So, What Are You Reading? v. 2020

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

  1. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I have a caveat on Diamond: almost everything I've read of his was standard history repackaged as popular history. Guns, Germs, and Steel was essentially a colonial Latin America history survey course, expanded and fleshed out a bit. Nothing revelatory at all. But aggregating for a popular audience is its own particular skill, and he has that in spades (or at least did for his first couple of books, I haven't revisited them since I kenned his schtick - so Collapse is the last one I even thumbed through).

    I program the university's main symposium on international issues, and we hosted Diamond for our program on Resource Wars in 2006, right when Collapse was at its peak in public discourse. Good news from a programming standpoint: the audience was enthusiastic and SRO as we set the house for 750 people and close to a thousand came. Bad news from a discourse standpoint: he basically walked through Collapse chapter by chapter, not so much reading excerpts (lots of authors do that and then expound) as talking us through the whole damn book. People who hadn't read it loved the talk; people who had were profoundly disappointed.
     
  2. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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

    On Human Nature a collection of lectures, the first of which name checks nearly everything I had to read for an undergraduate Philosophy of Mind class in the early 80s, short of H. P. Grice and our class's headliner, Gilbert Ryle, whose Concept of Mind was instrumental in convincing me to not pursue philosophy as a major or as a grad school option, by eminent philosopher (and sadly at times, Tory conservative hatchet man), the recently deceased Roger Scruton, who is able to write about philosophy in an accessible manner. So, two cheers for his career.
     
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  3. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Evans. Tale of a girl living by herself on a marsh.
     
  4. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    One of the books I snagged from my office at work the last time I left before shelter-at-home started lo, about six weeks ago now was Tara Westover's Educated. She was the common read author/speaker on campus a couple of years ago and while I picked up a book, I missed the talk and had not ever read it. People who I respect a lot really liked her message and her book, but it was always a "someday" sort of possible read until I was down to fewer options. And what is this era if not one of fewer options?

    [​IMG]

    The memoir is remarkable. Her family is atypically terrifying; there's a "type" I expect in books about difficult and/or traumatic upbringings, and the life as the youngest child in a fundamentalist Mormon* family that worked in scrapyards and eschewed almost everything most Mormons participate in is really something. It was interesting reading a book where BYU is the bastion of liberalism and socialism, and I had never thought about what people on the extreme conservative end of the LDS Church think about the full education there.

    * Most fundamentalists are separated from the mainstream church, but the Westovers seem to have attended the local congregation with everyone else while trying to convince folks there of a more extreme interpretation of the doctrine. There's a great passage in the book about when her father interpreted scripture to mean humans should not ingest milk or other dairy, and he's at church trying to convince a fellow congregant of his point. The other gentleman expresses doubt that God wouldn't want someone to enjoy a strawberry shake on a hot August afternoon and moves on.
     
  5. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

    Aug 19, 2012
    The Lubbock Texas
    Club:
    DC United
    It was eerie to me because of how closely fundamentalist Mormons are to many fundamentalist Protestants. The essential oils, the tinctures, the prepper/survivalist bent. It's all just so similar and it makes me wonder what the chemical imbalance is that leads to that from so many different starting points.

    When I went to Liberty, it was considered the liberal/social/worldly school by the folks at Bob Jones and Pensacola Christian. It's a bizarre world when you wander into the truly fundamentalist part of any religion.
     
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  6. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    It's a bit early as I only just finished chapter one this morning, but it fits w/ the last two posts:
    [​IMG]

    The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts, which discusses the Hebrew Bible as well as texts from India, and China, and eventually the New Testament and the Koran. And if longer subtitles were in fashion now as they were in the 17th Century, Karen Armstrong's might continue, "From Rampaging Fundamentalism and Other Reductive Forms of Hyper-Literal Misinterpreations."

    The art of scripture did not mean a return to an imagined perfection in the past, because the sacred text was always a work in progress. The art of scriptural exegesis was, therefore, inventive, imaginative, and creative. So, to read the scriptures correctly and authentically we must make them speak directly to our modern predicament. Instead, some Christian fundamentalists today aim to revive the Bronze Age legislation of the Hebrew Bible, while some Muslim reformers are slavishly attempting to return to the
    mores of seventh century Arabia

    And Educated was on the Recent Acquisitions shelf at my public library the last time I was there. I would've grabbed it, but I had a book on hold: Joseph Frank's one volume abridgment of his Dostoevsky biography, whicn is over 1000 pages and took up all the available space in my backpack . . . and currently takes up a chunk of my coffeetable....
     
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  7. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson - Anthony Trollope

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    "Did you ever see an advertisement that contained the truth? If it were as true as heaven, would any one believe it? Was it ever supposed that any man believed an advertisement? Sit down and write the truth, and see what it will be! The statement will show itself of such a nature that you will not dare to publish it."
     
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  8. Excape Goat

    Excape Goat Member+

    Mar 18, 1999
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    I learned about Yukio Mishma when I came upon a biography of him in my High School library. I was intrigued by his dramatic death. Some of the photos taken of him in the 1970's were also avant garde while maintaining a sense of Samurai. For a high school kid liked myself who tried to be sophisticated, he seemed cool. Then, the bi-pic of yukio Mishima came out in 1985, which mixed his life story with scenes from his books. I posted the Youtube video about this book from the movie below(spoiler alert), but apparently the most important part of the movie were deleted. Basically. the two cripples tried to get laid by manipulating women's sympathy. In another word, the movie presented the book as a story about two teenage social outcasts trying to get laid, but presented in a sophisticated and intellectual fashion. At that point in life, I had never kissed a girl before, but with a lot of "hormones" inside my body. And I was a kid in school struggling to fit in So the book appealed to me, but I never read it.

    This book sat on my bookshelf for many years. I opened it last week.... a receipt dated September, 1993 fell out. I must have bought it after visiting Kyoto and seeing the Temple in the summer of 1993. I finished it in 4 days.... Did I like it? Nope. I find Mishima spending too much time on monologues talking about the same thing over and over again. And I was lost most of the time. Since Mr.Mishima is considered one of the greatest Asian writers in the 20th Century, I believed that my opinion is in the minority. Perhaps, I have spent the last 35 years of my life thinking that this book was a psychological fiction about sex. Two weeks ago, I just posted about reading Sigmund Freud on this thread. So my head is filled with Oedipus complex analysis and other Freudian's sexual theory. I must be expecting more out of this book.



    [​IMG]



     
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  9. Val1

    Val1 Member+

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

    Seabiscuit -- Laura Hillenbrand

    So, in the absence of sports, I've been reading about sports, which I don't usually do since there's BS, ESPN, etc. So, I read Seabiscuit. Really interesting book about the greatest racer that had all but been forgotten because he never ran in the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown is for 3-year olds and Seabiscuit was "discovered" when he was 4.
    I have a friend who jousts (Maryland style: http://marylandjousting.com/ ) and my brother has a circle of friends who competed in rodeo, and all of them will tell you that horses are extremely competitive animals. Without anthropomorphising them, they know that their horses know exactly what they are competing for and they can tell when they've won.

    Seabiscuit was a trash talker, as it were. He would let other horses get close to him down the home stretch, only to turn on the speed to blow them away. And sometimes, when he caught up with a leading horse, he would do a shimmey to let the other horse he was passing him. The author recounts a couple of times that Seabiscuit broke a couple of horses to the point that they refused to train with him.

    The other thing that has long fascinated me about horse racing, is the athletic demands of being a jockey. These guys, pound for pound, may be the best athletes in the world: weighing about 100 pounds they have to control a 1500 pound horse traveling 40 mph. Conveying this idea the author does less well just because she wasn't a sports fan. She stumbled on Seabiscuit while researching another book.

    The author has a pretty interesting story herself. She suffers from vertigo and chronic fatigue syndrome and can only work for about an hour or two a day. Which may be why she has only written a book a decade.

    The other thing that intrigues me about this re-print: why is the pic of the horse cut off? It's just a bad picture. For another, there were three men who brought Seabiscuit to the stage. The owner and the jockey are pictured, but not the trainer, and he may have been the most unique guy of the trio.
     
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  10. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    #110 EvanJ, May 3, 2020
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
    I watch entertainment videos by LDS families on YouTube. The videos are not religious. When one girl said that she and her friend aren't lesbians with each other, I read between the lines and believe that she was expressing disapproval with homosexuality. Most of the time I watch girls say they're not lesbians it's done in a comedic way, but this sounded different. BYU TV has a variety of shows, and you don't have to be LDS or even Christian to like a lot of what they show. They believe in pranks, so they're not too serious. Their idea of humor is way too juvenile. They believe in teaching about other religions and had a three and a half hour Passover seder. What's funny is a BYU stereotypes video with a compilation of stereotypes by students at BYU and nearby public Utah Valley University. The most common one was about getting married young. The girl I watch is the opposite of the stereotypes. She didn't have a boyfriend until 20. One of the stereotypes is that BYU are boring and won't try things. The school is academically hard, which could give students less time to try things, but the girls I watch would try so much that if you played the few seconds of the guy's stereotype and show something the girl has done and went back and forth between the statement and what the girl has done, you could have more than enough content for a half hour TV show. It's hard to have a stereotype and a person who's the opposite of that more extreme than what I'm talking about. I don't know how much it costs to live there, but rather than living in a big dorm, the girl lives in a one floor house (she calls it an apartment) that has four girls with their own bedrooms, a kitchen and den in an open space, two bathrooms, and a washer and dryer. The most famous letters in a mountain are Hollywood, but BYU is in a mountain also.

    A young woman I watch in a family that are the opposite of the religious right wrote a teen science fiction book you can order at https://www.amazon.com/Pages-Red-Diamond-1/dp/1502335220 which I haven't read because I don't read science fiction, but some of you do. The four siblings have the extremely restrictive diet of vegan and gluten-free, and have many beliefs that are the opposite of the religious right. They care about minority groups including homosexuals, and care about the environment.
     
  11. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The View From Flyover Country by Sarah Kendzior. Essays written between 2012 and 2014. Good, progressive work.
     
  12. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk. Tale of a Christian who gets taken to the Ottoman capital after a ship raid.
     
  13. Q*bert Jones III

    Q*bert Jones III The People's Poet

    Feb 12, 2005
    Woodstock, NY
    Club:
    DC United
  14. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Some heavy russian-based reading...

    [​IMG]


    Dostoevsky: A Writer In His Time, a one-volume condensation of four volume biography that still weighs in at over 1000 pages by Joseph Frank. And...

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    Enter the Kettlebell: Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen, a kindle book that has come in handy for helping me not get hurt on my backyard workouts by the Master girevik Pavel Tsatsouline
     
  15. Q*bert Jones III

    Q*bert Jones III The People's Poet

    Feb 12, 2005
    Woodstock, NY
    Club:
    DC United
  16. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    Under Western Eyes – Joseph Conrad

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    "A novelist says this and that of his personages, and if only he knows how to say it earnestly enough he may not be questioned upon the inventions of his brain in which his own belief is made sufficiently manifest by a telling phrase, a poetic image, the accent of emotion. Art is great! "
     
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  17. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    I had a prof in college who called that book "the best Russian novel written by a Pole in English that anyone will ever read."
     
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  18. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. About an escaped slave who is chased by George and Martha Washington.
     
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  19. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of the K-129 - Norman Polmar & Michael White

    [​IMG]


    I can neither confirm nor deny that I read this book about the Hughes Glomar Explorer.
     
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  20. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger-I promise not to shoot anyone after reading it.
     
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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
  22. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    I read Wise Blood two or three times before learning that John Huston had made a movie version. I knew instantly upon receiving that information that, without a doubt, Harry Dean Stanton was Asa Hawks. Just had to be: the universe as shaped by billions of years of evolution could have it no other way.

    And a few times I've taught classes on 50s and 60s American lit, and I'd cluster novels in which cars played a big role: Wise Blood was one of the four: Another was painfully obvious, and I happen to be reading it now:

    [​IMG]

    On The Road by Jack Kerouac. The Scroll version.

    The other two prominent car novels: Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and Nabokov's Lolita
     
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  23. Val1

    Val1 Member+

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

    Frankenstein -- Mary Shelley


    I've been meaning to reread this for a decade, and then two years ago (to celebrate the book's bicentennial) Slate did a month-long dive into the work and I told my wife, who is the one in the family who haunts used bookstores, to get a copy. Over two years, she ended up getting me three editions...

    This is a truly astounding work by a very young woman and it can lay claim to so many firsts, so many innovations, and it is really a modern work. It's really great and I don't really love it. For as ground breaking as it is, it is still very much a Romantic work in that beauty equals virtue. Victor has created this amazing being and toiled for years to see his dream to fruition, and yet, and yet, at the moment of life, he is repulsed by his creation because it is ugly. That's it. This creature is ugly and Victor cannot wrap his head around it and he rejects the creature.

    It actually makes me take the work less seriously somehow. I did not enjoy reading this as much as I'd thought I would have.
     
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  24. Q*bert Jones III

    Q*bert Jones III The People's Poet

    Feb 12, 2005
    Woodstock, NY
    Club:
    DC United
    I think you make a valid criticism. But the monster wasn't just ugly, it was really, really ugly.

    This is a top 5 all timer for me.
     
  25. KensingtonSC

    KensingtonSC All You Fascists Bound to Lose

    FC Vaduz / Philadelphia Union
    Jan 7, 2010
    Andalusia, PA
    Club:
    FC Vaduz
    I'm a sucker for dystopian novels (despite the fact that it feels like we're living in one right now), so I picked up two, but also picked up a couple of classics.

    A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - I think I saw someone in these parts recommend this book. Haven't started it, but looking forward to reading it.

    Animal Farm by George Orwell - The AP kids in high school read this, but I was not in that particular group, so we were assigned Lord of the Flies (which is a fairly accurate representation of my high school experience). I wanted to read this after the discussion of essential and non-essential people and someone stating in a comment section somewhere "Real life isn't too different from Animal Farm". Plus my wife said the digital copy was only $1 on Amazon, so I figured why not give it a try.

    Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - Speaking of high school, this YA book is about a high school freshman who has something happen to her at a house party she attended, so she calls the police to break it up, but she refuses to say why she called them, and now everyone hates her for it. The book is about her struggle to deal with what happened, the feeling of being ostracized, and how she attempts to fight back using her art as a way to heal. Haven't read it yet, but seemed intrigued, so when my wife told me to order some books from Amazon so she could spend enough to get free shipping, and I couldn't think of anything, this was recommended, so I gave it a shot for $4.

    1/2986 Series by Annelie Wendeberg - This is series of digital books that was recommended when I was looking for dystopian novels, but this isn't your typical YA. It's not even YA. There's lots of 4-letter words and a sex scene in the first book! This is apparently an eco-thriller (which I didn't know was a thing) where 1 out of every 2986 people on the planet survive a pandemic when a cholera outbreak and a tuberculosis outbreak happen simultaneously, but our heroine soon discovers that the pandemic only killed, at most 30% of the population. So what happened to the other 69%? War, related atrocities, and destruction of the environment as a result of nuclear catastrophes. There are a group of bad people known as the Brothers and Sisters of the Apocalypse who are trying to bring an end to humanity. Our heroine joins a group of people called The Sequencers who are trying to prevent the elimination of humanity, and began tracing information at the start of the pandemic after books and documentation were eliminated. There are 5 books in the series, but only 4 have been created. I started reading the series in 2015 when I first came across it, and I really enjoyed the first 3 books I read, but book number 4 wouldn't come out until last year, and I have really wanted to read it. I started to re-read books 1 through 3 to get to book 4. The final book should be released sometime in 2021. I want to see how it ends.
     

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