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Discussion in 'Books' started by Ismitje, Jan 1, 2018.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë.
What Are We Doing Here? Essays that are mostly lectures presented i. The last four or five years by novelist Marilynne Robinson
A Legacy of Spies - John le Carre
Decades later, the operation in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is investigated, and Peter Guillam wants to avoid being the patsy.
An excellent read.
I read a pair of books - the first two of a planned trilogy from first-time author Katherine Arden - and I enjoyed them quite a lot (especially the first one). I don't think I am an ideal candidate for these books, which are about a girl growing up in the far northern reaches of Russia, not so much a witch as someone with an affinity for the traditional Russian spirits and deities. But that "true" connection to Russian culture as opposed to "just" fantasy or made-up entities of the same ilk is what made the difference for me.
(Not that I really know Russian culture well enough to know if the book is accurate on all of those counts. But it rang true, and I liked it for that.)
The books are The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower.
Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life (2018), a book that is a lot less self-helpy than it sounds, providing as it does a rather accessible overview the thought of the man Aquinas and his colleagues just called "The Philosopher," by Edith Hall. I'm assigning Aristotles Nichomachean Ethics to my Freshman comp class (with full approval of 2/3rds of the Philosophy department) and this is useful enough that I'll likely put it on reserve.
Which is a bit ironic, because baobabs are dying off, apparently. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsa...ome-of-africas-biggest-baobab-trees-dying-off
The Pillar of Fire, a memoir by a Bavarian born psychiatrist who moved to England then Canada to get away from the Nazi's name Karl Stern
My turn to read a classic, Dashiell Hammett's 1929/30 (it was originally serialized in a magazine) detective novel The Maltese Falcon.
This was/is the first of its kind, and set up the archetypal uber-strong yet vulnerable, uber-savvy but not clued into everything going on, male detective that has since characterized much of the genre. I never saw the movie (I more-or-less consciously skipped much of Bogart's filmography) and I didn't know the plot, which was nice going in. It's a taut 250 pages - all third person observation - with Spade at the center and a lot of murky people in it (perhaps only two characters are decent humans). And Spade slaps, grabs, crushes, and squeezes all of the women he comes in contact with, and a couple even mention they'll have bruises. That's . . . uncomfortable. But overall, it's a good read.
The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga - Peter Cozzens
Missionary Ridge = the death knell of the Confederacy
Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution,. which popped up in the library after several weeks on the waiting list by Journalist and Dee Dee Myers' husband Todd S. Purdum.
About 20 years ago, I served as teaching assistant for a section of World Civ for a fellow who liked to interject examples of sexual depravity on the part of famous rulers throughout history to get the freshmen in the class to pay attention. And they did, but only when he mentioned something like Catherine the Great (supposedly - he never mentioned it was a rumor) having sex with a horse because she was so voracious. I had the fun task of holding exam review sessions with a bunch of guys who knew nothing else except these bon mots.
Fast forward to last week at the local public library when I spied this book:
Author Eleanor Herman has penned an odd mix of popular history (books with lurid names like this one) and a YA series on Alexander the Great. She wrote a book like this about kings, so this was probably inevitable. And to her credit, the first two chapters - both aggregated information looking at patters - are quite good, followed, however, by completely standard histories of notable women, interjected with asides pointing out where the king was icky so it was probably gross to have sex with him, and hubba-hubba comments about well-hung lovers.
Those two chapters are worth it, though.
Thanks to that long-ago TA assignment for prompting me to check this out.
Your TA assignment more interesting than mine. I TAed the graduate level statistics courses. That teacher's main catchphrase was: "Statistics is learned by scratching pencil lead on paper."
Going After Cacciato - Tim O'Brien
Bought it for $2.50 at Moe's Books in Berkeley.
It has been awhile since I read something so unexpectedly thrilling as Lesley Nneka Arimah's What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, her debut collection of short stories. I knew nothing about it other than what I read on the dust jacket when I checked it out, and I think it best to say little other than what is there: that this collection focuses on Nigerian/Nigerian expats in the US, mostly with young girls or women as protagonists. Some of it is truly exquisite, and a couple of entries would not be out of place in a Sci-Fi collection, but it is all very good. Highly recommended.
Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, a historian's account of the rise of militarized white suprimecist movements and their origin in Viet Nam war and its aftermath, focusing on the roles they've played domestically as well as internationally as part of the mercenary contributions to wars in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. The author, Kathleen Belew, is an untenured Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago. I'm pretty sure this will wrap up tenure and promotion.
My dad has that now.
Considering the number of students I teach who are Nigerian expats, this might be a very good read for me to expand my cultural competency.
Wieland, or, The Transformation - Charles Brockden Brown
One of the earliest American novels (1798)
FYI, three of his works, including that one, are available in this LOA hardcover:
Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Arduous road to publication, finally published in original envisioned form some years after the fall of the Soviet Union. This is the 2012 translation and I think works pretty well. I liked it plenty, though I can't help but feel that the character development was a bit lost in translation.
I'll have to check that out. That's the basis of the Russian movie Stalker directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. I saw the movie and read the earlier translation, but it was ... Rather clumsy as I recall
That's the book I have.
Elie Wiesel -- A Beggar in Jerusalem
This is ostensibly a novel of the 1967 Six Day War, but since every character in the book survived the Holocaust, it is really about the Holocaust. And that's fine, since it is Elie Wiesel after all, but the narrative is fractured and Wiesel isn't a good enough writer to tell two stories -- the war and the Holocaust -- from multiple points of view. The narrator is the weakest character in the book and that's usually a poor omen. The book really reads like an oral history, and upon reflection, I would have preferred if the book was just that. This is a short work but I read it in three settings a couple of weeks apart and it was hard to keep the characters straight. Freed from narrative it would have been a better reading.
Ray Bradbury -- A Pleasure to Burn
I've been to the library twice and our used book store and I'm striking out on finding Fahrenheit 451, but this jumped off the shelf and it can best be described as variations on a theme: burned books meets Twilight Zone. 451 is famously the successor to The Fireman, which is here, but the real genesis for 451 seems to me to be found in the stories Bright Phoenix and Bonfire.
It was also interesting to note that the dust jacket may be the most informative jacket I've ever read. There is no editor's note for this collection, so some creative individual annotated the heck out of the jacket, making it the most scholarly 200 words I've read on an author.
To me, the collaboration between Patterson and President Clinton seemed liked a marketing ploy to sell more books, but how do I know if it is market ploy if I never read the book. So curiosity led me into reading this book.
Okay, the first 20-30% of the book seemed unrealistic. The POTUS decided to meet with an unknown person who was probably a member of a Muslim extremist group.... alone without his security details. Sometihing happened in the meeting.... the POTUS decided that he could trust the self-proclaimed former terrorist and they together fought against another terrorist attack. Yeah right? This was the first 30% of the book and I almost gave up reading the rest of it. The last 70% actually got better.
From reviews at amazon, most people actually thought President Clinton contributed little to the book. I have a different take. I thought "President Duncan" was Bill Clinton's fantasy. He dreamed that he also could escape his secret service.... to meet and fight terrorists "mano-e-mano" outside his Oval office.