Author Topic: What have you read lately?  (Read 22470 times)

nonsensical

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #375 on: November 19, 2020, 03:24:22 AM »
I had read The Giver in elementary school but just recently learned that it's the first in a series of four books. I've been working my way through the whole quartet and just finished the last book, called Son. It was pretty good - probably my favorite of the quartet other than The Giver itself. The first 2/3 was especially strong, and then the pacing was kind of off for me at the end. I also didn't appreciate some of the implications of the fantastical world the author is describing, though that could be me reading more into it than intended (for instance, the people in this world take pills that prevent them from being able to have kids and also numb their feelings, and I did not like the suggestion that deep feelings were so connected with the ability to reproduce). But overall, an enjoyable book to read at night while unwinding.   

ab_grp

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #376 on: November 21, 2020, 03:37:50 PM »
We finished The City & the City.  I liked it as much as the first time I read it, and husband also thought it was very good.  Although the premise or device is a little strange, I think Mieville carried it out consistently and kept it contained enough that there weren't really loose ends or aspects that didn't fit well.  I don't want to say too much about it to avoid giving anything away.  Now we're reading How Green was my Valley (Llewellyn), which husband previously read.   

ergative

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #377 on: November 22, 2020, 02:30:55 AM »
I just finished Chuck Wendig's Wanderers, which I waited to start because I knew going in that it was about a pandemic in an election year, and for my own mental comfort it seemed better to wait until Biden won and there was an effective vaccine before diving into that world. It was a very engrossing story, with a fun SF premise and extremely thoughtful things to say about the uses and dangers of organized religion, but things turn out Very Badly, and I should warn anyone else who is interested in reading it that it is an apocalypse novel.

I do not like apocalypse novels. I hate getting sucker-punched by apocalypses. Last year that happened with Michael Faber's Book of Strange New Things, which was about a missionary heading off to another planet to proselytize to aliens. Fun premise, happens on another freaking planet--you'd think I'd be safe! But nope, apocalypse. And now, here it is again in Wanderers, it turned out.

I feel like there should be a category on doesthedogdie.com: 'Is there an apocalypse?' I don't like knowing too much about books before I read them, so my self-imposed spoiler-protection bit me in the backside and I guess I deserved what I got. I should make an exception for apocalypses.

mamselle

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #378 on: November 22, 2020, 07:21:59 AM »
Hmm...yeah. I'm not even really a fan of Revelation, (i.e., the Scriptural text), although (ah...or maybe because?) my boss did one book on it and wants to do a second one.

Maybe that's what I didn't like about 《Crake and Oryx》, too...although Atwood bugs me more generally than just that.

Blue bottoms?

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Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

Myword

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #379 on: November 22, 2020, 07:49:16 AM »
Around where I live most public and academic libraries are closed or open in the vestibule only or limited hours. Thirty minutes inside only. They are so fearful that they wait 7-10 days to put the book back on the shelf. Some of the doors are locked with security guards
   I prefer not buYing books online, especially novels. I can use interlibrary loans but not if the book is new.

Last academic book I read is an original study of mineral mining in Mexico. Very interesting.

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #380 on: November 23, 2020, 07:49:46 AM »
Around where I live most public and academic libraries are closed or open in the vestibule only or limited hours. Thirty minutes inside only. They are so fearful that they wait 7-10 days to put the book back on the shelf. Some of the doors are locked with security guards

Wow!  The limited openings or curbside service only I can understand in situations where there is either a severe spike raging locally or not enough space inside to socially distance properly.  But the 7-10-day quarantine on library materials has been demonstrated by studies to be unnecessary.  Overnight's probably adequate.  Two days is enough to be really sure.
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on Earth, where they can decay or be stolen.  Lay up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where there is no decay or theft.  Where your treasure is, you heart will be also.


You can't take it with you.  You can only send it on ahead.

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #381 on: November 23, 2020, 08:24:10 AM »
Dream of the Red Chamber, by Cao Xueqin.  In the abridged translation by Wang Chi-Chen.  It's considered one of the all-time classics of Chinese literature.  Essentially it's a kind of soap opera set in a noble family's vast communal household that makes Downton Abbey look like a suburban bungalow.  There are scores of nobles, wives, concubines, sons and daughters, and servants.  And an itinerant Buddhist monk, a Toaist priest, and an enchanted, sentient stone that wander in and out of the action.  There are love affairs, assorted kinds of palace intrigue, an extraordinary number of suicides, the rise and fall of family fortunes, and a couple of characters who decide that they're fed up with it all and renounce the world to become monks or nuns.  You can't really blame them.

Little is known for certain of the eighteenth-century author's life.  It has been suggested that the novel is to some extent a roman a clef.  That's a scary thought....

It's a challenge for a 21-century westerner to read, given all the unfamiliar naming conventions, elaborate honorific forms, customs, allusions, etc. on display.  It must have been an absolute bear to try to translate.  I now have a renewed respect for people from that part of the world who come here and have to adjust to our own unfamiliar society and customs.  Although I suspect it may be even more of a challenge for modern Chinese to read in the original than, say, Defoe or Swift is for the average English-language reader today.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the book now that I've read it.  Even with the translator's notes, I can't begin to understand all the allusions and wordplay in the text.  You can tell from the speed with which things move that it must be a considerable abridgement.  From what I've read, the book was added to and re-written to the point where it's hard to decide on a "definitive" text in the first place.  At any rate, it's a vivid portrayal of a very different, now-vanished, society.
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on Earth, where they can decay or be stolen.  Lay up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where there is no decay or theft.  Where your treasure is, you heart will be also.


You can't take it with you.  You can only send it on ahead.

mamselle

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #382 on: November 23, 2020, 08:45:52 AM »
Sounds like Anna Karenina in Mandarin...

M.
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

Parasaurolophus

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #383 on: December 05, 2020, 07:26:19 PM »
Kwell, here was November. A small haul; I've been pretty slow this year, probably because of all the teaching and publishing (sigh). I'll try to make my way through a few more in December.

Allie Brosh - Solutions and Other Problems: Brilliant, of course. It also felt much more personal than Hyperbole and a Half, probably because so many of the stories are about her grief and coping mechanisms. You can also see how much her mastery of the medium has evolved (as well as what's possible in the medium itself). It's really quite something, surprisingly earnest, and lovely (but sad). Brosh has really impressive insight into her own behaviour. And she's a dab hand at picking out what's going on with other people, too. I can't wait for her next one!

Simon Scarrow and T.J. Andrews - Pirata: Bit of a change from the usual, since it's pirates this time. It was OK, as usual these days. Perfectly serviceable, but unremarkable. Our protagonist seemed awfully canny and capable for someone so young and inexperienced, and that was a bit of a distraction. I also wish it was firmly rooted in historical events, rather than just an imagined story from the period. But pirates are fun.

Adrian Tchaikovsky - Children of Time: This is amazing. Superb scifi centred on a long-term terraforming project gone awry, replete with lots of entolomology (yay!), careful attention to detail (including entomological detail), and some very well-executed satire. Also, a generation ship. This book is already firmly entrenched in my scifi faves, and it's very high up the list. I'm halfway through the sequel now (and it's every bit as good!), but I'm terrified to read this guy's other work, because how could it possibly measure up? For those of you who are scifi fans, if you haven't tried it already, I highly recommend it!
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ergative

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #384 on: December 06, 2020, 06:33:27 AM »
Kwell, here was November. A small haul; I've been pretty slow this year, probably because of all the teaching and publishing (sigh). I'll try to make my way through a few more in December.

Allie Brosh - Solutions and Other Problems: Brilliant, of course. It also felt much more personal than Hyperbole and a Half, probably because so many of the stories are about her grief and coping mechanisms. You can also see how much her mastery of the medium has evolved (as well as what's possible in the medium itself). It's really quite something, surprisingly earnest, and lovely (but sad). Brosh has really impressive insight into her own behaviour. And she's a dab hand at picking out what's going on with other people, too. I can't wait for her next one!

Simon Scarrow and T.J. Andrews - Pirata: Bit of a change from the usual, since it's pirates this time. It was OK, as usual these days. Perfectly serviceable, but unremarkable. Our protagonist seemed awfully canny and capable for someone so young and inexperienced, and that was a bit of a distraction. I also wish it was firmly rooted in historical events, rather than just an imagined story from the period. But pirates are fun.

Adrian Tchaikovsky - Children of Time: This is amazing. Superb scifi centred on a long-term terraforming project gone awry, replete with lots of entolomology (yay!), careful attention to detail (including entomological detail), and some very well-executed satire. Also, a generation ship. This book is already firmly entrenched in my scifi faves, and it's very high up the list. I'm halfway through the sequel now (and it's every bit as good!), but I'm terrified to read this guy's other work, because how could it possibly measure up? For those of you who are scifi fans, if you haven't tried it already, I highly recommend it!

Yes, I really liked this one. I've got the sequel but haven't started it yet.

I also read his book Dogs of War, which wasn't as good, but there were some very clever ideas in it. I've also got the first in his huge Shadows of the Apt series, so evidently just on the basis of Children of Time I am something of a convert.

Parasaurolophus

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #385 on: December 06, 2020, 08:58:51 AM »

Yes, I really liked this one. I've got the sequel but haven't started it yet.

I also read his book Dogs of War, which wasn't as good, but there were some very clever ideas in it. I've also got the first in his huge Shadows of the Apt series, so evidently just on the basis of Children of Time I am something of a convert.


Oh! I'm glad!

I had a hunch you were no stranger to his work. If you've got more scifi hidin up those sleeves, do let me know!
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hmaria1609

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #386 on: December 06, 2020, 07:08:57 PM »
Re-reading the "Lady Darby Mystery" series by Anna Lee Huber from the library. I recently discovered this historical mystery series set in 1830s Scotland. I had seen the author's name from another historical mystery author I read.
Kiera, Lady Darby, is a young widow who becomes an amateur sleuth. Sebastian Gage is a gentleman inquiry agent whose well-known father is a trusted agent of the British Crown. The two marry and continue investigations as a couple.  The 9th novel, A Wicked Conceit, will be released next spring.
I've been to Scotland twice so it's been a pleasure to "revisit" as I read.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2020, 07:24:36 PM by hmaria1609 »

fourhats

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #387 on: December 07, 2020, 09:06:22 AM »
Just finished Maggie O'Farrell's "Hamnet," about Shakespeare's son who died. I was hooked from the first page because of the great writing.

Now I'm halfway through Ali Smiith's "Summer," the last of her four-part series in modern Britain.

Next up are "Jack," by Marilynne Robinson and "Piranesi" by Susanna Clarke, who wrote "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell."

I'm not into sci-fi, fantasy or YA (unless rereading from my childhood, before YA was a thing), and not much in to plot either. But I love to read, usually with a bowl of popcorn.

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #388 on: December 07, 2020, 10:58:35 AM »
The People of Concord:  American Intellectuals and Their Timeless Ideas, by Paul Brooks.  I've sometimes thought that Concord, Massachusetts would be a remarkable place to visit.  It seems like a place full of history and natural beauty.  I doubt that time, distance, and financial concerns will ever permit it--I do live an awful long way off--but I can dream.

Anyway, Brooks certainly makes mid-19th-century Concord seem like a fascinating place.  It seems to have been a prosperous and bucolic community in the days before the railroads set runaway economic development on fast-forward.  It already had 200 years of recorded history behind it.  And there were notable, little-remembered local citizens like lawyer Samuel Hoar, who seems to have been an admirable fellow in some ways.

Of course most of the attention goes to Concord's more famous inhabitants and neighbors.  There was the Brook Farm commune, for example, one of the very best-remembered of hundreds of experiments in communal living in 19th-century America.  They made a go of it for several years until they fell under the spell of the madman Fourier.  If you study 19th-century utopias you'll notice that Fouriest communities were invariably the shortest-lived of them.  Sure enough, within a year of their adoption Fourier's lunatic notions had killed the Brook Farm dead.  Meanwhile Bronson Alcott had been hard at work with his Fruitlands community, which made the Brook Farmers look like the most hardheaded and worldly of Yankee entrepreneurs by comparison.

There were the Alcott women, struggling to deal with would-be intellectual and reformer Bronson's decades-long midlife crisis.  There was Emerson, the great guru, whose lectures and essays Sarah Ripley, "probably the best-educated woman in Concord," admitted she couldn't always get.  Never mind, Emerson has always had plenty of admirers who lacked her honesty....  There was Thoreau, the sociable semi-recluse and worshiper at the shrine of Nature, who in his youth goofed around and started a forest fire that incinerated hundreds of acres.  Brooks' account of Thoreau's uphill struggle to get Sam Staples, Concord's amiable town jailer, to lock him up long enough to enable him to present himself as a martyr for the cause of Civil Disobedience is more than a little amusing.

Brooks obviously admires these figures from the Flowering of New England.  In some ways, most especially their faithful espousal of abolitionism, they are admirable.  The only figure of the bunch whose works I've ever really gotten into, though, is odd man out Hawthorne.  Hawthorne was the one who refused to drink the Transcendentalist Kool-Aid about the divinity and perfectability of human nature.  He recognized that, like it or not, the fundamental fallenness of human nature couldn't simply be wished away.  To me, Hawthorne's work still has more relevance than all the rest of them put together.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 11:01:37 AM by apl68 »
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on Earth, where they can decay or be stolen.  Lay up treasures for yourselves in Heaven, where there is no decay or theft.  Where your treasure is, you heart will be also.


You can't take it with you.  You can only send it on ahead.

fourhats

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #389 on: December 07, 2020, 02:52:45 PM »
This reminds me that I just finished reading both the wonderful recent biography of Thoreau, and the terrific joint biography of Louisa May Alcott and her father Bronson (by John Matteson), that won the Pulitzer Prize. Both definitely worth reading now that you've been initiated into Concordiana!