Author Topic: What have you read lately?  (Read 69535 times)

ergative

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1050 on: January 17, 2023, 12:52:17 PM »
Books 1 and 2 of the Harry Potter series, all of the Lord of the Rings series, and several one-offs from other writers.

Is it just me, or do other people also read several books at a time, moving forward on each one when they're in range of that volume they set down on the bedside table, mantel, coffee table, or bookshelf?

I used to hate being in the middle of more than one book at once, but these days I'm like you--although it's more format than location. I've usually got one audio book for commuting, cleaning, etc., and then a physical book or non-fiction book, and then an e-book or fiction book. Sometimes I've got a literature going and a non-fiction and an SFF going at the same time, to suit all moods.

ab_grp

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1051 on: January 18, 2023, 08:16:56 AM »
I don't usually listen to too many fiction books at once, though I also have an audio book or two going (usually one fiction, one non-fiction), as well as the physical fiction book we read together.  I do have several non-fiction books that I'm currently reading.  They are compilations, so they're pretty easy to switch between and are not super-technical. 

hmaria1609

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1052 on: January 18, 2023, 09:43:14 AM »
From the library:The Last Crown by Elżbieta Cherezińska, translated by Maya Zakrzewska-Pim
Story of Queen Swietoslawa the Bold One who ruled in the early 11th century. The novel is the sequel to The Widow Queen.

ergative

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1053 on: January 18, 2023, 12:04:13 PM »
From the library:The Last Crown by Elżbieta Cherezińska, translated by Maya Zakrzewska-Pim
Story of Queen Swietoslawa the Bold One who ruled in the early 11th century. The novel is the sequel to The Widow Queen.

Ah, I gave up on the The Widow Queen when I slammed headfirst into two characters named, respectively, Bolesław and Boleslaw. That's just rude.

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1054 on: January 19, 2023, 07:47:12 AM »
Headlong Hall and Nightmare Abbey, by Thomas Love Peacock.  Both short novels satirize philosophical trends and culture of the Romantic era.  They include characters based on such real-life figures as Shelley and Coleridge.  I lack the erudition to catch all the allusions that were present in both stories, but I could catch enough to have a lot of laughs.  Highlights include the discussion of ghosts in Nightmare Abbey that is disrupted by an actual "ghost," and the ensuing pandemonium.
If any would follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose it for my sake will find it.
For how does a man profit if he gains the whole world, yet loses his own soul?

Hegemony

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1055 on: January 19, 2023, 09:13:05 AM »
I love Nightmare Abbey! There is also Crotchet Castle.

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1056 on: January 20, 2023, 09:09:39 AM »
The Klondike Fever:  The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush, by Pierre Berton.  This 1950s work is still considered the classic general history of the 1890s gold rush to the Klondike.  I first read it some years back.  My first reading about that rush was an early 1960s book for younger readers called The Alaska Gold Rush, by May McNeer.  This was one of the old Landmark Books series, with evocative illustrations by Lynd Ward.  I loved that book when I was growing up, and still do.  I didn't realize at the time that most of it seems to have been more or less cribbed from Berton's then-recent book.

Berton of course goes into a lot more detail.  He tells so many fascinating stories here!  Many of them seem highly improbable.  But Berton does seem to have worked hard at documenting them, so most of them probably do have a good basis in fact.  Berton's own father was a Klondike stampeder who stayed in the Yukon, and Berton himself grew up in Dawson City at a time when the whole gold rush business was still very much a living memory.

This makes me want to know more about the gold rush in the Far North.  Any one of Berton's chapters contains enough material that one could go in much deeper.  He also has startlingly little to say about the experiences and perspectives of the native people whose lands were suddenly inundated by gold hunters.  It's a surprising omission from a writer who went on to gain quite a reputation for what would now be called "wokeness."
If any would follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose it for my sake will find it.
For how does a man profit if he gains the whole world, yet loses his own soul?

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1057 on: January 27, 2023, 10:23:47 AM »
Jesus Freaks, by Voice of the Martyrs.  Voice of the Martyrs is an advocacy group--a legit one, with transparent finances and an actual history--that documents persecution of contemporary Christian minorities worldwide.  They aren't the only persecuted religious or other minorities, of course, but persecution of Christian minorities in the modern world is very widespread in the Middle East, in sub-Sarahan Africa, and in the Indian subcontinent.  Arrests, beatings, and in some places, murders, still occur on a regular basis.  Most First-Worlders aren't aware of the problem, just as they are largely unaware of pressing problems being experienced elsewhere in the world in general.

Jesus Freaks contains accounts of people who have suffered for being Christians from the first century on.  Although there are some possibly apocryphal ancient saints' legends here, the great majority of the accounts are from the twentieth century and on.  Many of them are from within the past 20 years.  Some of the recent ones have directions to podcasts of people involved telling their own stories.

Many of them speak of how they seek to show love for and pray for those who have mistreated them and their loved ones.  Which is exactly what Jesus told his followers to do.  Sometimes these prayers are answered--there are several accounts of persecutors of Christians who turned Christian when they realized that these people that they were trying to intimidate had something that they wished that they had too.  It's all a moving reminder of the commitment it takes to follow Jesus in any society.  And of how those of us who don't face persecution must try to support those of us who do.
If any would follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose it for my sake will find it.
For how does a man profit if he gains the whole world, yet loses his own soul?

Parasaurolophus

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1058 on: January 29, 2023, 08:52:35 AM »
It's early, but I won't finish any other books before the end of the month. So, January:

David Hone - The Tyrannosaur Chronicles: The Biology of the Tyrant Dinosaurs: An informative read, but the writing leaves something to be desired in places. In particular, a number of things are only partially explained, including things for which an explanation is promised earlier. The section on prey is pretty much all padding, as evidenced by the fact that stegosaurs are included rather than simply dismissed (because, obviously for anyone who's marginally informed, time and geography wouldn't permit it). It's a fine book, but it could have been better (frankly, I think that Mark Witton's blog posts are generally more informative). My main complaint actually has to do with an illustration: Hone argues for feathered Tyrannosaurs, but Scott Hartman's restoration isn't feathered.

Harry Turtledove - The Road Not Taken: Just a short story, but a fun one. Imagine that the trick to FTL travel is so simple that it could have been discovered at almost any point in human history, but wasn't. Now imagine that aliens invade wielding... matchlocks.

Daniel H. Wilson - The Andromeda Evolution: A sequel to Crichton's The Andromeda Strain, which I found in a book box. Really kind of meh. It's a serviceable thriller, and does a fair job of capturing Crichton's style. But this wasn't Crichton's best story, and stretching it out like this does it no favours. The addition of a pile of robotics porn is dull, and Wilson asks us to suspend disbelief a few times too many and too early in the story. Also, the story-telling conceit driving the narration doesn't work.

Poul Anderson and Mildred Downey Broxon - The Demon of Scattery: Another book box find, I took it because I enjoy Anderson's retellings of the sagas. I thought this would be that, but it isn't--it's a wholly invented story set around the second raid of Scattery Island, ~835 CE. It's okay--it's strongly inflected by the revenge horror of the 1970s (e.g. I Spit On Your Grave), so... well, that is what it is. I could have done without the sexual violence, which is not treated sensitively (worse, it ends in reconciliation). Although that's not inaccurate to the period, it's really not narratively necessary or earned. Surprisingly, the book is filled with illustrations--wildly inaccurate and fanciful illustrations, which Anderson takes a dig at in the historical note. (Also weirdly, judging from the historical note it sounds like Broxon was the primary author, even though she's listed second.)
I know it's a genus.

hmaria1609

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #1059 on: January 31, 2023, 12:50:44 PM »
Ah, I gave up on the The Widow Queen when I slammed headfirst into two characters named, respectively, Bolesław and Boleslaw. That's just rude.
I missed seeing this!
I enjoyed reading the sequel, seeing how Queen Swietoslawa's story ended. The book could've been edited some--it dragged at one point! Aside from that, I'm glad to have read Swietoslawa's story.  This duet was the author's first novels to be translated in English outside of her native Poland.