So! You Are Reading What? v. 2018

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

  1. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    A Tour on the Prairies - Washington Irving

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    Short, amusing account of Irving's month-long 1832 trip in what is now Oklahoma
     
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  2. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
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    Real Matter: A Rare Example of a Book Published by a Univerity Press That Does Not Have a Subtitle (1997 and wayyyyyyyy out of print by way of the University of Utah Press) by UC Davis professor (retired) David Robertson. An interesting blend of lit crit, memoir, and hiking, with some photographs. His UC Davis page summarizes better than I can w/ my iPad...

    In Real Matter, David Robertson tells the stories of american authors (Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Clarence King, John Muir, Mary Austin, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Phillip Whalen), whose real life mountain adventures surface in their writings. He examines how they recast their alpine excursions in literature. While he retraces the steps of the authors he writes about, Robertson is also keeping a journal and taking photographs. He is seeking a "secret at the heart of the universe"; he wants to find out what meaning these authors found in the mountains and what meaning he can find on their trail

    Fitz Hugh Ludlow made a cameo in a book I read last year called something like Walt Whitman Among the Bohemians and before he did some hiking in what's now Yosemite, he published a book called Confessions of a Hasheesh Eater (1856) Clarence King was an early geolgist who bagged major west coast peaks with limited knowledge of mountaineering (like, how to get down from mountains one has just scaled), and the others are standard figures in nature/landscape literature classes.
     
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  3. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    #153 Val1, Jul 25, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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    Edmond Halley -- Robert Stawell Ball

    Last year I read a very detailed bio on Christopher Wren. Fascinating guy, really brilliant, wife's ancestor.... The book was too much, 450 pages and it was a slog getting through it. I resolved to read something briefer when looking at the lives of the mostly-educated. I found it. This is a high-school level bio that does what it's supposed to do: give me an appreciation for a guy who I heretofore only associated with a comet.

    Of course, Halley did correctly predict the return of the comet that would bear his name, down to the week. This book is in a "great astronomers" series after all, but Halley was so much more than that. Like so many of the exquisitely educated of the 17th Century, he was a true Renaissance Man. Let's see... Halley invented the diving bell. In the race to navigate using longitude, he took accurate readings half way across the globe. He theorized that he could determine the age of the earth by using seawater salinity levels. (He was wrong about that, but his salinity estimates of the seas 400,000 years ago were correct.) He invented the notion of life annuities, the precursor to actuarial tables. And most interestingly to me, while trying to prove Kepler's laws of planetary motion, he sought out a young Isaac Newton and recognized the talent, as it were. He basically convinced Newton to write Principia, and when he wrote it, and the Royal Society was out of funds, Halley published it himself.

    A few years back, I read God's Secretaries about the men who translated the King James Version and more than the story of that work itself, what was most striking is just how freaking well educated post-Renaissance, rich, white men were. They all spoke and wrote multiple languages, they all read Augustine and Aristotle, they wrote complicated poetry in their spare time, they voyaged around the world, they knew math and philosophy to an extent that seems unfathomable to me now. Halley was just one of many, but damn, he commissioned Principia...
     
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  4. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    The Prairie - James Fenimore Cooper

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    "It is a strange, splendid book, full of sense of doom." - D.H. Lawrence
     
  5. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Man, I killed it last week in that used bookstore (Dogtown Books, Gloucester MA). First Real Matter and now ...

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    Tracks Along the Left Coast: Jaime De Angulo and Pacific Coast Culture (strange books to find within less than a mile of the Atlantic Ocean now that I think about it) by Andrew Schelling, I had come across Jaime de Angulo's (who died in 1950) as a figure at the margin of the "San Francisco Renaissance" of the mid-20th century. Interesting guy: A wealthy Spaniard, raised in Paris, who moved to the US and became a cowboy, a rancher, a non-practicing MD (earned at Johns Hopkins) and, eventually, an amateur anthropologist who collected Indian folktales, etc, while also writing grammars and so forth of several native languages that eventually died out. It's not really a biography. It's not told in straight chronological order. Mostly, it is about his life and various interests and the network of friends and acquaintances that connected with him through those interests.
     
  6. phedre44

    phedre44 Member

    SKC
    Apr 1, 2008
    Kansas
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Ok, so I finished The Stand, and I just have to quote a portion of a paragraph, ostensibly revealing the perspective of Dayna Jurgens, a lesbian who still somehow seems to exist in the story primarily for men to have sex with:

    "Dayna Jurgens lay naked in the huge double bed, listening to the steady hiss of water coming from the shower, and looked up at her reflection in the big circular ceiling mirror, which was the exact shape and size of the bed it reflected. She thought that the female body always looks its best when it is flat on its back, stretched out, the tummy pulled flat, the breasts naturally upright without the vertical drag of gravity to pull them down."

    NO. No, Stephen King, that is not how breasts work, and a lesbian would ********ing know better. What the ******** is wrong with you? Have you ever seen the tits of a woman who is lying down? They.Are.In.Her.Armpits. Holy ********.

    About threw the book across the room.
     
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  7. BalanceUT

    BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

    Oct 8, 2006
    Appalachia
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Excellent... gravity, it's a thing no matter how the body orients, orthogonally or parallel to it.
     
  8. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
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    Boom, Bust Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas and a Tale of Two Cities, a great study of the effects of globalization, esp. NAFTA, on two communities, on in and around Reynosa, Mexico, and Galesburg, Illinois, which is where I grew up, by U of Chicago sociologist Chad Broughton. Two people I grew up with have cameos, but also interesting to me was what NAFTA did in Mexico. On the one hand, it did provide a ton of jobs for poor people. On the other hand, it completely impoverished tons of Mexican farmers, which had the effect of holding down wages in the Maquilas.
     
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  9. Bluto11

    Bluto11 The sky is falling!

    May 16, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    While on the way and in Munich, I read the following:

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    Currently 100 page into....

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  10. Atouk

    Atouk BigSoccer Supporter

    DC United
    Apr 16, 2001
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    Queens Park Rangers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
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    Just finished The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald. She was such a superior writer. This was just the second work I've read by her, though I have Human Voices along with some James Baldwin in my backpack for a vacation that begins tonight.
     
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  11. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    Rogue Lawyer – John Grisham

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    Starts out slow, but develops into an entertaining read.
     
  12. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    A year or so ago I read Sylvan Neuvel's Sleeping Giants, which I found pretty compelling. I bumped into both of the sequels at the library a few weeks ago, and I was pleased to give them a whirl.

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    They were fine. But lazy-seeming to me, and here's why. A couple of the post-apocalyptic books that followed the excellent World War Z used the same approach of not writing a narrative, but providing the content in another way. In WWZ this took the form of oral histories taken by a UN agency after the war ended, and it works very well to take you through the story. A book called Robopocalypse used files from the main robot, downloaded after the war ended, to forward the story - plausible in the context of the story.

    And here's this series. The first book takes place predominantly through conversations in secure government facilities or with this one enigmatic guy orchestrating much of the action, so okay, it was fine. But the other two take place all over the world and even on another world, and it becomes a real stretch to buy into the means each header says they retrieved the observation or commentary. Certainly the third book would benefit from a more traditional narrative structure.
     
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  13. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth: Mountaineer, Scout, and Pioneer, and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians – as told to T.D. Bonner

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    He was fur trapper, trader, scout, war chief of the Crow Nation, explorer, hotelkeeper, dispatch carrier, storekeeper, prospector, Indian agent for the Cheyennes―in short, a mountain man extraordinaire.
     
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  14. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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

    Grand Jury Report Investigating Six Dioceses* and The Role of The Bishops in Covering Up Abuse Cases


    *One of which I lived in for 20 years, one of which I live in now. Miserable pieces of shit.
     
  15. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    9781250295446_p0_v6_s600x595.jpg

    Children of Blood and Bone -- Tomi Adeyemi

    Ugh. This first time fantasy novel has won lots of plaudits but this is a book best not picked up in the first place. The author is a recent MFA grad and apparently has a successful blog and this work shows all the hallmarks of the recently educated. Adeyemi has three protagonists, each narrating his/her own section in the first person and in the present tense. This is apparently all the rage in writing circles -- expect to see a rash of books written in second person in the next few years. But here, this sounds more like an extended creative writing assignment. All three protagonists sound exactly the same. It's very tedious and nullifies a pretty nifty narrative.

    One more marker to help us avoid bad writing: this author has a five page (5 freaking pages!!!) acknowledgment. For a non-fiction work. It reads like what I imagine a 15 minute Oscar acceptance speech would sound like.

    Naahh: I didn't finish this one.
     
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  16. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire

    Oh, no! Please, not that again.
     
  17. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    Farewell, My Lovely – Raymond Chandler

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    “It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.”
     
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  18. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
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    The Traveling Feast: On the Road and at the Table With My Heroes, a travel book by a terrific writer who leaves his home in the Yaak Valley of extreme NWestern Montana and visits writers who influenced him as he began working as a writer, in which Rick Bass takes along younger writers who he's been mentoring,
     
  19. BalanceUT

    BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

    Oct 8, 2006
    Appalachia
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Jeff Noon, Vurt. Manchester England dozens of years into the future. Manchester is one of the largest cities on earth. The dystopia is tolerated by a population that ingests feathers that somehow transport your mind into other realms. It's virtual reality (Vurt), in which the virtual can become real. There are very safe trips and very unsafe trips and potentially deadly trips. If you fail with a yellow feather to complete the game, if you die in the game, you die in real life. You can bring things out of the Vurt, creatures. You can get lost in the Vurt.

    Whatever... I found it tiring. It's written with a frenetic style of people drugged up (on Vurt) and constantly crazed for more. After 51 pages of frenzy with no sense that I could care about any of the characters, I closed it and decided that I'm too old to spend time on books that annoy me when they are supposed to entertain. I guess I didn't want to read about people metaphorically addicted to drugs and desperate to find the next high.

    It's lauded by many. I guess that's nice. I didn't care to go on.

    Not the cover of my edition. It keeps switching publishers... weird.

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  20. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers - Henry David Thoreau

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    “Paper is cheap, and authors need not now erase one book before they write another. Instead of cultivating the earth for wheat and potatoes, they cultivate literature, and fill a place in the Republic of Letters.”
     
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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
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    I am most certainly not above reading children's books.
     
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  22. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Denmark
    The Subterraneans – Jack Kerouac

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    “Once I was young and had so much more orientation that I could talk with nervous intelligence about everything and with clarity and without as much literary preambling as this; in other words this is the story of an unself-confident man, at the same time of an egomaniac, naturally, facetious won't do—just to start at the beginning and let the truth seep out, that's what I'll do—“
     
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  23. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    I propose that anyone who reads Kerouac try to post a pocket paperback pic, regardless of what edition they're actually reading. Those things are the best.
     
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  24. Atouk

    Atouk BigSoccer Supporter

    DC United
    Apr 16, 2001
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    Queens Park Rangers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Just back from a great vacation visiting family. Had time to read several short books and to get a good start on one long one.

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    The Devil Finds Work by James Baldwin

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    The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

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    Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

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    Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald

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    (The first third of) Just Above My Head by James Baldwin
     
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  25. Bluto11

    Bluto11 The sky is falling!

    May 16, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Finished this yesterday. Did not think it was as good as Shogun or Tai-pan. At times I felt like I was reading the masturbatory ravings of an old man, then I found out Clavell was 71 when it was published and it kind of made sense.
     
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