So! You Are Reading What? v. 2018

Discussion in 'Books' started by Ismitje, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    Okay everyone else, the challenge is clear: orange cover + "The Devil and" book titles, read and posted about here before the thread change-over next week.
     
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  2. BalanceUT

    BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

    Oct 8, 2006
    Appalachia
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I can't comply with Ismitje's order. I've been a real slow-down in my reading (and I'm always a bit slow in my progress)... grumpy at the world, I guess. I've finished A Hero of France by Alan Furst (the second of two of his that were gifts, and the last of his I'll read). The reviews greatly overstate his writing. It is crisp, and he tells a nice enough story, but it doesn't grab me and make me feel the dynamics of great powers at play through individual secret agents, as does le Carré. Also, he's nearly maudlin in his adoration of the French, France, Paris, etc. I have no disregard for any of those things, but nothing is unalloyed as he makes it, and as le Carré never lets you forget.

    I'll be looking for someone else for my spy thriller fix.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. BalanceUT

    BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

    Oct 8, 2006
    Appalachia
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm enjoying What If by Randall Munroe (creator of the XKCD webcomic). I'll finish it in early 2019. Seriously goofy fun to imagine bizarre physical situations and their consequences. For instance, what would happen if a baseball were delivered at .9 of the speed of light (it's very bad)? Could you build a jetpack or rocket from a collection of rifles (surprisingly, yes)? I recommend it for fun reading, especially if you have a pre-teen with curiosity about science. My daughter and I are having a great time with it.
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I read this a bit haphazardly - started chapter by chapter, then skipped around:

    [​IMG]

    The book is Richard Vinen's 1968: Radical Protest and Its Enemies. I consider myself a "lapsed historian" because even though I was trained and credentialed in the discipline, I was hired straight into an interdisciplinary program and I have not been able to stay up to date with the literature. It means that while I occasionally still seek out original scholarship, I find myself more often turning to syntheses like Vinen's book, based on exhaustive culling of secondary sources. One reason is they tend to focus on the wider patterns that help me in my work with students from all sorts of backgrounds, and the other is that they tend to be written to a general audience rather than other historians. They are sort of the middle ground between books based on primary sources and mass market history. I can keep my toe in, as it were.

    I did not enjoy this particular book. Vinen isn't interested in global events in 1968 or even just in 1968 - he writes of a "long '68" that started before and continued through the early 1970s - and he is pretty clear about that approach in the introduction, where he vows to focus on the US, UK, France, and West Germany. Normally I don't criticize an author for not doing something when it wasn't their aim, but he could have told me in the title - maybe "Radical Protest and Its Enemies in the Industrialized West" - and I would not have checked it out. Mostly I was interested in newer scholarship about the Mexico City Olympics and how it connected back to everything. Then the chapters I read were dense and dry and, well, that was enough.
     
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  5. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Last one finished in 2018 = Replay by Ken Grimwood.

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    It's a novel from 1986 that (as the title and cover suggest) is about someone who lives his life over and over, and while the moment of death is the same, the moment of re-awakening gets later in his life each time. I saw it referenced in a review of another one of a similar nature, and what I liked about this is that it had no other theme than this one guy figuring out life. The others I read about had sinister plots or world alteration narratives with forces of good and evil; this just was, and for whatever reason that appealed to me. So I picked up a copy, and I enjoyed it.
     
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  6. Atouk

    Atouk BigSoccer Supporter

    DC United
    Apr 16, 2001
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    Queens Park Rangers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    During our Christmas visit, I read a few short novels:

    John Updike - Of the Farm
    Henry James - Watch and Ward
    Kurt Vonnegut - Timequake
    Elmore Leonard - Hombre

    ...and am in the middle of two as I prepare to board the train for a 24-hour ride home. I hope to finish one or both:

    Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice
    Jean Stafford - The Mountain Lion
     
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