great place to start.

10. Vera Vorontzoff (Sofia Kovalevskaya) "A young Russian noblewoman wishes to dedicate herself to a cause but finds herself descending into nihilism." (from Goodreads) A semi-autobiographical novel by the extraordinary mathematician and feminist Sofia Kovalevskaya.

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#366

Post by mightysparks » September 28th, 2019, 1:32 pm

Not sure if I should pick again for you or give you some time to catch up :P If you want one, I'll choose Connections, sounds like an interesting read.

I read C. S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet (1938). I haven't actually read any of the Narnia books, but I'm sure they'll come up for selection at some point... I've seen the film though and have a general idea of what they're supposed to be and I guess this is probably similar. I got a kind of Wizard of Oz vibe from it as well. It's kind of this somewhat dreamy and hazy trip through wonderland with a world full of strange beings and cultures and colours, but I'd forgotten what year it was written while reading it and it was obvious that it was before they'd been into space, and it's a little Melies' A Trip to the Moon in some regards. While it's an easy read with a colourful world, the characters don't do that much and it's lacking in any real plot or a point. 6/10
SpoilerShow
1. Gardens of the Moon (Steven Erikson, 1999. First book in the Malazan Empire series, NPR) / High fantasy
The novel details the various struggles for power on an intercontinental region dominated by the Malazan Empire. It is notable for the use of high magic, and unusual plot structure. Gardens of the Moon centres around the Imperial campaign to conquer the city of Darujhistan on the continent of Genabackis.

2. Shards of Honor (Lois McMaster Bujold, 1986. First book in the Vorkosigan Saga series, NPR) / Science fiction
When Cordelia Naismith and her survey crew are attacked by a renegade group from Barrayar, she is taken prisoner by Aral Vorkosigan, commander of the Barrayan ship that has been taken over by an ambitious and ruthless crew member. Aral and Cordelia survive countless mishaps while their mutual admiration and even stronger feelings emerge.

3. Dolores Claiborne (Stephen King, 1992) / Psychological thriller
Suspected of killing Vera Donovan, her wealthy employer, Dolores Claiborne tells police the story of her life, harkening back to her disintegrating marriage and the suspicious death of her violent husband, Joe St. George, thirty years earlier. Dolores also tells of Vera's physical and mental decline and of her loyalty to an employer who has become emotionally demanding in recent years.

4. Killing Floor (Lee Child, 1997. First book in the Jack Reacher series) / Thriller
Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He's just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he's arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn't kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn't stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

My dad is a huge fan of this series.

5. Red Dragon (Thomas Harris, 1981. First book in the Hannibal Lecter series) / Crime, Psychological Horror, Thriller
A second family has been massacred by the terrifying serial killer the press has christened "The Tooth Fairy." Special Agent Jack Crawford turns to the one man who can help restart a failed investigation: Will Graham. Graham is the greatest profiler the FBI ever had, but the physical and mental scars of capturing Hannibal Lecter have caused Graham to go into early retirement. Now, Graham must turn to Lecter for help.

6. To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Philip Jose Farmer, 1971. First book in the Riverworld series) / Science fiction
When famous adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton dies, the last thing he expects to do is awaken naked on a foreign planet along the shores of a seemingly endless river. But that's where Burton and billions of other humans (plus a few nonhumans) find themselves as the epic Riverworld saga begins. It seems that all of Earthly humanity has been resurrected on the planet, each with an indestructible container that provides three meals a day, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, a lighter, and the odd tube of lipstick. But why? And by whom?

7. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte, 1847) / Tragedy Gothic
The story revolves around the tempestuous romance between Heathcliff, an orphan who is taken home to Wuthering Heights on impulse, and Catherine Earnshaw, a strong-willed girl whose mother died delivering her and who becomes Heathcliff's close companion.

Hard to find a good plot summary of this :/ I know everyone here's probably read it or seen it, but annoying.

8. The Enemy (Charlie Higson, 2009. First book in the The Enemy series) / Horror
Charlie Higson's The Enemy is the first in a jaw-dropping zombie horror series for teens. Everyone over the age of fourteen has succumbed to a deadly zombie virus and now the kids must keep themselves alive.

I remember being really excited for this when I first watched The Fast Show.. I forgot it was a teen novel..

9. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum, 1989) / Crime, Thriller, Horror
Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets, well-tended lawns and cozy homes. A nice, quiet place to grow up. Unless you are teenage Meg or her crippled sister, Susan. On a dead-end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make.

LOVED the film, not sure how similar the book is.

10. Lucifer's Hammer (Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle, 1977, NPR) / Science fiction
The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival--a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known.
"I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don't want." - Stanley Kubrick

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#367

Post by Leopardi » September 28th, 2019, 2:57 pm

mightysparks wrote:
September 28th, 2019, 1:32 pm
Not sure if I should pick again for you or give you some time to catch up :P If you want one, I'll choose Connections, sounds like an interesting read.
Yeah, I'm screwed. :lol:

Sebby, I need your help!

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#368

Post by mightysparks » October 2nd, 2019, 2:20 am

Since I finished reading Red Dragon last night (great book), updating my selections. I forgot I started reading Jurassic Park and Dark Matter months ago so I'm going to try and get those done next.
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1. Gardens of the Moon (Steven Erikson, 1999. First book in the Malazan Empire series, NPR) / High fantasy
The novel details the various struggles for power on an intercontinental region dominated by the Malazan Empire. It is notable for the use of high magic, and unusual plot structure. Gardens of the Moon centres around the Imperial campaign to conquer the city of Darujhistan on the continent of Genabackis.

2. Shards of Honor (Lois McMaster Bujold, 1986. First book in the Vorkosigan Saga series, NPR) / Science fiction
When Cordelia Naismith and her survey crew are attacked by a renegade group from Barrayar, she is taken prisoner by Aral Vorkosigan, commander of the Barrayan ship that has been taken over by an ambitious and ruthless crew member. Aral and Cordelia survive countless mishaps while their mutual admiration and even stronger feelings emerge.

3. Dolores Claiborne (Stephen King, 1992) / Psychological thriller
Suspected of killing Vera Donovan, her wealthy employer, Dolores Claiborne tells police the story of her life, harkening back to her disintegrating marriage and the suspicious death of her violent husband, Joe St. George, thirty years earlier. Dolores also tells of Vera's physical and mental decline and of her loyalty to an employer who has become emotionally demanding in recent years.

4. Killing Floor (Lee Child, 1997. First book in the Jack Reacher series) / Thriller
Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He's just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he's arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn't kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn't stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

My dad is a huge fan of this series.

5. To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Philip Jose Farmer, 1971. First book in the Riverworld series) / Science fiction
When famous adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton dies, the last thing he expects to do is awaken naked on a foreign planet along the shores of a seemingly endless river. But that's where Burton and billions of other humans (plus a few nonhumans) find themselves as the epic Riverworld saga begins. It seems that all of Earthly humanity has been resurrected on the planet, each with an indestructible container that provides three meals a day, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, a lighter, and the odd tube of lipstick. But why? And by whom?

6. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte, 1847) / Tragedy Gothic
The story revolves around the tempestuous romance between Heathcliff, an orphan who is taken home to Wuthering Heights on impulse, and Catherine Earnshaw, a strong-willed girl whose mother died delivering her and who becomes Heathcliff's close companion.

Hard to find a good plot summary of this :/ I know everyone here's probably read it or seen it, but annoying.

7. The Enemy (Charlie Higson, 2009. First book in the The Enemy series) / Horror
Charlie Higson's The Enemy is the first in a jaw-dropping zombie horror series for teens. Everyone over the age of fourteen has succumbed to a deadly zombie virus and now the kids must keep themselves alive.

I remember being really excited for this when I first watched The Fast Show.. I forgot it was a teen novel..

8. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum, 1989) / Crime, Thriller, Horror
Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets, well-tended lawns and cozy homes. A nice, quiet place to grow up. Unless you are teenage Meg or her crippled sister, Susan. On a dead-end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make.

LOVED the film, not sure how similar the book is.

9. Lucifer's Hammer (Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle, 1977, NPR) / Science fiction
The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival--a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known.

10. Doomsday Book (Connie Willis, 1992. First book in the Oxford time travel series, NPR) / Science fiction
For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received. But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin--barely of age herself--finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.
"I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don't want." - Stanley Kubrick

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#369

Post by Leopardi » August 11th, 2020, 2:23 am

I haven't updated here since September, a few months before I started The Mysteries of London. COVID-19 slowed my progress to a crawl from March onward when I started working from home (since I was reading it on the bus), but this doesn't mean I'm not enjoying it. I'm actually loving it for the most part, some threads more than others (there are several storylines that weave together from time to time), but all in all I can't wait to dig into at night whenever I get a chance to. To be clear, Reynolds can't really write dialogue worth a damn, most of it comes off a little wooden and overly formal (even for Victorian literature), and the plot twists are often preposterous, but somehow this potboiler of a soap opera draws you in all the same.

Believe it or not, I only finished the first volume (of two) last night. At the rate I've been reading since the pandemic I'll finish the second volume by the end of 2022 (!!), so hopefully I can pick up the pace a fair bit going forward. For now, though, I'm still not in a position to pick a book for anyone, not for a long while. I thought I'd check in all the same at the halfway point to let everyone know I'm still around, just a slow reader at the worst possible time!

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#370

Post by Knaldskalle » August 12th, 2020, 3:21 pm

I finally finished reading "The Citadel of the Autarch", the last of the four novels in "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe a couple of weeks ago. That only took me 6 months. I don't know why, but it was just slow going. His writing is a bit on the dense side (Wolfe has been called the most "literate" science fiction writer and I can see why). His prose is at times extremely elegant, but it doesn't always leave you with a clear image of what's happening (on purpose, I suspect).

The four novels (Shadow of the Torturer, Claw of the Conciliator and Sword of the Lictor are the first three) follow young man Severian, an orphan raised by the guild of torturers (I mean "Seekers for Truth and Penitence") as he is sent from his home in the ancient capitol of Nessus to a remote city to carry out executions. However, there's a low-level rebellion brewing and a seemingly endless war in the far Northern lands and Severian is sympathetic towards the rebels who want to end the war. Set in the far future, Severian's world, known as Urth, is one that is decaying and has regressed to a near medieval state, yet is punctuated by strange alien creatures and weapons.

I originally read the first two books many years ago, but never got around to the remaining two. I finally picked up the last two novels a few years ago and read volume 3 right away, but didn't get around to volume 4 until earlier this year. I found volume 4 to be a little bit of an anti-climax (which probably helped protract my reading). It's still really well-written, I just didn't love where the story was going. It's definitely a must-read if you're into science fiction and I think, now that I have all 4 novels, that I'll read the series again some day.
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#371

Post by OldAle1 » August 12th, 2020, 3:35 pm

Knaldskalle wrote:
August 12th, 2020, 3:21 pm
I finally finished reading "The Citadel of the Autarch", the last of the four novels in "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe a couple of weeks ago. That only took me 6 months. I don't know why, but it was just slow going. His writing is a bit on the dense side (Wolfe has been called the most "literate" science fiction writer and I can see why). His prose is at times extremely elegant, but it doesn't always leave you with a clear image of what's happening (on purpose, I suspect).

The four novels (Shadow of the Torturer, Claw of the Conciliator and Sword of the Lictor are the first three) follow young man Severian, an orphan raised by the guild of torturers (I mean "Seekers for Truth and Penitence") as he is sent from his home in the ancient capitol of Nessus to a remote city to carry out executions. However, there's a low-level rebellion brewing and a seemingly endless war in the far Northern lands and Severian is sympathetic towards the rebels who want to end the war. Set in the far future, Severian's world, known as Urth, is one that is decaying and has regressed to a near medieval state, yet is punctuated by strange alien creatures and weapons.

I originally read the first two books many years ago, but never got around to the remaining two. I finally picked up the last two novels a few years ago and read volume 3 right away, but didn't get around to volume 4 until earlier this year. I found volume 4 to be a little bit of an anti-climax (which probably helped protract my reading). It's still really well-written, I just didn't love where the story was going. It's definitely a must-read if you're into science fiction and I think, now that I have all 4 novels, that I'll read the series again some day.
Nice comments. I read the books shortly after they came out - probably in my first or second year of college, so sometime around 1983-5, and then a second time in 2000-1 or so. Sometimes the prose does bog down, it's true, and at times it feels a little more static than it should - though it's hardly supposed to be action-packed. Still on the whole I'm not sure there's a greater science fiction novel that I've read apart from maybe The War of the Worlds. I keep meaning to read it again, and to read The Urth of the New Sun and the other related series but I just haven't gotten back to reading much, still, despite the isolation and lots of time. I actually have nearly all of Wolfe's books sitting on my shelves here, most first editions, from the time when I was pretty serious about book collecting. The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories and Peace interest me the most but at this point who knows if I'll ever make the time for any of them.

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#372

Post by outdoorcats » August 12th, 2020, 7:35 pm

@mightysparks - I pick Killing Floor, not because I've read it, but it happens to look fun.

That's not a bad summary of Wuthering Heights btw. If you want more details, basically Heathcliff and Mary are locked in a torturous, toxic love-hate relationship that destroys everyone around them. More details would be too spoilery I think, but it's the classic dark and brooding feel-bad romance.

Someone want to pick one of these for me?

1. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
2. Dhalgren (Samuel R. Delaney)
3. The Idiot (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
4. Snow (Orhan Pamuk)
5. Blood Work (Michael Connelly)
6. The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
7. Middlemarch (George Eliot)
8. The Hour I First Believed (Wally Lamb)
9. Red Harvest (Dashiel Hammett)
10. The Castle (Franz Kafka)

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#373

Post by OldAle1 » August 12th, 2020, 8:22 pm

outdoorcats wrote:
August 12th, 2020, 7:35 pm
@mightysparks - I pick Killing Floor, not because I've read it, but it happens to look fun.

That's not a bad summary of Wuthering Heights btw. If you want more details, basically Heathcliff and Mary are locked in a torturous, toxic love-hate relationship that destroys everyone around them. More details would be too spoilery I think, but it's the classic dark and brooding feel-bad romance.

Someone want to pick one of these for me?

1. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
2. Dhalgren (Samuel R. Delaney)
3. The Idiot (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
4. Snow (Orhan Pamuk)
5. Blood Work (Michael Connelly)
6. The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
7. Middlemarch (George Eliot)
8. The Hour I First Believed (Wally Lamb)
9. Red Harvest (Dashiel Hammett)
10. The Castle (Franz Kafka)
I've actually read 4 of these, wow! Usually I'm lucky if I've read 1 from somebody's list. So...

2. Dhalgren - I read this around 1998-9, mostly riding on the subway back and forth to work. Somehow despite it's difficulties that really worked. I just loved it, really got sucked into this semi-surreal world; I don't remember enough now to go into great detail but for me it was a staggering work, one of the greatest I've ever read. Strangely it's the only thing by Delany I've read apart from a short story or two, though I have a few of his books waiting. He was also listed as having directed a film, something short and experimental I think, back in the 70s at one point, but it's not on IMDb now. EDIT actually it is, they just have two "Samuel R. Delanys" who are the same person. d'oh. It's The Orchid and it's on YouTube.

6. The Sun Also Rises - well done, compelling in it's way, but I'm not really a Hemingway guy - his writing is a brilliant example of a type that just doesn't appeal to me that much. You can't love Faulkner and Hemingway equally - maybe you can't love both at all - and I'm a Faulkner guy.

7. Middlemarch - memories of this are very dim but I remember mostly liking it but definitely feeling it was a slog also.

10. The Castle - great; as great as Dhalgren? Probably not, for me, but I read it about 10 years earlier so hard to say. And of course the incomplete nature of it, and most Kafka, is always going to be problematic. Great writing shouldn't give you everything, should ask you to fill in some holes in your own imagination, but this is a different kind of hole-filling.

I've also read a fair bit of Dostoevsky and loved it - again, long ago - but haven't read The Idiot. And I read Pamuk's Istanbul a couple of years ago and really loved that. Interested in reading Hammett myself, and more hard-boiled fiction in general.

So --- if you're really adventurous and in for a long haul, and especially if you like people like Joyce, Faulkner, Proust, Dorothy Richardson, etc - go with Dhalgren.

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#374

Post by outdoorcats » August 12th, 2020, 10:28 pm

Alright, Dhalgren it is. Though I have to finish Lovecraft Country, which I'm almost done with but am not super excited about (I'm excited to see the TV series though, which could potentially fix the issues I have with the book. or make them worse. Critics seem to like it, though).

Peter...is your social worker in that horse?

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#375

Post by blocho » August 13th, 2020, 2:56 am

I've only read The Count of Monte Cristo from that list, but it's one of my all-time favorites.

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