So! You Are Reading What? v. 2018

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

  1. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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

    The Oak and the Calf: Sketches of Literary Life in the Soviet Union , a memoir written in four installments, the first three of which were completed and then circulated on the samizdat circuit while the author, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn awaited possible arrest and prosecution. The fourth and final Installment was completed in Zurich in the early months of Solzhenitsyn's exile.
     
  2. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    My youngest, now 18, has been rowing for six years. And since what most people know about rowing is the book The Boys in the Boat, every time we mentioned she was rowing they would immediately ask if she or I had read the book. So often, in fact, that we both adopted a rather contrarian attitude towards the book, like if everyone was going to recommend it, then forget it.

    Fast forward to my last trip to the library, and it caught my eye on the shelf as I walked past. I grabbed it and just finished. While the story itself is compelling - a bunch of poor, working class guys in the PNW take up an elite sport and beat everyone in the US and abroad, culminating with gold in the Berlin Olympics - the narrative is a bit hackneyed (conversations and feelings are recreated awkwardly IMO) and there's only so many ways you can describe a crew workout or race. But I enjoyed it on balance.

    [​IMG]
    Postscript: The author's use of his full name kind of cracks me up. He needs his middle name to avoid any potential confusion with the Da Vinci Code guy, and he needs his first name to avoid people thinking of the singer. No luck on the latter: I had this going through my head whenever I saw his name on the cover:



    (Might not make sense until 3:40 or so.)
     
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  3. BalanceUT

    BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

    Oct 8, 2006
    Appalachia
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Sounds like a book I would like. Adding to the way too long to finish in my lifetime list.
     
  4. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    #104 Ismitje, Jun 1, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
    I had this on a list of books to read, but I don't remember why. Perhaps someone in one of these threads recommended it? I can't recall. As I think I mentioned before, when I am very busy at work I add books to a list for later feature within my account at the local library, and then I look for them when I get to a break. But I don't always remember why, and when I don't I avoid the summary on the dust jacket and just trust me in the past.

    But sometimes I wonder what me in the past was thinking. There was the time several years ago, for example, when it took fifty pages to figure out one of the sisters was a chimpanzee, and a colleague writing an article on "chimp lit" had recommended it to me. And this time: The Vegetarian by Han Kang turned out to be a series of three novellas, narrated by three different members of the same extended family, about a woman determinedly withdrawing from life (e.g., from no meat to no eating, from liking to be alone to rejecting her human-ness). It's a very perplexing book, spare but with interesting language, and one with no real answers.

    [​IMG]
    I can recommend it in part because at 200 pages or so, it is short; if there were two more novellas included, then I might not have kept going. But it's definitely interesting (and now, looking at the cover after having finished the book, that, too, deserves mention). The first novella in particular, I could not read fast enough as I wanted to know what was happening.
     
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  5. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Two things, both just out, one substantially lighter, but still substantial in it's way...

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    Hang Time: My Life in Basketball by Elgin Bayler. Baylor started his career just before I was born, and the guys he's wrtting about are the guys I'd watch on ABC's game of the week when I was five, six, seven, eight years old. Interesting material. And a bit darker... and new only in the sense of "just published...": It's actually almost 90 years old but previously unpublished.

    [​IMG]

    Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" The story of Cudjo Lewis, who when author Zora Neale Hurston interviewed him in the 1920s, was the last known survivor of the last slave ship to have transported slaves across the Atlantic. Harrowing stuff. it takes awhile get used to the dialect, but reading it "aloud" helps, since Hurston is pretty good at rendering the sounds of spoken language.
     
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  6. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Re the second, have you read Barnet's (Auto)Biography of a Runaway Slave? "Auto" in parenthesis because the book has been published under both names. And if so, how do they compare?
     
  7. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    I have not ... The internet says it's an interesting "predecessor" to the Hurston book. The Caribbean angle would be interesting.
     
  8. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I've read Their Eyes Were Watching God three or four times. I have to read it aloud.
     
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  9. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Thailand
    #109 chaski, Jun 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
    Melmoth the Wanderer - Charles Maturin

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    Uneven and too long Gothic romance, but worth reading.
     
  10. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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

    How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. by Michael Pollan

    "Take real drugs. Not too much. Mostly hallucinogenic."
     
  11. BalanceUT

    BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

    Oct 8, 2006
    Appalachia
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Michael Pollan is often very interesting.
     
  12. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    He is here, too. A lot of the background is known to me already, but he interviews several research scientists I'm not familiar with doing work right now. I'm not familiar with any of that.
     
  13. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I've been reading Rick Atkinson's 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner An Army At Dawn, The War in North Africa 1942-1943. The whole first third of the book reinforces one overarching theme: man, were we ever unprepared to fight a war. We were comically inept - well, comically if it didn't mean people dying from the incompetence.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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

    Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing by the Australian Anthropologist Michael Taussig. A Peruvian-born anthropologist that I worked with in the late 80s said I reminded him of Taussig and should read this book. I haven't met myself yet, but I'm only on Chapter Two.
     
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  15. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    THLLSTRTDC1963.jpg

    The Illustrated Man -- Ray Bradbury

    I was looking for Fahrenheit 451, just because Trump, but I couldn't find it on my shelves and this was the only Bradbury I could find.

    I'm not a fan of short stories, overall, just because they typically lack the narrative power of longer works. Duh. I've read this collection a couple times and they rarely stay with me: half of these stories seem brand new to me. But he's still fun to read, and if I keep this copy I'll be able to "rediscover" The Illustrated Man in another decade. That's not such a bad proposition.
     
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  16. BalanceUT

    BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

    Oct 8, 2006
    Appalachia
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    #116 BalanceUT, Jun 17, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
    Just finished Restless by William Boyd. This was a very fun read. Daughter struggling to finish her doctoral dissertation (many readers here can identify) is handed a manuscript by her mother. The manuscript tells the story of her mother's life at about her daughter's age, a life her daughter knows nothing about. He mother was not an Englishwoman raised by parents who died in the war. She was a Russian who eventually was in Britain's spy services trying to convince America to enter the war. Told as two parallel stories, I found it wonderful fun and learned a bit about Britain's efforts to sway America (the story is fiction, of course, but the background is factual).

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    On that note, I have this up next on my shelf (checked it out from the library recently):

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. phedre44

    phedre44 Member

    SKC
    Apr 1, 2008
    Kansas
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I've read a few more since my last post, thankfully much better than Discovery of Witches.

    Annihilation by James VanderMeer

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    Fantasy is more my style than Sci-Fi, but I saw the movie with my hubs (who was mad that I tricked him into seeing a "horror" movie, even though it had his other girlfriend Natalie Portman in it), and I was intrigued enough to pick up the book. The movie didn't attempt to stay too close to the book, so any purists who read the book first would probably dislike it, but I think this is one of those novels that would be very hard to translate directly into film.

    Four women, a biologist, a surveyor, an anthropologist, and a psychologist, enter Area X, a now-abandoned section of the southern coast of the United States, to explore and hopefully report back their findings. Unfortunately, most previous expeditions have ended in the death or disappearance of the explorers, and this expedition suffers similar tragedy. I found the characters, especially the psychologist, much more intriguing in the book than in the film, though you are left to wonder how much of her behavior stems from her natural personality, and how much of it is driven by Area X. I found the environment much more beautiful and terrifying in the film. There are a lot of open questions at the end of the novel, but I'm generally satisfied. There are two more books in the trilogy, and I don't know if I will read them or not.

    The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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    A young adult fantasy novel playing off of the current trend of re-imagining old fairy tales in a modern environment, though in this case, the fairy tales were created by Ms. Albert.

    Alice is the granddaughter of Althea Prosperine, reclusive author of a collection of fairy tales called "Tales from the Hinterland." Alice has never met her grandmother, and has spent her whole life on the move with her mother, Ella, attempting to outrun the bad luck that seems to always be chasing them. When Alice is 17, she and her mother end up in New York, and Alice begins to discover that the Tales from the Hinterland might not be as fictional as she had original believed.

    I liked Alice as a character, but the plot lost its way in the second half of the book. I think the problem is that, because the fairy tales that are so important to the story are unfamiliar to us (and to Alice; she's never actually read her grandmother's book), we needed more than we got. The Hinterland seems like a world half-formed. Characters exist in it, and are introduced to us, but they fall flat. They are key to the story but we learn almost nothing about them. Imagine the story of the Little Mermaid, but all you get is a young woman walking awkwardly on the beach, not speaking. All you get is this glimpse, nothing about how she came to be there, and no resolution to her story. Maybe the book needed to be longer, or re-edited in some way. It may also have been limited by being a Young Adult novel, though I'm not sure it would have worked well as general fiction either.

    Still better than Discovery of Witches, though.

    Now, I've started The Stand by Stephen King. It'll be my first King novel ever, but I suspect it'll take awhile before I can report back, especially with the World Cup on and less than three months until my wedding...
     
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  19. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I read my first from Vandermeer earlier this year - Borne - and enjoyed it. Strong female protagonist in that one, too.
     
  20. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Thailand
    Kerouac: A Biography - Ann Charters

    [​IMG]


    Interesting bio published in 1973.
     
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  21. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Howlandotherpoems.jpeg

    Howl -- Allen Ginsberg

    I just watched Hannah Gadsby's Nannette on netflix and it seemed to me that it could very well be the Howl of the #MeToo movement. So, I thought I should read the actual Howl. Plus Chaski had just pulled a Wankler reading a bio of Keruoac and Ginsberg was relatively fresh in my mind.

    Of course, as a high schooler I loved Howl with the newfound sensibility of the 17 year old, though mostly because it introduced us to the concept of finding great band names in other writings. Lots of great band names in Howl; my longtime choice for best band name is "drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality".
     
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  22. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    I'm surprised there aren't a lot more band names from "Howl." Burroughs gave us Steely Dan (Naked Lunch) and Kerouac gave us Pretty Girls Make Graves (Dharma Bums) Why is there no band called Saintly Motorcyclists? Hotrod Golgotha? Okay, Philip Glass worked "Hydrogen Jukebox" into a pretty interesting oratorio, but there should be a band calling itself Vast Lambs of the Middle Class.
     
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  23. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    In my senior seminar we have a side game going for best band names that come out of readings and discussion. Last semester it was Rise of the Baobab which took top spot.
     
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  24. song219

    song219 BigSoccer Supporter

    Apr 5, 2004
    La Norte
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    Vanuatu
    I just decided this morning that my bands name would be Totally Without Merit.
     
  25. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Assign them Howl and see if they can do better.

    Upon re-reading the poem last night, my 2nd favorite is simpler: Mohammedan Angels.
     
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