Author Topic: What have you read lately?  (Read 45129 times)

Harlow2

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #705 on: January 14, 2022, 09:38:59 AM »
Last week I stumbled on a fascinating new book in the library: The Bookseller of Florence.[ It’s a wonderful history of the city in the 1400s, of many of the cross-disciplinary intellectual ferment of the time, and of how the old Roman manuscripts in the monasteries were being dusted off and translated into the Florentine dialect—and then the influence of the “classics” on Florentine thinking. I was surprised to read about the 70% literacy rate, which included girls and women. 

  I was going to just read the library version but kept having to stifle the impulse to take out my pen and start underlining, so I bought it.

Thank you for not annotating a library copy!  Would that all were so considerate....

That sounds very interesting.  I may have to look that one up.

Wonder how they figured the literacy rate?  Some years ago David Cressy estimated literacy rates in 17th-century England based on the proportions of adults who could sign their own names to a loyalty oath everybody was required to sign.  Got quite a fascinating monograph out of it.  One of the best things I had to read in grad school.


The author cites Black, R. Literacy in Florence 1427 in Peterson and Bernstein, Ed’s. Culture, society, and politics in renaissance Italy (2008).and idea Education and society in Forentine Tuscany (2007). If I had time it would be fun to get to those to see their method.

hmaria1609

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #706 on: January 15, 2022, 01:54:20 PM »
From the library:
Down a Dark River by Karen Odden

Next up: "Veronica Speedwell Mystery" series by Deanna Raybourn
https://www.deannaraybourn.com/book_series/veronica-speedwell-mysteries/
Needed something to binge read ahead of the latest installment!  :D

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #707 on: Today at 06:54:04 AM »
Grand Hotel, by Vickie Baum.  Baum's long-ago international bestseller did much to pioneer the old "disparate people bumping into each other at a fancy hotel" genre.  The principals include a terminally-ill clerk, who is using his life savings to try to live it up before the end; his boss, who faces a tricky make-or-break business deal; the boss's stenographer, who has learned that there's only one place for a pretty but poor girl; an aristocratic black sheep turned gentleman thief to keep himself supplied with "the finer things in life;" an aging ballet star nearing the end of her career; and a doctor whose wartime experiences have left him with what would now be called a bad case of PTSD.

Interwar Berlin, with its widespread political and business corruption, prostitution, gambling, etc. was then and later often portrayed as a very sick society.  Baum's Hotel Berlin is a crossroads where sick members of the sick society meet.  It comes across, as has been said of Las Vegas, as a place where one can spend all day long "having a good time" without ever actually enjoying oneself.  Or rather, Baum seems to be saying, one CAN have a good time, but only if there's plenty of spending money, and only for a short while.  And the "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die, and after that there's nothing" attitude has consequences.  The clerk has abandoned his wife with all their money to fund his desperate little end-of-life fling; the boss, who has up to now tried to be a good family man, ruins himself when he foolishly gives in to his lust for the stenographer; the stenog encourages him in his folly, because she's learned that a narcissistic, hedonistic society offers her no other way to get ahead; the gentleman thief trifles around until he gets himself killed; and the ballet star and doctor have become suicidal.

In looking around at the consequences of a contemporary society where an outlook of hedonistic nihilism has become the norm, I'd have to say that Baum's portrayal of a world where there's little love or real human connection or hope rings true.  There are still alternatives to that dominant outlook.  I know of a particularly good alternative called Jesus, as described by a quartet of writers named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Granted, the alternatives are now considered unfashionable.  But then it's not necessarily bad to be out of step with the dominant society's values, when the dominant society's values really suck.
The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light;
A great light has shined upon those who lived in the shadow of death

And the Word became flesh, and lived among us

FishProf

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #708 on: Today at 09:49:58 AM »
I am working my way through the audiobook of Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian War".  Those Greeks sure love their rhetoric.  It seems to contain all the speeches given about the war.  The monologue in favor of the Spartans supporting Plataea took 15 minutes, the battle description only 2.

I am reading the Black Cauldron series to Smolt.  She is loving it.
And how is that working out for you?

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #709 on: Today at 10:13:43 AM »
I am working my way through the audiobook of Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian War".  Those Greeks sure love their rhetoric.  It seems to contain all the speeches given about the war.  The monologue in favor of the Spartans supporting Plataea took 15 minutes, the battle description only 2.

I am reading the Black Cauldron series to Smolt.  She is loving it.

I've tried reading some of those speeches before.  Never listened to one.  Does the audio book have a good reader or readers?

I never got all that much into Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain.  Hard to say why.  I was introduced to the series at a time when it ought to have been right up my alley.  Glad Smolt is enjoying it.
The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light;
A great light has shined upon those who lived in the shadow of death

And the Word became flesh, and lived among us

Parasaurolophus

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #710 on: Today at 10:48:45 AM »
Just remember that the convention in historical writing of the time is to give you the gist of what could have been said, rather than what was actually said!

It's the same with the battles, which sometimes make no tactical sense at all.
« Last Edit: Today at 10:51:36 AM by Parasaurolophus »
I know it's a genus.

FishProf

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #711 on: Today at 10:54:36 AM »
I am working my way through the audiobook of Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian War".  Those Greeks sure love their rhetoric.  It seems to contain all the speeches given about the war. 
I've tried reading some of those speeches before.  Never listened to one.  Does the audio book have a good reader or readers?

I wouldn't say good, but he's appropriate.
And how is that working out for you?

Morden

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #712 on: Today at 11:05:11 AM »
I just read the first three books of Corey's Expanse series. I enjoyed them, but have no real desire to read books 4-9. Expanse readers, should I keep going?

AvidReader

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #713 on: Today at 11:15:05 AM »
It's hard to find folks who engage with the difficulties while neither selling the significance of faith down the river, nor using it as a magic crutch to resolve the issues superficially, or failing to address the emotional depths they may go to.

Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede and Mark Salzmann's Lying Awake (reviewed above) are among those rare exceptions.  They both deal with the sisters in a convent environment.  Wonderful books.  If you're in the mood for a big read about a large cast, In This House of Brede is a good choice.  If you want a shorter read focused mainly on its protagonist, but still with a lot of spiritual meat in it, Lying Awake is your book.

May I take this opportunity to recommend a not very well known British author, Penelope Wilcock, who writes (in my opinion) fairly substantial Christian fiction? The Hawk and the Dove and ensuing series, published over several decades, is largely set in a medieval monastery (early volumes also intersperse a modern frame narrative), and tackles a lot of issues of faith and Christian practice head-on.

AR.

ab_grp

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #714 on: Today at 11:23:03 AM »
I just read the first three books of Corey's Expanse series. I enjoyed them, but have no real desire to read books 4-9. Expanse readers, should I keep going?

We are reading book 5 right now.  It always takes me a bit to get excited to pick up each new book and get into it, but I always end up pretty enthralled, and we are enjoying the series as a whole quite a bit.  I guess whether or not to continue probably depends on what (if any) shortcomings you found in the books you read that didn't make you excited to keep reading.  This probably sounds trite, but it is the expansion of the story universe for the characters that I find most interesting, with the political and social issues that come along with it.  Book 4 is the first real step beyond and has a lot of new stuff going on.  I think book 5 is the first book where you get more substantial backstory on the major characters in addition to the action.  We are trying to read the first 6 books before watching the TV series, but I also keep seeing folks online talking about how great the final book is (9) and how well everything comes together, so that is another motivation.   My opinions based on a partial reading, of course, but I hope they help!

ergative

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #715 on: Today at 11:27:03 AM »
I just read the first three books of Corey's Expanse series. I enjoyed them, but have no real desire to read books 4-9. Expanse readers, should I keep going?

We are reading book 5 right now.  It always takes me a bit to get excited to pick up each new book and get into it, but I always end up pretty enthralled, and we are enjoying the series as a whole quite a bit.  I guess whether or not to continue probably depends on what (if any) shortcomings you found in the books you read that didn't make you excited to keep reading.  This probably sounds trite, but it is the expansion of the story universe for the characters that I find most interesting, with the political and social issues that come along with it.  Book 4 is the first real step beyond and has a lot of new stuff going on.  I think book 5 is the first book where you get more substantial backstory on the major characters in addition to the action.  We are trying to read the first 6 books before watching the TV series, but I also keep seeing folks online talking about how great the final book is (9) and how well everything comes together, so that is another motivation.   My opinions based on a partial reading, of course, but I hope they help!

Book 4 was quite good, I thought. Books 5-6 were a bit slow precisely because the whole protomolecule storyline took a back seat to solar system politics, which were perfectly adequate, as far as they went, but they were not what really impressed me about the series. But then in Books 7-8 the politics and the protomolecule storylines start converging in really interesting ways, and the authors took quite a narrative risk with the timeline that I think pays off nicely. I'm looking forward to reading Book 9 now.

ab_grp

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #716 on: Today at 11:30:38 AM »
I was going to add to my previous post but will just reply here in light of ergative's review of the latter books.  Good to hear that they continue to progress well! Ergative, I am guessing you will get through book 9 before we do, so I will look forward to your thoughts on that.  Have you happened to read any of the additional parts referred to below?

My addendum: Some say that you should read the story entries in order of publication, so that would include the short stories and novellas (e.g., The Butcher of Anderson Station after book 1, Gods of Risk after book 2).  We did not know that those interim pieces existed early on and have not read them yet but will probably do so afterward.  Here are chronological orderings by publication and narrative orders: https://expanse.fandom.com/wiki/Category:The_Expanse

mamselle

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #717 on: Today at 01:47:27 PM »
I am working my way through the audiobook of Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian War".  Those Greeks sure love their rhetoric.  It seems to contain all the speeches given about the war.  The monologue in favor of the Spartans supporting Plataea took 15 minutes, the battle description only 2.

I am reading the Black Cauldron series to Smolt.  She is loving it.

Lloyd Alexander was one of the early male JP-ish writers to put young women in charge.

I have always loved him (from afar) for that...

;--}

If Smolt is enjoying Alexander's mythical series, she might enjoy his other works, as well as Avi's...

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.