So, What Are You Reading? v. 2020

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

  1. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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

    With God in Russia: My Twenty Three Years as a Priest in Soviet Prisons and Labor Camps and in Siberia, a book which in spite of its bulky title is pretty good; I'm glad I finally got around to reading it, because it's not the pietistic tome I had been dreading, but rather a down to earth tale of some pretty bad times, like... 23 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps, by Walter Ciszek, S.J.
     
  2. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. Looks promising, as it's a history of the Roman Empire.
     
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  3. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Does "SPQR" stand for anything? I've seen the book, but a quick skim provided me with no answers.
     
  4. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Senate and the People of Rome.
     
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  5. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-1946 – Jack Kerouac

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    "I myself, as you can see from this whole insane tirade of prose called a book, had been thru so much junk anyway you can hardly blame me for joining in with the despairists of my time."

    This is much less like a novel than the 3 earlier books in the Duluoz Legend, and more like autobiography, but quite interesting on its own terms -"the story of the techniques of suffering in the working world, which includes football and war."
     
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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
    [​IMG]

    John Updike -- Rabbit, Run
     
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  7. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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

    Russia's Uncommon Prophet: Father Aleksandr Men and His Times, a biography of noted Orthodox priest and anti-Soviet activist Aleksandr Men, who in 1990 was executed outside his church, most likely by KGB agents, which suggest he was doing some things right, by William L. Daniel, a book which for some reason is published by Northern Illinois University Press, which is a better university press than one would guess, but not a likely source for this book so far as I can tell.
     
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  8. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

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

    I've used Bogle's strategies for years, but never actually read one of his books. That has now been remedied. Excellent book that's easy to read and comprehend. It's reduced to bite-sized chunks within the chapters and the evidence of his general approach's superiority to almost all other investing options is irrefutable.

    Even now I've nearly got my 403b maxed out with 4 index funds (2 stock, 2 bond) and I'm pouring cash into it since the stock market is on sale.
     
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  9. Longtucky

    Longtucky New Member

    Arsenal
    United States
    Feb 17, 2020
    USA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Currently reading two books:

    1. The First Conspiracy: the Secret Plot to Kill George Washington

    2. The Radicalism of the American Revolution

    The Revolutionary War is one of my favorite time periods and I find it fascinating to read about the politics and strategy of the time.
     
  10. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Mario Vargas Llosa-The Storyteller. About a storyteller in the Amazon jungle with an Indian tribe.
     
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  11. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I read Mary Karr's memoir (the first of several I believe), The Liar's Club, about two years in her childhood, one in East Texas and the other in rural Colorado.

    [​IMG]

    It's a profile of the year she was six (East Texas) and eight (Colorado) and Karr certainly borrowed from the way her father and friends spun tales at the titular Liar's Club; what she writes is so detailed in places that you know she's following the lead of the men she listened to. There isn't much happy in the book, but it's vivid and engaging throughout. One volume is enough for me however.
     
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  12. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Me too. But I recommend her book The Art of Memoir if anyone is thinking "I wonder if there are any good memoirs I would like to read." I'm not a fan of her writing, but her recommendations are spot on, and her descriptions are so good you can tell if it's something you could dig or not.

    My introductory world lit class is focused on the Nobel Prize and World Lit. Some of my students went home without their books, or hadn't bought them yet. For the dozen or so students who fo not have Svetlana Alexievich's Unwomanly Face if War, this will be an option.

    [​IMG]

    The Plague by Albert Camus. Our times have the potential to get grim, but so far, even the worst of the pandemic isn't matching the scenario in this book. Needless to say, I'll come up with an alternative should students find this too grim. Or should I get incapacitated or worse.
     
  13. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Mark Twain-Life on the Mississippi. About two journeys taken on the Mississippi.
     
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  14. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Shogun is so clearly better than all the others, though I did like King Rat well enough. I did go through a phase when I read all the prisoner of war stuff I could find.

    I do like your evolving sig.
     
  15. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    220px-Ready_Player_One_cover.jpg

    Ready Player One -- Ernest Cline

    Another from the books-I-read-with-my-kids collection, this one was assigned to my god daughter as one of only two assigned books for 11th grade English. And I'm pretty sure I have never come across a more completely inappropriate book: it is a piece of crap work.

    First off, there is much better sci fi. There is better dystopian fiction. And there are better works on the pervasive influence of screens/technology in our lives. Basically, the world has turned into The Matrix Lite. There is a virtual world that is easy to retreat to, (but no evil computer code) given that society long since fell apart due to global warming and resource scarcity. (This was the one brilliant take in the book: the cataclysmic event that lead to the world's downfall was The Cornsyrup Wars. That's a wonderful formulation, but it's only one sentence the book.)

    It turns out that the inventor of this world, when he dies, hides an easter egg in the program (and it's literally galaxies upon galaxies of worlds) and whosoever finds it, will inherit his fortune. Obsessing about this creator becomes a full time job and they learn everything about the guy and it turns out he has idealized his childhood (a la Rosebud) and gamers have memorized every 80s movie, song, music video, video game, chain restaurant etc. And herein lies the real awfulness of the book: there are pages and pages of descriptions of 70s and 80s pop cultural references. Now I was a kid in the 70s, so I get the reference to the Alan Parsons Project and I played the D&D Tomb of Horrors module, but the latter is given 6 or 7 pages of description in the book. And it's just got to be supremely boring for a 16 year old reading this book.

    It really is awful. I cannot adequately describe how much this book sucked in 6 or 7 minutes of writing. And Steven Spielberg made a movie of it. And it was rather lame as well.
     
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  16. Val1

    Val1 Member+

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

    An American Tragedy -- Theodore Drieser

    What would be a distinctly American tragedy? Drieser wanted to write the archetypal story so he settles on a poor man who marries (maybe for love) but then wants to be able to move up in the world and his wife is holding him back. He kills his wife, to free him for the woman of his dreams, but through shear stupidity and some bad luck, our "hero" is caught, convicted and executed.

    This is a tedious work -- yet another 800+ page work that I've somehow allowed myself to pick up -- and Drieser would have been better served if he'd hired an editor. Drieser will write a paragraph, a page, an entire chapter, and many times completely repeat the passage. It's as if he'd written the first passage, massaged and edited it, and then include both passages.

    It's funny, in my annotated version, the forward tries to consider this a virtue, that this repetition is part of the power of the writing, that the story comes at you in waves. Bull***t. It's like my art history textbook from the early 80s raving about the Sistine Chapel and the power behind Michelangelo's monochromatic oeuvre. When all the while, what is most striking about the Sistine Chapel is the rainbow of hues that Michelangelo used.

    Overall, though, a fine read. One that I am happy to be able to say, "I've read it." But I'm not reading it again.
     
  17. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Anne of Green Gables.jpg

    Anne of Green Gables -- L (Lucy) M (Maude) Montgomery

    After the tribulations of American Tragedy, I needed something easier to read, so I revisited this classic. It was an easy get: my wife and I have been watching the (surprisingly good) adaptation, Anne, with an E, on netflix. We've been talking about the series, especially vis a vis the original work, with my god daughter, and somewhat surprisingly for me, I only read the Anne series once when I was a kid. And I had devoured the series -- I'm pretty sure I learned what an interlibrary loan was trying to finish the series -- and then I just never read any of the books again.

    Anne is simply one of the most irrepressible characters in fiction. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I learned what the word "irrepressible" meant from reading this series. Anne is just more fun than any other of her fictional female cohort of the times: Laura Ingalls, Jo March, Heidi (and since history wasn't my strong suit in elementary school), Pippi Longstocking. My one sadness re the series is how fast Anne grew up. She's at her best as an 11 year old girl and she ages through that in half of the first book. It is one of the pleasures of the netflix series: it takes 3 seasons and 30 episodes to get Anne to the same point as the book. The book and the series ultimately reinforce each other, and this is rare. The only other time I'm aware of such a symbiosis between genres is with Fried Green Tomatoes.
     
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  18. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    Smiley’s People - John le Carré

    [​IMG]

    Excellent spy novel - good escape reading.
     
  19. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

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

    One of my favorite things about reading classic novels is how differently they're structured and how little the modern take on some of them matches the source material. The depth of world building, and the stark differences in what vampires can do, the number of times they suck blood from a victim, and what kills them compared to recent popular takes both threw me off for a bit.

    I knew Buffy, I knew Angel, and now I feel like I actually get Dracula. I may have to fire up the Netflix series and see how it compares.
     

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