So, What Are You Reading? v. 2020

Discussion in 'Books' started by Ismitje, Jan 1, 2020.

  1. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Starting the new year with the next Martin Beck novel. The first five (of ten) were among my favorite discoveries of 2019, and I am looking forward to reading the other five in 2020.

    Murder at the Savoy is up.

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  2. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    #2 Dr. Wankler, Jan 1, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2020
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    The Prodigal, which, contrary to the jacket, is a book length poem of travel and meditations on aging by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott
     
  3. BalanceUT

    BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

    Oct 8, 2006
    Appalachia
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I finished 2019 with another Iain M. Banks Culture novel, Surface Detail. Intriguing story of the converging of 4 characters that will determine the fate of hell(s). Hells (and heavens) are imagined as the outcome of a civilization advanced enough to capture a person's memories and personality sufficiently to upload it to a virtual reality. Some civilizations believe hells are appropriate for some people as a way to keep the public in line and go that direction. Others eventually find hells distasteful and end them, while maintaining heavens and anything else beyond your imagining for virtual worlds. Anyway, there's an ongoing war in a virtuality over if hells may continue to exist or not. One side is losing and decides to 'take it to the real' which is against the 'confliction treaty.' A LOT is going on in the 600 pages of this book what with 4 detailed stories converging. That's what made it work for me, that they were clearly on a kind of collision course and that Banks deftly knows how to drop one string to pick up another to keep the engagement working. Usually these kinds of multi-threaded stories don't work for me.

    Very much recommend Surface Detail. The cover attempts a depiction of one main character, a woman with DNA that inscribes an impossibly intricate full body tattoo designating her as a person who is a slave for life because of her father's debts.
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  4. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    [​IMG]

    The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture of Wars, an interesting reflection on these times which I read to consider it for possible assignment to a future Freshman comp class, written by Meghan Daum
     
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  5. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    --other--
    Mr. Scarborough's Family - Anthony Trollope

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    " It was well known to the rector that Mr. Prosper regarded America and all her institutions with a religious hatred. An American was to him an ignorant, impudent, foul-mouthed, fraudulent creature, to have any acquaintance with whom was a disgrace. Could he have had his way, he would have reconstituted the United States as British Colonies at a moment's notice. "
     
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  6. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    [​IMG]

    The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative, a collection of lectures delivered a decade or two back by Canadian based native novelist Thomas King, whose major theme is "The truth about stories is that's all we are." One of those books that have a bibliography that instantly turns into a "books to read" list.
     
  7. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The Republic For Which It Stands by Richard White. About Gilded Age America.
     
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  8. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I finished The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo. It centers on two people mainly but three others besides, each named for one of the five Confucian virtues. Chapters from the main female perspective are told in the first person (she's intelligent but stuck working in a dance hall), while those centered on a ten-year old house servant are in the third person. It is set in Malaya in 1931, with a severed finger, weretigers, forbidden love, colonials, and a serial killer all interwoven plot strands.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

    Aug 19, 2012
    The Lubbock Texas
    Club:
    DC United
    [​IMG]

    Finished this one off. An interesting expansion on their original Atlantic article from 2015. They cover everything from political polarization to child rearing and social media/device usage. Some say this book was too repetitive, but being someone who has been a student/instructor/academic staff member for the last decade, I can't agree with that criticism.

    I've lived in suburban northern VA in primarily conservative Christian circles, downtown DC in liberal creative and intellectual circles, Honolulu running around the extremely liberal UH campus, and now in the deepest red part of Texas at TTU. In each place I've seen an increase of the elements highlighted throughout the book, from universities shifting far left (even Texas Tech is very left leaning in a city that voted 70.6% straight party Republican in 2016 and 67.79% in 2018) to "churches" turning into right wing conspiracy theory political outposts.

    After spending a couple hundred pages detailing the issues and offering solutions at the parenting, university, and societal level, the authors conclude with a basic idea for raising a generation that avoids the problems of the current collegiate generation:

    "This will mean less test prep, less overprotection, more free play, and more independence."
     
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  10. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    My desk copy of Coddling arrived this afternoon.

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    God and the Imagination: On Poets, Poetry and the Ineffable a collection of essays and such by noted biographer of poets Paul Mariani, who can also write pretty good poems himself, something which might be more widely known in literary circles if his biographies weren't so damn good.
     
  11. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    CNN recently wrote about a mom who asked to see her teenage son's social media. He had read jokes about the Holocaust and slavery. The mom said that parents need to monitor their children's social media because you never know who could encourage your child to do criminal, dangerous, and/or prejudice things. If a kid isn't popular in school, joins an online white supremacist forum not knowing how bad white supremacists are, and gets popular on that forum, the kid could become prejudice for life. For parents, what you don't know can hurt you and/or your child. Years ago, I read a free excerpt of a book. I don't remember the title and was unable to find it by searching online. A mom listened to what girls said when her 7-year-old hosted a sleepover. The girls had seen a girl show skin at school and get attention for it. The girls said that if your parents won't buy you clothes that show skin, you should ask your grandparents. The mom thought about barging in and telling the girls that it's not appropriate for 7-year-olds to show skin to be sexy/attractive/popular/whatever, but the mom decided to stay calm and talk to her daughter after the other kids left. Another story I read was about a teenage boy looking at porn online. I don't remember he watched any video or just photos. At one point, he told his dad that he connected to his neighbor's internet network because his wasn't working. He didn't know that his dad had shut the network off to stop the boy from looking at porn. Another boy once commented about sexual moaning in a song that if he wanted to hear moaning, he could get it with video, meaning porn. I think he was about 12 at the time. I don't know if the boy actually watched porn, just that he said he could.
     
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  12. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    [​IMG]

    Moondog: The Viking of Sixth Avenue, the authorized biography of Louis Hardin who, blind and dressed as a Viking, was a highlight of Manhatten's street scenes from the late forties into the seventies before moving to Europe, and who, in addition to being an eccentric, marginally housed oddity, was also a composer of eccentric music that on one occasion was performed in Carnegie Hall while he was a few blocks away selling music and poems, dressed, as usal as a viking, by Robert Scotto.
     
  13. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That whole thing including the cover looks suspiciously like something you invented to see what you could get past us. :)
     
  14. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

    Aug 19, 2012
    The Lubbock Texas
    Club:
    DC United
    Seriously, how do you even get authorization to write that?
     
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  15. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    :D

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moondog

    I wish I could make that up. I just noticed the image says "Soon to be a major motion picture." That's a stretch, but I remember Jeff Daniels telling Henry Rollins on the latter's IFC show several years that he wanted to play Moondog if the movie ever got made. My book says there's a 24 track CD inside, and it seems to be a later edition.

    Edit: I'll bet most people in this thread have come across his music. "Bird's Lament" has been used in commercials and sound tracks, and his IMDB entry also mentions a documentary that has been in post-production for a long time...

    https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0600697/
     
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  16. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

    Aug 19, 2012
    The Lubbock Texas
    Club:
    DC United
    If you haven't read Planetwalker, by John Francis, it's almost equally ridiculous. The combination of a banjo, walking as the primary means of transportation for 22 years, and earning a PhD in the midst of a 17 year vow of silence is every bit as bizarre as it sounds.
     
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  17. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    --other--
    Visions of Gerard - Jack Kerouac

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    The life and death of Jack’s saintly older brother, Gerard, who died at 9 years old, when Jack was 4.

    “It's a vast ethereal movie, I'm an extra and Gerard is the hero and God is directing it from Heaven."
     
  18. Atouk

    Atouk BigSoccer Supporter

    DC United
    Apr 16, 2001
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    Queens Park Rangers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    [​IMG]

    Currently reading Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. This is the first novel I've read in this LOA volume of his work.

    This one is the 3rd/final Philip K. Dick LOA volume for me. I read one back in '13 (The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubik, The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), and the other in '17-'18 (A Maze of Death, VALIS, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer).
     
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  19. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    The day after Gerard died, Allen Ginsberg was born. By all reports, it was a bit weird the first time that came up in their conversations.

    Read it last year or the year before. Thought it was pretty good, and now it occurs to me that it could probably be made into a movie.
     
  20. Atouk

    Atouk BigSoccer Supporter

    DC United
    Apr 16, 2001
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    Queens Park Rangers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    [​IMG]

    In addition to the Philip K. Dick novel mentioned above, I'm down to the final pages of Elmore Leonard's Tishomingo Blues. That'll complete 3 of the 4 in this Library of America volume. Still to read: Rum Punch.
     
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  21. Q*bert Jones III

    Q*bert Jones III The People's Poet

    Feb 12, 2005
    Woodstock, NY
    Club:
    DC United
    [​IMG]

    Like Jared Diamond before him, Harari seems to understand that if your ideas are immense enough you can get all the details wrong. I don't trust his history/anthropology very much but he's a far better thinker and writer than Diamond at this point.

    I also enjoyed the heavy paper and colored text, graphs, and photos...the book feels substantial. I mean this literally. It's HEAVY.
     
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  22. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Finished Louise Erdrich's The Painted Drum.

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    Now I didn't love the first 100 or so pages, a segment based on an old orchard in Vermont or New Hampshire and focused on an estate agent and her mother. In fact I almost stopped about that point, but then as the titular drum becomes a "character" in a series of interlinked stories, I was mesmerized. Never have I read a more wrenching portrait of utter poverty and of hunger than in one of the stories. Jaw dropping really - she's an unbelievably talented writer.
     
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  23. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Not all books are created equally. As you said, some just feel better. Atouk is reading from the LOA, which must be the nicest series of books there is. And Wankler and I shared some time ago some of the better books we got from the QPBC.

    Some editions are just better than others.
     
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  24. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

    Aug 19, 2012
    The Lubbock Texas
    Club:
    DC United
    Yep. The cloth bound Everyman's Library edition of Brothers Karamozov is my favorite book for both story and feel of the book.
     
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