What! You Are So Reading! v. 2021

Discussion in 'Books' started by Ismitje, Jan 1, 2021.

  1. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    My small hometown in rural Nebraska had--and still has--a small Baha'i congregation. They technically meet in nearby Grand Island, but there are several Baha'i families in that town which had roughly 3500 people when I was growing up. Mostly locals who converted in the 70's at the tail end of their hippie phase. All live somewhat unconventional lives--one family has always rented a second-floor apartment downtown because the husband makes his living as a mural painter and he needs a big, empty room for a studio. Another family live in an old house with several gardens they grow quite a bit of food on while both parents work various odd jobs to make ends meet--bus driver, yoga instructor, landfill gatekeeper, you name it. Yet another family have devoted themselves to creating and running a prairie preserve recreating pre-settlement plains flora on several acres of land north of town.

    Really lovely people, all just doing their thing in rural Nebraska.
     
  2. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    DC United
    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Over The Edge Of The World by Lawrence Bergreen. It's about the Magellan-Elcano expedition to circumnavigate the Earth in the 16th Century. I just started the book, but the author seems to be a pretty good writer.
     
  3. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    "America: The Epic Story of Spanish North America, 1493-1898"

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    Not quite as great/definitive as I'd hoped, but it may be better for that. The author really focuses on the Spanish in the future United States of America rather than the entire North American continent. As he explains in the Forward or Preface or Introduction (yes, this book has all three!), he wrote this book as a corrective to Americans who are unaware of how long and widespread Spanish exploration, settlement, and colonial claims to territory in the current USA were. So very much a work of narrative history aimed at general readers. Like much popular history, it's also focused on heroic individuals at the expense of social, cultural, or economic history. The upside is that a lot of these individuals were fascinating characters, and he's got a storyteller's eye for telling detail and narrative development.

    That said--it's very well written and engaging, and for an undergraduate history course would be a really eye-opening reading choice--a great way to look at the development of the American southwest from the opposite perspective than is usually taught. I don't know that I gained much of a new perspective, but I certainly learned a lot of new facts & anecdotes. Now I want to read some meatier histories of New Spain and the Spanish empire in general.
     
  4. VioletCrown

    VioletCrown Member

    FC Dallas
    United States
    Aug 30, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    Club:
    Austin Aztex
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    One of the trippier things I learned visiting New Mexico (that I kinda way in the back of my mind knew, but never really thought about) is that European presence in New Mexico predated, significantly, it's presence in New England. It always feels weirdly counter-intuitive. But it's true!
     
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  5. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

    Aug 19, 2012
    The Lubbock Texas
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    The Texas Tech campus here in Lubbock is done almost entirely in Spanish Renaissance style, including the exterior of the football stadium. One of my bosses was born and raised here, and his family predates this part of the state becoming part of the US by well over 100 years when it was still part of Comancheria. He jokes about how his ancestors had to learn Spanish and then English without moving, and that they didn't cross the border but the border crossed them.
     
  6. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
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    The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success, a bit of cultural criticism that I read in consideration of maybe assigning it to a First year writing class by the New York Times conservative commentator Ross Douthat. While the book wasn't terrible, I'm not going to be assigning it.
     
  7. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I am never quite sure how to report out on reading lengthy series in these threads, and I've been working my way through two of them this year. And with similar titles coinciding in the series, I think it's a sign to report out on both. They are the Sandman Slim series from Richard Kadrey (represented here by The Perdition Score), and the Laundry Files series from Charlie Stross (represented here by The Annihilation Score.

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    Both are apocalyptic series, and both are irreverent in their own ways (hell, the Kadrey series is downright blasphemous). But while they were both fun in the early books, I think Stross runs into the trouble that many such long-running series do in the genre, namely raising the stakes so often that it becomes impossible to keep the fun element. Kadrey constantly re-sets within the same universe so the big bad(s) scenario(s) don't have to ramp up every single time.
     
  8. VioletCrown

    VioletCrown Member

    FC Dallas
    United States
    Aug 30, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    Club:
    Austin Aztex
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Been quite a while since I've read any Stross. Loved the near-future duo that he did that he gave up on turning into a trilogy because the future came too fast for him.
     
  9. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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

    Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch which as the title implies is a biography of one of the defining social critics of the 20th century whose best work is still pertinent today (though his work is at times . . . well, a little off the money) by a scholar I'd not heard of named Eric Miller.
     
  10. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

    Aug 19, 2012
    The Lubbock Texas
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    [​IMG]

    The history portion of this is amazing, especially tying it into various social justice issues. The general diet recommendations are good. The suggestions for how to reform our farming practices are very good. The funny part is where he suddenly puts on a tinfoil hat and, after admitting there's no actual evidence to support the idea of GMOs being bad or glyphosate being harmful, he rants for 30 pages about the evils of both while never once mentioning rotenone, the most toxic thing ever put in our food system (probably because it's organic and that's what he's pushing).

    Overall very good, just know that he immediately labels anything scientific that goes against his beliefs as someone having been paid off by "Big Food."
     
  11. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    DC United
    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. About Marco Polo's meetings with Kublai Khan. Seems pretty good.
     
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  12. VioletCrown

    VioletCrown Member

    FC Dallas
    United States
    Aug 30, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    Club:
    Austin Aztex
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    [​IMG]
    I'm a huge Babylon 5 and Sens8 fan. This is a remarkable example of overcoming everything someone starts with. And makes me want to check out his other work, especially in other media.
     
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  13. bungadiri

    bungadiri Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jan 25, 2002
    Acnestia
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    upload_2021-11-15_16-51-2.jpeg
    So I've been in the wilderness for a while with respect to reading for pleasure and I'm trying to get back. My wife gave me this one, saying she thought it was my kind of book. It took me a long time to get into it, but as I near the end I have to say I'm captivated. It's Pulley's first novel but it doesn't feel that way at all; I think it's marvelously, effortlessly subtle and human. The book plays (in surprising ways) with people living on the fringes of a society that's mostly inimical to them, while still being mainly about relationships on a very small scale. Her writing is oblique (some of the most important "facts" about the characters are left for us to figure out), which very, very occasionally made me feel like I was wandering in the fog, but on the whole I think this book is wonderful.
     
  14. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    #264 Dr. Wankler, Nov 16, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
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    Mostly on the Edge: An Autobiography by one of the most interesting figures of the late 20th century of whom, so far as I can recall, I've never heard. But Karl Hess was a high school drop out who began work as a journalist in print and radio at the age of 15 in the D.C. area in the late 1930s, and after the war he edited several prominent magazines, most of which are now long gone (but not Newsweek). His political journey was odd, from Anti-Communist McCarthy fan to speechwriting for Barry Goldwater to suddenly by the late 60s working with the anarchist-libertarian wing of the New Left, including, oddly enough, the more community-solution-based section of The Black Panthers (not the neo-Marxist revolutionary wing that got most of the attention). Eventually he drops out, learns to weld, and moves to West Virginia where he lived off the grid while still occasionally contributing essays to outlets ranging from The National Review to The New Republic all the way over to The Progressive and The Nation (IIRC). The common theme that motivated his writing was threats to individual liberty, something which all parties in the US claim to be against. . . except when they were willing to threated the liberty of people who don't think like they do. . .
     
  15. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

    Aug 19, 2012
    The Lubbock Texas
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    [​IMG]

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    Covers issues 54-65. Fantastic world building even at nearly the halfway point for the series. Tons of absolutely brutal violence and brilliant plot twists, and Atom Eve finally gets to realize her full powers in a messed up way. Beauty of a series and it's even better than I remember.
     
  16. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    DC United
    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 by David Potter, edited by Don Fehrenbacher. About the last decade or so before the American Civil War. Potter died in 1971, before the book was published. His colleague at Stanford U, Fehrenbacher edited and finished it. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1977. I'll see if any of my relatives appear. A good book to read for Thanksgiving.
     
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  17. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I figured this was solely a book of art/pictures when I checked it out, but there is extensive writing from Patchett and a bit from the artist Kirby too. For a fan of the books, it ended up being a double treat.

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    Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby's The Art of Discworld.
     
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  18. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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

    Headed Into the Wind: a Memoir, another book my a guy I had not heard of but who is pretty interesting and who has worked with a lot of people I had heard of in the environmental movement. So good work, Jack Loeffler, for writing an interesting autobiography.
     

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