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Filmspotting Message Boards => No Movie Talk Allowed => Books => Topic started by: edgar00 on October 27, 2008, 03:47:41 PM

Title: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on October 27, 2008, 03:47:41 PM
Well, no need to 'rate' it really. Just share some brief thoughts. What you enjoyed (story, characters, writing style, etc) and what you didn't.

I figured since we have a 'currently reading' thread, why not a thread in which filmspotters could share their impressions and even make some reading suggestions.

I leave the floor open to everyone...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on October 27, 2008, 04:02:10 PM
Sadly, I have nothing to rate / review right now. I just wanted to say that I'm so glad you started this thread. I ended up putting a bunch of books on my library queue based on people's Top 20 lists and this is a great way to get even more reading recos.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on October 27, 2008, 04:29:15 PM
The Mission Song, John Le Carré, 2006

Bruno Salvador, or Bruno as his close friends and wife call him, is a half white, half black Congolese/British interpreter. On the night a party honoring his wife's work as a journalist, Bruno is called upon by his superior to work for a special case that will last the weekend. On a unnamed island north of the UK, Bruno becomes the interpreter in a contract negotiation setting between three rival Congolese leaders and an entity known only as 'the syndicate.' The goal? A peace deal for Congo. Or is there an ulterior motive working behind the scenes?...

Le Carré is known as the master of the spy novel. Arguably his best works are his earlier novels which take place during the Cold War. This is his second post 9/11 effort and the enemy this time is greed in the shape of Western capitalism and shady corporations. It's nice to see Le Carré dive into the topic, but I sense that his comfort zone is really within spy organizations and the taught, tense and psychological affairs that take place within them. Here he delivers a good story, but one that has a certain predictability to it. The moment I read that the entity organizing the negotiations was only known as 'the syndicate', I had a pretty good idea to where the tale would take me. And most of my guesses were spot on too.

Not very original, but Le Carré writes terribly well and creates sympathetic characters for the story. Give it a try if you're a fan, but don't expect fireworks.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Basil on October 27, 2008, 04:34:14 PM
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Pretty interesting when it became material for a debate in which Milton either succeeds or fails in justifying the ways of God to man. The language isn't particularly compelling, though, especially when it promises "things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme". Wouldn't have enjoyed this one on my own, but it was fun to discuss.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 27, 2008, 04:34:52 PM
A brief school write-up:

Various D. H. Lawrence shorts.

Ok. Well written but I don't know if I would seek out more by him. Perhaps I should read a novel of his.

C.

A Passage to India - E. M. Forster.

Not a fan. I liked the older woman, but that's about it.

D.

The End of the Affair - Graham Greene.

Good, but too angry and hateful. I get it, you hate everybody. At least be clever about it like House.

B.

The Girls of Slender Means - Muriel Spark.

A fun one, for the most part. I really liked her style and the crazy-omniscient narrator was fun.

A-.

Orlando - Virginia Woolf.

A lot of fun and time travel (kinda)?!? Sign me up. Immediately vaulted into my top 20.

A.

Macbeth - Billy S.

Effective and entertaining. Decapitations galore!

A.

Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad.

Watch Apocalypse Now instead. Not worth reading the first time, definitely not worth reading the second.

D-.

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James.

Scary, but overly wordy. Whether the ghosts were real or not is an interesting question to ponder.

C+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Basil on October 27, 2008, 04:37:11 PM
The Turn of the Screw - Henry James.

Scary, but overly wordy. Whether the ghosts were real or not is an interesting question to ponder.

C+.


Wrong. Greatness.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on October 27, 2008, 04:52:50 PM
I was thinking about making such a thread but I haven't read through a book in a while...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Tequila on October 27, 2008, 05:10:20 PM
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Sillitoe)
The first two chapters are very strong, after that it wanders off into entertaining so-so-land. There's obviously not much of a plot and the ending feels forced (so wait, this whole thing goes on for three years?) but as episodic working class stories come, this one is pretty good. It's kinda mysoginistic though
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on October 27, 2008, 07:14:29 PM
The Road Cormac McCarthy 5/5

I guess Oprah knows what she's talking about sometimes.  Won't get too much into plot but it's a simple story about a father and son that really hits you in the gut by the end.  I imagine this book will hit home for parents; I don't have kids but I certainly developed an emotional attachment to the characters.  I'm really interested to see how the movie turns out.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on October 31, 2008, 04:14:08 PM
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad.

Watch Apocalypse Now instead. Not worth reading the first time, definitely not worth reading the second.

D-.

Damn straight. I can't stand that novel.

The Road Cormac McCarthy 5/5

I guess Oprah knows what she's talking about sometimes.  Won't get too much into plot but it's a simple story about a father and son that really hits you in the gut by the end.  I imagine this book will hit home for parents; I don't have kids but I certainly developed an emotional attachment to the characters.  I'm really interested to see how the movie turns out.

I don't know whether to wait for before or after the film to read this. I haven't gotten to No Country yet, so I'll probably see the film first.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Barry on November 01, 2008, 12:49:41 AM
The Road Cormac McCarthy 5/5

I guess Oprah knows what she's talking about sometimes.  Won't get too much into plot but it's a simple story about a father and son that really hits you in the gut by the end.  I imagine this book will hit home for parents; I don't have kids but I certainly developed an emotional attachment to the characters.  I'm really interested to see how the movie turns out.

I have such a hard time with Cormac McCarthy. I made it through "All the Pretty Horses" and about half way through "The Crossing" but he's just so damn sad. I know he writes beautifully sometimes but honestly, there's just nothing about "The Road", book or movie, that makes me want to see it.

Currently reading "The Wizard of Oz". (No, seriously.) 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on November 01, 2008, 09:44:02 PM
(http://www.lib.chattanooga.gov/bib/bibImages/marvel_1602.jpg)

It's Neil Gaiman. It's Marvel. What's not to like? I just wish I knew a little more about the Marvel universe so some of the characters made more sense.

(http://letitgeek2.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/caricature.gif)

It's made me very keen to read Ghost World. It was weird. The stories were almost caricatures in and of themselves. I did like it.

I think.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Wilson on November 04, 2008, 06:49:13 PM
The Road Cormac McCarthy 5/5

I guess Oprah knows what she's talking about sometimes.  Won't get too much into plot but it's a simple story about a father and son that really hits you in the gut by the end.  I imagine this book will hit home for parents; I don't have kids but I certainly developed an emotional attachment to the characters.  I'm really interested to see how the movie turns out.

QFL.  Brilliant story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on November 04, 2008, 06:50:45 PM
The Road Cormac McCarthy 5/5

I guess Oprah knows what she's talking about sometimes.  Won't get too much into plot but it's a simple story about a father and son that really hits you in the gut by the end.  I imagine this book will hit home for parents; I don't have kids but I certainly developed an emotional attachment to the characters.  I'm really interested to see how the movie turns out.

QFL.  Brilliant story.

Pretty surprised it hasn't really been on anyone's top 20 list.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Wilson on November 04, 2008, 07:20:31 PM
It would've been near the top of mine, if I was in any way qualified to make a good top 20 list.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on November 04, 2008, 07:35:47 PM
It would've been near the top of mine, if I was in any way qualified to make a good top 20 list.

Make a list of 1.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on November 04, 2008, 07:53:09 PM
Kafka on the Shore

Filmspotters should have picked this.

I'm too lazy to fix my top 20 but this belongs in it (probably top 5).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on November 09, 2008, 09:21:23 AM
Sputnik Sweetheart

Really short but also really heartbreaking.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on November 09, 2008, 11:21:46 PM
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

Sometime in the future (I think), a father and son, who remain nameless throughout, travel by foot from 'somewhere' to the south, in the hopes of finding...something better than the devastated and ash-ridden region they use to live in. Peculiar and dangerous characters are met along the way.

The story certainly kept me turning the pages, as did my own hope that the two protagonists would indeed find a new home, or whatever it was they expected to find in the south. This being my first McCarthy novel, I can't say I was totally sold on his writing technique. It felt a bit bland. There were several sentences that went :' The father did b and c and d and e and f and...' I didn't like that very much. I can understand the usefulness for the almost bland and downbeat narration. The emotional and psychological sate of the two characters must have been equally downbeat. Their determination and hope are hanging on by a thread, they are tired, frustrated, afraid. Therefore, the narration can feel appropriate. I just couldn't help but find it a bit bland. Still, I enjoyed it for its story and characters.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Cuelho

A young Spanish shepherd is prompted by a gypsy future reader and then a king (!) to follow his destiny, which is a apparently to find a brilliant treasure near the pyramids in Egypt. The boy agrees to this and meets a host of colorful and helpful characters along the way.

This really was a joy to read. The narration is playful and entertaining, as are almost all the characters that appear at one point or another along the boy's quest. It's well known that the story itself is a thinly disguised metaphor for a theme that should ( I hope) resonate with most people in the world, regardless of nationality or background. It's an honest and positive message. The descriptions of the characters and places were very entertaining and lively. Put simply, it was one of the best books I had read in some time.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Tequila on November 10, 2008, 03:40:20 AM
Martha Quest (Doris Lessing)
Let's just say I'm not gonna read the other four books in the series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 13, 2008, 04:36:29 PM
(http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n0/n3134.jpg)

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter.

From some reviewer at Amazon.com:

Quote
Sophie, or "Fevvers," is billed as "Is she fact or is she fiction?" Tall, commanding, and winged, this half-bird Amazonian captures the interest of Jack, an American newspaper reporter who initially tries to pick apart her story of being half-bird as a sham, but soon is mesmerized by Fevver's eloquent autobiography, macabre adventures working in brothels, and outgoing personality, enough that he joins her circus as a clown and follows them to Russia.

The third book in a row that I have read for my Modern Lit class that I really liked. It's fun and inventive and exciting and crazy. All the good adjectives. I wish the page layout was better (bigger margins are always preferable) but it didn't detract. I have a feeling that somebody will get this for a dictator club book soon.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: facedad on November 14, 2008, 12:17:51 AM
Mine was fantastic.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on November 14, 2008, 12:40:11 AM
Mine was fantastic.

That's always nice to hear. Cool.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on November 17, 2008, 12:37:23 AM
(http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/images/2007/10/18/darkmans.jpg)

Darkmans, Nicola Barker

If you wanted to get specific about it (and Beede always got specific) his life and his career had been irreparably blighted by the arrival of the Channel Tunnel; more specifically, by the eleventh-hour re-routing of the the new Folkestone Terminal's access road from the north to the south of the tiny, nondescript Kentish village of Newington (where Beede's maternal grandmother had once lived) in 1986.

Then under that: .................. PPS. Going to Africa to become a Saint! [followed by a little drawing of Africa - which looked nothing like Africa - with a small halo above it] WHA!!!!!!!!

It is fitting that a novel where language is such an obsession plays with it, recreating it, until it is almost a dialect of its own. It's a book I love, a modern book, a tricky a book, a book with unlikeable characters, a confusing plot (if there is a plot at all) and no real resolution. It's a book about history, primarily, but more than anything else, a book about how history shapes the future, plays with the future, and how we use it to our own ends.

There are references in this book to Alias, of all things, and on one page there is a specific website, a url address, which I don't think I've ever seen before. It is totally, pressingly now, and I wonder how it will age. It's a funny novel, but its also very dark, and one scene in particular I found very disturbing.

I've only just finished it, so my thoughts are still a little scattered, but to conclude...

I think it's just a step short of greatness. It is very good, very good indeed, but there is just... something that is missing. That said, I think she's a fascinating writer, and its an achievement in and of itself that it is a novel compelling enough to demand my attention less than 10 months after I first read it. And I can't wait to read it again.

Highly recommended.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: arcnyc on November 17, 2008, 11:21:32 AM
The Man Who Was Thursday - G.K. Chesterton

The thing about sam0711 is I don't seem to dislike much of what he likes; I dislike that he dislikes a lot of what he dislikes.  This book was on his top 20 and it's quite deserving.  I would have been done with it in a night if I didn't have work and school (complete with other books to read) to contend with.  If you're looking for a fast, gripping, eloquent read, this is the first one I would recommend. 

A-
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 17, 2008, 06:01:00 PM
The thing about sam0711 is I don't seem to dislike much of what he likes; I dislike that he dislikes a lot of what he dislikes.
You and everyone else.

I'm glad you liked the book. G.K. Chesterton has a wit like none other.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Wilson on November 20, 2008, 07:06:19 PM
Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami

Loved it, loved it, LOVED IT.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on November 20, 2008, 08:51:35 PM
 :D. Awesome!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Basil on November 20, 2008, 09:09:43 PM
The Terrorism Trap, Michael Parenti
Stupid.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 20, 2008, 09:18:16 PM
Some of the books I read. (http://theearlofessence.wordpress.com/2008/11/20/grading-the-teacher/)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on November 20, 2008, 11:01:50 PM
Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami

Loved it, loved it, LOVED IT.

I'm sometimes right.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 01, 2008, 10:43:44 AM
Memento Mori - Muriel Spark.

It's like The Girls of Slender Means (read for a different class) but with old people and not as good and longer. I probably would not have finished it if I didn't have to write a final on it.

C.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on December 01, 2008, 11:33:09 AM
Moby Dick

B-

My Bondage and My Freedom

B+

From what I read of it (kind of half)

The Bondswoman's Narrative

C

From spark notes...

The House of Seven Gables

F-

:)

It truly was a horrible week.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on December 01, 2008, 11:36:42 AM
Ant Farm/Free Range Chickens by Simon Rich 3.5/5 for both

Two short, breezy reads.  Like any humor collection there are some hilarious pieces and some clunkers.  Worth checking out if you enjoy a laugh and have a short attention span (most of the pieces are 1-2pgs. and each book is under 150pgs.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on December 01, 2008, 11:41:34 AM
I ended up reading 4 Poe short stories as well...

The Masque of Red Death

C-

The Tell-Tale Heart

B+

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

B

Ligeia

A-

I read some of the Fall of the House of Usher but was pretty boring and I didn't have enough time...

Meant to read The Black Cat. That one seems fun.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on December 03, 2008, 05:24:15 PM
I ended up reading 4 Poe short stories as well...

The Masque of Red Death

C-

The Tell-Tale Heart

B+

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

B

Ligeia

A-

I read some of the Fall of the House of Usher but was pretty boring and I didn't have enough time...

Meant to read The Black Cat. That one seems fun.

This I like to see, though I really like MoRD.

Angels in America Part 1: Millennium Approaches - Tony Kushner

I'm not entirely sure how Part 2 is going to wrap up, but this was a great read and really managed to address quite a few topics in what seemed like such a short amount of space. The characters are incredibly interesting and I really liked the way Kushner blended reality with the surreal.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 10, 2008, 06:37:55 AM
Amsterdam - Ian McEwan

McEwan is a master. I can't believe it took me till this year to find his work. This is incredibly powerful storytelling, and drew me right in before spitting me out. Just as with Atonement, it's a shocking, powerful, raw ending.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Thor on December 11, 2008, 02:01:17 PM
Read Saturday next.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: CSSCHNEIDER on December 16, 2008, 05:57:55 PM
Norwegian Wood
Haruki Murakami

I didn't care for this.  Far too depressing, all the characters are severely selfish.  I couldn't relate to anyone and struggled through the book, wanting to finish it for those who recommended it to me, as I trust them and want to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Of the 290 pages about 50 worked for me and were interesting.  The rest I found over written.  There is no economy in the writing, which is frustrating to me.  Leave something to the imagination!  Not my kind of book.

Grade C

The Tales of Beetle the Bard

Cute and refreshing after the depressing previous book.  Did nothing to quench my thirst for Potter-Verse material, but was a quick and fun read.

Grade B
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on December 16, 2008, 06:20:17 PM
 :'(
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 22, 2008, 11:14:12 PM
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.

A bunch of fun. I really enjoyed the alternating chapters (one from the POV of the villain, the next from the POV of a cybernetic superhero) and the story was fun and twisty (although I did see some of it coming) I laughed a lot, but the end got kind of monologue-y. Although that may have been on purpose. Anyways, it's a fun read for fans of superhero stories.

B+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on December 22, 2008, 11:46:31 PM
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.

A bunch of fun. I really enjoyed the alternating chapters (one from the POV of the villain, the next from the POV of a cybernetic superhero) and the story was fun and twisty (although I did see some of it coming) I laughed a lot, but the end got kind of monologue-y. Although that may have been on purpose. Anyways, it's a fun read for fans of superhero stories.

B+.

Glad you liked it, I thought it was a lot of fun, something I don't always have when it comes to that sort of story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 23, 2008, 02:50:55 AM
Pet Sematary
It's weird to say, but this book was not nice. Not very nice at all. It has a very nasty feel that permeates throughout, and it makes for a reading experience that is far from comfortable. It's not scary, per say, but just really unpleasant to read. There's no real twists and turns, and after the first half it becomes pretty predictable.

That said, I was really interested by the way that the spectre of death really looms over this novel, more so than any other King I've ever read. Death is almost a character in this, in the way it shapes the characters and their actions. It's kind of amazing.

Still, far from King's best.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: CSSCHNEIDER on December 28, 2008, 10:45:32 AM
Eddie and the Cruisers
by P.F. Kluge

I can't think about Eddie and the Cruisers without hearing the opening keyboard tinkle of The Darkside.  I just can't.  It's not a favorite movie of mine, but it is a fun movie.  Seeing it for the first time was magical, sort of.  I saw it on film in a 90 seat theater and didn't know much about it, other than the week before the theater ran the original trailer to advertise it's revival screening, and that it was always a movie I was interested in seeing.  I also knew the song The Darkside from having grown up in New Jersey, home of a trillion and one classic rock stations, but I didn't know of it's connection to the film.

A few weeks ago, working my Christmas gig at the video store, my best friend (and co-owner of the store) got into an argument with a customer purchasing a battered VHS copy of the film.  This guy swore up and down that Eddie Wilson was not only real, but he remembers exactly what he was doing when he heard the news the Eddie had 'died'.  The argument got heated when my friend, more opinionated than I am, wouldn't back down and let the misinformed remain so.  The patron wouldn't back down either, and I'm sure we lost a repeat customer.  Believe it or not, less than an hour later, the scene repeated itself, except with a different customer.  Again, buying a copy of the film, sun bleached VHS cover and all, as well as a copy of the rare Eddie and the Cruisers II:  Eddie Lives! VHS (for which we get $15!  Fifteen bucks for a VHS, now that's amazing!) this guy lit in on how he missed Eddie so much, and how his music meant so much to this guy, and how he remembered what he was doing (roofing his house) when he heard the Eddie was dead.  I didn't argue with the guy, but my friend did, and I mentioned that the film was based on a book.  The guy related that if the film was based on a book (which it is, and is mentioned in the opening credits) that the book was an account of the real Eddie Wilson.  With that he left with is overprice, hard to find VHS tape.

These two encounters are what encouraged me to dig out my DVD of Eddie and the Cruisers which then propelled my interest into the novel.  How could someone create something so visceral and amazing that people have altered their own personal history to make room for a fantasy?

Christmas came, and with it a fresh copy of the lingering reprinting of P.F. Kluge's cult novel.  It's a wonderful read.  It's a mystery, like the film, steeped in Rock-lore and that's just it, he so perfectly wrote about the death and pop-culture resurgence of a cult music icon that it has stuck in the minds of people as reality.  And what I think helps is the Kluge wrote the book in the late 70's just as most of the greatest rock legends were winking out.  But he was the first to take the idol worship to the next level.  He saw that people were going to look back and yearn for those tender years before they even did.  Sure, he had Elvis and Jopplin to guide his hand, but he marketed pop-culture nostalgia in 1980 the way Cobain's fans (Van Sant being one of them) do today.

The book is by no means perfect, but like a great pop-song it hits all the right notes, or most of them.  I still would say the the Hollywood ending is superior to the book's, because it does what reality and Elvis fan's can't.  I'd also say that the result of the mystery is a let down, and the violence surrounding it is unnecessary.  These are the few things the movie got right, that and casting Micheal Pare.  But the rest, the rest is perfectly captured by a young writer who's foresight is pretty astounding.

Grade A
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ¡Keith! on December 28, 2008, 01:26:21 PM
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/01/Killijgasdhgsd.jpg/180px-Killijgasdhgsd.jpg)

I both hate and love Chuck at the same time.  This is why I listen to music i'm sure he hates while reading his books.  I feel better this way. Some of the moments are fantastic, others are really annoying (mostly involving his pining).  A fun read even if he he has awful taste in music.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: gateway on December 28, 2008, 02:36:52 PM
Just finished reading One Day, All Children by Wendy Kopp (the founder of Teach for America). It's a great read if you're a college student and looking for something to do after graduation. It's really pretty remarkable how a small group of people right out of college were able to create such a successful organization. Whether joining Teach for America is something that appeals to you or not, it really makes you think about just how much you can accomplish at such a young age.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on January 15, 2009, 06:30:55 AM
Read Saturday next.

I did.

Saturday - Ian McEwan
I love McEwan. I can't believe it took me this long to realize that. He writes with such ease that it's impossible not to love him. This isn't quite as good as Atonement, but it's certainly better than Amsterdam. It's pretty simple, and I don't know that there's a whole lot of surprises, but I don't know that there needs to be.

It's also a pretty amazing snapshot of the world after 9/11 and just prior to the invasion of Iraq, and it's fascinating to look back on in retrospect.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Thor on January 15, 2009, 09:02:20 AM
Read Saturday next.

I did.

Saturday - Ian McEwan
I love McEwan. I can't believe it took me this long to realize that. He writes with such ease that it's impossible not to love him. This isn't quite as good as Atonement, but it's certainly better than Amsterdam. It's pretty simple, and I don't know that there's a whole lot of surprises, but I don't know that there needs to be.

It's also a pretty amazing snapshot of the world after 9/11 and just prior to the invasion of Iraq, and it's fascinating to look back on in retrospect.


You got it. I went to college in 2000-2003 in the area of London that he describes and he gets every detail right. It's a superb evocation of a specific time, place and mindset.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 27, 2009, 08:46:09 PM
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d1/Haruki_murakami_hardboiled_9780679743460.jpg)
Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World

I love this book. Like it's in my top 5 of all time right now loved it. It's beautifully written and funny and intelligent and clever and everything you could possibly want. It's got unicorns and big walls and librarians! It plays with pretty much any genre you can think of and then some and mashes them all together and makes something special out of the remains. Whoever I get next Book Dictator period will get this for sure. I love it.

The last hundred or so pages filled me with a feeling I have never gotten from a book before. It was a strange mournfully happy peace. The book reaches a climax about 3/4ths of the way in (when the Professor reveals what is happening to our hero) and the rest is a coast to an inevitable end. I was both sad and glad for our hero, both parts of him. I only recall feeling something similar to this at the end of the Lord of the Rings films when they get on the boat. You know that everybody else is going to live on and be happy and you know that Frodo and them are happy, too, but there is a strange sense of loss or something there that keeps everything mellow. I don't know if I described this well, but it is something that really struck me.

Random quote:
Quote
"But how do you turn down natural sound?" I asked.
"Strictly speaking, I don't turn it down," the old man replied, "I take it out."
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 27, 2009, 08:54:04 PM
I would also like to add that this book and The Phantom Tollbooth/Alice In Wonderland combo are why I love books. That is all.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on January 27, 2009, 09:30:16 PM
Junior, have I told you how awesome you are :)? I am currently re-reading all my Murakamis and my ranking of his books has changed a lot from my original ranking. I have just two left to re-read and Hard-Boiled is one of them. I don't remember the book too well but I can definitely relate to what you said about the ending. A lot of his books make me feel wistful towards the end even when the ending isn't necessarily tragic.
Will report back after I reread the book. For now, am just really happy you enjoyed the book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on January 27, 2009, 09:34:07 PM
I don't read books.  Books read me.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on January 27, 2009, 09:35:15 PM
Did you re-read Sputnik Sweetheart, worm? The more I think about it, the more that one seems like 2nd best to me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on January 27, 2009, 09:49:10 PM
Did you re-read Sputnik Sweetheart, worm? The more I think about it, the more that one seems like 2nd best to me.

Yep, Re-read it and loved it a lot. The wistfulness thing I mentioned in response to Junior's review was 100x multiplied while reading it which, for me, is a good thing! Just intensely sad and lovely. Also re-read Kafka on the Shore. I think I had found the ending unsatisfactory the first time but I didn't have that problem this time around. I think I was most surprised by After Dark which I had found to be very underwhelming but this time its montages felt so great to me. And the setting and the way the story gets more layered ever so gradually.

I have Dance Dance Dance and Hard-Boiled left now. Will post updated reviews and ranking once I'm done.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 27, 2009, 09:54:30 PM
I should also add that as I was reading this I picked up two Murakami short story collections because this book was that awesome.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on January 27, 2009, 09:57:07 PM
I need to pick one up. Turns out we have to do a presentation on a book of short stories by a single author so I'll be picking Murakami :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 27, 2009, 09:59:37 PM
Did you re-read Sputnik Sweetheart, worm? The more I think about it, the more that one seems like 2nd best to me.

Yep, Re-read it and loved it a lot. The wistfulness thing I mentioned in response to Junior's review was 100x multiplied while reading it which, for me, is a good thing!

Sounds like this might be next!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 27, 2009, 10:01:15 PM
I need to pick one up. Turns out we have to do a presentation on a book of short stories by a single author so I'll be picking Murakami :)

Based on worm's (I think) placing The Elephant Vanishes on her top 20, I went with that one first. So, maybe you should choose it, too!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on January 27, 2009, 10:01:44 PM
Sounds good to me!

Sputnik Sweetheart is heartbreaking to me :(
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on January 27, 2009, 10:11:12 PM
I don't remember having The Elephant Vanishes in my top 20 but it does have two of my favorite short stories by him, so it's possible that I did. I haven't read Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman yet but have it here to read. I think I've read quite a few of those stories in other places though since they've appeared in magazines and so on. After the Quake might be the easiest to talk/write about in class since it has a clear theme and context but I think doing one of the others is a lot more fun for exactly that reason.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 27, 2009, 10:23:56 PM
I don't remember having The Elephant Vanishes in my top 20 but it does have two of my favorite short stories by him, so it's possible that I did.

Yeah, I just went and looked at it. It wasn't on your list. But I'm almost sure you or somebody else mentioned it recently-ish.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on January 28, 2009, 05:30:56 PM
Candy Girl - Diablo Cody
Knowing how much we all love Cody around here, I'll keep it brief.

Even tho she doesn't do the whole quirky dialogue thing, her voice shines through incredibly. An interesting look at stripping, but far from perfect. How To Make Love Like A Porn Star by Jenna Jameson does the whole thing better. It took around three hours to read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on January 30, 2009, 08:21:11 PM
Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
I've written about Winton before on these boards, and with reason. He's an amazing writer, probably the best Australia has at the moment. However, until this, I don't know that I'd read a truly great book by him. This is it. Sure, it's a little obvious, and it has lulls, but that never really matters. It's written so well that it is an absolute joy to spend time with. He creates such strong characters and such believable lives for them. There is a great sense of the changing of times and the passing of lives, and, as usual, the water, whether it's rivers or oceans, is so important, and so palpable.

I'm so envious that Saltine has had correspondence with him.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on January 30, 2009, 08:47:49 PM
Yeah, I love Cloudstreet too.  In fact, I saw it in the cabinet a few days ago and thought: I should re-read that.  With your enthusiasm, I think I'll do that. 

I mentioned Dirt Music to my mother yesterday, and she has bought the book and started reading it.  She loves it too.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on February 01, 2009, 06:19:05 PM
The Blithedale Romance was kind of excellent. None of the boring crap from Gables. Instead, what I got was this sort observant narrative that reminded me of Days of Heaven of all things. The main character looks on from the distance as he tries to make sense of the emotional narratives playing out between the people he knows. The final chapters explain too much but they do hit this really great emotional note that I wish more of the stuff I read/watch would have more of.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on February 01, 2009, 06:51:50 PM
On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
It's difficult to say that this, a novella, really, of just over 160 pages, is better than Atonement, a masterful, moving, passionate, intellectual, beautiful novel of 400 odd pages. And yet, my initial reaction is to say just that. This really is, potentially McEwan's masterpiece. It seems that every word has weight and depth, which is appropriate in a story that is, as the synopsis suggests, about the power of words not said, gestures not made.

People talk of Revolutionary Road being devastating to them, and whilst I don't agree, I understand, and this had exactly that affect on me. I can feel my heart beating, and I'm sort of half shaking with adrenaline or something similar. The way McEwan writes gives this novel so much a sense of melancholy, a sense of people failing to meet at the middle, when it could be so easy. It's a brilliant, introspective look at British social structures in the early '60s, at the dawn of a new era, and just like he does with Saturday and post 9/11 - pre-Iraq London, he captures the time, the place, and the conventions so perfectly.

It's pretty easily the best book I've read so far this year (although there've only been around 5, so I suppose that's not a huge achievement, but still). It's just amazing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on February 01, 2009, 09:27:07 PM
On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
It's difficult to say that this, a novella, really, of just over 160 pages, is better than Atonement, a masterful, moving, passionate, intellectual, beautiful novel of 400 odd pages. And yet, my initial reaction is to say just that. This really is, potentially McEwan's masterpiece. It seems that every word has weight and depth, which is appropriate in a story that is, as the synopsis suggests, about the power of words not said, gestures not made.

People talk of Revolutionary Road being devastating to them, and whilst I don't agree, I understand, and this had exactly that affect on me. I can feel my heart beating, and I'm sort of half shaking with adrenaline or something similar. The way McEwan writes gives this novel so much a sense of melancholy, a sense of people failing to meet at the middle, when it could be so easy. It's a brilliant, introspective look at British social structures in the early '60s, at the dawn of a new era, and just like he does with Saturday and post 9/11 - pre-Iraq London, he captures the time, the place, and the conventions so perfectly.

It's pretty easily the best book I've read so far this year (although there've only been around 5, so I suppose that's not a huge achievement, but still). It's just amazing.

Completely agree - it's an amazing book. Much better than Atonement.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on February 03, 2009, 01:55:55 PM
Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers 2.5-3ish/5

The Tipping Point and Blink were interesting enough but this one really felt like a chore to get through.  Gladwell has clearly settled into a formula and it just didn't work for me this time around; some of what he has to say about the nature of success is interesting I suppose, but most of the anecdotes were fairly boring.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on February 08, 2009, 04:31:48 AM
I don't really get the Gladwell hype.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on February 08, 2009, 05:43:54 AM
The Road
Oh yeah, it's great. I think I loved most of all the conversations between father and son.

Can I ask you something? he said.
Yes. Of Course.
Are we going to die?
Sometime. Not now.
And we're still going south.
Yes.
So we'll be warm.
Yes.
Okay.
Okay what?
Nothing. Just okay.
Go to sleep.
Okay.
I'm going to blow out the lamp. Is that okay?
Yes. That's okay.
And then later in the darkness: Can I ask you something?
Yes. Of course you can.
What would you do if I died?
If you died I would want to die too.
So that you could be with me?
Yes. So I could be with you.
Okay.


That's from page 8-9. It really sets the tone for the whole novel. I'm really glad I read it, and I'm excited for the movie, although very, very scared at the same time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on February 08, 2009, 02:17:54 PM
The Road
Oh yeah, it's great. I think I loved most of all the conversations between father and son.

Can I ask you something? he said.
Yes. Of Course.
Are we going to die?
Sometime. Not now.
And we're still going south.
Yes.
So we'll be warm.
Yes.
Okay.
Okay what?
Nothing. Just okay.
Go to sleep.
Okay.
I'm going to blow out the lamp. Is that okay?
Yes. That's okay.
And then later in the darkness: Can I ask you something?
Yes. Of course you can.
What would you do if I died?
If you died I would want to die too.
So that you could be with me?
Yes. So I could be with you.
Okay.


That's from page 8-9. It really sets the tone for the whole novel. I'm really glad I read it, and I'm excited for the movie, although very, very scared at the same time.


That's my favourite passage from the book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Thor on February 10, 2009, 01:49:16 PM
(http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n43/n219103.jpg)

Pretty funny, though not as clever as the first book in the series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on February 10, 2009, 02:08:40 PM
(http://i39.tinypic.com/io0kuw.jpg)

This was really strange but really fun. It's pretty much the sort of book you have to read in one sitting because the writing is just very stream-of-consciousness. The whole book feels like a delirious reverie but one that's part-hilarious, part-tragic but always interesting. The language is really rich and vivid even in translation and evokes lots of images and one can even feel the texture of landscapes and rooms and so on. I loved the way he is able to get into this tangential side-story and weave us back into the main narrative so seamlessly. Reading it did make me wish I knew more (or anything at all) about Chilean literature or history. It's an enjoyable read even without all that background though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on February 10, 2009, 02:34:39 PM
The Rise of Silas Lapham - Eh, it was interesting enough, though it was beautifully constructed. I'd probably not have read it on my own if it wasn't for class, but I'm glad I did. Realism kind of pisses me off though.

B-/B
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on February 10, 2009, 07:04:44 PM
On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
It's difficult to say that this, a novella, really, of just over 160 pages, is better than Atonement, a masterful, moving, passionate, intellectual, beautiful novel of 400 odd pages. And yet, my initial reaction is to say just that. This really is, potentially McEwan's masterpiece. It seems that every word has weight and depth, which is appropriate in a story that is, as the synopsis suggests, about the power of words not said, gestures not made.

People talk of Revolutionary Road being devastating to them, and whilst I don't agree, I understand, and this had exactly that affect on me. I can feel my heart beating, and I'm sort of half shaking with adrenaline or something similar. The way McEwan writes gives this novel so much a sense of melancholy, a sense of people failing to meet at the middle, when it could be so easy. It's a brilliant, introspective look at British social structures in the early '60s, at the dawn of a new era, and just like he does with Saturday and post 9/11 - pre-Iraq London, he captures the time, the place, and the conventions so perfectly.

It's pretty easily the best book I've read so far this year (although there've only been around 5, so I suppose that's not a huge achievement, but still). It's just amazing.

Just started reading this today.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on February 10, 2009, 11:57:37 PM
On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan

Just started reading this today.
I hope you like it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on February 15, 2009, 10:39:06 PM
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Mark Twain) - It's humorous and thought provoking enough I guess, Twain is really great with satire and the narrative is compelling, unlike most stories involving King Arthur's time. The last few chapters are beautiful as well. I'm not a huge fan of Twain, and I assume his intentions and attacks are not things I agree with, but as a reader I found a ton that I could still relate to modern American society, and that was enjoyable. It read slow at some parts, but overall a solid novel and worth checking out if only to get to the end.

B/B+
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on February 17, 2009, 03:15:37 PM
Ask the Dust (John Fante, 1939)

Yeah, so I read this based on how much Emiliana and Ronan seemed to have enjoyed it. It pretty much blew my mind. I love unreliable narrators and this narrator is just completely insane. I found the destructive nature of Bandini and Camilla's relationship and Arturo's self-absorption rather disturbing but not enough to want to stop reading apparently ::). Manic and utterly beautiful writing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on February 17, 2009, 03:18:19 PM
Song of Solomon

Yeah.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Kevin Shields on February 17, 2009, 06:10:53 PM
Watchmen (http://www.epinions.com/content_461289066116) by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons.

In anticipation for the film.  This is truly one of the greatest stories ever told.  I really think it changed the idea of the graphic novel and superhero folklores.  I loved the backstories for all of the major characters.  Notably how Jonathan Osterman became Dr. Manhattan, Adrian Veidt's ambition modeled after Alexander the Great, and my fave character, Rorschach.  I'm now excited for the film. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Emiliana on February 18, 2009, 04:11:53 AM
Ask the Dust (John Fante, 1939)

Yeah, so I read this based on how much Emiliana and Ronan seemed to have enjoyed it. It pretty much blew my mind. I love unreliable narrators and this narrator is just completely insane. I found the destructive nature of Bandini and Camilla's relationship and Arturo's self-absorption rather disturbing but not enough to want to stop reading apparently ::). Manic and utterly beautiful writing.

Right, I had meant to ask you to report back...

It is amazing how this book elicits these very strong, very emotional reactions. "Manic" is really the appropriate word for Fante's writing style - it is so full of energy, it doesn't let you go again once it grips you (which is instantly), but there is something unsettling to it as well.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on February 18, 2009, 04:48:08 AM
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Mark Twain) - It's humorous and thought provoking enough I guess, Twain is really great with satire and the narrative is compelling, unlike most stories involving King Arthur's time. The last few chapters are beautiful as well. I'm not a huge fan of Twain, and I assume his intentions and attacks are not things I agree with, but as a reader I found a ton that I could still relate to modern American society, and that was enjoyable. It read slow at some parts, but overall a solid novel and worth checking out if only to get to the end.

B/B+

So 120 years after the novel was written, " as a reader I found a ton that I could still relate to modern American society" and that deserved a B/B+.  Really?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on February 18, 2009, 09:55:59 AM
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Mark Twain) - It's humorous and thought provoking enough I guess, Twain is really great with satire and the narrative is compelling, unlike most stories involving King Arthur's time. The last few chapters are beautiful as well. I'm not a huge fan of Twain, and I assume his intentions and attacks are not things I agree with, but as a reader I found a ton that I could still relate to modern American society, and that was enjoyable. It read slow at some parts, but overall a solid novel and worth checking out if only to get to the end.

B/B+

So 120 years after the novel was written, " as a reader I found a ton that I could still relate to modern American society" and that deserved a B/B+.  Really?

Yes.

The plot isn't terribly engaging, the framing device works to an extent but takes away from the suspense and the end result is fairly easy to discern early on, even if the actual event is shocking, the characters are developed enough, and some of it goes by quickly but the rest is just dull to read. It's an important book, and probably would fight with Huck for Twain's best, though I'm inclined to give the edge to Yankee, but just because it still applies to modern society doesn't mean it automatically deserves an A when there are quite a few flaws. It's a great satire and it's a worthwhile read, but it is far from flawless.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on March 01, 2009, 02:14:52 AM
Over Sea, Under Stone  (Susan Cooper, 1965)
The first book in the five-part "The Dark Is Rising" series is really ordinary fantasy with very little personality.  I hope the books improve as they go (I'm optimistic since the fourth one won the Newberry Medal and they skipped this first one in adapting the series for film), seeing as I already own the whole box set.  Still, it was good to read something.
Grade: C-

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on March 02, 2009, 06:11:39 AM
Over Sea, Under Stone  (Susan Cooper, 1965)
The first book in the five-part "The Dark Is Rising" series is really ordinary fantasy with very little personality.  I hope the books improve as they go (I'm optimistic since the fourth one won the Newberry Medal and they skipped this first one in adapting the series for film), seeing as I already own the whole box set.  Still, it was good to read something.
Grade: C-

pixote

I read them years ago but they definitely get better.  I originally read Silver on the Tree without reading any of the others and was blown away yet mystified by it (not realizing it was the last in a 5 book series).  I read the others as I found them over several years and remember 4 and 5 blowing 1-3 out of the water.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on March 07, 2009, 11:42:12 PM
(http://i43.tinypic.com/zsldli.jpg)



Watchmen, by Alan Moore. 1986-1987.

Set in the mid 1980s, but in an alternate universe in which Nixon is still the United States president, Alan Moore's much praised story is about a world on the brink of nuclear destruction and the place that recently legally banned superheroes have in it. It begins in rather quaint fashion, with the murder of an elder hero, The Comedian (pretty stupid name), who had been working for the government. An old ally of his, Rorschach, a masked vigilante with very dogmatic ideas about good and evil, makes it his duty to investigate this crime. One thing leads to another, and retired superheroes are forced by incredible circumstances to take a stand before the East/West arms race brings the apocalypse.

(http://i39.tinypic.com/166nnv5.jpg)

The story to this comic is very dense and rather layered. The brief paragraph I just wrote really only gives a tiny hint as to what exactly the curious reader will actually discover when diving into the thick of things. Over roughly 350 odd pages, writer Moore marries the notion of superhero comics with political/social commentary, philosophical ponderings on the nature of right and wrong, the deconstruction of a chronological narrative, the juggling of two seperate but related storylines (one being a comic book read by a character in this Watchmen story) and offers some genuine dramatic weight to some very, very flaud superheroes. And arguably some more stuff I'm sure I left out.

What held my interest were the characters. Each was fascinating enough, either for the right reasons, such as Silk Spectre's compassion and Nite Owl's do-gooder nature, or the wrong ones, such as Rorschach's troubled doctrine on crime fighting and ideologies on right and wrong. Their stories were well linked together and I thought intriguing the notion of a world in which superheroes, unless employed by the federal government, were banned from active duty. Moore juggled the narrative nicely, especially givn that he wrestled with several character storylines, each one told with a great number of flashbacks (and Dr. Manhattan's crazy way of thinking about time. Yikes...). I admired the art of Dave Gibbons and John Higgins. everything frame is detailed and rich in colour. Every character thus not only becomes unique and memorable due to the writing, but also thanks to the efforts of the artists involved. The world feels very large and alive. I often paused from my reading to simply admire the pretty pictures. Very pretty they were indeed. Large scale moments or close quarter moments, action sequences or emotional dialogue moments, Gibbons and Higgins did a great job I felt.

As for the political and social commentary, I can understand why this was heralded as great in the 80s. It was a decade which witnessed some rather divisive political debates and waves. It also adds a certain texture to a superhero story. There's more going on than merely a Spider-man/ Green goblin stand off with Mary Jane hanging from a rooftop. The guiding politics championed by the Western governments (in this story basically the American government) and Eastern Bloc heavily influence the world these characters live in. I imagine that Moore's efforts encapsulated the ideas and fears of the counter-movement to the neo conservative zeitgeist of the 1980s. There is a great sense of paranoia that has stricken America and some of our protagonists, as there was back then. Fear of communism, fear of nuclear attack, fear of one's own government, fear of mankind's destructive capabilities. Some of those fears live on till this day in fact. I'm particularly terrified of my own destructive capabilities.

(http://i44.tinypic.com/hs84ls.jpg)

For that very reason I admire the end product. However, as I got deeper and deper into the story and as the references to Nixon, the arms race, the frustratingly barbaric and counterproductive nature we humans are faulted with piled up and so on, a strange thought occured to me. Back in 1985, a comic like this must have seemed, if I may use hyperbole for a moment, groundbreaking in a sense. And while I did genuinely enjoy myself mainly due to the rich characters and the fatalistic universe they inhabited, I kept thinking what the public reaction to the comic would have been had Watchmen been published a couple years ago, during the height (or low) of Bush's presidency, with references to Bush, Cheney, Iraq, the Taliban and the Patriot Act. It seems to me that today's readers and media savvy populace are far more cynical and don't take kindly to heavy handed material. I wondered more than once if released today, Watchmen would have been lambasted for its heavy handedness. The plot and characters I enjoyed very much, and while I appreciated Moore's willingness to give birth to a comic world that felt genuinely relevant, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at times and how unsubtle many bits of dialogue and moments were.

Is that just me who refused to cut the book some slack? Is such a complaint irrelevant due to the richness of the characters, a richness that requires this very politicized world? Is it irrelevant because the story's richness and quality could not survive without the obvious ham fisted moments? Am I possibly terribly off the mark because, somehow, there really isn't any ham fisted at all? Well, I wouldn't take the last option since my gut reaction was that a lot was heavy handed. It's one thing to convince a person that something is better/worse than they think, I think however it's an entirely different matter to change one's mind on what is subtle/heavy handed.
(http://i40.tinypic.com/2m2j6ex.jpg)

Regardless, I've typed far more than I needed to and I should stop. To sum it up, I really liked it and will go back to rad it again soon. I did not think it was perfect, but as a whole, as a final piece of story telling, I think it's very operatic, very large. Something so big and grand will usually have some small stains (except, apparently, Casablanca), but the fact that I was intruiged from start to finish and that I want to revisit Moore's world again, and soon, is a very good sign.

(http://i42.tinypic.com/20tndqg.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 'Noke on March 08, 2009, 07:49:33 AM
Something so big and grand will usually have some small stains (except, apparently, Casablanca)

*sigh*
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on March 13, 2009, 05:10:15 AM
Stand Before Your God  (Paul Watkins, 1993)
The content of this memoir, about an American boy's time in English public schools from age seven until graduating for Eton, never quites match the strength of the crisply readable prose.  It's not bad; just not great.  The passages on writing were surprisingly uninspired, though.
Grade: B-

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on March 16, 2009, 05:03:31 AM
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
I occasionally watch a movie or read a book where I can appreciate the artistry, but have it do nothing for me. Which disappoints me sometimes. Lolita, unfortunately, falls into this category.

Yes, the prose is beautiful. It's the definite highlight of what's on display here. It's playful and elusive, and really brilliant. And while it may have something to do with the fact it took about a month to read, which is far too long, really, I never really found myself falling in love with this.

Admittedly, it's not really my "type" of novel, but even so, I have been known to fall for books which I normally wouldn't. I also found myself really turned off by the afterword as such in my edition, in which Nabokov struck me as arrogant and undesirable.

Really, not the experience I was hoping to have.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on March 16, 2009, 08:38:09 AM
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
I occasionally watch a movie or read a book where I can appreciate the artistry, but have it do nothing for me. Which disappoints me sometimes. Lolita, unfortunately, falls into this category.

Yes, the prose is beautiful. It's the definite highlight of what's on display here. It's playful and elusive, and really brilliant. And while it may have something to do with the fact it took about a month to read, which is far too long, really, I never really found myself falling in love with this.

Admittedly, it's not really my "type" of novel, but even so, I have been known to fall for books which I normally wouldn't. I also found myself really turned off by the afterword as such in my edition, in which Nabokov struck me as arrogant and undesirable.

Really, not the experience I was hoping to have.

Yeah, the prose is stunning though, right? Mine doesn't seem to have the nasty afterword thankfully. I still like it a lot just because I could probably just open the book up to a random page and find at least one line or turn or phrase that is so beautiful that I want to remember it.
On to The Moviegoer now, I hope :)?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on March 16, 2009, 06:08:37 PM
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
I occasionally watch a movie or read a book where I can appreciate the artistry, but have it do nothing for me. Which disappoints me sometimes. Lolita, unfortunately, falls into this category.

Yes, the prose is beautiful. It's the definite highlight of what's on display here. It's playful and elusive, and really brilliant. And while it may have something to do with the fact it took about a month to read, which is far too long, really, I never really found myself falling in love with this.

Admittedly, it's not really my "type" of novel, but even so, I have been known to fall for books which I normally wouldn't. I also found myself really turned off by the afterword as such in my edition, in which Nabokov struck me as arrogant and undesirable.

Really, not the experience I was hoping to have.

Yeah, the prose is stunning though, right? Mine doesn't seem to have the nasty afterword thankfully. I still like it a lot just because I could probably just open the book up to a random page and find at least one line or turn or phrase that is so beautiful that I want to remember it.
On to The Moviegoer now, I hope :)?
Indeed. I have my copy sitting beside my bed right now.

And yeah, definitely, the prose is stunning. Really, really stunning.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on March 16, 2009, 09:11:18 PM
I've pretty much finished reading Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. A fascinating study of the mind.

A lot of people have a lot of negative things to say about the book. That it's all anecdotes and no facts. That Gladwell cherry picks his examples. That Gladwell doesn't do any of his own work, but just edits together his findings. That some of his theories have been proven wrong. I don't disagree with any of that, but I still got plenty out of it. It's an easy, thought provoking read that I could recommend to anybody. Just don't go expecting too much. The top reviews are always horribly exaggerated. "Read this and it'll change your life forever!"  ::)

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on March 22, 2009, 08:14:38 PM
I'm planning to read at least 50 books this year...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: thatguy_sam on March 23, 2009, 02:46:17 PM
Interview with the Vampire - ***1/2

i seem to be on a bit of a vampire shtick at the moment, now reading The Vampire Lestat, watching True Blood and most likely in the next week or so going to see Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on March 30, 2009, 10:43:20 PM
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner.

Freaking amazing book. Stunningly written and supremely profound. A lot of fun (kind of) in the playful narrative technique and blend of voices. Contains the best chapter ever written (by Vardeman. You know what I'm talking about). A must read for sure.

A+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on March 30, 2009, 10:46:36 PM
woot!

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on March 30, 2009, 10:49:53 PM
My American Lit teacher says that Faulkner is the greatest American writer ever, and I think he's his favourite writer ever. This is the guy who did Absalom, Absalom, right?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on March 30, 2009, 10:52:29 PM
Same dude. I think As I Lay Dying is probably the best "serious" book I have ever read. It would probably be second only to The Phantom Tollbooth and perhaps Alice in my top 20 list now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on March 30, 2009, 10:53:27 PM
Same dude. I think As I Lay Dying is probably the best "serious" book I have ever read. It would probably be second only to The Phantom Tollbooth and perhaps Alice in my top 20 list now.

You should read The Sound and the Fury this summer, for sures!

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on March 30, 2009, 10:54:31 PM
Same dude. I think As I Lay Dying is probably the best "serious" book I have ever read. It would probably be second only to The Phantom Tollbooth and perhaps Alice in my top 20 list now.

You should read The Sound and the Fury this summer, for sures!

pixote

It's on my list. Probably next after Kafka on the Shore.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on March 30, 2009, 11:02:36 PM
Same dude. I think As I Lay Dying is probably the best "serious" book I have ever read. It would probably be second only to The Phantom Tollbooth and perhaps Alice in my top 20 list now.

You should read The Sound and the Fury this summer, for sures!

pixote

Yeah, I'm pretty sure my professor said that Absalom and Sound and Fury are his best.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on March 30, 2009, 11:05:09 PM
Yeah, I'm pretty sure my professor said that Absalom and Sound and Fury are his best.

Absalom is really, really dense, and reading it I wasn't sure how much I liked it, but as soon as I was done I wanted to read it over again.  Then I thought, maybe I should read the whole Old Testament first, so I get all the layered references.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on March 30, 2009, 11:06:37 PM
Yeah, I'm pretty sure my professor said that Absalom and Sound and Fury are his best.

Absalom is really, really dense, and reading it I wasn't sure how much I liked it, but as soon as I was done I wanted to read it over again.  That I thought, maybe I should read the whole Old Testament first, so I get all the layered references.

pixote

I keep telling myself I'm going to read The Bible this summer, but I know I'm just lying to myself.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on April 14, 2009, 11:52:42 AM
The Bostonians - (Henry James): Holy Hell, what a novel! Beautifully written, always engaging, gripping characters and dialogue, and the 300 plus pages practically fly by, I can't wait to read more James when I get the chance.

A+
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on April 15, 2009, 08:29:36 AM
I can't be bothered to list all the titles, but I've been reading Sandman and have finished the first 4 collections. At this stage, I would put it above Watchmen in terms of pure brilliance. I can't believe it's taken me so long to find Gaiman. I particularly love the chapter of Season of Mist set in the boarding house, which was just truly heartbreaking. (Actually, Season of Mist is probably the best so far. Just brilliant.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 15, 2009, 08:53:19 AM
I can't be bothered to list all the titles, but I've been reading Sandman and have finished the first 4 collections. At this stage, I would put it above Watchmen in terms of pure brilliance. I can't believe it's taken me so long to find Gaiman. I particularly love the chapter of Season of Mist set in the boarding house, which was just truly heartbreaking. (Actually, Season of Mist is probably the best so far. Just brilliant.)

Yes! They were number 3 on my big list o books, I think. Great stuff.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on April 15, 2009, 09:47:53 AM
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
David Foster Wallace

I pretty much read this in one sitting. Not the best way to read this book, really. It's pretty challenging to read. Long sentences and full of footnotes that are long and profuse. But what makes it so compelling, so unputdownable is the sheer breadth and depth of imagination on display here and the ridiculous talent in terms of the writing itself. The book is full of misfits and dreamers but they're always treated with wit and humor. It's very postmodern (I seem to be enjoying these lately) and very stream-of-consciousness writing and I think it helped that I had recently read Bolano and Percy which had put me in the mode to enjoy this type of thing.

It made me really pensive and sad but I can't wait to read it again. Highly recommended.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on April 15, 2009, 09:55:29 AM
Can't wait to read it and then see the sure to be disappointing film adaptation.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on April 15, 2009, 09:57:50 AM
I find it hard to even imagine this in film. Sounds like a bad idea.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on April 15, 2009, 12:14:48 PM
I find it hard to even imagine this in film. Sounds like a bad idea.

I think it got pretty mediocre reviews at Sundance.  Pretty ambitious for a first time director.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 'Noke on April 18, 2009, 01:12:37 PM
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
David Foster Wallace

What is it about?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 18, 2009, 07:12:21 PM
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/98/Maus.jpg)

This is the last book I have to read for my American Lit since 1880 class. It's kind of a typical (if you can use such a word) Holocaust story but the method in which it is told and the art really elevate it. It is told mostly in flashbacks and even though it is a story often told I was still enthralled with the characters and wondering how they would get through the war. The sub-narrative of the son's (Art, I suppose) relationship with his father and step-mom and mom is really interesting and pulled me in even more than I already was. It's so organically told that it just works perfectly. I read it in one sitting (although it isn't really a tough read, so don't give me too much credit).

B+/A-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 18, 2009, 10:24:26 PM
The Elephant Vanishes Haruki Murakami

Some of the stories go nowhere for me, some I don't really understand, but I always get far too invested in Murakami's world of bizarre melancholy and alluring alienation. Basically, awesome.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 19, 2009, 02:33:05 AM
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater Kurt Vonnegut

It was pretty funny in all the good ways. Often too broad but, eh, what can you do?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 19, 2009, 10:22:48 AM
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater Kurt Vonnegut

It was pretty funny in all the good ways. Often too broad but, eh, what can you do?

This was my first Vonnegut.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 19, 2009, 10:25:19 AM
My first Vonnegut was Slaughterhouse Five but that was a million years ago back when I still cared about things and people.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 'Noke on April 19, 2009, 10:50:36 AM
The time traveller's wife.

If Charlie Kaufman wrote a tragic love story. Absolutely brilliant.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on April 20, 2009, 01:00:54 AM
I find it hard to even imagine this in film. Sounds like a bad idea.

I think it got pretty mediocre reviews at Sundance.  Pretty ambitious for a first time director.

Karina Longworth was really unkind to it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on April 20, 2009, 01:07:17 AM
Willie Boy: A Desert Manhunt  (Harry Lawton, 1960)
I had no idea this was historical fiction, based on an actual twenty-day manhunt through the Mohave Desert for a Paiute Indian (actually known as Billy Boy but rechistened by the media) who killed a man in order to take his daughter for a wife.  It's a good read, especially the first half, and Lawton touches nicely on issues of tradition, assimilation, the tabloid press, and the state of Native Americans in the Southwest less than twenty years after the massacre at Wounded Knee.  The more research Lawton has at his disposal, the less the narrative seems to flow; at times, he seems determine to cram in every minor fact he undercovered, even things as mundane and irrelevant as exactly which interchangeably named posse members were riding with which group.  That's just one reason I'm really excited to see what Abraham Polonsky (Body and Soul, Force of Evil) does with this material in the adaptation Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, the first film he got to director after being blacklisted.  Incidentally, this September will be the 100th anniversary of the actual manhunt, and there's still controversy about what exactly Willie Boy's fate was.
Grade: B

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on April 21, 2009, 01:33:36 AM
The Man Who Fell to Earth  (Walter Tevis, 1963)
A good read.  As with a lot of these kinds of stories, the setup is more interesting and satisfying than the resolution, but I still liked it overall.  I'm fascinated that the same guy wrote The Hustler and very curious to check out Nicholas Roeg's film adaptation.
Grade: B

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on April 26, 2009, 11:17:33 PM
The Sandman - N. Gaiman
If you had asked me my top five favourite books at the start of the year, I would've talked about It by King, The God of Small Things by Roy, The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccomatios by Martell, His Dark Materials by Pullman and Atonement, by McEwan.

Yeah. Not anymore.

Sandman is just so impressive. Even the less connected editions, such as Fables and Reflections and Worlds' End are still so, so awesome to read. And the brilliant, longer stories, like Brief Lives, Season of Mists and The Kindly Ones are just so beautiful and heartbreaking and wonderful that I just couldn't help but fall in love with all these characters, but Matthew the Raven, and Morpheus himself most of all.

Best of all is Gaiman's writing. It is so expressive, so beautiful, it really just defies description. I adored every second I spent in this world, and I just wish there was a way to spend more time with these characters, who I found so beautiful, so heartbreaking, so charming, so rich, so real.

My top five would currently look like this:

1. It - S. King
2. The God of Small Things - A. Roy
3. The Sandman - N. Gaiman
4. On Chesil Beach - I. McEwan
5. His Dark Materials - P. Pullman

Revolutionary Road - R. Yates
For those who loved the movie, this is a must. For those who were mixed on the movie, this is a must. For those who hated the movie, this is a must. For those who didn't see the movie, this is a must.

Yates writes in a way that the movie fails to capture almost entirely. I think maybe it gets right some of the scenes in the middle, when they're planning their trip to Paris, but other than that, it misses pretty much completely. Yates's prose is more succinct, captures more of these characters, and makes them far more real and conflicted than the movie ever did.

It focuses more on Frank, and less on April, and the suggestion is that April is more or less a sociopath, although I doubt she would be considered one today, and I don't think the causes for it are what Frank suggests, and I don't think Yates believes them either. What is so good about this tho is the brilliant way he uses prose: the way, less than ten pages in, he can make you feel sorry for a character, and then, within ten more pages, break them down and make you think of them as horrible people.

It's dark, biting, brilliant prose that exposes these people without ever letting them destroy their visions of themselves. If you haven't read it, I very much recommend you pick it up.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on April 27, 2009, 07:00:05 AM
I love Gaiman and really should read the Sandman series soon. Seems to be on a really long hold queue at the library unfortunately.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 30, 2009, 06:10:49 PM
Maus: Vol II.

So, this was amazingly awesome. So well made and moving. Much better than the typical Holocaust story. Worth reading if you are a human.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 01, 2009, 02:34:55 PM
Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami.

This is my second full length Murakami book and it was just as good as the first. It's like a dream and a memory and a KFC commercial combined into one glorious thing. Beautifully written and wonderfully entertaining. This book, like Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, has an ending that left me simultaneously happy and sad. The scene in the forest is magical and captures the mood there perfectly. So much goodness comes from this book.

A+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on May 01, 2009, 02:36:34 PM
Yep.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on May 01, 2009, 02:38:24 PM
Yep.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on May 02, 2009, 07:52:19 AM
Dear Fatty - D. French
I love a good autobiography. Or memoir. And I enjoyed this one a lot. French has a beautiful tone and voice that is sharp and witty and loving and funny and insightful and beautiful and that just made this so heartbreaking and so wonderful to read. She steers away from the stuff that we're likely to already know, the public life part, and looks at the things that have gone on behind, well, not closed doors. Because the things that happened behind closed doors remain undiscussed, very wisely, I think. I'll say behind the curtain instead.

The thing I loved most of all perhaps was that this was about people. She says as much herself, and it is very true. She writes about and to the people have been near to her, and dear to her, and who have been influential and loved, and she writes about them in a way that makes us (or at least it made me) want to spend time with them, be near to them and dear to them. And in my own personal opinion, that makes for a powerful, wonderful, joyful read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 03, 2009, 08:25:10 PM
Understanding Comics - Scott McCloud.

A book about comic theory written as a comic. Although some of the stuff was a little too theory-heavy and therefore harder for me to get easily, I really enjoyed this read. It's cleverly written and pretty fun to read, something I haven't encountered elsewhere in my limited theory reading. I think some of the stuff here is self-evident but that doesn't diminished that it needs to be stated outright. I reccommend it to anybody who enjoys a good comic and isn't too intimidated by the theory stuff that is thrown in there.

A-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on May 03, 2009, 08:35:11 PM
Will Eisner's The Spirit Archives Volume 3

I read that this comic strip, which use to appear in Sunday papers back in the 1940s, received a lot of praise for its quality and influence on other comic books. It's basically a series of 8 page mystery/noir/slapstick/detective stories featuring a near-invincible crime fighter named the Spirit, who dresses with a blue suit with a red tie. There are moments that feel dark, other moments that feel stupid and silly, while others still that I found funny. I guess I can praise the fact that this Eisner chap managed to sustain literally hundreds of these 8 page stories for so long. I don't think it's all that good, but I wouldn't outright dismiss it either. It was alright, but I don't feel the need to pick up any more volumes (I think there are about 20 of them, each with about 200 pages!). I've had my dose of The Spirit, I'm good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 03, 2009, 08:38:22 PM
There's actually a lot about Eisner in the McCloud book. Perhaps I'll follow in your footsteps. I also really want to read Zot! based on how funny and well written Understanding Comics was.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on May 05, 2009, 12:25:51 AM
Signal to Noise - N. Gaiman (Illustrated by D. McKean)
The story has all of Gaiman's beautiful prose and wonder, and McKean's beautiful, stunning imagery. I especially love the playing with ideas and themes that just propels this ever forward.

Hell and Back - F. Miller
I read the other Sin City titles last year, but only recently got to this one. I wonder if Miller always intended it as a Sin City Yarn, because whilst it fits thematically, unlike the others, there was no recurring characters or places. That threw me a little. I enjoyed it tho, as much as enjoyment applies to something like this. It doesn't have any real depth tho, which is perhaps disappointing, especially considering the discussions that could be had about misogyny and chivalry.

Y: The Last Man - Unmanned - B. K. Vaughan
I've read some of Ex Machina and Pride of Baghdad. There is a hell of a lot of potential in the first collection of this, and I can't wait to see where it goes.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 05, 2009, 12:41:20 AM
Y: The Last Man - Unmanned - B. K. Vaughan
I've read some of Ex Machina and Pride of Baghdad. There is a hell of a lot of potential in the first collection of this, and I can't wait to see where it goes.

I really loved this series. I read it in a weekend or so.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: thatguy_sam on May 06, 2009, 05:51:22 PM
Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat - ***1/2

sequel to Interview with a Vampire, which i would now like to see in film but havent been able to find yet, follows the life of Lestat and how he became the vampire that he is. it does tend to drag on a bit in places, but was easier to read than Interview due to the use of language, but that's only IMO

and now to continue the series with the third book - Queen of the Damned
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on May 13, 2009, 09:00:47 PM
Warning! This post contains spoilers

The Road (Cormac McCarthy) -  :D Nothing happens and it's so predictable. Should have played Fallout 3 instead so I could have actually gotten something out of my time.  :D

F- or Fantasia.

The Road (Cormac McCarthy) - Technically my first experience with McCarthy and I cannot be any happier. The novel is a thrill ride and never lets up, well except for that part where he's on the boat which is pretty dull, which makes for an incredibly engaging read characterized by truly beautiful prose that is so incredibly varied that one cannot help but be incredibly impressed by how well written the novel is. The interaction with the man and the boy is phenomenal, the relationship is delivered in such a simplistic manner that McCarthy's ability to build a complex and emotionally engaging, and more importantly a layered and believable, relationship is mind blowing. My comment about nothing happening is partially true I suppose, the story does not really go anywhere unexpected and the monotony that these characters should follow is apparent, but the ability to capture the bleak wasteland and the idea that, while one is mostly sure of how to behave and what is going to happen, nothing is completely set in stone during the survival struggle is handled wonderfully and makes the tension work wonderfully and make each page a journey of its own. I think that one of the most striking scenes was in the house where the man and the boy discover the prisoners who are going to be eaten. It caught me slightly off guard and was such a change of pace that it really injected some action and awareness of the situation and the world just when the novel needed these two aspects. The other part where the two live in the shelter for a few days is great at building on these characters, especially the man, and adding another layer of complexity to the portrayals the reader is provided. It's incredibly impressive the manner with which McCarthy strips the novel almost bare, though he injects a few symbols and more complex passages every now and then wonderfully, and still packs so much into the novel and the seemingly empty world. I need time to properly digest the novel and reflect on it, time I probably won't give myself, but it's one Hell of a book.

A+ or 4.989243091236758613
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on May 13, 2009, 10:08:43 PM
No One Belongs Here More Than You - M. July
I liked this more the first time. This time, the characters narrating the stories seemed to bleed into one. There were moments where I had to actively remind myself that this is a new story, a new character. That said, it fits July's themes beautifully, and will inevitably be a great asset for the essay I'm writing. It's worth reading if you liked Me and You.... If you didn't, I'd advise staying far away.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 14, 2009, 03:59:00 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51G7zgj-k6L.jpg)

The power went out today at about 11:30. It was (and still is) a cloudy day out and I had my choice of two books to read while the power company was doing its thing. I chose the shorter one (although it is longer in page length, I think) pictured above. Zot! is the story of two Earths, one which is ours and another where only the good stuff from ours is used, combined with some futuristic utopia stuff. More importantly, it is the story of Jenny, a girl who doesn't particularly like our Earth and Zot, a boy who uses the future tech from his world to fight supervillians there and muggers here. The first section plays mostly like you would expect it to play. Jenny wants to live there, Zot wants to show her that even our "broken" world is beautiful. I kinda disliked Jenny through much of this section. Perhaps I am more aligned with Zot's POV, but Jenny seemed too whiny. Things get more complicated when Zot gets stranded in our world. The story becomes more like a high school drama than a superhero story. This part is better written, I think, as we get to see Jenny's friends and how they interact with each other and Zot. You can tell that McCloud wants to play around with the medium (this was written before his three books on comics) and I really enjoyed all of that stuff. Also great was it's willingness to look at stuff that wouldn't get play in bigger comics (homosexuality, first sex stuff) while keeping the tone consistent.

Worth a read for fans of comics, although not the greatest thing ever to come from the medium.

B/B+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on May 14, 2009, 05:43:47 PM
You should read Tekkonkinkreet, evil twin.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on May 18, 2009, 05:03:18 PM
The Glass Menagerie (Tennessee Williams) - This is only the second play by Mr. Williams that I have had the pleasure of reading and I was slightly wary of what was going on because it did not nearly grab me at the beginning as his other, and most other, plays have. Thankfully, the play does pick up incredibly quickly and the story is incredibly well crafted. The characters are all wonderful and believable, creating enough conflict with each other to add to their personalities without having any feel like cliched offerings or rehashes of archetypal standbys. The dialogue really reinforces the humanistic nature that Williams brings to the subjects as well and seeing Amanda's transformation into her 'public' image is great. The world that Williams establishes is beautiful as well, everything is natural, but only to an extent. At the start of the play the idea of memory is established and the way the play follows and toys with the concept is simply fascinating, plus the set descriptions are wonderful. As seems to be the constant case with Williams, he has quite a few beautiful prosaic stage directions that add to the themes in the play, plus he has two really powerful and fleshed out female leads that are complimented and opposed well by how great of a character he has crafted with Tom. The structure is really great too, but I would possibly like to go into more detail with this at a later time, for now I'm just going to say that I really enjoyed how half of the play consists of scenes 1-5 while the second half only consists of 6 and 7, it's a really great technique considering how it is used in the play. The final two scenes are wonderful as well, and likely make up for any minor problems I had with the first half.

A/A+ or 4.8238439026758162348571
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on May 25, 2009, 09:58:48 AM
Winesburg, Ohio (Sherwood Anderson) - Reading very little about this novel I did not really have much of an idea what I was going to encounter, but I am glad that pix recommended this book because it's pretty damn exciting and pretty damn intense. Essentially, Winseburg, Ohio acts as the final season of Moral Orel except put in novel form, which I can definitely approve of because Orel kicks ass. I'm not sure why I had never heard of this novel before as it has instantly sky rocketed up my list of most enjoyable novels. The writing was not always great, though Anderson also found ways to consistently work in passages of beauty and genius, but the book was incredibly well paced and made for a quick and easy read without sacrificing any of the emotional power or thematic depth. As with any short story collection, a few of the tales did not hit home with me, but largely just about everything engrossed me so I can overlook the two or three weaker stories. The whole construction of the novel is pretty great too as I have read works that make very obvious how the author planned them out, but this novel did that a bit more subtlety and handled things masterfully. It also hits hard almost instantly and I was surprised what kind of material was handled. A great novel.

A or 4.693284236185617931

Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller) - Pretty much another top notch play from Miller, and it reads incredibly well. All of the characters are really great and the lead, Willy Loman, is about as captivating a figure as any I've encountered. The dynamic between Happy and Biff was pretty intense and really well fleshed out, and even Linda, who did not seem to be in the play very often, had one wonderful scene towards the end where any questions of her not being a completely developed or believable character are completely negated. I could not help but notice a few parallels between this play and All My Sons, which I would likely contend is Miller's better work, but there were clearly enough unique elements here, specifically the manifestation of Willy's mind, to show a distinct difference in the plays. This play is also a good deal better than The Crucible, I believe, which is good because that was the first Miller play I was introduced to and I continue to miss what makes it so great, especially in comparison to the playwright's other works. I also glanced over wikipedia when I finished, as I am inclined to do with most things I read, and it pointed out how this play challenged the traditional elements of tragedy, which I picked up on slightly but did not really consider until I was directly confronted with the idea. This tactic works beautifully in the play and it really is a testament to Miller's ability. Once again, a great play from a great playwright.

A/A+ or 4.73472941263579123587
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on May 25, 2009, 04:53:00 PM
Yay!

And I guess you've finally convinced me to watch Morel Orel.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on May 25, 2009, 06:25:14 PM
Stick it out til season 3!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on May 31, 2009, 05:39:47 PM
Young and Revolting - Things started a little slow, going through all the ins and outs that the previous four books have made staples, and I was a little worried that things were starting to get a bit repetitive, but around page sixty or so the novel really started picking up and captured a lot of the great parts of the series. Nick becomes even more fleshed out as a character, which is really great, and the reintroduction of older faces, and Payne's willingness to not force a ton of new characters on the reader, is really welcome. The humor takes a while to get started, as does the narrative, but when things do eventually pick up it's just like old times. The Parisian setting and the introduction of Reina is pretty cool, breaking from the California setting of the previous books. It's really fascinating how Payne fleshes out Nick though, I really think that's the novel's greatest triumph, aside from the epilogue of course. The 'Thirteen Years Later' follow up is expertly handled in just a few pages and does not come off as forced or unnecessary. It's really beautifully written and tragic, an excellent ending point that tied everything together wonderfully. While it's not as great as the first three novels I think it's certainly on par with the fourth and is a great addition to the series. Really interested to see what Payne does with the sixth one since Nick isn't the primary character. Have to get through a few other novels first though before I start that.

A- or 4.2842894073210563205
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on June 04, 2009, 06:46:55 PM
A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams) - I'm not going to say much since I'll post at length in the thread in two weeks or so, but I started reading this around noon today, it's like 180, and I finished it in about a total of three hours. Now I'm generally an abnormally slow reader, especially considering my major, so I have to imagine it's a testament to this play's quality that I got through all of it so quickly and in one day's time. I also noticed that the structure is pretty odd, much like that of The Glass Menagerie, as the first four of eleven acts span a little under half of the play, while the final two acts of Glass take up about the same amount of space in that one. Pretty interesting. Either way, it's pretty great. I'll leave it at that.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 10, 2009, 11:00:29 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51j3FxMz7DL.jpg)
Bone One Volume Edition - Jeff Smith.

I started this one last summer. I got about 3/4ths of the way through and got distracted. I decided to finish it and I'm glad I did. It's freaking long, but I like that. It has an epic feel that is similar to the Lord of the Rings series, but with some cool drawings and funny bits. Some of the humor was more childish than I would have liked, but for a book that is supposed to be for a wide audience it is acceptable. I was surprised, actually, at how dark it got. There's some stuff in here that would scare me if I read it at the younger age limit. Which is great. For such a long book it is a pretty quick read. I finished the last half of it today. So, read it if you want a long, fun journey.

B+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bill Thompson on June 11, 2009, 09:25:27 AM
Since you liked Bone, I would suggest checking out Cerebus by Dave Sim. It has moments that are similar, but it's quite different while also being the longest running independent comic out there. It's really well written with cool characters and stories, I think you would like it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on June 12, 2009, 05:01:13 PM
I enjoy Bone a ton, like a good ton, not one of those generic kind. It's a great one.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: skjerva on June 13, 2009, 12:12:16 AM
Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage by Heather Rogers (http://www.gonetomorrow.org/thebook.html) - a socio-economic history of garbage.  very awesome.  uses folks like john berger and david harvey, but in a very reader-friendly way - smart and simple.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 13, 2009, 12:19:46 AM
I hate Berger with a passion. Ways of Seeing my ass.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: skjerva on June 13, 2009, 12:28:02 AM
someday you'll appreciate it, Ways of Seeing is fantastic  :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on June 17, 2009, 12:04:04 PM
A Delicate Balance (Edward Albee) - Can't say much as I want to wait until the marathon gets there to talk about it in depth. For now I'm just going to say that I'm really conflicted and I'll leave it at that as it has a few weeks to really sink in.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on June 26, 2009, 12:43:22 PM
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Very, very engaging. The kind of voice that "How to Write a Book" articles are written about.  Full immersion into a foreign world. Unfortunately the story strayed so far away from Oscar for such long stretches that I got impatient more than once. Where O'Neill did the same thing in At Swim, Two Boys - venturing far afield of the central story - the story of two boys in love was interesting enough to me for me to hold on. I just wasn't as interested in Oscar's story. So by the time I got to Oscar's grandfather's story three-quarters of the way through the book, it lost me a bit. I just didn't really care that much.

That said, I pray, as usual, that I will ever be to write with such full immersion into a world. Heck, I'd be happy if I could write with an eighth of that kind of immersion.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on June 26, 2009, 01:08:50 PM
I think I mostly agree with you on Oscar Wao. I wasn't as bored with the plot deviations but that was also because I knew nothing about the whole Trujillo regime stuff and was intrigued by all of that. I enjoyed the little sci-fi nerdy stuff too (like Oscar referring to the police as Nazgul and so on). Loved the voice most of all, I agree.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on June 26, 2009, 01:09:55 PM
Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? (Edward Albee) - Talk about a masterpiece. While I still do not think it matches The Zoo Story or The American Dream, Albee certainly captures a ton of magic with this play. In what would have made him tied with hailed playwright Eugine O'Neill for the most Drama Pulitzer Prizes awarded to a playwright had the voting committee not be so easily offended and uppity, Albee presents a play of magnificent beauty. Following George and Martha has all the power of a navy man going down proudly with his ship captured in what seems like a meager three acts but actually spans almost 300 pages, in the revised addition for the recent productions that Albee has put on that are closer to his original vision. The dialogue is witty, as expected, and the narrative is incredibly engaging. Fantastically written all around and, I'm sure, a delight to watch performed on stage, Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf is a wonderful play.

A/A+ or 4.7788239105715082135023
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on June 26, 2009, 01:13:26 PM
I think I mostly agree with on Oscar Wao. I wasn't as bored with the plot deviations but that was also because I knew nothing about the whole Trujillo regime stuff and was intrigued by all of that. I enjoyed the little sci-fi nerdy stuff too (like Oscar referring to the police as Nazgul and so on). Loved the voice most of all, I agree.
Yeah, I loved that stuff. It made me all feel all smart and stuff because I got all the references. (As opposed to the rest of the time when I'd read something and go, "You know, I really ought to look that up... Naaaah."
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on June 29, 2009, 02:33:56 PM
Here's where I break out what most will consider hyperbole but will prove to be, in actuality, factual.

The Pillowman (Martin McDonagh) - Occasionally I am in a movie theatre and upon the conclusion of a film I am left completely satisfied and completely in awe of what I have just witnessed. I likely believe the last time this occurred was during There Will Be Blood. While I have been floored while reading or listening to music I have never really experienced this feeling before when dealing with literature. I've gotten damn close and my feelings for Poe, The Odyssey, the two Wilder Plays, and a couple of Albee ones are notable examples, but nothing rivals my reaction to Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman. He pulls out all the stops in spectacular fashion. Witty, funny, utterly disturbing, emotional, packed with fully developed characters, and a plot that, while rather short, had me engaged from the first line to the very last stage direction. Gut wrenchingly tragic yet undeniably beautiful and incredibly funny throughout, the play is a masterwork that should not and cannot be missed by anyone with an sort of interest in theatre, the macabre, or literature in general. As the final few pages of the Third Act passed by I was nearly unable to finish the play as I had almost been brought to tears. I cannot really discuss or say much more without giving things away and while I could talk about the brilliant structure, sharp dialogue, and declare that, after only seeing In Bruges and reading this play that Martin McDonagh is likely the most captiviating writer currently working, I will simply say read it, see it (something I pray to have the chance to do at some point in the future), or do both if at all possible. It's an experience unlike any I have ever had.

A+ or 4.99
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Holly Harry on June 29, 2009, 06:19:47 PM
Here's where I break out what most will consider hyperbole but will prove to be, in actuality, factual.

The Pillowman (Martin McDonagh) - Occasionally I am in a movie theatre and upon the conclusion of a film I am left completely satisfied and completely in awe of what I have just witnessed. I likely believe the last time this occurred was during There Will Be Blood. While I have been floored while reading or listening to music I have never really experienced this feeling before when dealing with literature. I've gotten damn close and my feelings for Poe, The Odyssey, the two Wilder Plays, and a couple of Albee ones are notable examples, but nothing rivals my reaction to Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman. He pulls out all the stops in spectacular fashion. Witty, funny, utterly disturbing, emotional, packed with fully developed characters, and a plot that, while rather short, had me engaged from the first line to the very last stage direction. Gut wrenchingly tragic yet undeniably beautiful and incredibly funny throughout, the play is a masterwork that should not and cannot be missed by anyone with an sort of interest in theatre, the macabre, or literature in general. As the final few pages of the Third Act passed by I was nearly unable to finish the play as I had almost been brought to tears. I cannot really discuss or say much more without giving things away and while I could talk about the brilliant structure, sharp dialogue, and declare that, after only seeing In Bruges and reading this play that Martin McDonagh is likely the most captiviating writer currently working, I will simply say read it, see it (something I pray to have the chance to do at some point in the future), or do both if at all possible. It's an experience unlike any I have ever had.

A+ or 4.99

Simultaneously the funniest and most disturbing play I've ever read. Amazing.

I'm reading "The Great Gatsby". This Fitzgerald guy is pretty good. Who woulda thunk it?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on June 29, 2009, 06:26:02 PM
Slaughterhouse-Five

My god this was a fantastic book. The style is accessible, yet so different from anything else I've read. I loved the jumping through time. It was sad and life-affirming and truly evocative of what it is to live life through memory. As a piece of existentialist sci-fi it also manages to convey extremely well the idea that there while there is no inherent meaning in the universe that does not take away from the meaning in our having lived. Also, it's clear influence on Lost makes it a total winner.

(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on June 29, 2009, 06:31:49 PM
Here's where I break out what most will consider hyperbole but will prove to be, in actuality, factual.

The Pillowman (Martin McDonagh) - Occasionally I am in a movie theatre and upon the conclusion of a film I am left completely satisfied and completely in awe of what I have just witnessed. I likely believe the last time this occurred was during There Will Be Blood. While I have been floored while reading or listening to music I have never really experienced this feeling before when dealing with literature. I've gotten damn close and my feelings for Poe, The Odyssey, the two Wilder Plays, and a couple of Albee ones are notable examples, but nothing rivals my reaction to Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman. He pulls out all the stops in spectacular fashion. Witty, funny, utterly disturbing, emotional, packed with fully developed characters, and a plot that, while rather short, had me engaged from the first line to the very last stage direction. Gut wrenchingly tragic yet undeniably beautiful and incredibly funny throughout, the play is a masterwork that should not and cannot be missed by anyone with an sort of interest in theatre, the macabre, or literature in general. As the final few pages of the Third Act passed by I was nearly unable to finish the play as I had almost been brought to tears. I cannot really discuss or say much more without giving things away and while I could talk about the brilliant structure, sharp dialogue, and declare that, after only seeing In Bruges and reading this play that Martin McDonagh is likely the most captiviating writer currently working, I will simply say read it, see it (something I pray to have the chance to do at some point in the future), or do both if at all possible. It's an experience unlike any I have ever had.

A+ or 4.99

Simultaneously the funniest and most disturbing play I've ever read. Amazing.

I'm reading "The Great Gatsby". This Fitzgerald guy is pretty good. Who woulda thunk it?

Yes, it is one of the best, if not the best, I have ever read. The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite novels as well.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 29, 2009, 09:59:10 PM
Slaughterhouse-Five

My god this was a fantastic book. The style is accessible, yet so different from anything else I've read. I loved the jumping through time. It was sad and life-affirming and truly evocative of what it is to live life through memory. As a piece of existentialist sci-fi it also manages to convey extremely well the idea that there while there is no inherent meaning in the universe that does not take away from the meaning in our having lived. Also, it's clear influence on Lost makes it a total winner.

(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)

This was your first time? I always thought I was slow reading it in 8th grade...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on June 29, 2009, 10:11:29 PM
Slaughterhouse-Five

My god this was a fantastic book. The style is accessible, yet so different from anything else I've read. I loved the jumping through time. It was sad and life-affirming and truly evocative of what it is to live life through memory. As a piece of existentialist sci-fi it also manages to convey extremely well the idea that there while there is no inherent meaning in the universe that does not take away from the meaning in our having lived. Also, it's clear influence on Lost makes it a total winner.

(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)(http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e321/smallfrozenhamster/hamster.png)

This was your first time? I always thought I was slow reading it in 8th grade...

It was an incredibly quick and easy read. No doubt helped by the style, humour, and the 255 page-count with pretty large font.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 29, 2009, 10:15:46 PM
Not that kind of slow. I guess I meant "late" instead of "slow".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on June 29, 2009, 10:19:09 PM
Not that kind of slow. I guess I meant "late" instead of "slow".

Really? I don't think it is in any way appropriate for a kid in grade 8. I actually think that having read it now at 20 was the perfect time. I don't have much perspective on life as most of it (hopefully) is ahead of me, but I certainly have more than back in grade 8.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 29, 2009, 10:21:29 PM
Yeah, that probably makes more sense. I want to re-read it. Perhaps on my next trip to the lieberry.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on June 29, 2009, 10:24:07 PM
Yeah, that probably makes more sense. I want to re-read it. Perhaps on my next trip to the lieberry.

Do it and let me know what you think.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on June 29, 2009, 10:25:27 PM
Vonnegut Jokes:

(http://www.badgods.com/images/zanandjayna.png)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 29, 2009, 10:27:36 PM
HA!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on June 29, 2009, 10:27:49 PM
I don't get it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on June 29, 2009, 11:53:35 PM
This was your first time? I always thought I was slow reading it in 8th grade...
I think most people discover it in high school, maybe grade 9 or 8. You're very advanced, Jr.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on June 30, 2009, 08:42:20 AM
HEAT

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I just finished reading Heat by Bill Buford.  The subtitle says it all: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.

If you love cooking or just love food, it's a great read.

****/****
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on June 30, 2009, 09:09:45 AM
If you love cooking or just love food, it's a great read.

I love both and had a great time with the book. It's especially nice that the man can actually write well too :).

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on July 01, 2009, 12:14:11 PM
(http://i39.tinypic.com/nqbozn.jpg)

So, this one might be the tightest and possibly, technically the best, of all the Austers I've read so far. It deals with all of what I've come to recognize as the typical Auster themes - randomness, chance, choices, starting afresh leaving the past behind - and all this in a nice, suitably depressing tone. It's actually really good. I really liked the characters, the book is very well-paced and it has this incredibly ominous tone throughout.

While reading it, I kept getting reminded of something alexarch posted about once (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=5103.msg273795;topicseen#msg273795) about how terrible a thing exposition is supposed to be for a writer. I think this is where this book deviates from the two other Auster novels I really love (Moon Palace and The New York Trilogy). It's a lot leaner and has even less exposition than those other books I think. For the most part, this works really well. It keeps the book building up throughout. It's especially impressive when in the course of 4 pages (pp. 171 - 174 in my edition), the book just goes from being merely vaguely disturbing to downright horror. It's a brilliant turn and when it happened, it hit me like a ton of bricks, as it rightly should.

The book pretty much never lost any momentum for me and there were enough instances of the type of turn of phrase that I love and associate with Auster.

But at the end of the day, I still don't love this one as much as I love Moon Palace, which is my favorite and my hunch is that it is this very absence of exposition that keeps me from loving this book completely. Something about the precision and tautness made the book feel too clever and calculated to me, which took away from the emotional response I usually have to his books. Regardless, it's pretty great.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Thor on July 01, 2009, 02:42:37 PM
I like Music of Chance as well. A must for poker fans! Try out the movie sometime... some people hate it, but I thought they did a decent job given the source.

I prefer NYT though. I should check out Moon Palace.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Thor on July 06, 2009, 03:43:32 PM
Revolutionary Road.

Ouch.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on July 06, 2009, 05:01:36 PM
Revolutionary Road.

Ouch.

Pretty much.

I haven't seen the film - have you, Thor? And if so, how do they compare?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Thor on July 06, 2009, 05:08:57 PM
Revolutionary Road.

Ouch.

Pretty much.

I haven't seen the film - have you, Thor? And if so, how do they compare?

Give me a week or so... I have to write an intro sheet and present a discussion on the 17th, but I had the book so read that first.

I'm interested in getting a woman's opinion April's character though, given that most of the book is from Frank's perspective except for that one scene at the bar with Shep and then her suicide... do you think her actions at the end of the book are plausible?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on July 06, 2009, 06:23:23 PM
Revolutionary Road.

Ouch.

Pretty much.

I haven't seen the film - have you, Thor? And if so, how do they compare?

Give me a week or so... I have to write an intro sheet and present a discussion on the 17th, but I had the book so read that first.

I'm interested in getting a woman's opinion April's character though, given that most of the book is from Frank's perspective except for that one scene at the bar with Shep and then her suicide... do you think her actions at the end of the book are plausible?

Yeah, that's a good question - I'm not sure; I'm not sure my perspective will help much. Since, as you say, the book is, mostly, from Frank's perspective, April's character is purposefully opaque; I don't know that I, even as a woman, could really "see" her any more clearly than any other reader. In other words, I don't relate to her as a woman, specifically. I do think that the clues we have about her in the book, even if those clues are from Frank's perspective, show us that she felt trapped, that she thought her life, her husband, would be one thing but they turned out very differently, and she saw no way out. Frank, even though he feels the same distaste about his life, is less trapped than she is. He can actually go into the city, work for a promotion - he can do things; April can't. He has some measure of power.  What she did, then, was really the only way for her to be something she herself wanted, to do something she wanted, to have a little power over her own existence. And I think the book gives us enough to know that she desperately wanted those things, that is, some freedom, some power. The desire for those things seem plausible - the portrayal of the desire for those things seems full enough. I rather think that suicide in itself wasn't the ultimate goal for her, too. Whether she lived or died, her self-induced abortion would still be her doing and saying something of consequence, something that Frank, for once, would have to listen to, to respond to.  What do you think? Are you thinking the suicide wasn't believable?

I really feel like I haven't really had enough time to process what I've read yet, but while I thought the writing itself was excellent, my initial reaction overall was one of some disappointment - I wasn't really sure that I was learning anything new about dystopian suburbia in the 1950's. (I thought, actually, The Virgin Suicides was more compelling in that regard.) I also found Frank's character a little wearing - well-drawn, but wearing.

I look forward to hearing what you think about the movie when you watch it. I'm really curious about how Kate Winslet plays April. Also curious about the specifics of the movie's ending as compared to the book's.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Tequila on July 06, 2009, 06:43:55 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Dq5Gay4LL.jpg)
I believe this is called 'The Nakano Thrift Store' in English (that's what Wikipedia says anyway).
I enjoyed this but probably not as much as I hoped I would. The whole thing is something of a loose lovestory between two employees in a thrift store in Tokyo, spanning several years. What makes it worthwhile are the supporting characters who are all fun, witty and dirty-minded. Lots of dirty old people in this! The relationship between the shopowner and his sister, the artist, and their respective ups and downs are probably the best thing about it. Unfortunately, they are also much more interesting than the dull central character, who is neither particulary charming nor smart. Why she choses the other dull, dimwitted character to be her mate remains a mistery (granted, he's set up as broody type) but ultimately, I didn't care much for their fate anyway. I liked the episodic style and I guess the way Kawakami integrates the different seasons into the story is not without elegance, so I'd just about recommend it as light summer reading. I did pretty much read it in one day after all.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Thor on July 07, 2009, 09:38:04 AM
Revolutionary Road.

Ouch.

Pretty much.

I haven't seen the film - have you, Thor? And if so, how do they compare?

Give me a week or so... I have to write an intro sheet and present a discussion on the 17th, but I had the book so read that first.

I'm interested in getting a woman's opinion April's character though, given that most of the book is from Frank's perspective except for that one scene at the bar with Shep and then her suicide... do you think her actions at the end of the book are plausible?

Yeah, that's a good question - I'm not sure; I'm not sure my perspective will help much. Since, as you say, the book is, mostly, from Frank's perspective, April's character is purposefully opaque; I don't know that I, even as a woman, could really "see" her any more clearly than any other reader. In other words, I don't relate to her as a woman, specifically. I do think that the clues we have about her in the book, even if those clues are from Frank's perspective, show us that she felt trapped, that she thought her life, her husband, would be one thing but they turned out very differently, and she saw no way out. Frank, even though he feels the same distaste about his life, is less trapped than she is. He can actually go into the city, work for a promotion - he can do things; April can't. He has some measure of power.  What she did, then, was really the only way for her to be something she herself wanted, to do something she wanted, to have a little power over her own existence. And I think the book gives us enough to know that she desperately wanted those things, that is, some freedom, some power. The desire for those things seem plausible - the portrayal of the desire for those things seems full enough. I rather think that suicide in itself wasn't the ultimate goal for her, too. Whether she lived or died, her self-induced abortion would still be her doing and saying something of consequence, something that Frank, for once, would have to listen to, to respond to.  What do you think? Are you thinking the suicide wasn't believable?

I really feel like I haven't really had enough time to process what I've read yet, but while I thought the writing itself was excellent, my initial reaction overall was one of some disappointment - I wasn't really sure that I was learning anything new about dystopian suburbia in the 1950's. (I thought, actually, The Virgin Suicides was more compelling in that regard.) I also found Frank's character a little wearing - well-drawn, but wearing.

I look forward to hearing what you think about the movie when you watch it. I'm really curious about how Kate Winslet plays April. Also curious about the specifics of the movie's ending as compared to the book's.

Thanks for the feedback. I think we're pretty much in agreement here.

I read it as an intentional suicide. April's withdrawal from Frank and her sleeping with Shep and her "I don't know who I am" line did all seem born at her realization that without realizing it, she had ended up in an untenable position. Once she does realize that anything after that point would be just more compromises, returning to a man who wasn't even able to take care of himself, she opts out. I don't have a hard time believing the character would do that.  I was just a bit disappointed by the last few chapters, which seemed to fit into a need to wrap things up nicely (and then to really slam the point home with that last line about the hearing aid), especially when compared with the blunt honesty of the opening 2-3 chapters.

I'm definitely interested in seeing how the film treats the material - there's great potential to go for a deadpan black comedy - though by most people's comments in the spoiler thread it seems like they opted to pump up the melodrama. Shame.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on July 07, 2009, 09:45:59 AM
I've read the book and seen the film. What struck me throughout was that it was pretty much as faithful as it can be. I think the movie does give a better sense of April than I felt the book did, mainly due to Winslet's perf, but looking back, it seems really cursory, and the book does give more in the way of character development and reasoning and all that.

But I wasn't exactly a fan of either, so maybe I'm not the best to give opinions.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on July 07, 2009, 09:54:47 AM
The Green Mile (Stephen King, 1996)
Wow. I just love King.

After At Swim, Two Boys, I was looking for something light and easy and familiar, and this turned out to be a pretty great choice. It's not King's best, and I'm not sure if it'd break the top five, but it'd come close, and it's got all the hallmarks of a great King novel. The supernatural element is strong throughout, but it never plays as anything more than a starting point in a whole lot of dealing with other stuff. Like the death penalty, mortality, good and evil, miracles, healing, all of it. It's never didactic, it's never sentimental, but it does pull you in close, and stab you in the guts.

I knew someone once who said that one of the most unique things about King was his preparedness to spend six pages describing a character who dies on the eighth. He doesn't do that so much here, which is linked to the form and the structure, but he does build these incredibly exacting portraits of characters, more so than you realise, which makes part six especially devastating.

King's a really brilliant writer, and in this, he's right near the top of his game. Great stuff.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on July 12, 2009, 08:22:54 AM
Push (Sapphire, 1996)
Occasionally you stumble across a novel and have no expectations of what's to come. I first heard of this when the film adaptation played Sundance earlier this year. It took me a while to find a copy, and then a little longer for a space in my reading schedule to clear. Going in, I had a brief idea of the plot (uneducated African American girl is taught to read and write), and expected something reasonably visceral.

It is, without doubt, the most visceral novel I've ever read, and one of the finest I've read ever. I can understand all the complaints related to the use of voice in the text, and I had some of them myself, initially, but I found myself so engrossed in the characters and the story that was being told that I could easily overlook them. It is incredibly difficult to read, and I actually, for the first time ever, found myself having to put the book down and walk away at one point because it seemed too much.

Luckily, this is mixed with the incredibly uplifting story of her education, and while in any other situation I would rail against it for being unrealistic or somesuch, it is necessary here.

I don't want to say too much, beyond that this actually has potential to be the best book I've ever read. I need to read it again to separate the initial feelings from the actual admiration, but it was one I thought was very, very good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on July 15, 2009, 07:22:02 AM
(http://i31.tinypic.com/1zq3lu8.jpg)

I picked up Banville once in the past and gave up within a few pages because of all the arcane vocabulary he likes to use and how dense the narrative seemed at the time. Having to look up words in the dictionary annoyed me then and I decided that he was just showing off ::).

I picked this book up again recently and this time my experience was completely different. The number of random excerpts (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=5337.msg285157#msg285157) I end up posting usually correlates pretty well with how much I like a book. I could've easily posted a dozen more from this one.

It tells the story (if I can even call it a story) of a man who takes a trip to a seaside town, where he once spent a childhood vacation, to come to terms with the "delicate business of being the survivor" after the death of his wife. The entire novel is this man's interior monologue, his recollections of the past colliding with the awkwardness of his present day grief.

Banville's stream of consciousness narrative intertwines several stories at once but does it so seamlessly that one barely notices when he switches from his recollections about his life with his dead wife to the childhood vacation where he grew enchanted with this other vacationing family, The Graces, and fell in love for the first time. Colliding with these memories is the harsh reality of the present - his disapproving daughter who comes to visit and having to deal with the other people in the house, his landlady and the aging and friendly colonel who is the other tenant living there. The way Banville brings these different narratives together is nothing short of brilliant and when it happens, the conclusion feels like a gently-delivered knockout blow, if there is such a thing. I am still not quite sure how I feel about the ending. For a book that seems to eschew a traditional narrative so vehemently, the culmination of the book, the multiple 'discoveries' we make right at the very end, felt a little out of place to me. I probably need to re-read it to see if they feel less abrupt on a second reading. That's a minor criticism though. I think I just got too used to the 'plotlessness'.

All of the above seems to imply that a lot is happening in the book, but that really isn't the case. If you have to be able to identify with a character, be entertained by a plot and satisfied by the ending, then this book really won't work for you at all. I am increasingly starting to realize that I don't necessarily need any of these to be satisfied to enjoy a book (exposition FTW, yet again). I just totally enjoy his use of language. Just his aesthetics leave me breathless and happy. I love his sentence construction, which is really rather stylized but also utterly lyrical and captivating.

I wouldn't recommend this to everyone but me, I just loved it.


Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Ronan on July 20, 2009, 07:29:50 PM
Fantastic, I liked it as well. I used to live next door to Mr. Banville and he speaks in that arcane vocabulary regularly
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on July 21, 2009, 01:09:18 AM
Slaughterhouse-Five

This was your first time? I always thought I was slow reading it in 8th grade...

I need to read that some day.  I mean well.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on July 21, 2009, 01:12:12 AM
Fantastic, I liked it as well. I used to live next door to Mr. Banville and he speaks in that arcane vocabulary regularly

Wow, that is pretty cool! Also, I love that he speaks in that vocabulary :).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on July 22, 2009, 01:19:43 PM
(http://i25.tinypic.com/9gc7eg.jpg)     Presumed Innocent  (Scott Turow, 1987)
A good read.  A little spoiled for me from having seen the movie at some point, but still entertaining.  Having a prosecuting attorney on trial for murder makes for some really fun exploration of legal thinking, as he, narrating, debates strategy with his attorney, runs through how he'd prosecute his own case, etc. — with the most fun moments coming whenever he's caught off guard by some else's legal maneuvering.  All those process elements are really enjoyable.  The prose is readable and not uninteresting and the characterizations are serviceable.  A decent option for a plane ride, probably.
Grade: B

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Thor on July 22, 2009, 01:46:30 PM
I like the way you format, pix
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on July 23, 2009, 01:21:21 AM
There's enough good prose in this novel to recommend it, but the story itself isn't all that engaging.  It's a fictionalized, first-person account of the loyalties, politics, and lifestyles of the Cambridge spies in the time before and during World War II, told from present-day perspective by Walter Maskell, a spy just exposed as a double agent for Russia.  Maskell is a wonderful narrator at times, especially early and late, but for long stretches he becomes overly dry and removed and too given to uninteresting details, bouts of showy erudition, and overuse of words like truculent and crapulous.  He might have set a record for litotes, too, with phrases like, "...but I will not pretend that I was not on the whole content with the arrangement."  I wasn't a fan of the cumulative irony of the book, either; it felt emptily obligatory.  But there is, as I said, enough good writing to offset those flaws:

  • Strange creatures, children.  That wary look they have when adults are about, as if they are worrying whether they are doing a convincing enough impersonation of what we expect them to be.  The nineteenth century invented childhood and now the world is full of child actors.
     
  • When was the last time I wept?  There was Patrick's death, of course, but that does not count—death does not count, when it comes to weeping.
     
  • There was simple delight in it, of course [...] but also a sort of grim, sad triumph, as if he had caught out the Creator in some impressive yet essentially shoddy piece of fakery.
     
  • I suspect he knew how much I hate my name—only bandleaders and petty crooks are called Victor—for he used it at every opportunity.
     
  • Violence by proxy, that is the thing: stimulating, satisfying, safe.
     
  • He had even taught himself the Irish language, and could swear in it—though to my ears, I confess, the language in general sounds like a string of softly vehement oaths strung haphazardly together.
     
  • He is pacing up and down the room, dropping cigarette ash on the threadbare carpet, telling us, as I have heard him tell many times before, of the event that, so he insisted, had made him a homosexual.
         "God, it was frightful!  There she was, poor Mother, flat on her back with her legs in the air, shrieking, and my huge father lying naked on top of her, dead as a doornail.  I had a hell of a job getting him off her.  The smells!  Twelve years old, I was.  Haven't been able to look at a woman since without seeing Mater's big white breasts, colour of a fish's belly.  The paps that gave me suck.  In dreams those nipples still stare up at me cock-eyed.  No Oedipus I, or Hamlet, either, that's certain.  When she threw off her widow's weeds and remarried I felt only relief."
     
  • Do not imagine, Miss Vandeleur, that Marxists, at least the ones of my variety, are gregarious.  Man is only lovable in the multitude, and at a good distance.
     
  • I confess I derived a certain nasty enjoyment from the task of censoring the men's letters home; a prurient interest in other people's privacy is one of the first requirements for a good spy.  But this pleasure soon palled.  I have a high regard for the English fighting man—I do, really—but his prose style, I am afraid, is not among his more admirable qualities.  ("Dear Mavis, What a crummy place this Bologne is.  Frogs everywhere and not a decent pint to be had.  Are you wearing your lacy knickers tonight I wonder?  Not a sign of Jerry"—the excisions, of course, are the work of my blue pencil.)
     
  • Love, I have always found, is most intense when its object is unworthy of it.
     
  • More heresy, I know, more apostasy; soon I shall have no beliefs left at all, only a cluster of fiercely held denials.
     
  • The fifties was the last great age of queerdom.  All the talk now is of freedom and pride (pride!), but these young hotheads in their pink bell-bottoms, clamoring for the right to do it in the streets if they feel like it, do not seem to appreciate, or at least seem to deny, the aphrodisiac properties of secrecy and fear.
     
  • Nick does not really laugh, it is only a noise that he makes which he has learned to imitate from others.

Despite touches like these, and despite how well researched the book seems to be, at certain points I found myself thinking I'd rather be reading a nonfiction account of these spies instead and cut out the middle man.

pixote
     (http://i31.tinypic.com/2w3unau.jpg)
The Untouchable  (John Banville, 1997)
Grade: B-
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on July 23, 2009, 01:32:51 AM
I like the way you format, pix
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on July 25, 2009, 11:55:02 PM
(http://i31.tinypic.com/54ejk0.jpg)     The Sweet Hereafter  (Russell Banks, 1991)
Much to my surprise, I didn't really care for this.  None of the four narrators had a voice that felt very authentic to me, and the portrait of small town life reminded me a little of what I didn't like about Empire Falls.  The culmination of the story seemed cheap, and the prose was never that impressive.  It was a quick and painless read, but that's almost all I can say for it.  [sad face]
Grade: C+

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on July 26, 2009, 12:11:58 AM
Did you like the movie?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on July 26, 2009, 12:16:01 AM
Did you like the movie?

Oops, I forgot to add, "I'm pretty sure the movie is a whole lot better, though it's been a while since I've seen it."

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on July 26, 2009, 01:00:56 AM
Canadianization tends to improve things.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bill Thompson on July 26, 2009, 09:09:53 AM
The Preacher #1-7 (Gone To Texas)
--I tend to be a fan of things most would find blasphemous, simply because there shouldn't be such a thing as blasphemy and any story willing to shout that from the rooftops has already scored points with me. Gone To Texas does something else, it brings interesting characters and a compelling story along with the supposed blasphemy. Garth Ennis does at times fall too much towards writing what he knows, Irish street toughs, but he's always done that in his writing and you eventually get used to it. He also struggles with constructing the narrative at times, the first few issues are a bit hard to follow because he never quite makes it clear what is happening now as opposed to what events with the trio together are a flashback. But, he does so many other things well, like the interesting characters and the matter of fact dialogue, and creating a world where a preacher wants to find God and kick his ass, John Wayne's non-corporeal person talks to said Preacher, vampires exist and there's an entity known as the Saint of Killers who kills everything in sight, mostly out of habit. Of course his most well known creation from this arc is Arseface, a character who is both disgusting and heartbreaking to watch. All in all a great start to the series, almost as great as I remembered it, with only a few less than stellar moments and some shoddy narrative construction to start.

Grade: A
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 26, 2009, 09:29:12 AM
The Saint of Killers is freaking awesome.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on July 26, 2009, 11:58:17 AM
World War Z

Very cool, very easy read. It took the subject matter - A Worldwide zombie apocalypse - seriously, and I appreciated that. Because it was told as an oral history from many, many different sources, there were few characters that stood out. My favorite section was about a female drop pilot who got caught in a wild zone, overrun with zombies. She had to escape to safety with the company of an anonymous voice on the other end of a help line.

It may have been the copy on the back of the book, but it did remind me of The Hot Zone, which I loved.

Creating a different voice for each of the myriad characters presented a problem for the author, with a few exceptions. The military personnel, the mercenary, and the corrupt drug company exec all had distinct voices. Unfortunately they were all of the "Let's kick ass! Grrrrrr!" variety, which I despise.

Other than that, it was incredibly immersive. I read it in about a week, which in the case of a Dan Brown book, is an indication of how insulting it is. In this case, I never felt like I was reading something simplistic.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 30, 2009, 04:24:27 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VetNRc1XL.jpg)
Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Marisha Pessl

This was almost a book club book but something else took its place. That doesn't have much bearing on my review, but whatever.

I had no idea what this book was about going in. It wasn't until a couple of hours (I listened on my iPod instead of actually reading) when I realized that it was just a kind of coming of age novel with strange outcroppings of detective fiction and a pop and high culture dictionary in its briefcase. It chronicles the senior year of Blue Van Meer and how she interacts with a strange group of kids, their enigmatic teacher/mentor, and her eccentric father (Sam Rockwell in the movie, perhaps?). There are a couple of deaths and disappearances.

It's probably a good thing Pessl chose a standard story to tell because it allows her to flourish. Her similies and metaphors are rediculously interesting and she knows how to manipulate the story and characters to get what she wants to get out of them. I had some major flashbacks to my senior year of highschool, now three years removed. The prom scene in particular was spot on.

It's worth a read if you like a writer that shows off and still constructs a pretty good story. And if you like old movies.

B.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on July 30, 2009, 07:48:24 PM
World War Z

Very cool, very easy read. It took the subject matter - A Worldwide zombie apocalypse - seriously, and I appreciated that. Because it was told as an oral history from many, many different sources, there were few characters that stood out. My favorite section was about a female drop pilot who got caught in a wild zone, overrun with zombies. She had to escape to safety with the company of an anonymous voice on the other end of a help line.

It may have been the copy on the back of the book, but it did remind me of The Hot Zone, which I loved.

Creating a different voice for each of the myriad characters presented a problem for the author, with a few exceptions. The military personnel, the mercenary, and the corrupt drug company exec all had distinct voices. Unfortunately they were all of the "Let's kick ass! Grrrrrr!" variety, which I despise.

Other than that, it was incredibly immersive. I read it in about a week, which in the case of a Dan Brown book, is an indication of how insulting it is. In this case, I never felt like I was reading something simplistic.



I've been reading this for the past few days and agree with this review.  I'm really digging it.  My favorite story so far is the onew with the stranded astronauts, and the Chinese captain wh stole his submarine to try to save some Chinese pople.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on August 03, 2009, 04:17:46 AM
I read the first three parts of this book ("The Sword in the Stone", "The Queen of Air and Darkness", and "The Ill-Made Knight") about a year-and-a-half ago and only just now got around to reading the fourth and final part ("Candle in the Wind") .  Normally I'd feel bad about that, but those parts were originally published separately anyway (from 1938-1940) in more or less the same form, and the fourth part didn't appear until years later (1958).  It took me a little time to get back into it — White can be pretty boring when he gets mired in long paragraphs of descriptive prose and ornamental lists — but once the story started to take shape, all of what I liked about the first three parts came back to me.  The greatest asset here is White's characterization of King Arthur.  Whenever he's at the center of things, striving to do right but never knowing for sure what that right thing is, it's wonderful.  I'm not a huge fan of White's contemporaneous references ("One of them who was called Baptista Porta seems to have invented the cinema - although he sensibly decided not to develop it." — BOO!), but the ethical and philosophical paradoxes he works through with Arthur are generally really engaging.  And there's one particular "oh shit!" moment in part four that hit me awesomely hard.

In my head, I kept comparing what White does here, reworking Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur (which I hope to read some day), with what Robert Graves did with his two Claudius books.  I didn't find White's prose or storytelling to be quiet at Graves' level, but he's not too far behind.  He certainly manages his fair share of nice moments:

  • The Wart did not know what Merlyn was talking about, but he liked him to talk. He did not like the grown-ups who talked to him like a baby, but the ones who just went on talking in their usual way, leaving him to jump along in their wake, jumping at meanings, guessing, clutching at known words, and chuckling at complicated jokes as they suddenly dawned. He had the glee of the porpoise then, pouring and leaping through strange seas.
     
  • "I like fighting," said the Wart. "It is knightly."
    "Because you're a baby."
     
  • So we may well believe that the King's men were shriven on the night before they fought. Something of the young man's vision had penetrated to his captains and his soldiers. Something of the new ideal of the Round Table which was to be born in pain, something about doing a hateful and dangerous action for the sake of decency--for they knew that the fight was to be fought in blood and death without reward. They would get nothing but the unmarketable conscience of having done what they ought to do in spite of fear--something which wicked people have often debased by calling it glory with too much sentiment, but which is glory all the same. This idea was in the hearts of the young men who knelt before the God-distributing bishops--knowing that the odds were three to one, and that their own warm bodies might be cold at sunset.
     
  • "Some say he is a madman. He has sixty-four knights in prison, whom he has captured in single combat, and he spends the time beating them with thorns. If he captures you he will beat you too, all naked."
    "Sounds like an exciting man to fight."
     
  • Long ago I had my Merlyn to help. He tried to teach me to think. He knew he would have to leave in the end. So he forced me to think for myself. Don’t ever let anybody teach you to think, Lance. It is the curse of the world.
     
  • "I wish I had never been born."
    "So do I, my poor boy, but you are born, so now we must do the best we can."

All in all, I think I pretty much had the same experience with The Once and Future King as smirnoff did (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=2975.msg127533#msg127533).

pixote
     (http://i30.tinypic.com/afipmc.jpg)
The Once and Future King  (T. H. White, 1958)
Grade: B+
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on August 03, 2009, 07:19:43 AM
Great to hear your thoughts on it pix! Yeah, if you power through it, there's lots a parts that'll pop out and make you glad you kept reading. Can you see yourself ever wanting to reread it? I'm starting to feel that way now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on August 03, 2009, 12:34:41 PM
I might not have thought so, but just reading the last part this week made me want to go back and revisit the first three.  And then when I was pulling quotes from my review, I saw some cool bits that I'd forgotten about and really wanted to delve back into.

I can't wait until the Disney marathon (which I fully intend to catch up on) gets to Sword and the Stone.  I always assumed that was a heavily Disneyfied adaptation of the original book, so I was surprised how similar White's version actually was (going by memory of the film anyway).

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 13, 2009, 06:47:29 PM
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/76/World_War_Z_book_cover.jpg)
World War Z
Max Brooks
(Audiobook version)

Read by a full cast, this is quite the listen. I got the book when it first came out and started reading it but got distracted. I noticed that the audiobook version was only 6 hours long so I listened to it while painting a hallway. Very exciting, right? Well, the stories contained within the book created a world that seemed both real and very, very scary. Zombies scare the shit out of me to begin with, and this version of a zpocalypse was fully realized.

I look forward to the movie adaptation, as long as they keep the world coverage and not focus on that one army guy.

A-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on August 14, 2009, 09:17:31 PM
(http://media.us.macmillan.com/jackets/258H/9780312863555.jpg)
Quote from: amazon
It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. It is the tale of the disparate people--a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic--who become the rebel movement's leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution.
A compelling story and with political issues that really hit home. I couldn't be more satisfied! Thought-provoking, imaginative, and entertaining. Everything I've come to expect from Heinlein.

I'd recommend it to anybody, especially American history buffs ;)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on August 18, 2009, 04:47:21 PM
(http://media.us.macmillan.com/jackets/258H/9780312863555.jpg)
Quote from: amazon
It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. It is the tale of the disparate people--a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic--who become the rebel movement's leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution.
A compelling story and with political issues that really hit home. I couldn't be more satisfied! Thought-provoking, imaginative, and entertaining. Everything I've come to expect from Heinlein.

I'd recommend it to anybody, especially American history buffs ;)
Read that earlier this yr - now working on A Stranger in a Strange Land...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on August 18, 2009, 06:23:04 PM
Awesome! I Look forward to hearing what you think!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on August 18, 2009, 08:59:56 PM
Heinlein fans should definitely give John Scalzi's Old Man's War a look.  Loved that book and looking forward to the rest of the series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on August 18, 2009, 09:07:25 PM
Sounds great Colleen, thanks for the head's up! :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on August 19, 2009, 09:40:12 AM
Well, the stories contained within the book created a world that seemed both real and very, very scary. Zombies scare the shit out of me to begin with, and this version of a zpocalypse was fully realized.

See, I guess that's what I missed when reading it. It reads very clinically, which I really appreciated. It takes a hell of a lot for me to get emotional while reading. I only think I've cried a handful of times, and I'm not sure I've ever been scared. Maybe on-edge and too charged to sleep, but not scared.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 19, 2009, 10:11:53 AM
Well, the stories contained within the book created a world that seemed both real and very, very scary. Zombies scare the shit out of me to begin with, and this version of a zpocalypse was fully realized.

See, I guess that's what I missed when reading it. It reads very clinically, which I really appreciated. It takes a hell of a lot for me to get emotional while reading. I only think I've cried a handful of times, and I'm not sure I've ever been scared. Maybe on-edge and too charged to sleep, but not scared.

I would certainly recommend the audiobook in that case.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on August 19, 2009, 11:27:08 AM
The Princess Bride

Read it again. 7th or 8th time. This book is perfection.

10/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on August 27, 2009, 01:44:06 AM
The Time Traveler's Wife  (Audrey Niffenegger, 2003)

This started pretty strong for the first hundred pages — fun structure, nice readable prose, intriguing concept — but then goes in uninteresting directions. The title, its worth noting, is deceiving. The book is equally as much about the time traveler (Henry) as his wife (Clare). That was the first disappointment for me.  I went into the book intrigued by the idea of a sci-fi type story as seen through the eyes of someone removed from that story, but that's not what I got. I did warm to Niffenegger's version after a while, however.

The second, more severe disappointment was how it wasn't enough for one of these characters to be a time traveler. They also had to both be born of wealthy families to famous or moderately famous parents, each with a wise, maternal, non-white servant character looming large over their upbringing (her family has a warm-hearted black cook named Etta, who's the best cook in the world; his family has a warm-hearted Korean housekeeper named Kimy, who's also the best cook in the world). They can both recite any poem that happens to be relevant to their current situation (in the original French or German, if need be), discuss the finer points of contemporary art, lecture at length on early American punk, and have the best sex ever, omg, etc. etc. Clare actually asks Henry at one point if other people have as much sex as they do; if I remember right, he laughs generously and responds, my god, no. I found this all terrifically annoying, and it ties very closely to my third disappointment, which is that the novel largely uses the time travel gimmick merely as window dressing for a very silly love story — only rarely delving into what's actually interesting about its own concept. Too bad.

Grade: C+

pixote
    (http://i32.tinypic.com/2cghifl.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 27, 2009, 01:55:34 AM
The Time Traveler's Wife  (Audrey Niffenegger, 2003)

They also had to both be born of wealthy families to famous or moderately famous parents, each with a wise, maternal, non-white servant character looming large over their upbringing (her family has a warm-hearted black cook named Etta, who's the best cook in the world; his family has a warm-hearted Korean housekeeper named Kimy, who's also the best cook in the world). They can both recite any poem that happens to be relevant to their current situation (in the original French or German, if need be), discuss the finer points of contemporary art, lecture at length on early American punk, and have the best sex ever, omg, etc. etc. Clare actually asks Henry at one point if other people have as much sex as they do; if I remember right, he laughs generously and responds, my god, no. I found this all terrifically annoying, and it ties very closely to my third disappointment, which is that the novel largely uses the time travel gimmick merely as window dressing for a very silly love story — only rarely delving into what's actually interesting about its own concept. Too bad.

Grade: C+

pixote

I thought at first that the "they" of that sentence was referring to Etta and Kimy.  :D

(Sounds like a book I'd love to hate. Your C+ seems generous!)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on August 27, 2009, 01:58:37 AM
Your C+ seems generous!

I probably accentuated the negatives a bit much.  Despite everything else, it remained very readable and more or less fun/interesting.  So I wasn't desperate for it to end; just very, very eager.  540 pages was way more than I needed, for sure.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Emiliana on August 27, 2009, 02:17:37 AM
When I read which book you're rating before I scrolled down to the grade, I thought "Please let pix not like it!"

This time, we agree 100% on a book! I was very, very eager for it to end as well. I had been lead to believe that this was high literature, but then I found nothing remarkable about the style at all.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on August 27, 2009, 02:27:17 AM
I'm not too snobbish about books and stuff, but when I saw that one of the quotes in the front made reference to Love in the Time of Cholera, I wanted to hurt someone.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on August 27, 2009, 09:04:24 AM
The Princess Bride

 This book is perfection.

10/5

That's a low rating.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on August 27, 2009, 09:51:43 AM
NEVER LET ME GO

oh, man, I was talking to my coworker the other day about how my problem with books is that I get too frustrated if I don't get into a good reading pace quickly. Well, today, while I was at the doctor's office, I took along one of the Ishiguro books I bought and I read like 50 pages right then and there. I guess it was the lack of distractions and stuff. Came back home and just knocked it out of the park. Hit so many of the themes and shit that I love (memory/nostalgia/roujin themes) and by the end I felt I was choking on all the resigned emotions and stuff. So great.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on August 27, 2009, 10:03:10 AM
Sounds like a great experience. I think the last time I blasted through a book like that was Life of Pi or something, which was pretty neat.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: philip918 on August 28, 2009, 11:53:06 AM
Frankenstein

Filled with truly great imagery and moments of horror, yet most of these great moments are separated by pages and pages of Frankenstein sulking, fretting and generally being annoying.  The ideas and themes are fantastic, especially considering the time it was written.  It's a quick read so definitely worth picking up to experience one of the most influential horror stories ever written.


Currently reading a collection of Roberto Bolano's short stories.  Awesome stuff.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on August 30, 2009, 07:58:31 PM
(http://i31.tinypic.com/68g8pv.jpg)     The Dark Is Rising  (Susan Cooper, 1973)
This second book in the five-part series isn't much better than the first (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=4769.msg227855#msg227855).  It's a little more serious, but there's still the same lack of personality.  It's like a long, overly detailed internet strategy guide for a Zelda knockoff you already solved without any difficulty. 
Grade: C

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on August 30, 2009, 08:44:17 PM
(http://i31.tinypic.com/68g8pv.jpg)     The Dark Is Rising  (Susan Cooper, 1973)
This second book in the five-part series isn't much better than the first (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=4769.msg227855#msg227855).  It's a little more serious, but there's still the same lack of personality.  It's like a long, overly detailed internet strategy guide for a Zelda knockoff you already solved without any difficulty. 
Grade: C

pixote

Heh, I like that description. Do you think you'll push on with this series?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on August 30, 2009, 09:01:18 PM
Do you think you'll push on with this series?

Yeah, if only because I own the box set.  But also because Colleen vouched for the 4th and 5th books in the series as being worth it.  And because I'm a completist.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on August 31, 2009, 01:13:25 PM
Falling Free (http://www.amazon.com/Falling-Free/dp/B000FA5PDC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251741537&sr=8-2) (Lois Mcmaster Bujold, 1988 Nebula Award for best science fiction novel of the year)

Eh? Not really all that special. Plenty readable, but kind of predictable. It didn't delve deep enough into the issues imo. I did enjoy Bujold's style of writing though.

I will check out at least one more book in this series This one was more of a prologue anyways (set 200 some years ealier).

2.5/4
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on August 31, 2009, 07:06:12 PM
(http://nottheonlyone.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/n274781.jpg)     Midnight's Children  (Salman Rushdie, 1981)
I really loved this to begin with, but it just falls short for me. There is something that fails to come together, something that fails to work. I suspect it may be the failure to live up to expectations, and what is implied or promised by the blurb and, more disappointingly, the title. There is something about the scope that just doesn't match the truly epic scope I wanted from this. Maybe that's me. The problem, I suppose, was that throughout, but especially towards the end, I felt like I was reading the work of a great writer, but not a great book. It's the same issue I've had with Tim Winton a few times, and it persisted here.

That said, I did love it loads. It was a lot easier to read than I expected, and I powered through it when I actually got it out of my bag. I loved the characters, the structure, the prose, the symbols, the use of names, the foreshadowing. It was all great. The reveal of the true identity of The Widow, who I am sure must be referred to in chapter one, is one of the great reveals in literature. I spent the whole book thinking he was crazy to bring this character in so soon, to give her so much mystery, to make such a big deal of her, because there was no way her actual identity could match the hype. It does. It totally does. It's a reveal to go right up there with the twist at the end of Atonement.

I suppose I make such a point of the issues I had with it because I potentially liked it so much. I'm really keen to try some more Rushdie in the hope of finding not just a great author, but a great book as well. This, unfortunately, isn't top 5 material. In fact, it's not even top 5 for the year (although, I have had a great year of reading - Push, At Swim, Two Boys, Sandman, Cloudstreet, On Chesil Beach, all of which are superb and sublime) although I suspect it might make the top 20 if we ever reprised the list of the top 100 books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on September 05, 2009, 11:39:00 PM
Shakespeare's Sonnets.

So, this Shakespeare guy was pretty good, huh? He writes poems like there was no tomorrow. And they're really good. All of them. And clever, and short. And funny at times (the Will/will ones were especially funny in the base kind of way). My favorite, I think, is 130:
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

That's cool.

A+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on September 05, 2009, 11:45:33 PM
I love that one, too.  :)


I wonder if Seamus Heaney was thinking of it when he wrote this one?


            The Skunk

Up, black, striped and damasked like the chasuble
At a funeral mass, the skunk's tail
Paraded the skunk. Night after night
I expected her like a visitor.

The refrigerator whinnied into silence.
My desk light softened beyond the verandah.
Small oranges loomed in the orange tree.
I began to be tense as a voyeur.

After eleven years I was composing
Love-letters again, broaching the word 'wife'
Like a stored cask, as if its slender vowel
Had mutated into the night earth and air

Of California. The beautiful, useless
Tang of eucalyptus spelt your absence.
The aftermath of a mouthful of wine
Was like inhaling you off a cold pillow.

And there she was, the intent and glamorous,
Ordinary, mysterious skunk,
Mythologized, demythologized,
Snuffing the boards five feet beyond me.

It all came back to me last night, stirred
By the sootfall of your things at bedtime,
Your head-down, tail-up hunt in a bottom drawer
For the black plunge-line nightdress.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on September 08, 2009, 10:38:25 PM
The Tragedy of King Richard the Third. Billy S. Shakespeare. The S. stands for Shakespeare.

I freaking love this stuff. It's why I liked Doubt so much (and There Will Be Blood, and His Girl Friday). The verbal sparring is top notch. I particularly enjoyed any scene with Richard and Queen Margaret. I could totally see Streep playing the old queen and chewing the scenery. As always, Shakes has an amazing handle on how words work. His action could be a little less sparse, but when you have the dialogue that he does anything is forgivable.

Most memorable scene: The ghosts coming to Richard in his sleep/Any scene where Margaret curses Richard.
Best line: "From forth the kennel of thy womb hath crept/A hell hound that doth haunt us all to death" - Queen Margaret.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on September 08, 2009, 11:58:43 PM
Shakes has an amazing handle on how words work

Haha, do we have a Comic Understatement thread?

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on September 09, 2009, 04:43:12 AM
Cock and Bull (Will Self, 1993)
This is truly gross. It's disgusting, horrible, perverse, and utterly compelling. I don't know I can recommend it, but I'm really glad I picked it up.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on September 17, 2009, 10:14:46 PM
The Hammer Of Eden (Ken Follett, 1998)

Really not that special. Okay characters, okay plot, quite readable, but not something I'd bother recommending to anybody. Not at all on par with Pillars of the Earth

Speaking of which. WOW! I just went by Follett's website and saw that they are making Pillars of the Earth into a mini-series!! imdb link (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1453159/)

Quote from: wiki
A Germany-Canada co-production spearheaded by Munich-based Tandem Communications and Montreal-based Muse Entertainment in association with Ridley Scott's Scott Free Films have signed up actors to bring this historical novel to the TV screens, with the premiere set for the second half of 2010. [5] The series includes the following cast[6]:

Ian McShane as “Waleran”
Donald Sutherland as “Bartholomew”
Rufus Sewell as “Tom Builder”
Matthew Macfadyen as “Prior Philip”
Sarah Parish as “Regan Hamleigh”
David Oakes as “William Hamleigh”
Robert Bathurst as “Percy Hamleigh”
Hayley Atwell as “Aliena”
Sam Claflin as “Richard”
Eddie Redmayne as “Jack”
Liam Garrigan as “Alfred”
Skye Bennett as “Martha”
Gordon Pinsent as “the Archbishop”
Natalia Worner as “Ellen”
Anatole Taubman as “Remigius”
Goetz Otto as “Walter”
Jody Halse as “Johnny Eightpence”
David Bark Jones as “Francis”

I'm pretty excited!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on September 17, 2009, 11:09:10 PM
That's a pretty good cast list.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on September 17, 2009, 11:32:39 PM
I thought so too.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Emiliana on September 18, 2009, 04:53:08 AM

Speaking of which. WOW! I just went by Follett's website and saw that they are making Pillars of the Earth into a mini-series!! imdb link (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1453159/)


I'm pretty excited!

That is exciting! 480 minutes long, and that cast... Sign me up!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on September 19, 2009, 12:45:04 AM
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (umpteenth re-read).

Still my number 2 book of all time. So smart and fun.

Asuperplus.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on September 25, 2009, 07:54:22 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510-wCBXXoL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_.jpg)

Finally finished this after dragging my feet for too long. It's an excellent book, and I recommended it to pixote because it had similarities to At Swim. It's a personal story set against a world of intense politics. Well, I guess that's only one similarity.

It's different in that the protagonist is deeply flawed and weak. So much so that he's a repulsive human being. Unfortunately or fortunately, the more the reader stays in his head, the more you begin to believe he is a changed man. Begin to. One never trusts him completely.

There is a section midway–to–three–quarters through where the politics shift to the center of the story, and I became impatient with the book then. But it switched back to the personal story in the end.

It wasn't as moving as At Swim; in fact, I never fully sympathized with any of the characters, even the most sympathetic character, the little girl Asha. However, it's still a wonderfully intense book; I would recommend it to anyone that's okay with a cowardly, weak, repulsive protagonist.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on September 30, 2009, 12:11:07 PM
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Pretty good. I like that she wasn't afraid to have the protagonist(s) of the novel be mean and annoying. And the atmosphere of the moor was fantastically created. Wutherin' indeed.

B.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on September 30, 2009, 03:09:21 PM
Winnie-the-Pooh - A. A. Milne.

I don't know how exactly I grew up without reading this. I know I watched the show/movie stuff, so most of the story - such as it is - wasn't new to me. What was new and exciting to me was how awesome the prose was. The narrator here is really fun. And the wordplay and situations these guys get into capture childhood perfectly. It's a great, quick read. If you haven't read it, you should. If you have, read it again. It takes about an hour and a half.

Asuperplus.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on September 30, 2009, 04:02:05 PM
On a related note:
A Part Of Our Heritage - Winnie The Pooh (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMkm21rg04o#normal)

 :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on September 30, 2009, 04:34:38 PM
Winnie-the-Pooh - A. A. Milne.

I don't know how exactly I grew up without reading this. I know I watched the show/movie stuff, so most of the story - such as it is - wasn't new to me. What was new and exciting to me was how awesome the prose was. The narrator here is really fun. And the wordplay and situations these guys get into capture childhood perfectly. It's a great, quick read. If you haven't read it, you should. If you have, read it again. It takes about an hour and a half.

Asuperplus.

It really is brilliant.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on October 06, 2009, 10:17:23 PM
(http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/books/blog/Lost%20Symbol%20cover.jpg)

Disclaimer for those who grumble about Dan Brown: It's fiction. Pardon me while I suspend disbelief and enjoy myself.

I've enjoyed all of Brown's previous books, and I enjoyed The Lost Symbol as least as much. Like his other novels, it's loaded with fascinating details and yet somehow it never gets bogged down. What I loved most about this one is that it constantly feels like your on to something big. It certainly keeps you turning pages. Ultimately, it was a completely satisfying and enjoyable read.

3/4
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on October 07, 2009, 03:36:30 AM
I finished it about a week back, but I've sort of been without internet and in and out, but still, here we go:

It - (S. King, 1986)
This is, in all the world, of every book I've read, my single, absolute favourite. No, I'm not sure the prose is as good as some I've read (and I'm sure that The God of Small Things is probably being short changed here, but the emotional and deeply personal response I have to this is just without comparison. I find it so sad and wonderful and beautiful.

I actually had a thought reading it this time that in small way these children are almost superheroes. Not in the traditional sense of course, but they have these strange powers and abilities, and I mean, they're small, but they're still there, you know? Like Ben has this incredible mechanical mind, and Bill has Charisma, and Eddie has an uncanny sense of direction, and somehow they realise this, and somehow they don't and it's not just an important part of the magic in the plot, but also in the way it wraps around my heart.

I love the small things too. The way he'll break a paragraph with a single line that is all in italics
(something like this you know what I mean)
and in parentheses without punctuation. And somehow it works so, so well. And the way he carries sentences across sub-chapter breaks, and sets things up, and all of it.

But most of all I think it's the characters. I always like to pretend I'm Bill Denborough, but really, I'm not. I'm Ben Hanscom, through and through. Genuinely. It's why I adore it so much. When I finished At Swim, Two Boys, the main characters felt like real, flesh and blood people. Long before I finish It, I feel like King has made up a story about me, and given me the most beautiful friends, and the greatest adventures, and sure, I get sad when it ends, but I love it for it's middle. Hell, every time I read the thing I find myself wishing I could have an apocalyptic rock fight. I mean, surely it can't be pleasant, but there's something so vital about it, so real, and it's what I adore about this.

I love the foreshadowing, I love the beautiful, heart rending close; I simply adore every single aspect. One of the great novels of all time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on October 07, 2009, 10:05:07 AM
I love It also.  One of my favorite things was noticing that I was over 100 pages in, and feeling a little impatient because it was all still feeling like prologue and I was wondering when the main story was going to start--then I realized how much information I already had and had this "ooohhhh" reaction and adjusted my expectations to the actual pace of the story.

The pace of the last book I read, The Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death, was much, MUCH faster.  I started and finished it on Saturday night, in fact, while I was doing my shift watching over the local Ruby Tuesdays.  Very interesting and quirky main character, who narrates, and a strange bunch of friends and acquaintances around him.  The main character was a teacher until a traumatic incident left him shell shocked and non-functional (but still, very often, a jerk to everyone).  His best friend/roommate finally tells him to shape up and get a job, and he takes one offered with a crime scene cleanup crew.  To his surprise, he finds the work satisfying and somehow healing to him; at the same time one of his first jobs turns out to lead to a twisting and turning tale involving suicide, murder, business competition, homicidal rednecks, smuggling and a stolen truckload of...something surprisingly valuable.

Much of the story is told in dialogue, without quotes, which I've seen other authors do (using an em dash to set off the start of each speaker's bits) but which I don't particularly like.  It seems easier to get lost, especially when there are more than two speakers, and I had to backtrack a few times to figure out who was talking.  But that was minor--the story's fast pace, suspense, and the intriguing characters kept me going.  The book seemed like the first of a series and I hope that is the case, because I would definitely want to read them.  And I hope someone has been smart enough to option this book because it would make a really good movie.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 12, 2009, 02:44:28 PM
The Dream Keeper and other poems - Langston Hughes.

Ostensibly a collection of poems for kids (hence my reading it for kidlit) this book is really great for all audiences. Again, I'm not saying anything new when I say that Hughes is a really good poet, but it's true. And you can read it in less than an hour. Here's a fave:

Quote from: As I Grew Older
It was a long time ago.
I have lamost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun-
My dream

And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose slowly, slowly,
Dimming,
Hiding,
The light of my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky-
The wall.

Shadow.
I am black.

I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.

My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun!

Good stuff.

A-.

Romeo and Juliet - Billy Bob Shakespeare.

Ok, he's good too. And this is a pretty good play. I like (or I guess dislike) how modern culture has painted Juliet as the one who falls stupidly in love with Romeo when it's really the other way around. And Friar Lawrence is the man.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on October 12, 2009, 04:49:39 PM
Marry me, Juliet. You'll never have to be alone. I love you, and that's all I really know.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on October 13, 2009, 06:17:11 AM
To The Heart of the Storm - W. Eisner
Not what I expected, but really fantastic. It reminded me of Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethel_and_Ernest), and while I think I liked that a little more, this was pretty fantastic. It's terribly moving in moments.

Fire on the Mountain - A. Desai
Not what I was expecting either. A little slow, and I'm sure some of the intricacies of the language were lost on me, but it was really rewarding, and the final two pages make the whole book just that much better. It's not likely to break my top 20, but it's quite beautiful, and I would recommend it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 13, 2009, 04:05:43 PM
300 - Frank Miller.

I can't stand the style. Super short sentences abound. Basically verb and noun. Pictures are quite pretty. Story is quite boring. Ideology is pretty unsettling.

C-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on October 17, 2009, 09:55:13 PM
The Name of the Game - (W. Eisner, 2003)
Not as good as To the Heart of the Storm. I'm not actually sure I'd recommend it at all. I mean, it's done well, but I don't feel like it really grants anything to the social story. It's about families and marriage and immigration, but it's kinda dull.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood - (M. Satrapi, 2003)
Really wonderful. The story of Anoosh is perhaps the most beautiful thing here, but it's one of the most beautiful heartbreaking stories I've read. I never really understood why Adam and Matty didn't like the film - I adored it. The GN is similar to the film, but the film works better. I wonder if in part it's because it includes the stories from Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, which I'm reading now, which I suspect may make for a fuller, richer story. Still, it's great. Look it up.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on October 17, 2009, 10:31:58 PM
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood - (M. Satrapi, 2003)
Really wonderful. The story of Anoosh is perhaps the most beautiful thing here, but it's one of the most beautiful heartbreaking stories I've read. I never really understood why Adam and Matty didn't like the film - I adored it. The GN is similar to the film, but the film works better. I wonder if in part it's because it includes the stories from Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, which I'm reading now, which I suspect may make for a fuller, richer story. Still, it's great. Look it up.

I agree about both the book and the film. And it is one of those rare occasions where I like the movie more though the book is excellent. (Adam and Matty didn't like the film? I thought they had a complaint about the second half but generally liked it overall? I'm not remembering what they said very well . . .)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on October 17, 2009, 11:23:41 PM
I did speak a little out of turn. They liked it, but I remember feeling they gave it nowhere near enough praise after I saw it. I was very deeply moved by the film, and thought it was a great achievement, but Adam and Matty only gave it good reviews.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on October 20, 2009, 02:49:38 AM
Under the Banner of Heaven: Informative and a little confounding, but definitely worthwhile in a thought-provoking way.  Worth a read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on October 20, 2009, 07:40:20 PM
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return - M. Satrapi, 2004
Yeah, I preferred the film. I think it handles the emotions of the story a little better. It also does more with the character of the Grandmother, who is disappointingly absent from the book. She's such a great character, and there's just not enough of her.

All that said, it's a fascinating story, and it's so well told in GN form. It's totally worth the time spent with it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 20, 2009, 07:53:13 PM
Meadowlands by Louise Glück.

Pretty short series of poems based on the Penelope/Odysseus story transposed over a ten year marriage/divorce. Exellently written and thought out. I thought it could be a bit longer, actually. I really liked the poems that were conversations between the two main characters.

B+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 24, 2009, 01:40:26 AM
The Golden Compass/Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman.

This is a re-read in an effort to get all the way through the trilogy this time. It should work out because, as much as I liked it the first time, this read was a lot better. I noticed a lot of great plot work and characterization that really makes the story shine. And a polar bear knocks the jaw off another polar bear. Then he bites his throat. Awesome.

Asuperplus.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 24, 2009, 01:45:16 AM
Also this!

Carver, A Life In Poems by Marilyn Nelson.

Goes through the life of George Washington Carver through poems. Duh. This was quite an informative read. Carver was a spectacular man and Nelson's poetry really highlights that. She writes through a bunch of different voices to see the many sides of the man. My only issue is that he can seemingly do no wrong, except in one or two poems. But still, for a collection of poems for 6th graders (and college and beyond), it's about as good as you'd want it to be.

B.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on November 04, 2009, 07:25:22 AM
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Looking up how to spell his name, I just saw that he died recently. Sorry, Stieg.

The story itself is enthralling, and the secondary main, Lisbeth Salandar, is a great character, if too superhuman. Anytime a section wasn't dedicated to her, I tended to be less interested. It's a standard crime thriller, comparable to early John Grisham—I'm thinking of The Pelican Brief—and Thomas Harris, if Harris was less graphic.

Once I got a quarter of the way into the book, I was hooked. It took me two days to finish the rest. Very compelling, an appropriate airport read.

The biggest problem I had was the translation. It was like they put the book through babblefish and then had a very junior editor come through to fix the obvious mistakes. There were many, many, many awkward turns of phrase and literal translations that just didn't sound right to my American ear. It's kind of a travesty that the publisher approved this translation. For instance, Lisbeth is supposed to be a badass, but when attacked, she will say something like, "Don't lay your hand there on me."

Anyway, if you can get past the translation, I highly recommend it. Another page-turner.

B-. Graded down for the translation and its familiarity.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on November 04, 2009, 07:52:42 PM
The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon - S. King, 1999
Read this a while back. Really, it's minor King, but it's easy to read, and they're good characters, even if it's impossible to believe the main is 9 (11, maybe, 9, no). Still, worth the time if you're a King fan.

Heavy Liquid P. Pope, 2000
Vaguely interesting GN. Kinda whatever.

Maus: A Survivor's Tale - I My Father Bleeds History - A. Spiegelman, 1986 & Maus II: ... And Here My Troubles Began - A. Spiegelman, 1991
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. It's interesting, and incredibly well written, but I feel like there's something just out of reach that's missing. It might be the lack of Anja's story, or possibly the slightly distanced effect, or that the author is narrating someone else's story, that just stops this having the impact of, say, Night, by Weisel.

Still, it is good. The inclusion of Speigelman himself is really interesting. His character grounds this in an interesting way, and is what makes the story unique. The chapter "Auschwitz" in part II is really interesting, and really helps to bring the whole thing together.

I'd recommend it, but I'm not sure. I don't think it's quite what it could've been.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 04, 2009, 09:20:04 PM
I think Maus was pretty great. I'd say the second part is a lot better and the last panel is pretty devastating.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on November 04, 2009, 09:49:07 PM
the last panel is pretty devastating.

Wow I so agree! Brutal.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on November 04, 2009, 09:49:48 PM
The last panel is pretty devastating. Unfortunately, I had seen it before I finished. I think I probably agree with II being better. Actually, I think one of my biggest problems with one was the lack of a sense of time. It was hard for me to know how much time had passed at any one point.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 04, 2009, 10:01:50 PM
I could agree with that. I think the artistry in both the literature sense and the actual artwork worked together so well for me that it became the "best" Holocaust story. That comic about his mother's death was also pretty awesome in a sad kind of way.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on November 04, 2009, 10:52:44 PM
alexarch,
Larsson planned 10 novels with Salander but died suddenly after 3 (the 4th was started), The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  I read the second one recently.  It's actually better than the first because now Salander has money for her revenge.

I like Salander because she's doesn't seem as derivative as most "detectives" in novels do, and she has some real issues. 

I wonder if Colleen has read them.  It seems down her alley, for some reason.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on November 05, 2009, 07:29:48 AM
Thanks, saltine,

I saw that they used the same translator for the American release of the second book. It breaks my heart. You weren't at all turned off by the awkward translation? There were so many moments when I thought, "Really? This made it past the publisher's editors?"
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on November 05, 2009, 07:37:07 AM
hmm...

The translation problems that were acute for you didn't stand out for me. 

Keep me informed about your reading selections!  Happy reading! ~s
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on November 08, 2009, 05:11:44 AM
I love E.L.Doctorow. That man has something to say and the prose style to express it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 10, 2009, 01:26:34 PM
The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros.

I liked the idea of this and it was well written. However, it became too freaking down by the end of the book. If you are a girl in this universe you're going to have a crappy life because guys suck. The last 10 or so stories are not fun to read if you're a dude. But that last one is pretty great.

C+.

The Other Side of the Island - Allegra Goodman.

The obvious (as in on the back cover) comparison here is to The Giver, one of my top 5 books of all time. It's not really a favorable comparison, but this book isn't horrible. It's actually a pretty good pastiche of the dystopic future genre. I recognized parts from all the big ones, including 1984, A Brave New World, the Giver and so on and so forth. But it was a quick and fun read with some interesting new twists.

B.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on November 19, 2009, 08:17:32 PM
The Kin - P. Dickinson
Relatively interesting book about "the first humans". Ok, it's totally a children's book, and I only read it this time because I wanted to read something that would be pretty easy to read, and that I would be able to read while I was finishing my schoolwork. I'd read it before, and while it's totally fictional, I think it does manage to make some pretty brilliant points. It's not a bad book.

Endless Nights - N. Gaiman
Wonderful. Beautiful. A fitting addition to Sandman. Desire's story is brilliant.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - H. Murakami
Totally brilliant and original. I love the language, the prose, the way it works with dialogue and thought. I think it balances the sci-fi aspects so well, and it comes together brilliantly. A very fine book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 19, 2009, 11:28:11 PM
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - H. Murakami
Totally brilliant and original. I love the language, the prose, the way it works with dialogue and thought. I think it balances the sci-fi aspects so well, and it comes together brilliantly. A very fine book.

Woo! And what did you think of the ending.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on November 19, 2009, 11:30:09 PM
I was going to say for a moment that it's the only way he could end it, but that would probably be a lie. I liked it. It fits beautifully.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 19, 2009, 11:32:00 PM
Word. I like that it basically ended about 3/4ths of the way through.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on November 20, 2009, 03:44:39 PM
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - H. Murakami
Totally brilliant and original. I love the language, the prose, the way it works with dialogue and thought. I think it balances the sci-fi aspects so well, and it comes together brilliantly. A very fine book.

Woo! And what did you think of the ending.

Absolutely metaphysically brilliant.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 20, 2009, 03:51:06 PM
Monster - Walter Dean Myers.

This is the story of a young black boy who is on trial for felony murder.

So this is supposed to be written from a kids POV. Which is fine. However, it's also written as a movie script. Which is cool. But the script is pretty amateurish. So, as a reading experience it is sub-par. However, as literature it is pretty cool. Even though we get the main character's side of the story his guilt is still left to the audience to decide. When you have both a film and journal entries that are from one person's POV and still keep an essential aspect (his guilt) ambiguous it must be well written. So I have some mixed feelings on this. It's a quick read (as most kid books are) so I guess you should check it out for an interesting read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on November 20, 2009, 05:57:55 PM


Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - H. Murakami
Totally brilliant and original. I love the language, the prose, the way it works with dialogue and thought. I think it balances the sci-fi aspects so well, and it comes together brilliantly. A very fine book.

Did you read it in Japanese?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on November 20, 2009, 07:50:41 PM
Ummm.... totally?

Unfortunately no. It's a great translation tho, the one I read. Which as far as I can tell is the only one. But still.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on November 20, 2009, 08:33:55 PM
ANVIL-THE STORY OF ANVIL - interesting read. sloppy writing but a unique story. Made me want to see the movie. 3.75/5

currently reading The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara. So far so good but I am a big fan.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on November 20, 2009, 08:40:36 PM
Quote
The Other Side of the Island - Allegra Goodman.

The obvious (as in on the back cover) comparison here is to The Giver, one of my top 5 books of all time. It's not really a favorable comparison, but this book isn't horrible. It's actually a pretty good pastiche of the dystopic future genre. I recognized parts from all the big ones, including 1984, A Brave New World, the Giver and so on and so forth. But it was a quick and fun read with some interesting new twists.



Comparing it to The Giver is enough for me. One of my favorites as well. My wife is a middle school librarian and she often suggests some of the children's and YA books she reads for work to me. The biggest is when she said, "You should read this book. It is great." "What is it about?" I asked. "This boy discovers that he is a wizard....."
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 21, 2009, 11:30:33 AM
One time I discovered I was a wizard. Sometimes I wish I didn't. I'm still scrubbing the eye of newt out of the carpet.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 01, 2009, 10:33:49 PM
The Village - David Mamet
It took me a long time to be able to follow who the characters were, as Mamet is alarmingly casual with names. King does the small American town better. Interesting.

after the quake - Haruki Murakami
Gorgeous. Wonderful. Beautiful. A fine, fine collection of stories. Highly recommended.

Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Snuck up on me. I suddenly realised the reason I kept putting it down was because it was crushing my soul. Beautiful but heartbreaking story of Nigeria in turmoil and the abuse of a father. It's an interesting companion to Push, which is very overt, visceral portrayal of abuse. This is quieter, and perhaps more effective, because of it.

Brisingr - Christopher Paolini
He really hits his stride here. His voice totally comes into it's own, and works with a brilliantly paced and structured book. I put off reading this because of how poor the second was, and I think this is totally redeeming. Can't wait to see how he brings it all together.

Storm-Boy - Colin Thiele
People let their children read this? It makes me want to burst into tears just thinking about it. I can't believe I've never read it till now. Beautiful. Utterly beautiful.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on December 02, 2009, 06:31:48 PM
I re-read Stephen King's The Dead Zone last weekend.  I hadn't read it since a late 80s/early 90s re-read.  After seeing an interesting comparison between Sarah Palin and the sociopathic rising politican in the book, Greg Stilson, I wanted to re-read it and happened across a copy in the thrift store.

Still a pretty riveting book, although the historical setting is now so dated, I am not sure how a first-time reader born in the 1980s or 1990s would take it.  Since the book itself is from 1980 or so, it references what was fairly recent history at the time, and a lot of things have since fallen by the wayside (Peter Hurkos?).  It's one of the saddest of King's books, with doom seemingly hanging over Johnny Smith, who seems like a very decent guy, throughout the entire thing.  His emergence from a coma with clairvoyant powers is miraculous, but it makes for a pretty miserable life.

I don't think I've ever seen the movie version from beginning to end, and as it's just shown up on Netflix streaming, I look forward to watching it sometime soon to see how it compares.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on December 02, 2009, 07:53:37 PM
2001: A Space Odyssey

I almost want to call this an essential counterpart to the movie. It's not as tense or dramatic as the film, but it's every bit as grand. Probably grander. It also leaves less up to the imagination. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your tastes.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 04, 2009, 10:14:42 PM
Black Dogs - I. McEwan
This feels like McEwan experimenting with structures and styles that he'll later come to use better in Atonement. Far from his best. I don't know that I would recommend it, even to fans.

Holding the Man - T. Conigrave
I'd avoided this for some reason I didn't know (okay, avoiding may be too harsh - it was on my radar, but not very high). It's a very finely written novel about a boy falling in love with another boy, the boys entering a relationship, growing up, and being diagnosed as HIV positive. It's quite beautiful in patches, honest, life-affirming and quite sad. The last 50 pages or so are a little disappointing compared to what's come before, amounting mostly to a description of illnesses and afflictions, symptoms and treatments, and while I suppose it is necessary, it fails to match the middle third, which is really quite great. I can understand the sort of impact it must have had in 1995. I would recommend it quite strongly.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on December 05, 2009, 11:28:05 AM
Sorry, I Don't Speak French (http://www.amazon.ca/Sorry-Dont-Speak-French-Confronting/dp/0771047665) (Graham Fraser)

I finished this book with mixed emotions. Very interesting historical anecdotes and comments. Sometimes fascinating, other times amusing, and sometimes frustrating like hell.

If anybody cares about the subject matter, it's worth reading.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on December 05, 2009, 08:49:53 PM
That bad? I certainly felt like that after watching the movie.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on December 07, 2009, 07:03:33 AM
anyone here got a kindle? if so, is it worth it?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on December 07, 2009, 05:28:56 PM
anyone here got a kindle? if so, is it worth it?

Read here. (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=5242.0)

I love my Kindle.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 08, 2009, 12:23:25 AM
Liquidation - I. Kertesz

Interesting. It's massively inventive in the way it is structured and told. There is also a really interesting story lying at the heart of it all. It doesn't quite come together as I'd hoped, but it's more than enough to push me towards Fatelessness or Kaddish for a Child Not Born.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on December 08, 2009, 08:15:02 AM
anyone here got a kindle? if so, is it worth it?

Read here. (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=5242.0)

I love my Kindle.

Looking at one for my wife for Xmas. She is a school librarian and a traditionalist but is interested in the kindle. We make good use of the public library. My fear is dropping $250 on this thing and by March it is collecting dust.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on December 08, 2009, 06:04:47 PM
anyone here got a kindle? if so, is it worth it?

Read here. (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=5242.0)

I love my Kindle.

Looking at one for my wife for Xmas. She is a school librarian and a traditionalist but is interested in the kindle. We make good use of the public library. My fear is dropping $250 on this thing and by March it is collecting dust.

I don't know your wife, but I'd bet any librarian who could carry 1500 books with her at one time just by slipping a small device into her handbag would do so.  My Kindle is rarely 10ft from me.  I use it all the time. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on December 08, 2009, 06:12:25 PM
anyone here got a kindle? if so, is it worth it?

Read here. (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=5242.0)

I love my Kindle.

Looking at one for my wife for Xmas. She is a school librarian and a traditionalist but is interested in the kindle. We make good use of the public library. My fear is dropping $250 on this thing and by March it is collecting dust.

Hm.  If she doesn't love it I'll buy it from ya.   Fer reals.  

Let's see... Rate the last book I read...

We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill

Love this stuff.  Why anyone ever wastes their time on fiction when reality is this interesting is beyond me.  
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on December 08, 2009, 06:18:24 PM
OmNom, what do you think of the Philippa Gregory Tudor series or others written about the Court etc?  Since you do a lot of non-fiction reading in the same area, I was wondering if you give PG's books any credit.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on December 08, 2009, 06:19:52 PM



Love this stuff.  Why anyone ever wastes their time on fiction when reality is this interesting is beyond me.  

I am the same I read better than 90% non-fiction.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on December 08, 2009, 06:28:28 PM
I hate reality.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on December 08, 2009, 06:31:13 PM
Why anyone ever wastes their time on fiction when reality is this interesting is beyond me.

Does this apply to movies, too?  Do you watch more documentaries than average?

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on December 08, 2009, 06:44:30 PM
Why anyone ever wastes their time on fiction when reality is this interesting is beyond me.

Does this apply to movies, too?  Do you watch more documentaries than average?

pixote

No.  With movies I'm very escapist.  

But with books I just cram my head with everything I can, and fiction seems pointless.  I would rather read abstracts on PubMed for a month.  Heck.  I confess.  I *do* read abstracts on PubMed for months.   :-[

I can't explain it, I really can't.  Something happened... A switch flipped when I was about 24, 25.  I can read fiction, I do read it, but the whole time I'm reading fiction it's like fingernails on a blackboard.  I am just hurting I want it to end so bad.  

Funny, Clovis, I'm a Klosterman fan too...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on December 08, 2009, 06:51:04 PM
Why anyone ever wastes their time on fiction when reality is this interesting is beyond me.

Does this apply to movies, too?  Do you watch more documentaries than average?

pixote

No.  With movies I'm very escapist.  

But with books I just cram my head with everything I can, and fiction seems pointless.  I would rather read abstracts on PubMed for a month.  Heck.  I confess.  I *do* read abstracts on PubMed for months.   :-[

I can't explain it, I really can't.  Something happened... A switch flipped when I was about 24, 25.  I can read fiction, I do read it, but the whole time I'm reading fiction it's like fingernails on a blackboard.  I am just hurting I want it to end so bad.  

Funny, Clovis, I'm a Klosterman fan too...

LOL OmNom, this is literally exactly how I think too about movies and books. We are one in the same.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 08, 2009, 06:52:03 PM
I like all things. Except Basil.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on December 08, 2009, 06:56:41 PM
OmNom, I don't believe you. You like Tolkien.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on December 08, 2009, 06:58:08 PM
OmNom, I don't believe you. You like Tolkien.

Right!  Because it's a very factual world. 

Plus I read it when I was nine.   :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on December 08, 2009, 06:59:26 PM
OmNom, I don't believe you. You like Tolkien.

Right!  Because it's a very factual world. 

Just like all good fiction. :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on December 08, 2009, 07:20:27 PM
OmNom, I don't believe you. You like Tolkien.

Right!  Because it's a very factual world. 

Just like all good fiction. :)

You are probably right. 

I simply look forward to nothing in that genre.  No patience for it.  I buy the books, I download the audiofiles.  Ultimately these things collect dust and get deleted. 

But a new history book...?  Or an old one...?  Or Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, or a biography?  Something about the Plague?  I am there. :D

I am thinking of picking up Infinite Jest.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on December 08, 2009, 07:23:28 PM
I am thinking of buying that soonish.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on December 08, 2009, 07:42:52 PM
OmNom, what do you think of the Philippa Gregory Tudor series or others written about the Court etc?  Since you do a lot of non-fiction reading in the same area, I was wondering if you give PG's books any credit.

She takes her dramatic license to 11. 

Mostly I think she's making money.  I find her books forgettable... But I've only read three.  I did get through three. 

Would you like a nice Tudor book?  Carolly Erickson is a great place to start.  You'll love her, and she won't lie to you.  The First Elizabeth is very nice.  Also, she wrote a great bio of Empress Josephine.  Lovely. 

 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on December 08, 2009, 07:45:08 PM
Or Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer


Ok this is creepy. Are we soul mates? I have meet Richard and Michael at conferences. Michael and I co chaired a conference on Skepticism with John Raulston Saul a few years ago. I have been a long time member of the skeptic community and regional president for many years.

Dump you husband immediately. We are too be married at once.  ;D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on December 08, 2009, 07:51:05 PM
Or Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer


Ok this is creepy. Are we soul mates? I have meet Richard and Michael at conferences. Michael and I co chaired a conference on Skepticism with John Raulston Saul a few years ago. I have been a long time member of the skeptic community and regional president for many years.

Dump you husband immediately. We are too be married at once.  ;D

Sweetie, I don't need a divorce.  I'm a Mormon.  We pioneered all sorts of convenient marriage "laws".   ;D

(just kidding, born and raised, and several generations back, but I no longer believe.  I resigned, actually.)

The real point here though is that I'm rolling in the dust, clawing out my heart in envy because you've met two of my rock star gods.   Very.  Very.  Cool.  What they are doing is moving all of us forward.. so much.  They have cajones. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on December 08, 2009, 08:24:52 PM
Yes they are amazing. Both great people and great free thinkers.

P.S. This is getting a little creepy. I am also a non-believer in a family of Mormons. Have you read Under the Banner of Heaven?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on December 08, 2009, 08:35:31 PM
Yes they are amazing. Both great people and great free thinkers.

P.S. This is getting a little creepy. I am also a non-believer in a family of Mormons. Have you read Under the Banner of Heaven?

Definitely.  The list of books I've read in this category... Well... I have done my time.  I believed with all my heart for 30 years, and when it started to crumble I read everything I could to try to put it back together.  It's a fairly hideous experience.

So let's see.  You aren't my brother, are you?  Crap, if you're really a Mo we're related somehow.  I need to check your profile...  :D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on December 08, 2009, 08:43:13 PM
Yes they are amazing. Both great people and great free thinkers.

P.S. This is getting a little creepy. I am also a non-believer in a family of Mormons. Have you read Under the Banner of Heaven?

Definitely.  The list of books I've read in this category... Well... I have done my time.  I believed with all my heart for 30 years, and when it started to crumble I read everything I could to try to put it back together.  It's a fairly hideous experience.

So let's see.  You aren't my brother, are you?  Crap, if you're really a Mo we're related somehow.  I need to check your profile...  :D

I was lucky as it were, I was only tangentially raised in the church. My mother is the only sibling of 13 who left the church in her 20's. I only attended church sporadically with my grandparents.

I have counselled several people in my capacity as president of the Humanist Society as they began to leave various religions. I know it is probably one of the hardest things a person can do and one of the bravest. It takes intellectual curiosity and honesty that is very rare.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on December 08, 2009, 09:29:17 PM
Yes they are amazing. Both great people and great free thinkers.

P.S. This is getting a little creepy. I am also a non-believer in a family of Mormons. Have you read Under the Banner of Heaven?

Definitely.  The list of books I've read in this category... Well... I have done my time.  I believed with all my heart for 30 years, and when it started to crumble I read everything I could to try to put it back together.  It's a fairly hideous experience.

So let's see.  You aren't my brother, are you?  Crap, if you're really a Mo we're related somehow.  I need to check your profile...  :D

I was lucky as it were, I was only tangentially raised in the church. My mother is the only sibling of 13 who left the church in her 20's. I only attended church sporadically with my grandparents.

I have counselled several people in my capacity as president of the Humanist Society as they began to leave various religions. I know it is probably one of the hardest things a person can do and one of the bravest. It takes intellectual curiosity and honesty that is very rare.


You were lucky!  I love your mom... At least I'm sure I would.  :)  Many of my relationships were lost or damaged when I left.  I imagine we have similar stories.

Good on ya for counseling people who leave.  If you ever need any help there, let me know.  I used to do some moderating at a very good recovery site.    
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 10, 2009, 12:33:00 AM
Norwegian Wood - H. Murakami
Pretty great. Not as good as after the quake maybe, but better than Hard-Boiled Wonderland. There's a lot of symbolism and beauty and wonderful characters, and it all comes together really well. Really looking forward to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle some time soon.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 14, 2009, 09:22:54 PM
A quick wrap up of the past couple of weeks...

Macbeth - William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare is the greatest. Such a smart and fun (well, fun to read) play. Jostles for my favorite Shakes play with the next entry on this list.

Asuperplus.


Hamlet: Prince of Denmark - William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare is the greatest. Such a smart and fun play. Hamlet is the ultimate sarcastic college student. Words words words indeed.

Asuperplus.


Walk Two Moons - Sharon Creech.

A really interesting story about a young girl going to find her "missing" mother. There are a bunch of layers of storytelling which works well with the Native American aspect to the story. This is the book that brought up the authenticity question, in case you were interested.

B+.


The Birchbark House - Louise Erdrich.

Not my cup of tea. Doesn't do anything new with the Native American aspect or any other aspect, really. It just seems like all the other Native American stories that take place in the past. Boring.

D.

Dubliners - James Joyce.

Is The Dead the best short story ever written? Perhaps. I haven't read all of them, but I know that it was damned good. When you add in all the other great stories you get one of my favorite books of the year/ever. The prose is fantastic, of course, and Joyce creates Dublin so clearly.

MILKSHAKE!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on December 14, 2009, 09:24:40 PM
Yes, Dubliners is fantastic.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Ronan on December 18, 2009, 02:37:36 PM
Check out John Huston's film of it. Worth a look, also his last.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on December 18, 2009, 02:47:51 PM
The Steel Wave - Jeff Sharra

Typical Sharra book that covers a six month period in history with about 700 pages. this one covers D-Day from the point of view of Eisenhower, Patton, Churchill, and Rommell. interesting and well written but a tad slow.

I liked the Civil War trilogy much better.

I have been in a reading rut lately, reading books i end up laboring through. I just got an Elmore Leanord book out of the library. He always pops the clutch for me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on December 19, 2009, 10:16:56 PM
2010: Odyssey Two (Arthur C Clarke)

What it lacks in adventure and detail it almost makes up for with big, bold ideas. And while I didn't like it enough to want to continue the series, I'm glad to have read it. I'll be happy to read more Clarke at some point.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 19, 2009, 10:38:05 PM
Neuromancer by William Gibson (yes...again)

I try to read this at least once a year. For all of its dystopian bleakness - I find Gibson's prose (and these characters) comforting. Just as his writing seems to touch on unspoken, lost memories - decaying photographs, aging LP's in box, yellow paged books piled high in a room - his book will become one for me. A part of my DNA...I know it's strange and I can't really say why it resonates so well.

5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on December 19, 2009, 10:40:58 PM
Marty, you're looping.  Must. break. cycle.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 19, 2009, 10:52:17 PM
lol...I just needed some familiar ground lately...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: skjerva on December 20, 2009, 03:02:52 AM
i never look into the book thread here, have many people read and written on The Road? i just read it and thought it was pretty bad and i am wondering about the good reputation it seems to have.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on December 20, 2009, 03:11:09 AM
Although it's not my favorite Cormac McCarthy book, I thought it was worthwhile.  I can see why a filmmaker would enjoy the challenges it provided.

What's your complaint with it?  Just a general dislike or the prose style or anything specific.  (It's OK to limit your reply to a few words; I'm good with that. ;))
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Basil on December 20, 2009, 11:32:37 AM
i never look into the book thread here, have many people read and written on The Road? i just read it and thought it was pretty bad and i am wondering about the good reputation it seems to have.

I didn't care for it much either.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: skjerva on December 20, 2009, 11:48:03 AM
Although it's not my favorite Cormac McCarthy book, I thought it was worthwhile.  I can see why a filmmaker would enjoy the challenges it provided.

What's your complaint with it?  Just a general dislike or the prose style or anything specific.  (It's OK to limit your reply to a few words; I'm good with that. ;))

**perhaps spoilers for The Road**

yeah, the prose was part of it.  a lot of simple sentences piled on top of one another.  the simple language with the occasional 5-cent word tossed in didn't work. the staccato man-boy exchanges were a little bit of torture, but as far as the many odd/poor stylistic choices, at least this made sense. then there is the plot: wander wander nature observation wander wander get hungry and luck onto food wander wander see bad guys wander wander nature observation wander wander get hungry wander wander luck onto food wander wander run into bad guys.  te-de-us!!! then there is the ethic of the thing - mommy leaves and father protects the son - this is good guys against bad guys.  bootstraps time.  funny how the bad guys travel in groups/communities and the good guys travel alone and never help out other good guys - really messed up. then we are redeemed by the motherly mother at close.

i'm really curious why people like it (though i get it does a decent job of painting the picture of a snowy and sooty landscape)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on December 20, 2009, 05:10:04 PM
If you don't buy into the father's need to teach his son and save his son, then it does get tedious. 

This book is not representative of McCarthy's body of work.  In fact the prose style is very different here from his other books.  He has a great story to tell in Blood Meridian and tells it powerfully.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Holly Harry on December 20, 2009, 08:51:56 PM
If you don't buy into the father's need to teach his son and save his son, then it does get tedious. 


Yes, the novel absolutely deals with McCarthy's old age and the age of his son(who is still a child). It's a novel about hoping that your child can make way without you, which is probably why it resonated with so many people.

Suttree is great, and hilarious.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on December 20, 2009, 09:14:54 PM
If you don't buy into the father's need to teach his son and save his son, then it does get tedious. 

This book is not representative of McCarthy's body of work.  In fact the prose style is very different here from his other books.  He has a great story to tell in Blood Meridian and tells it powerfully.

Boy is it ever different from Blood Meridian (which I need to pick back up, I had to take a breather).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on December 21, 2009, 06:03:16 AM
Snow Falling on Cedars  (David Guterson, 1994)

A little hard for me to judge this book fairly, given my love for the film.  The same great story is here, along with the same great setting, but I was constantly comparing Guterson's prose to Robert Richardson's cinematography, and the prose just pales in comparison.  It's fine writing, functional and readable and unobtrusive, but just not beautiful.  Richardson's photography, on the other hand, is breathtakingly gorgeous and immersive.  I suspect this is why the story's central romance hit me so much harder in the cinema than in the book.  Guterson did make me swoon at least once ("He told himself he had never felt so happy, and he felt a sort of ache that this was happening and would never again happen in just this way no matter how long he lived."), but generally the passages were just good enough, rarely great.

The structure is fantastic, however, and the character of Nels Gudmundsson is every bit as vivid as Max von Sydow's performance in the film.  Ishmael's lighthouse discovery near the end felt very forced (did the film smooth this over?  I can't remember), but most of the plotting is very solid, just like the characterizations.

So, yeah, it's quite a good book, but, damn, I wish I owned the film.  I'd watch it right now.  Too bad it's one of those snapcase DVDs.

Grade: B

pixote
    (http://i47.tinypic.com/2qi3au1.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on December 21, 2009, 07:53:34 AM
K2-Life and Death on the World's Most angerous Mountain (Ed Viesturs with David Roberts) - Only about halfway through but this book busted me out of my reading quicksand. The last couple of books I have chosen i really did not like. This one has me roped. I like mountain climbing books but have never so much as climbed a pimple on the earth let alone these gianourmous peaks. Hoping to finish before Wednesday since I am sure I will get three or four books for Christmas.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on December 21, 2009, 08:45:16 AM
My Side of the Mountain  (Jean Craighead George, 1959)

A disappointing read.  My main problem, I think, it that it's not a young adult book so much as a kids' book.  The main character has almost zero inner life.  He's living out alone in the woods for like six months (through a snowy winter) and the idea of his being lonely or missing his family comes up once, maybe twice.  At times, the book reads less like a novel and more like a how-to guide for runaway wilderness wish fulfillment, and it's not all that engaging.  More interesting to me are the various moments that seem to capture the 1959 zeitgeist:

     "You're from New York.  I can tell the accent."  He leaned against the cosmetic counter.  "Come on, now, tell me, is this what the kids are wearing in New York now?  Is this gang stuff?"
     "I'm hardly a member of a gang," I said.  "Are you?"
     "Out here?  Naw, we bowl."

     "I'm doing research.  Who knows when we're all going to be blown to bits and need to know how to smoke vension."

     "The main reason is that I don't like to be dependent, particularly on electricity, rails, steam, oil, coal, machines, and all those things that can go wrong."


But those moments are few and far between.  And the ending is awful.  Too silly and stupid, even for a kids' book.

Hmm, the grade below is a little too high, given what I've written above.  I guess I remember the faults more than the virtues.  Suffice it to say, some of the how-to wish fulfillment stuff is pretty good.  There's just too much of it, with too little variation.

Grade: C+

pixote
    (http://i46.tinypic.com/waq54l.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 21, 2009, 10:10:26 AM
My 10-or-so-year-old self would agree with that review.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on December 21, 2009, 10:21:36 AM
I don't think I've ever used the word zeitgeist in a sentence before.  Weird that it was My Side of the Mountain that brought it out of me.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 21, 2009, 10:31:12 AM
It was big in the 50's zeitgeist.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on December 21, 2009, 11:10:14 AM
The Hot Zone  (Richard Preston, 1994)

Preston's book felt like what it is: a magazine article stretched out to book length.  The core story is pretty riveting, but it comprises only about a third of the pages, if that.  The rest of the book is fleshed out with semi-interesting anecdotes that sort of tie in to the main story, but without the overarching structure to quite make it all work.  It might had been better if I'd gone in having read the synopsis or whatever.  Going in blind, I kept getting interested in things that turned out to be dead end diversions, and that was occasionally frustrating.

Preston's writing is not very good.  I certainly wasn't a fan of his rhetorical questions: "Did he run his hand over the stone trees and prick his finger on a crystal?"  "Did Monet put his hand in the ooze?"  (Heh, that's even more hilarious out of context.)  Some of his totally random metaphors are interesting, too: "Charles Monet had been an Exocet missile that struck the hospital below the water line."  That earned a "lolwut?" from me in the margin.  Or: "Getting into a skull is always a bitch in Level 4."  Okay, guy.  Whatever.

There's some bad editing, too, with the same information sometimes repeated just a few pages apart.  And some passages that just have no flow to them.  You'd probably be better off just reading the original New Yorker articles, then reading another virus book instead — Randy Shilts' amazing And the Band Played On.

Grade: B-

pixote
    (http://i49.tinypic.com/124di10.gif)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on December 21, 2009, 02:44:54 PM
The Road

i'm really curious why people like it (though i get it does a decent job of painting the picture of a snowy and sooty landscape)

I liked the story and I liked the characters. Post apocalypse as experienced by a rather average joe and his son. For myself the writing was neither here nor there. It got the job done. Not a remarkable experience for me, but I'm still glad to have read it.

I too am curious what made people like it, and in some cases love it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on December 25, 2009, 11:41:07 AM
Finally finished The Stone Diaries. The last chapter really saved the book for me. The whole time I had been complaining that Daisy, the main character, contained no umph, no dazzling character trait to keep me interested. The prose and narrative experimentation were astounding, but I just never got into her story.

However, that last chapter finally made me go, "Oooooh! That's the point! She's an everyday woman. That's the whole point of the entire book!"

Part of me wishes I didn't have to slog through the rest of the book to get to that last chapter, but another part of me knows that the last chapter wouldn't have been as fulfilling if I hadn't read the rest of the book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 25, 2009, 02:15:45 PM
The Road

i'm really curious why people like it (though i get it does a decent job of painting the picture of a snowy and sooty landscape)

I liked the story and I liked the characters. Post apocalypse as experienced by a rather average joe and his son. For myself the writing was neither here nor there. It got the job done. Not a remarkable experience for me, but I'm still glad to have read it.

I too am curious what made people like it, and in some cases love it.

The prose was as sparse and bleak as the landscape the father and son traversed - yet within it he managed to convey an incredible amount of love and tenderness . The father's actions speaking louder than the words on the page. It was an economy of words and yet, a rich and meaningful experience - truly a triumph for writer to bring forth so much with so little.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on December 26, 2009, 11:00:26 AM
I got King's The Dome and Last Words by George Carlin. Might start the Carlin book first because it is the one that isn't 1,074 pages long.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on December 26, 2009, 01:25:47 PM
I got King's The Dome and Last Words by George Carlin. Might start the Carlin book first because it is the one that isn't 1,074 pages long.

My two favorite King books are The Stand and It.  I'm so looking forward to another huge epic with a big cast.  At least that's what I'm expecting.  I hope I'm not disappointed.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on December 26, 2009, 01:28:51 PM
I got King's The Dome and Last Words by George Carlin. Might start the Carlin book first because it is the one that isn't 1,074 pages long.

My two favorite King books are The Stand and It.  I'm so looking forward to another huge epic with a big cast.  At least that's what I'm expecting.  I hope I'm not disappointed.

me too. I love The Stand. I hope his new one can be half as good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on December 26, 2009, 08:19:57 PM
I got King's The Dome and Last Words by George Carlin. Might start the Carlin book first because it is the one that isn't 1,074 pages long.

My two favorite King books are The Stand and It.  I'm so looking forward to another huge epic with a big cast.  At least that's what I'm expecting.  I hope I'm not disappointed.

me too. I love The Stand. I hope his new one can be half as good.

My favorite King book is Misery. Anne Wilkes chills me to the bone. I liked Different Seasons a lot as well. I think his best movie adaptation so far are The Shawshank Redemption followed by Stand By Me, both taken from Different Seasons.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 'Noke on December 26, 2009, 09:08:01 PM
I really liked the first forty pages of Cell
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on December 27, 2009, 06:09:52 AM
I really liked the first forty pages of Cell

agreed. that one started to get into the silly, weird style that King has had in some of his more recent books. that is why i am a little wary of the Dome. On the surface it appears to be inspired by the Simpsons movie.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 27, 2009, 06:12:26 AM
I really liked the first forty pages of Cell

agreed. that one started to get into the silly, weird style that King has had in some of his more recent books. that is why i am a little wary of the Dome. On the surface it appears to be inspired by the Simpsons movie.
Except you can download early drafts from something like 20 years ago. This is an idea born long before the Simpsons Movie.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 28, 2009, 10:50:58 AM
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

My younger brother recommended this to me so I asked for it for Christmas. I read it and now you're reading my review. Weird, right? Anyways, it was pretty good, but nothing groundbreaking. I really enjoyed most of the story elements and the way Greek culture/gods and such were integrated into the modern world.

My biggest problem was with the writing. I was more annoyed in the beginning and by the end Riordan seemed to be better at not being so damned corny. I guess it fits with a first person 10 year old character, but I still didn't really like some of the attempts at humor. I'm looking forward to the other four books to see if this goes away or develops or whatever. It's no The Giver or His Dark Materials, that's for sure.

I don't want to be too negative, though, because I really liked reading this story. It's a quick read and flows quite well. It's got a bunch of action which is well told. And it's pretty clever.

B.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 28, 2009, 12:55:54 PM
The Walking Dead Vol 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore.

Kirkman's prologue and the last page or two elevate this book (and series, I presume) above other zombie stories. The first promises us that the series' long (and still unfinished) story will differentiate it from the rest of the zombie lore because it'll keep the story going past where other movies' end credits would be. This is an interesting idea, a long form zombie survival story, though the rest of this volume doesn't do much beyond set up the characters and put them in the typical zombie scenario. But those last couple of pages show that Kirkman knows what he's doing and how he's going to shape these people. It doesn't really do anything new, either, but I guess It's not supposed to yet. I liked it, it looked good, I'll keep reading.

B+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 29, 2009, 01:36:59 PM
The Walking Dead Vol 2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard.

Ok, this is good. I love what Kirkman and Adlard can do with just one panel (I'm thinking of the kid, Carl, pulling his gun out of the holster during a tense scene) to show how much these characters have changed in the span of a few issues. There isn't quite the wholesale changes that Kirkman promised in his introduction yet, but I guess those kind of come in pieces. I like the way that the familiar zombie situations (a farm, hunting in the woods) are tweaked, ever so slightly. I'll certainly keep reading.

A-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Basil on December 29, 2009, 01:46:29 PM
Oh Junior, it's adorable how you're so hooked on phonics.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on December 29, 2009, 02:04:12 PM
I know, right. I'm all cultured now and shit.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 30, 2009, 11:06:30 PM
The Shock Doctrine - N. Klein, 2007
A really phenomenal book. Klein writes in a way that is easy to read but very informative, and you'll learn more from this than you ever thought was possible. I've been consistently shocked and disgusted, and actively moved to action. It's really opened my eyes in more ways than I would've thought possible.

The best moment may be in the conclusion, where one figure related to Latin America and the IMF literally took my breath away and almost reduced me to tears. If you've read the book, comparing the borrowing of Latin America in 2005, 80% of the IMF's books, to 2007, when they make up 1% of the IMF's books. An amazing figure.

It's a book that has made me want to walk up to strangers on the street and say "you should read this!" It's taught me so much. A brilliant, brilliant book. Read it now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on January 04, 2010, 06:58:08 PM
The Golden Compass (mild spoilers)

This was somewhat pleasant to read but for me it never took off. Firstly, Lyra's story didn't interest me much. The problem was that I never felt she was a particularly important character in the world the book creates (despite being told otherwise). It's hinted that she has a bigger part to play than she knows, but that alone wasn't enough for me. Her task has her running all over the world, but it's not clear (to us or her) what she'll accomplish by its successful completion. Overall I found the book too vague for it's own good. I was starving for details. A lot of reading, not a whole lot of payoff. At least not yet. The problem is, now that I'm done part one I don't feel motivated to read the next two. They'll have to wait a while...

My second problem with the novel is the lack of depth in describing the cultures of the people Lyra meets and the blandness of the environments she visits. No people or places really came alive for me during my reading.

Decent, but for me there was no real highlights. That's kind of how I remember the movie. 2.5/4
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 08, 2010, 04:43:15 PM
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan.

The second book in the series follows the Odyssey semi-closely. Unfortunately, a lot of the issues I had with the first book remain here. If I could wipe "The good news/The bad news" thing off the face of the earth, I would do so. That being said, I really like the last chapter. It offers an interesting twist in the whole story, which was needed. I'm still gonna read on.

B-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on January 13, 2010, 02:44:11 PM
(http://media.masslive.com/entertainment/photo/eating-the-dinosaur-chuck-klosterman-0b261eba2df3d660_medium.jpg)

I enjoyed this book a fair amount but not as much as Sex, Drugs, and CocoPuffs. It contains a few brilliant essays and several rather slight and easily forgettable ones. The great include essays on Errol Morris, Kurt Cobain and laugh tracks. Perhaps the most interesting essay is about the philosophical value of Theodore Kaczynski's (Unibomber) manifesto.

There are also some great ideas about Herzog.

Grade: B+
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on January 16, 2010, 07:34:48 PM
I've tried this twice before, the second time getting a sizeable chunk of the way through it. This time, it's to the end.

(http://www.littlebrown.co.uk/assets/images/EAN/Medium/1860491812.jpg)
The Transit of Venus - Shirley Hazzard, 1980
Towards the end of this novel there is a sentence that I found thoroughly odd and out of place. I couldn't understand why Hazzard, who had proved herself so adept to this point, would include it. Then, maybe five paragraphs from the finish, everything fell into place.

This is an absolutely remarkable novel. It is the closest I have ever read to a "perfect novel", if such a thing exists. It has an incredible power, and an incredible scope, beautiful prose and remarkable characters. There are moments of revelation that left me gasping, close to tears, and just thoroughly drawn in. I cannot recommend this enough. An incredible book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on January 18, 2010, 04:23:54 PM
I've tried this twice before, the second time getting a sizeable chunk of the way through it. This time, it's to the end.
The Transit of Venus - Shirley Hazzard, 1980
Towards the end of this novel there is a sentence that I found thoroughly odd and out of place. I couldn't understand why Hazzard, who had proved herself so adept to this point, would include it. Then, maybe five paragraphs from the finish, everything fell into place.

This is an absolutely remarkable novel. It is the closest I have ever read to a "perfect novel", if such a thing exists. It has an incredible power, and an incredible scope, beautiful prose and remarkable characters. There are moments of revelation that left me gasping, close to tears, and just thoroughly drawn in. I cannot recommend this enough. An incredible book.
I picked this up from the library the other day on your recommendation. Hopefully, I can get to it soon!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on January 18, 2010, 04:42:13 PM
So, bringing the culture level way down, I've actually finished my first book for the year (though I'm in the middle of 5 or 6 others right now).  It was an audiobook version of The Day of the Troll, a Doctor Who novel.  Yes I'm addicted enough to read the books (or listen to them in this case, when I'm jonesing for a fix).  I love that David Tennant has read several of the books featuring his Doctor.  This was one of them.  The story was just okay but enough suspense to keep me listening.  Interesting future setting (most of the land in England rendered useless for growing anything, experimental project trying to restart food production in Britain, most of the world living in a narrow tropical/temperate band of area, food allegedly running out within 70 years.)

Mostly I liked hearing David Tennant say all the Doctor's typical lines in the proper Doctor voice.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on January 18, 2010, 09:33:35 PM
Because of Chris, and also my best friend Jem:

(http://movieoverdose.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/nerverletmego.jpg)
Great book.
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005
I feel a little sorry for Mr. Ishiguro, having to follow Ms. Hazzard. Because this just left me utterly cold. Well, I mean, I was moved at the requisite moments, but only minorly, and that was about it. I never really was that struck by the plot, I didn't like the characters, the slight playing with chronology just annoyed me, and, while I was always going to be comparing to the liquid gold prose of The Transit of Venus, I just found the prose here dull and standard.

I mean, it's not really that bad as a book. But I just found it so middle of the road. None of the comments I'd heard about it lead me to expect anything as standard and boring as this. Even the big issues at the heart of it I just felt were handled in such a typical, no surprises way. I probably could've given the entire outline before I sat down. I was hoping there would be a redeeming reveal about Hailsham, but even that was pat and entirely what I expected.

The Transit of Venus - Shirley Hazzard, 1980
I picked this up from the library the other day on your recommendation. Hopefully, I can get to it soon!
I hope you enjoy it. I really did find it so wonderful.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on January 19, 2010, 12:40:27 PM
Blindness by José Saramago (1995)

I was really up and down with my feelings towards this novel while I read it. The premise is interesting and well realized: several people are being inexplicably struck blind and thus are quarantined together by the government out of fear of a contagious disease.  This creates an interesting look at what humanity is reduced to when an essential part of it's existence is taken from it and sets up a classic recreation-of-society story usually seen in the context of a shipwreck or a post-apocalyptic world. 

However, the book slowly began to lose me the further I got into it.  The horrible conditions of the quarantined area which allowed me to sympathize with the characters gradually took the focus away from them and the story moved from a character study to a steady series of perverse tortures upon them.  The writing style, which often has multiple characters speaking within a single paragraph with no quotations and little differentiation between who is speaking, really captures the confusion and frantic nature of the newly blind.  As the story continued though, I felt as though this became more intrusive and clashed with tonally different sections, unlike the equally distinct writing in a book such as Cormac McCarthy's The Road.  

While I would probably say overall that I enjoyed the book, I felt as if it continually tried to disuade me from doing so. The moment when the characters leave their prison became drawn out and uninteresting, and in my opinion should have been where the story ended. My edition of the book had an exerpt from the follow-up Seeing, which held absolutely no interest for me. 

2.5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on January 24, 2010, 05:15:37 PM
Yo, I was reading Frankenstein again, as I wrote elsewhere, and I noticed, as I did the first time, but even more so this time, that there is a portion in the novel, from when the monster encounters Victor on the mountain, through his story, and concluding with his flight, that is some of the best writing I have ever had the opportunity to read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on January 25, 2010, 03:01:10 PM
Olive Kitteridge

It's sold as a series of unrelated short stories with Olive acting as merely a connecting character throughout. That's not entirely true. It's really a novel or novella told episodically with Olive as the central character and regular dalliances into other characters' stories. That's a fine point, sure, but I wasn't expecting Olive to be so front-and-center throughout the book.

As a character, Olive was amazing — upright, imposing, candid with a vein of vulnerability —  and I really liked the structure of the book. I liked reading about all these interesting people with Olive always, at the minimum, in the background. After Olive, my favorite character was the piano player who has to get a little tipsy in order to lose herself in the piano.

The story-telling and prose is solid, but the prose is not exemplary. I expect exemplary, florid or exacting prose in a Pullitzer Prize winning book. I expect to be in awe, surprised or delighted by an author's use of language, and I didn't get that. It may be that, coming off of The Stone Diaries, my expectations were too high, but I don't think so.

I definitely recommend it for the stories and characters, and I recommend it for the story-telling. Just not the prose. Or go in not expecting to be wow'd.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on January 25, 2010, 03:08:25 PM
LAST WORDS - George Carlin

the last few chapters I could have lived without but the rest was great. He writes about his life from birth to just before he died. It was terrific to see the process he went through to become the comedian and political satirist he was known for being. If you are a fan I would suggest it. If not probably it would bore you quickly.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Tequila on January 25, 2010, 03:20:21 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51392WASYPL.jpg)
Not sure exactly what peaked my interest about this but those houses sure looked impressive. Then I came across the photo of a half-naked Charlton Heston and lost interest.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 25, 2010, 03:29:01 PM
Inquiring minds want to know! Which half?

Anyways...

The Weir by Conor McPherson

This is just four guys and a girl sitting in a pub in the middle of Ireland. They tell stories about the town and then leave. And it's pretty damn good. It's a play and I really felt the differences between the four guys quite easily, which I guess means that it's well written. I have no idea if it's close to how Ireland really is/was in the 90's, but it worked for me. The bulk of the story is four monologues, three from the guys at the bar and one from the girl. They all are somewhat supernatural, but also concerned with death and all that. It's funny and poignant without being anything more (or less) than bar talk. All in all a good time.

A-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Tequila on January 25, 2010, 03:37:38 PM
See for yourself (http://www.celebrityhairychestedmen.com/charlton-heston-hairy-chest-sci-fi-god), it's a very intellectual pose

I can't believe I just googled that.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 27, 2010, 10:22:24 AM
(http://media.masslive.com/entertainment/photo/eating-the-dinosaur-chuck-klosterman-0b261eba2df3d660_medium.jpg)

I enjoyed this book a fair amount but not as much as Sex, Drugs, and CocoPuffs. It contains a few brilliant essays and several rather slight and easily forgettable ones. The great include essays on Errol Morris, Kurt Cobain and laugh tracks. Perhaps the most interesting essay is about the philosophical value of Theodore Kaczynski's (Unibomber) manifesto.

There are also some great ideas about Herzog.

Grade: B+

I pretty much agree with this. This was my first Klosterman and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The Football one was interesting to me because I didn't know much about it going in. I'll have to seek out some of his other stuff, likely that one Clovis mentions.

B+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on January 29, 2010, 03:50:49 AM
I am wondering if anyone has read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, and if you have, what you thought of it?

Clovis8, I imagine it's too elementary for your knowledge base, but anyone else interested in the rise of human societies?

I was impressed with it, especially the section on domestication of animals.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on January 29, 2010, 10:42:37 AM
I am wondering if anyone has read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, and if you have, what you thought of it?

Clovis8, I imagine it's too elementary for your knowledge base, but anyone else interested in the rise of human societies?

I was impressed with it, especially the section on domestication of animals.

I really love that book. It caused quite a stir among anthropologists at the time because it is squarely in the environmental determinism camp (which I fall into to). Many anthropologists like to think that internal factors are far stronger forces than external. I have always been a externalist (environment, war, etc), mostly because these things are MUCH easier to study and far less random. Internalists tend to focus on things like "Big men", history, and invention.

The most interesting idea, although not original, in Guns, Germs and Steel, was the idea that the Americas could never develop the same level of technology as the Old World simply because the continents are oriented N-S and not E-W, therefore making it much more difficult for agriculture to move, once invented.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on January 29, 2010, 10:51:28 AM
When I was 18 or 19 I bought it out of casual interest. I never did finish it though. I've always meant to reread it. Maybe this year I will.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on January 29, 2010, 11:30:03 AM
I find it every so often at the thrift store but it still sells for enough ($10+) on Amazon I can never resist the temptation to sell it and read it "next time I find one".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on January 29, 2010, 01:57:55 PM
I started reading it a year or two ago and was really enjoying it, but it kind if lost my interest in the agriculture section and it fell by the wayside for me. I'll definitely have to pick it back up soon though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on January 29, 2010, 02:56:22 PM
As a casual reader I didn't find it to be one of those books I could pick up and burn through on sheer interest of what I was reading. It was a bit of a grind. Educational, but tough.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on January 29, 2010, 05:12:33 PM
Diamond has a follow-up to Guns, Germs, and Steel which is Collapse, evidently discussing the fall of human societies. 

Thx to everyone for weighing in on my question.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on January 29, 2010, 06:39:13 PM
Diamond has a follow-up to Guns, Germs, and Steel which is Collapse, evidently discussing the fall of human societies. 

Thx to everyone for weighing in on my question.

I didnt like Collapse as much. There are no new ideas in it. Still a good read though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on January 29, 2010, 07:48:34 PM
Me Cheeta - Lever, 2008
I'm sure if I'd read hundreds of Hollywood biographies and memoirs, this would be a hoot. As is, it was dull and painful, and I couldn't be done with it soon enough. Awful. How it made the Booker long list I'll never know.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on January 30, 2010, 09:58:14 AM
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

First off, I finished it! What a beast. So much I could go on about but I'll keep it short. Great pacing and buildup to the last onhundred pages. Probably too slow for most...or maybe not since it's a NYT bestseller. The great wit in the book is what I gravitate to the most. I laughed a lot at the dry humor contained in the book. The implementation of magic is interesting and a lot more subtle and scientific that most fantasy works. Great stuff. Probably one of the best modern books I read (although I despise most of modern literature).

I hope Susanna Clarke writes more stuff along these lines. She could even just drop the fantasy and write a great period piece in my opinion.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on February 02, 2010, 04:10:36 PM
The Sirens of Titan Kurt Vonnegut

Made me feel a little small and lost in the universe, and then it made me laugh.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on February 02, 2010, 09:11:17 PM
The Sirens of Titan Kurt Vonnegut

Made me feel a little small and lost in the universe, and then it made me laugh.

Yep, it was good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on February 02, 2010, 09:41:06 PM
The Sirens of Titan Kurt Vonnegut

Made me feel a little small and lost in the universe, and then it made me laugh.

Yep, it was good.

Hey Vonnegut, do you read lips?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on February 04, 2010, 12:46:17 AM
The Beauty Queen of Leenanne - Martin McDonnagh.

Yes, the dude that wrote In Bruges started his rise to fame by writing plays. This one was way darker than In Bruges, which is hard to do, but still quite funny. There are a couple of scenes that are spectacularly funny and then I hated myself for laughing. So it was good.

B+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Holly Harry on February 04, 2010, 03:02:40 AM
The Pillowman and The Lieutenant Of Inishmore are his best plays, for me. They're way darker and funnier than even Leenane or his other work. The former being most similar to In Bruges in that it is a comic, but melancholy parable, while the latter is a gruesome (the most violent play I've ever read) farce and satire.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on February 04, 2010, 05:56:27 AM
Speaking in Tongues - Andrew Bovell, 1997
Ok, so it's officially a play. And a play that's maybe a little too clever for it's own good. But I think it packs a huge punch, and I think that cleverness works really well.

It starts with Pete and Jane, Leon and Sonja, two married couples. Pete and Sonja meet in a bar. So do Leon and Jane. They go back to separate hotel rooms, a double infidelity. The two couples share a lot of dialogue, to the extent that a large part of it is simultaneous. It's that cleverness that makes the play almost not work. I've seen it staged, and it does work very well. It's the coincidences that dominate, and the accumulation of meetings between strangers, and that's where a lot of people had problems, and I totally understand that. But when it gets to the end, it's these things that give it such a punch.

For those who've seen Lantana, this is the play that is based on, and while there are significant changes, there are a lot of things that are the same. Which is better? I don't know. I think this works as play. I think the changes that were made were necessary for the film to work as well as it does.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on February 04, 2010, 12:47:33 PM
A couple quick reviews:

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (2000)

I really enjoyed this. Eggers has a great voice and style, and I really liked his blending of reality and fiction as it often broke the fourth wall.

My only real complaints are that at times it dragged a bit, and I almost always preferred the sections where he was with his brother and was just waiting fir him to get back in the picture.

4.5/5

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)

I really connected with most of the characters and I was fascinated that the main plot of the book cools involve two guys working on a comic book. Chabon manages to make his writing very readable while still keeping it intelligent and expressive. However, I did think it kind of bit off more than it could chew and tried to cover too many subjects, I would have liked it better if a bit of the fat was trimmed. Still loved it though.

4/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on February 04, 2010, 12:51:19 PM
A couple quick reviews:

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (2000)

I really enjoyed this. Eggers has a great voice and style, and I really liked his blending of reality and fiction as it often broke the fourth wall.

My only real complaints are that at times it dragged a bit, and I almost always preferred the sections where he was with his brother and was just waiting fir him to get back in the picture.

4.5/5




I really love this book also.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on February 04, 2010, 01:47:18 PM
Have you read anything else of his worth recommending?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on February 04, 2010, 01:50:48 PM
Have you read anything else of his worth recommending?

I've only read You shall know our velocity which I liked but didn't love. It's fiction though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on February 07, 2010, 11:42:01 PM
(http://www.rrr.org.au/assets/randomhouseaudiothecityandthecity500.jpg)

Easily the best thing I have read this year. Mieville's writing is as discombobulating as his story, in other words, I often felt out of place and dislocated as I read it but never enough to put me off the story. I thoroughly enjoyed where he took me and I will be pondering this one for a while.

Have already read King Rat and am looking forward to Perdido Street Station next...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on February 08, 2010, 11:09:07 AM
Holly Harry is correct, The Pillowman is CINECAST!ing fantastic. Don't know if they get much darker than that one.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on February 08, 2010, 11:51:58 AM
I read the first of the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson series in one sitting while I was working an extra job (security at Ruby Tuesdays) on Friday night.  I really liked it, and I hope the movie doesn't suck.  Looking forward to reading more of the series.

I have read and enjoyed several of Riordan's adult mysteries featuring Tres Navarro.  Thhis is his first YA book that I've read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on February 20, 2010, 08:25:59 PM
Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert

Good stuff.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on February 20, 2010, 10:30:47 PM
I read volume 1 of the DC/Vertigo Fables graphic novels and loved it.  Am psyched there are 9 more volumes in the series.

Now am reading The Best American Crime Reporting 2009.  I've read these anthologies every year since they started in 2003 and have not been disappointed yet.  Great compilations.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ¡Keith! on February 21, 2010, 11:55:56 PM
For those who have read the Scott Pilgrim series - Book 2 is like light years better than Book 1 no?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on February 22, 2010, 10:02:36 AM
I thought so.  Still haven't read 3-5 yet.  Maybe this week.

I read the first volume of Fables on Friday.  Really liked it.  Enough so that the next 4 volumes are on order.  Love the concept of fairy tale creatures in exile in our world.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ¡Keith! on February 22, 2010, 10:12:13 AM
I thought so.  Still haven't read 3-5 yet.  Maybe this week.


yeah, 1 seemed like a bit of a mess... though it ended well.  but two is tight, funny and faily cohesive.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on February 22, 2010, 10:13:46 AM
I think once I've finished the whole thing, 1 might make more sense when I go back and reread it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on February 28, 2010, 01:13:55 AM
Under the Dome - Stephen King.

One of the most entertaining pieces of media that I've come across in a while. Like Lost in Maine, it focuses on a select group of people stuck in one place. They have to deal with the elements and each other and other things. I could read a version twice as long.

A.


A Skull in Connemara - Martin McDonagh.

The second play of his I've read. It was LOL hilarious, including lines such as "Isn't it better to starve darkies than to murder misuses?". This is in a story about a guy that digs up graves. It's all strangely fascinating. And dark, of course, though not as dark as The Beauty Queen of Leenane. A fun and quick read.

B+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on March 01, 2010, 01:46:49 PM
I read volumes 2-4 of Fables over the weekend.  The series as a whole was originally published in comic book single-issue format by DC/Vertigo beginning in 2002.  The graphic novels collect complete storylines, and run anywhere from 150-250 pages depending on story length.

Volume 1 introduces the world of the Fables, figures from fairy tales, folktales, nursery rhymes and legends who used to occupy various separate lands, all of which have been conquered by a vicious dictator known as the Adversary.  The group of Fables who escaped into our world keep any magic abilities under wraps.  The group featured in this story have been in New York since it was New Amsterdam and have imbued their little enclave in NYC and a large farm in upstate New York with spells and talismans that keep outsiders (the mundanes or "mundys" -- us, in other words) from noticing too much.

The storyline of a murder investigation spearheaded by the sheriff of "Fabletown", Bigby Wolf (in human form) and Snow White, deputy mayor, allows a multitude of cast members and situations to be introduced and set in play.  Some Fables are quite poor, having lost their fortunes in their flight from their worlds (like Prince Charming, ex-husband of Snow, Cinderella AND Sleeping Beauty) and others have kept their fortunes or made new ones. 

In the second volume we are introduced to the Farm, the upstate New York location where all the Fables whose forms are too weird to go unnoticed in the mundy world live--the 3 pigs, the 3 bears, all the way down the dish that ran away with the spoon and a snail who always carries a little parasol.  (One thing I love about this series is how rewarding it is to study those one or two page spreads showing a cast of lots of Fables, trying to remember the origins of them--like where the hell did the sunflower with a face come from?)  The Fables of Farmtown are tired of their exile and want to rise up--but against the Adversary or the more humanoid Fables?

Volume 3 was my least favorite so far, as it is a collection of one-shot short stories that were stand-alone issues.  All are readable but not as compelling as the longer stories.  However it's essential to read this volume anyway, for the longest story that provides a bridge between events from Volume 2 and Volume 4.

Volume 4, March of the Wooden Soldiers, concerns a foray by the Adversary (it is presumed) into Fabletown with an army of rather funny wooden soldiers who, these days, all dress like Men in Black or Mr. Smith from the Matrix.  As you can imagine, animated wood soldiers are hard to fight, especially when they have interchangeable parts--lose a leg?  Pick one off a fallen comrade and keep on going.  This story also includes an excellent subplot involving a backstory of one of the main characters and a glimpse of the last days of the battle against the Adversary before the homelands finally fell, and a newly arrived refugee who is the first to find a way into this world in several centuries.

As you can probably tell, I can't wait for more of this.  I'm very excited that the series is not only up to 14 volumes on its own, but there is a spin-off series (Jack of Fables) that has multiple volumes as well, and even a prose novel.

I think another multi-volume order will be hitting Amazon as soon as a little extra spending money hits my pocket....
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on March 01, 2010, 02:01:08 PM
Storm Front by Jim Butcher (audiobook)

I started this quite a while back but picked it up again last weekend while doing yardwork and continued with it during housecleaning this weekend (I find that audiobooks go best with long drives, a longer period of chores around the house, or when I'm sewing, but shorter podcasts are better for brief intervals of listening).  Finally finished it yesterday.

Storm Front is the first book in a series that now numbers over 10 books.  I read it originally about 10 years ago but never got around to reading anymore in the series, so I decided to start over at the beginning.  The story is compelling, featuring a wizard named Harry Dresden who does real magic for hire.  He's a loner, having broken with the White Council who regulate magic users and who prefer to keep paranormal abilities a secret.  He has a connection with the Chicago PD, being called in to consult on odd cases that might involve magic.  The book begins with two unrelated cases--a distraught wife hiring Harry to find her husband, who has disappeared; and a series of gruesome murders involving people's hearts being literally ripped from their chests.

Harry narrates his stories and he's a likeable storyteller.  He is powerful, for certain, but also conscious of his limits and conscientious about the morality of what he does.  There are multiple suspenseful fight/chase scenes where he encounters various magic beasties but the real attraction is the character of Harry himself, and that's what will keep me coming back for more books in the series.

The books are read by James Marsters (Spike from Buffy) in a non-English accent, which is sort of odd to hear after being so familiar with Spike.  I like his narration for the slightly world-weary edge he gives to Harry, and I think that voice is right for the series.  But there is one thing--Marsters swallows, or has mints in his mouth, or something fairly often and it's noticable in the recoring.  I noticed it and would rather the weird noises weren't there, but I'll still come back for more of the audiobooks.  However, other Audible reviews indicate that the sounds are annoying enough to some listeners that they gave up on teh books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on March 01, 2010, 03:50:31 PM
GAME SIX by MARK FROST

Secodn strait book where I could have done with out the last chapter. Very informative book about both the Redsox, the Reds, and baseball itself. The last chapter was a WHERE ARE THEY NOW chapter that was about 30 pages too long.

Good book if you are a baseball fanatic like me.

Now on to Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on March 07, 2010, 11:35:57 PM
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs (2007)

I really liked this book, but it definitely dragged and stumbled at some points.  I think Jacobs does a good job of balancing the humor of the situations he puts himself in with actually examining them in a fairly serious manner.  He also has a really great casual writing style that is full of personality.  However, a few sections went on a little long and some things he tried to explore didn't end up being too interesting.

If you're interested in reading this, I would suggest reading some of his articles for Esquire magazine, such as My Outsourced Life (http://www.esquire.com/ESQ0905OUTSOURCING_214), which are very similar to how this book is done.

3.5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on March 08, 2010, 06:02:41 AM
Cool, thanks NG.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on March 08, 2010, 07:43:57 AM
My Outsourced Life and other of his articles are collected in a book as well, title escapes me at the moment.

I liked the book a lot and parts of it made me laugh out loud.  It seemed to me like he was losing interest in the project by the time he hit the New Testament and the NT is less precise about how to do everything.  Also if not mistaken Jacobs is ethnically Jewish but not religious so the first 5 books that make up the Torah had the most material of interest to him.  The rest of the Jewish Bible are historical narratives, prophecies, poems and proverbs; all of the edicts are in the Torah.

I think my favorite thing was his wife getting annoyed with his concern about whether she was "unclean" and had caused anywhere he wanted to sit to be unclean; she got back at him by sitting on every piece of furniture in the house while she was on her period.  He was reduced to carrying one of those cane/stools everywhere to be sure he was sitting on a ritually clean surface.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on March 08, 2010, 12:24:14 PM
Yeah, I felt myself losing focus while reading for awhile just before he got into the New Testament and for a bit after it.  When he went to several different evangelical Christian churches and groups was pretty fascinating to me though.

There are a ton of great bits like that "unclean" one you mention, Colleen.  I particularly enjoyed when he bumped into some old acquaintances at a restaurant who suggested they should hang out some time, and he felt compelled to be honest and tell them that they probably shouldn't, as he really has enough friends already and if he wants to spend his free time hanging out with someone, it should be one of his better friends.

The best thing about the book to me though is that it doesn't just attack religion.  I mean, some ridiculous situations arise from him trying to follow the rules in the Bible to the letter, but he never really revels in showing the stupidity of them.  Throughout the year, he genuinely tries to find some sort of spiritual enlightenment through prayer and rituals, and following his progress in that respect was nearly as fun as the humor bits for me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on March 08, 2010, 12:28:24 PM
I don't think it was meant to attack religion.  One thing he does miss as a Jew is that you literally can't take the mitzvot in the Torah literally.  The written Torah is meant to go along with the oral tradition that is said to have been passed from G-d to Moses to the priests, which were the ways the rules were to be interpreted and implemented.  It was handed down orally until the fall of the Temple and the diaspora in 70 AD after which it was written down; that and the further commentaries became the Talmud. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on March 08, 2010, 12:32:20 PM
It's amazing how universal the connection between menstrual blood and ritual uncleanliness is. It is found in nearly every culture, world-wide, weather hunter-gatherer or state level. In most cases there is no connection between menstrual blood and conception, since the connection is not known. I think it's largely a political maneuver allowing males to stay in control.

In some cultures menstruating women are isolated from the community!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on March 08, 2010, 12:37:07 PM
Jacobs actually travels to Israel and meets the last of the Samaritan people in a small village, and they take many of the laws seriously like that.  When a woman is menstruating, and for a week after I believe, she is kept in a separate room in the house with its own kitchen and bed and whatnot, and contact with her husband of any kind is forbidden.  When Jacobs asks about this, the Samaritans spin it as a nice vacation for the women for a week every month.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Colleen on March 08, 2010, 12:42:35 PM
Were the Samaritans the Karaites?  That's a small Jewish sect that split off before the diaspora and therefore don't have the Talmud, they go only by what's in the Torah.

Orthodox Jews have the same practice of 7 days of not touching; they just don't go as far as having the wife move out of the house.  And they insist that it enhances their relationships, the 7 days of enforced non-intimacy (she can't even hand him anything) makes them eager to be affectionate when she is "clean" again and the women usually go to the mikvah in the evening of the first night that they can, so there's nothing to do afterwards but go to bed and let whatever happens, happen.

It's also a good strategy for reproduction because that would make the couple the most eager and most likely to have intercourse on days when she is fertile or just about to be, depending on the individual cycle.  No wonder a lot of the Orthodox have 10+ kids!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on March 08, 2010, 12:48:46 PM
Were the Samaritans the Karaites?  That's a small Jewish sect that split off before the diaspora and therefore don't have the Talmud, they go only by what's in the Torah.

I thought it was the Samaritans, but I could be wrong.  I don't have the book with me now to double check, but Wikipedia says the Samaritans follow "the strict interpretation of Biblical (Levitical) laws regarding menstruation, by which they must live in a separate dwelling during their periods and after childbirth".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 'Noke on March 23, 2010, 10:21:05 AM
(http://blogs.kcls.org/librarytalk/Pluto%20Files%20Pic.jpg)

Really liked this. It sets up all the astronomical stuff about pluto and our solar system so that simpletons like me can understand it and is pretty comprehensive, then goes on to describe the hysteria this one simple decision made. Hell, Tyson didn't even do anything. It's allthe new york times fault. The book is really an inditement of the news. It's quite an easy read and Tyson makes his writing simple but funny, he's very deadpan.

(http://a5.vox.com/6a00bf76cd5bbc58ce00e39899a9950003-500pi)

What a strange book. The thing I enjoyed most about Slaughterhouse 5 was the absolute absurdity of the plot and the funny little plot details. Like the "So it goes.." and all that strange stuff. I loved Kilgore Trout. I loved how vonnegut self lacerated himself so clearly. And Dresden was an absolute tragedy.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 1SO on March 23, 2010, 11:11:24 AM

What a strange book. The thing I enjoyed most about Slaughterhouse 5 was the absolute absurdity of the plot and the funny little plot details. Like the "So it goes.." and all that strange stuff. I loved Kilgore Trout. I loved how vonnegut self lacerated himself so clearly. And Dresden was an absolute tragedy.
I hope you'll seek out the movie.  It's a real gem and a directorial tour-de-force from George Roy Hill.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on March 24, 2010, 12:23:07 PM
American Born Chinese

Really great, though it kind of goes off the rails at the end, not in a bad way, just that everything wraps up too quickly and too obviously. A good deal of beauty in the last frame, and I suppose stepping back from the immediate reaction, well I just started about an hour ago and finished about two minutes ago, the parallel structure that runs throughout is great. So yeah, great book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on March 26, 2010, 11:28:43 PM
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

This was my first Atwood. It certainly won't be my last. It was a fascinating look at where our future could easily go and and how it could get there. Snowman (aka Jimmy) is the lone survivor of a worldwide disaster. That is, the only human survivor. There's also genetically engineered human-like things created by his genius friend, Crake. I won't ruin how the world became what it did or what part Jimmy had in it, because that's the fun of this book. Told more than half in flashback to before the disaster, we see Jimmy's life and the already not so great world that he was living in. It's really well done, a dystopian vision to rival Orwell and Huxley.

But it's not all serious, either. There's a lot of fun to be had with Snowman (Jimmy's post-disaster moniker) and his semi-sarcastic view on the world he now inhabits alone. There are some shocking moments, too, and I gasped out loud at one moment the death of Oryx and Crake. It's superbly written and I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on March 27, 2010, 03:42:59 PM
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

This was my first Atwood. It certainly won't be my last.

I'm so glad that you liked it, Junior. I want everyone to love Atwood. I actually like Oryx and Crake the least of all of her novels that I've read. I'm working my way through them, but she's been writing since the 60s, and she's prolific. My absolute favorite is Cat's Eye, but it's not exactly everyone's cup o'tea. I also love The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on March 28, 2010, 07:48:37 PM
The Outsider - Albert Camus
I saw this on a display shelf at the library and picked it up on a whim. It's brilliant, as expected. Camus creates this incredibly bizarre character, who is really, at best, a psychopath, and creates this absolutely incredible sympathy for him. It's deeper philosophical explorations are perfectly crafted, and rise with ease up through the greater narrative. Highly, highly recommended.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on March 31, 2010, 08:35:11 AM
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

overall i give it a mildly enthused meh. i like the concept of the book being written from the autistic boys point of view. if there is someone in your life that you love who is autistic i would recommend reading it. the story did not do much for me though. one decent twist that i did not see coming but other than that.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 02, 2010, 02:42:13 PM
(http://i39.tinypic.com/nzgdqg.jpg)
Solanin Inio Asano
(2005-2006)

Several Tokyo residents deal with post-graduation blues. Taneda and Meiko have been together for six years and they wonder what will happen next. Meiko is bored stiff at her office job while Taneda has a band on the side that he really wants to keep doing and take a shot at, but he wonders if even has the guts to actually give it a try. There are other characters and stuff and stuff happens that is kind of beautiful and sad and awesome and it's kind of almost better than Beck at the "music manga" stuff because it kind of talks about how a passion for music stands in for a certain discontent and frustration one can have with everyday life. Anyway, it's wonderful. Just as good as I remembered it to be.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on April 06, 2010, 02:37:27 AM
Consider The Lobster - David Foster Wallace
I really enjoy Wallace's work. I think he's a fascinating writer. I think it's a tragedy he's no longer with us. And this is, of course, a brilliant collection.

The best is possibly the the first, Big Red Son, an essay on the Adult Video News Awards. It's got a random excerpt that you should all be looking forward to in coming days. It's a genuinely hilarious piece, one that had me laughing out loud frequently in public. It also has an interesting look at then-current trends in heterosexual pornography, and I'd be interested to see how many of them have continued. The essay on the Usage Wars is also fascinating, something that all those board members who frequent the Words and Grammar thread would probably find fascinating.

The real question I found myself with by the end was, I wonder how some of the magazines who commissioned him felt when they got the final essay. Like the titular essay, Consider the Lobster, which is supposed to be a report on the Maine Lobster Festival for a food magazine, and ends up being a discussion on whether Lobsters feel pain, and what is the most humane way to kill them. Host is similarly less about what it initially seems, as are several others, and I can't imagine that the people who hired him were overly happy.

Still, I loved every second of it, and it's just making me more and more keen to read Infinite Jest.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 14, 2010, 09:20:14 PM
L'Assommoir Émile Zola

Well, that was devastating.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 14, 2010, 09:31:57 PM
The Tales of Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card:
Seventh Son; Red Prophet; Prentice Alvin; Journeyman Alvin; Heartfire; The Crystal City

Orson Scott Card is one of my very most favorite authors, although I realize that love is based on a couple series and one other single book.  But this is one of the series' I love him for.  Smart, empathetic, filled with history-- however twisted-- and imaginative.  Delightful and provocative.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on April 14, 2010, 11:02:04 PM
The Death of Methuselah and Other Stories - Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1988
I heard a recording of someone reading Singer's story Disguised contained herein, and found it terribly beautiful. Which is why reading this was such a let down. I wonder if I would pay more attention to the ideas and themes if I was listening instead of reading. As it was, while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it by any means.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on April 16, 2010, 06:32:50 PM
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Volume 1 - Pretty good

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Volume 2 - Pretty great
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 16, 2010, 07:49:59 PM
The Commitments - Roddy Doyle.

The rise and fall of a soul band chronicled in one short (139 pages) book. You got the lead singer who's an attention hog, the pianist that is studying to be a doctor, the veteran of the music business/trumpeter, the back up trio, the guitarist who doesn't know how to play guitar, the bassist (same) and the saxophonist who gets too intellectual for the soul genre and wants to play jazz. Also, they're all Irish and live in the working class northern area of Dublin.

Like I said above, it's short and the characters and story are there. It's not that unusual of a thing, but it is executed perfectly. The majority of the book is dialogue (set off using dashes like Joyce instead of quotation marks) and Doyle does a superb job of giving each of this large cast a unique and interesting voice. Joey The Lips Fagan is the older trumpeter (who played with James Brown among others) and his mix of soul and religion is freaking perfect. Check it!
Quote from: The Commitments
-Brothers, Sisters, said Joey The Lips. -We know that soul is sex. And soul is revolution, yes? So now soul is --- Dignity

-I don't understand tha', said Dean.

-Soul is lifting yourself up, soul is dusting yourself off, soul is ---

-What's he CINECAST!in' on abou'?

-Just this, Brother. ---Soul is diginity. ---Diginity, soul. Dignity is respect. ---Self respect. ---Dignity is pride. Dignity, confidence. Dignity, assertion. (Joey The Lips' upstretched index finger moved in time to his argument. They were glued to it.) -Dignity, integrity. Dignity, elegance. --- Dignity, style.

The finger stopped

-Brothers and Sisters. -----Dignity, dress. ---Dress, suits.

-Dignity CINECAST! dignity off dignity Joey.

So this was awesome, a cracking fun read. Laughs and shoe tapping aplenty (I recommend you read while listening to the people mentioned in the book like Sam Cooke and Wilson Pickett). And the way Doyle writes the songs (lyrics and sounds in CAPS) gets the feeling of the music across wonderfully. Seriously, it's a great little book.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on April 19, 2010, 12:44:11 PM
The Commitments - Roddy Doyle.

 Seriously, it's a great little book.

A.
I should really read this one. I love the film. Have you seen it, J? I can't remember.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 19, 2010, 01:03:26 PM
I'm in the middle of it. I need to watch the rest of it tonight and write a little one pager about it. They're very close so far (the film actually expands on some characters).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 28, 2010, 07:35:58 PM
God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

In sum, Mr. (or Professor?) Hitchens thinks that religion is, and always has been, bad for humanity.  He is not speaking as a former religionist, which assists in the tone, but is looking at the outcome of belief in God as the consummate outsider.  As that, not only does he see it as silly, but more often dangerous than not.

Of course, he has a lot of fodder to his case.  The far majority of people in the history of humanity have been religious, and there have been a lot of people using religion as their excuse to do awful things.  People have killed, abused children, committed genocide, tortured and done any number of other things in the name of one god or another.  His book, if anything, is too short.  Probably an indication that he isn't really trying.  ;)

However, I don't think he really made the case that it is specifically religion that is the problem and not humanity at large.  The very atrocities that he points out have also been done, in equal proportions, by secularists.  This, by itself, isn't a recommendation to religion, but neither it is a drawback.

I think that he could make the case, from his evidence, that most religionists are hypocrites.  Not only is that so well known as to be trite, it unfortunately can be leveled at secularists as well.  In the end, most humans don't know what it is that they believe (or don't believe) and they just do what comes naturally to them.  That either means that God created us a certain way or that God DIDN'T create us a certain way. 

In the end, the discussion is interesting, but as an argument, it doesn't do much for either side.  Good to know a particular opinion in opposition to my own, though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on April 29, 2010, 01:18:41 PM
Nice review, steve.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 29, 2010, 02:33:47 PM
Nana Emile Zola

Sexy time corrupts society.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 30, 2010, 08:42:39 AM
The Crying of Lot 49* Thomas Pynchon

Never before have the textual problems of Jacobean revenge dramas been so fascinating!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on April 30, 2010, 12:14:26 PM
(http://goupstate.us/UserFiles/Image/kick_ass_3_1.jpg)

Breezy fun. Not a long read either (I was done in about 1 1/2 hours). Great artwork. I didn't like the amount of foul language however, that felt like a writer's crutch.


Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on April 30, 2010, 12:16:13 PM
Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness - Pretty fantastic.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on April 30, 2010, 09:52:59 PM
(http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d171/flourish_leslie/selectedwork.jpg)

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, by Reif Larsen

I borrowed this novel several weeks ago from a friend after Reif Larsen gave a talk on campus. Now that the semester's winding up, it's time to return things, so I started reading The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet yesterday afternoon and finished a couple of hours ago. Whenever I took a break from it, I felt called back. What an amazing, wondrous book.

(http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d171/flourish_leslie/spivet01-751025.jpg)

I know photos are something we usually reserve for movies, but a large part of the fun of T.S. Spivet comes from the sidebar footnotes, illustrations, and maps. See, T.S. is a 12-year old cartographer, and that's basically all that I'm going to say about the story of this novel. You'll want to discover it on your own. In fact, here. Let me compile some reasons why you would probably like to read this book.


And many more!

An instant favorite. Joins Middlemarch and 2666 in the list of books I've read in the past year that I will recommend forever.

Okay, I know this review just boils down to exclamatory adjectives, but I really don't want tamper with the precious experience of reading the novel, so please indulge me with your patience.  :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 30, 2010, 11:35:54 PM
T.S. Spivit is certainly going on my queue at my  local library.  Looks great.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on May 01, 2010, 02:00:34 AM
(http://npinopunintended.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/no-country-for-old-men.jpg)

"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from."

Even though I have only read two of McCarthy's novels, The Road and now this, I think he may be my favorite author ever.

I adored this book.  It is just so expertly crafted and had a great pace to it, it hurt to put the book down.  I finished it in just a couple days.

I only had a couple problems while reading it:

      1. Having seen the movie, I couldn't help but picture characters and scenes as they were on screen, and I was always anticipating certain scenes from the film.

      2. I was initially a little disappointed that it was written much in the same way as The Road, as one of my main reasons for loving The Road was that the structure of the writing and the sparse dialog really added to the tone of it.  However, after a little while I stopped caring, because it is so damn good.

      3. Aside from the final chapter/speech, I didn't really like the last few sections.  They felt like they dragged a little bit too much.

These are fairly small things though, and I ate up nearly everything else.  The short conversations between characters seem as though the weight of the world hangs within the words and there would inevitably be at least a line or two every few pages that made me stop reading and think about the profoundness of what was just said, and the eloquence in which it was expressed.  Violent and scenes of conflict had me feeling more alert and worried than most big-budget thrillers, and I never felt lost in the scene.

I am going to head over to Amazon now and buy The Border Trilogy and Blood Meridian.  Must have more McCarthy!

4.5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on May 01, 2010, 09:13:14 AM
Quote
I am going to head over to Amazon now and buy The Border Trilogy and Blood Meridian.  Must have more McCarthy!

 :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on May 01, 2010, 09:40:37 AM
T.S. Spivit is certainly going on my queue at my  local library.  Looks great.

Yay! I hope that you enjoy it, Steve!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Tim on May 02, 2010, 06:40:20 AM

A Nest of Occasionals (Tony Martin, 2009)

This book was such a bloody good read! It has probably been six weeks since I read it, but even now thinking about some of the anecdotes still makes me chuckle.

A Nest of Occasionals is essentially a collection of mostly true anecdotes from the New Zealand comedian Tony Martin. It discusses parts of his childhood in N.Z. and his first few jobs there, and then about some of his early experiences living in Australia. I can relate to a lot of what he says, and his style of story telling is really entertaining. It is perhaps stretched a little here and there to make a more interesting yarn, but never strays too far from the truth.

The thing I really liked about it is that I have always been a big fan of Tony Martin, and although I know little bits of his life from his previous book Lolly Scramble, and from his TV shows and Radio Shows (long live Get This - the only show in the country that would promote Shortbus and Midnight Run.....possibly as a double feature!) it helps fill in a lot of gaps, that don't really need filling, but are just funny to read.

I think anyone would enjoy this book, whether or not they are familiar with Tony Martin, however his use of language is quite colloquial at times, which might make it a harder read for non-australians or non-new zealanders. I also found it was a lot funnier when I had Tony's voice in my head reciting the words to me.

I will have to go and buy this book for myself. The copy I was reading was graciously loaned by flieger, and I am sure I will want to revisit it again.

(http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/cover1/9780330425230.jpg)

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on May 04, 2010, 01:22:19 AM
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

(http://subverseive.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/curious-incident.jpg)

"I think prime numbers are like life.  They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them."

This is my favorite book I have read this year, and I have read a few that I really enjoyed. 

The entire story is told in first-person by an autistic 15 year old, which results in a really charming and unique narrative.  I was never bored by this approach, nor did I ever think that it felt gimmicky. At one point, not quite halfway into the book, I thought that it wouldn't be able to hold up by continuing as it was, but then something happens that pushes the story along and the thought never occurred to me again.

Some passages were hilarious, some were heart-breaking, and some shed an interesting outlook on life that I had never imagined and caused me to mull over the idea in my mind for several minutes.  I am very glad that I got around to reading this finally.

5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on May 06, 2010, 11:37:17 PM
(http://img1.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n25/n128822.jpg)

Behindlings - Nicola Barker

Nicola Barker is an interesting writer. A really great writer, but an interesting one. A messy one. One I really love. There’s a rule that is pretty much standard across the board in writing, best summarised by Strunk & White as “Omit Needless Words”. Barker totally disagrees with this, and it is totally glorious. Consider the following:

“The pigskin was firm to the touch. She tapped at it with her knuckle -  the way you’d tap a tambourine - then she plucked at a string with her index finger. She sniggered, guiltily. It produced that deliciously tinny, utterly distinctive banjo sound - that dizzy twang - that stifled yowl of an angry tabby with it’s tail caught in a malfunctioning cat-flap. She liked it.”

What a crazy, delightful passage. It’s gorgeous language, so evocative, but so over-the-top. You could scrub out half of it and it would be just as evocative, but nowhere near as good, or distinctive.

I think that is perhaps what makes Barker so interesting. She shouldn’t work.  She’s verbose and expansive. She writes stories with no discernible plot and strange, unlikeable characters, and somehow it all works.

Really, really well.

I had an absolute hoot reading this. It’s not necessarily an easy read, and the themes and ideas often sit far deeper in the narrative than is standard in literature, but the search for them is rewarding, and when everything finally comes together in the end, you feel like you’ve read something impressive.

(http://meerchant.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/americangods-hard.jpg)

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is a fascinating figure in the world of writing. He’s probably the biggest superstar in the world of writing, a genuine celebrity, but with the talent and the stories to back it all up. Sandman is a massive achievement not only in the world of comics, of graphic novels, but in the world of writing as a whole.

American Gods is a curious novel. It’s a deeply researched, deeply layered novel that, at it’s centre, deals with a theme familiar to Gaiman, the idea of change vs. death, but it’s dealt with in really interesting and fantastic ways. Even tho he’s dealing with really similar ideas to Sandman, the treatment is so different, and so it never feels like he’s treading water.

He has a really strong gift for character, especially Shadow and Wednesday, and a real feel for story and structure. He’s also got the ability to create a mythology down pat, and it never feels unoriginal or bastardized, although it’s probably both. He doesn’t necessarily have the strongest gift for prose, although that’s really a minor complaint, and it’s not as if it’s bad, just very plain, functional prose. Which probably isn’t a bad thing.

It’s not a novel that’s gonna break my top 20, nor is it one that I’m likely to ever read again. But it’s definitely strong, and totally worth reading. And I definitely can’t wait to further explore Gaiman’s oeuvre.

(http://img1.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n68/n343664.jpg)

Beatrice and Virgil - Yann Martell

Martell is such an fantastic writer. I’ve loved Life of Pi and The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccomatios, and when I heard this was coming out I was super excited. With good reason.

It’s the story of a successful writer, Henry, who writes a novel and an essay on the Holocaust, designed to be shipped together, printed as a flip book, where each half is printed opposite ways up, so that the book can be flipped over and the other part read. His editors turn the book down, and Henry leaves the world of writing. He moves to another city, and there he is sent a Gustave Flaubert short story and a scene from a play. He eventually meets the writer of the play, a taxidermist.

It’s a fascinating novel dealing with art and celebrity, but also dealing with the Holocaust in the most incredible of ways, with the persecuted cast as a donkey named Beatrice and a howler monkey named Virgil.

It’s fantastic, daring writing. It’s a relatively brief book, just on 200 pages, and it only took me probably 3 hours to read it. But it’s so worth it. Really highly recommended.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on May 08, 2010, 11:57:53 AM
(http://img1.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n25/n128822.jpg)



(http://meerchant.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/americangods-hard.jpg)

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is a fascinating figure in the world of writing. He’s probably the biggest superstar in the world of writing, a genuine celebrity, but with the talent and the stories to back it all up. Sandman is a massive achievement not only in the world of comics, of graphic novels, but in the world of writing as a whole.

American Gods is a curious novel. It’s a deeply researched, deeply layered novel that, at it’s centre, deals with a theme familiar to Gaiman, the idea of change vs. death, but it’s dealt with in really interesting and fantastic ways. Even tho he’s dealing with really similar ideas to Sandman, the treatment is so different, and so it never feels like he’s treading water.

He has a really strong gift for character, especially Shadow and Wednesday, and a real feel for story and structure. He’s also got the ability to create a mythology down pat, and it never feels unoriginal or bastardized, although it’s probably both. He doesn’t necessarily have the strongest gift for prose, although that’s really a minor complaint, and it’s not as if it’s bad, just very plain, functional prose. Which probably isn’t a bad thing.

It’s not a novel that’s gonna break my top 20, nor is it one that I’m likely to ever read again. But it’s definitely strong, and totally worth reading. And I definitely can’t wait to further explore Gaiman’s oeuvre.


You should catch the sequel Anansi Boys.  It certainly captures the spirit of the original and it almost has the strength of character.  Both of these are among my favorite novels.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on May 10, 2010, 05:11:57 PM
Maus A Survivor's Tale Part I: My Father Bleeds History

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/98/Maus.jpg)

Look at this cover. It's so cool. I think I'm mostly done with all World War II stuff. I've seen so many films, documentaries, and read so much over the years, fiction, non-fiction, this kind of stuff that is mostly factual, I assume, but also embellished. It's all so dull. There are glimpses, in the genre as a whole, where I enjoy and am interested in what I am reading, but for the most part it falls flat. This novel picks up considerably in the last two chapters, and initially I had no intention to seek out Part II, but I may do that now because the portion about hiding and the trip to Auschwitz was way interesting. Still, the best part of this whole thing is that three or four page break in the middle of his older cartoon about his mother. The artwork, the text, the ideas, they were all so much more developed and fulfilling. I think a lot of the problems I had with the main text was the way the father talks too. I get that's the way he talks, but it's still pretty distracting/annoying to read. Whatever. Is the second part better?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 10, 2010, 08:40:21 PM
The second part is amazing. Totally great in every way.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on May 10, 2010, 09:20:35 PM
(http://i44.tinypic.com/a2vrzt.jpg)

If you are a fan of horse racing this is a must read. it will give you a respect for the unsung grooms of the business. The last chapter is the best chapter. i love that in a book.

8/10
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on May 10, 2010, 10:27:08 PM
The second part is amazing. Totally great in every way.

What do you think of the first part though? Just so I can gauge where you're coming from in relation to where I'm at.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on May 10, 2010, 11:09:31 PM
The second part is amazing. Totally great in every way.

This is so true.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 11, 2010, 12:52:49 AM
The second part is amazing. Totally great in every way.

What do you think of the first part though? Just so I can gauge where you're coming from in relation to where I'm at.

Similar but not equal to you. I was in the same place you are now at the beginning of the second book but by the first couple of pages I was in. It wouldn't hurt to start. I think you'll like where the story goes right away.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on May 11, 2010, 08:39:37 AM
The second part is amazing. Totally great in every way.

What do you think of the first part though? Just so I can gauge where you're coming from in relation to where I'm at.

Similar but not equal to you. I was in the same place you are now at the beginning of the second book but by the first couple of pages I was in. It wouldn't hurt to start. I think you'll like where the story goes right away.

Alright, guess I'll check it out. Will be a while though since my library only has Part I, so they need to order the other one from elsewhere.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: StarCarly on May 11, 2010, 10:05:04 PM
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs (2007)

I really liked this book, but it definitely dragged and stumbled at some points.  I think Jacobs does a good job of balancing the humor of the situations he puts himself in with actually examining them in a fairly serious manner.  He also has a really great casual writing style that is full of personality.  However, a few sections went on a little long and some things he tried to explore didn't end up being too interesting.

If you're interested in reading this, I would suggest reading some of his articles for Esquire magazine, such as My Outsourced Life (http://www.esquire.com/ESQ0905OUTSOURCING_214), which are very similar to how this book is done.

3.5/5

I've only very recently started reading on any kind of a regular basis. (My newest job has a lot of downtime) This one sounded interesting, and I'd say it was. In fact, it was so interesting that I wish he would have elaborated a lot more on his anecdotes. I felt like I was only getting half of the story most of the time. I've just started reading his newest one, The Guinea Pig Diaries, and it is very similar. Shorter chapters about shorter experiments.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on May 11, 2010, 10:58:51 PM
I've only very recently started reading on any kind of a regular basis. (My newest job has a lot of downtime) This one sounded interesting, and I'd say it was. In fact, it was so interesting that I wish he would have elaborated a lot more on his anecdotes. I felt like I was only getting half of the story most of the time. I've just started reading his newest one, The Guinea Pig Diaries, and it is very similar. Shorter chapters about shorter experiments.

Yeah, there are some things I wished he delved further in, while some seemed to drag on.  It was pretty inconsistent, but it held my interest pretty well.

The Guinea Pig Diaries sounds good though.  I think I would prefer him tackling smaller, more nonsensical issues.  I'll have to pick it up sometime.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on May 11, 2010, 11:01:50 PM
I've only very recently started reading on any kind of a regular basis. (My newest job has a lot of downtime) This one sounded interesting, and I'd say it was. In fact, it was so interesting that I wish he would have elaborated a lot more on his anecdotes. I felt like I was only getting half of the story most of the time. I've just started reading his newest one, The Guinea Pig Diaries, and it is very similar. Shorter chapters about shorter experiments.

Yeah, there are some things I wished he delved further in, while some seemed to drag on.  It was pretty inconsistent, but it held my interest pretty well.

The Guinea Pig Diaries sounds good though.  I think I would prefer him tackling smaller, more nonsensical issues.  I'll have to pick it up sometime.

Guinea Pig is as good as Biblically, maybe better.  I wish he had more than an essay on each "experiment", but it was such fun reading that I really couldn't complain.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on May 11, 2010, 11:07:28 PM
I've only very recently started reading on any kind of a regular basis. (My newest job has a lot of downtime) This one sounded interesting, and I'd say it was. In fact, it was so interesting that I wish he would have elaborated a lot more on his anecdotes. I felt like I was only getting half of the story most of the time. I've just started reading his newest one, The Guinea Pig Diaries, and it is very similar. Shorter chapters about shorter experiments.

Yeah, there are some things I wished he delved further in, while some seemed to drag on.  It was pretty inconsistent, but it held my interest pretty well.

The Guinea Pig Diaries sounds good though.  I think I would prefer him tackling smaller, more nonsensical issues.  I'll have to pick it up sometime.

Guinea Pig is as good as Biblically, maybe better.  I wish he had more than an essay on each "experiment", but it was such fun reading that I really couldn't complain.

Good to know!  I'll have to read it after I get through my current stockpile.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on May 17, 2010, 02:09:46 PM
Look Back In Anger (John Osborne, 1956)

Had to read this play for my 20th Century British History course and I quite liked it. I just finished it in one sitting, though it isn't long, and was quite pleased with it. I found myself rooting for the character of Cliff, he seemed like my kind of guy. Obviously Jimmy is the original Angry Young Man, but there was a bit of sympathy for him somehow too. The whole dynamic between Alison and Helena troubled me somewhat. A product of its time I suppose, there were certainly messages of masculinity and femininity in there that were interesting. All in all it was a good read, an easy read. I am fairly curious about the film adaptation now too since I have yet to see that one.

***

Now time to go read A Taste of Honey in one sitting. (The paper on the two is due tomorrow.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on May 17, 2010, 02:10:34 PM
Hard-Boiled Wonderland + The End of the World Haruki Murakami

Fun and funny stuff. Melted brain, possibly.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 17, 2010, 02:33:15 PM
Hard-Boiled Wonderland + The End of the World Haruki Murakami

Fun and funny stuff. Melted brain, possibly.

I love it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on May 17, 2010, 06:24:48 PM
A Taste of Honey (Shelagh Delaney, 1958)

I liked this one better probably, though not by much. They were both good reads, but I think I liked the main character, Jo, better here than with Jimmy and Look Back in Anger. There was just something romantic about her. Her will to face the world and all its challenges and obstacles seemed really empowering to me and her short lived romance with Jimmie. Her romantic side was just something that was really attractive to me. The whole "it doesn't matter so long as we have each other" thing. Also the relationship between Jo and Geof was quite something. Their love for each other was something special and the fact that they weren't "in a relationship" or married didn't bother me because they loved each other nonetheless. There is something to be said about friendships like that. The ending is just as sad and potentially bleak as Look Back in Anger though.

***
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: StarCarly on May 22, 2010, 09:55:50 AM
The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-time (Mark Haddon)

I'd heard of this book years ago and was always intrigued by the concept. It met every expectation. The writing is so simple and direct. Every twist in the story shocked me. Loved it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on May 22, 2010, 01:49:14 PM
The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-time (Mark Haddon)

I'd heard of this book years ago and was always intrigued by the concept. It met every expectation. The writing is so simple and direct. Every twist in the story shocked me. Loved it.

You seem to be reading the same books that I read this year!  I completely loved this as well, I think more people should check it out.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: StarCarly on May 24, 2010, 08:23:59 AM
High Fidelity (Nick Hornby)

This is a wonderful book. It is insightful and funny and has a lot of the same qualities that makes its adaptation my favorite movie of all time. But not enough to say that the book is equal to or greater than the movie. I have often said that the character of Rob is me in male form. The book confirmed that many times over. For example, one of Rob's top 5 favorite movies with subtitles is The Vanishing, which is a film I've championed on the boards. I wish I had highlighted all the passages that just made my heart race a little faster with recognition of a universal truth.

This story is always going to be special to me, and I'd probably even put this in my top 5 books of all time (I think Rob would appreciate that), but ultimately the sections that were cut for the film adaptations were good choices. The ending of the book, for me, lessens the impact of the overall message that the movie conveys. I prefer the version of Laura portrayed in the movie, and I feel like the book abandons the notion that top 5's and mutual interests matter. I'm sad that this book is over, but I'm so excited to start reading Hornby's other work.

Grade: A
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on May 24, 2010, 01:36:41 PM
The Mysterious Mr. Spines-- Wings, Flight, Song by Jason Lethcoe

Every evening I read to my daughters.  We usually read books for teens-- sometimes regular novels, sometimes graphic novels.  This isn't one of my favorites.  The characters aren't developed very well, although it seems to spend a lot of time trying to do that.  He DOES spend a lot of time saying the same thing over and over again and just when the climax could have really wrapped it up well, it wraps it up too quickly.  The end seems to indicate that he's wanting a second set.  If so, I won't be reading it.  2/5

Bone by Jeff Smith
My daughters and I are re-reading this one, the only book we've ever read again in our night time readings.  We can't help it.  It is so great.  It is funny, dramatic, excellent characters, wonderfully drawn and surprises that you don't see coming.  My favorite graphic novel.  5/5

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on May 24, 2010, 10:01:21 PM
High Fidelity (Nick Hornby)

Grade: A
So glad you loved it! I, ultimately, like the book more than the movie, but both are excellent. I think you'll really enjoy About a Boy, too - that's the only other Hornby I've read. (You've remind me that I need to pick up another of his books soon!)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on May 25, 2010, 02:29:41 PM
The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-time (Mark Haddon)

I'd heard of this book years ago and was always intrigued by the concept. It met every expectation. The writing is so simple and direct. Every twist in the story shocked me. Loved it.

I recently read this as well. Loved the concept but by the end was more rooting for it to be over. Liked the first 3/4 of the book. The last 1/4 of the book lost me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: StarCarly on May 30, 2010, 03:34:48 PM
How To Be Good (Nick Hornby)

The first few chapters take on some of my favorite themes: infidelity, sex, guilt, entitlement. I was sure that this was going to be he best.book.ever. Then it takes a very strange almost magical realist turn. Hornby's writing style is so comfortable and easy to read that I still enjoyed the book immensely, but it was not exactly the experience I was looking for.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 05, 2010, 11:09:13 AM
Two comics. One good, one horrible.

(http://aninsideoutsock.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/stitches1cov.jpg)

This was the good one. It tells the story of the author who had a not so great family life and not-so-greater health issues. The story goes pretty much how you would expect, but the emotional impact was there. Not the greatest but not bad, either. And it looks great.

B-.


(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_371L1X49lIw/Sy9zyiPYgKI/AAAAAAAAJ4U/sP4KomLwLsM/s400/GN8141.jpg)

This book was highly recommended. Everybody seems to love it. They're all wrong. It's the worst comic book I've ever read. There are the modern day parts of the story that serve only to explain in very obvious and boring ways the intricacies of logic and the ways it works. It reads like the creators think their audience is dumb. Let me tell you something, if you are writing a comic about Bertrand Russel and the foundations of logic, you aren't going to get people that lol at Family Circus. Assume a degree of intelligence. They even bring in an expert to explain everything again. NOT GOOD.

And the actual story is told in the worst way possible. We see Russel's life as a series of flashbacks which occur as he gives a speech in pre-WWII America. So for a good portion of the book we just see and hear BR talk to people. Also boring. The author says in the book that he is trying to make a story about the characters and the relationship of logic and madness. He says this several times. Unfortunately, with such a poorly written story I didn't care about anything. And the ending! The modern-day author/collaborators characters go to see a dress rehearsal of the Orestia. They then talk through the dramatic ending of the play (whose dialogue also seems dumbed down, though I haven't read the source) about how the ending parallels the ending of their story. Not good, NOT GOOD.

This is probably the worst thing I've read of my own volition. The only reason I finished it is because comics go really fast. Skip it at all costs.

F.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on June 06, 2010, 12:28:53 AM
The Absolute Sandman, Vols. I and II

The Sandman was released as a comic, and then released as a set of graphic novels.  Now it is being released as it should: one long epic, in chronological order. 

I have read a number of the graphic novels before, as I have been able to obtain them, in no particular order.  That was not the way to read the epic.  This is.

Neil Gaiman is amazing and this is one of his very best works.  Sure, the illustration is wonderful, but not usually jaw-dropping.  But Gaiman's story is intense and surprising and fantastic (in both senses) and deeply revealing about humanity. 

The Sandman is must reading for any reader of fantasy.  Or any reader of graphic novels.  Or any reader.

5/5

I still have the third volume to read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 06, 2010, 04:35:51 PM
(http://witwar.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/blankets_01.jpg)

After the two mediocre comics (luckily on loan from the lieberry) from a day ago, Blankets is a breath of fresh air. It is, perhaps, the best comic I've ever read. It's an autobiographical tale of growing up in Wisconsin during the 70's and 80's. We get three main stories, that of Craig and his brother, Craig and his first love, and Craig and God. These stories intertwine beautifully and the writing feels both natural and profound.

And the art! This is how you do black and white drawings. It's gorgeous.
(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/books/macmillan_gms/DWWP_300.jpg)

Seriously, if you want to read something great, pick this one up.

A+.


The Magician's Nephew - C.S. Lewis.

I re-read this for the first time since childood (we're talking pre-teens here) and it was great. A lot of fun ideas and clever writing going on. I will certainly be finishing the series.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on June 06, 2010, 11:30:25 PM
The Magician's Nephew - C.S. Lewis.

I re-read this for the first time since childood (we're talking pre-teens here) and it was great. A lot of fun ideas and clever writing going on. I will certainly be finishing the series.

A.
You should have started with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. :(   Since you've read them before I guess it's not that big a deal, but still.

Glad you enjoyed this so much though! :) I love Narnia.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 06, 2010, 11:45:13 PM
The Magician's Nephew - C.S. Lewis.

I re-read this for the first time since childood (we're talking pre-teens here) and it was great. A lot of fun ideas and clever writing going on. I will certainly be finishing the series.

A.
You should have started with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. :(   Since you've read them before I guess it's not that big a deal, but still.

Glad you enjoyed this so much though! :) I love Narnia.

This is the order the box set I had when I was a kid came in. I didn't even know that there was another order until much later. This is what Lewis has to say:

Quote from:
I think I agree with your [chronological] order for reading the books more than with your mother's. The series was not planned beforehand as she thinks. When I wrote The Lion I did not know I was going to write any more. Then I wrote P. Caspian as a sequel and still didn't think there would be any more, and when I had done The Voyage I felt quite sure it would be the last, but I found I was wrong. So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them. I’m not even sure that all the others were written in the same order in which they were published.

And I always loved The Magician's Nephew.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on June 06, 2010, 11:55:21 PM
The Magician's Nephew - C.S. Lewis.

I re-read this for the first time since childood (we're talking pre-teens here) and it was great. A lot of fun ideas and clever writing going on. I will certainly be finishing the series.

A.
You should have started with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. :(   Since you've read them before I guess it's not that big a deal, but still.

Glad you enjoyed this so much though! :) I love Narnia.

This is the order the box set I had when I was a kid came in. I didn't even know that there was another order until much later. This is what Lewis has to say:

Quote from:
I think I agree with your [chronological] order for reading the books more than with your mother's. The series was not planned beforehand as she thinks. When I wrote The Lion I did not know I was going to write any more. Then I wrote P. Caspian as a sequel and still didn't think there would be any more, and when I had done The Voyage I felt quite sure it would be the last, but I found I was wrong. So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them. I’m not even sure that all the others were written in the same order in which they were published.

And I always loved The Magician's Nephew.
Yes, I read that Lewis quote, too, but I also read this in the Wiki article after it:

"However most scholars disagree with Harper Collins' decision and find the chronological order to be the least faithful to Lewis's intentions[3]. Scholars and readers who appreciate the original order believe that Lewis was simply being gracious to his youthful correspondent and that he could have changed the books' order in his lifetime had he so desired.[5] They maintain that much of the magic of Narnia comes from the way the world is gradually presented in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They believe that the mysterious wardrobe, as a narrative device, is a much better introduction to Narnia than The Magician's Nephew — where the word "Narnia" appears in the first paragraph as something already familiar to the reader. Moreover, they say, it is clear from the texts themselves that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was intended to be read first. When Aslan is first mentioned in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for example, the narrator says that "None of the children knew who Aslan was, any more than you do" — which is nonsensical if one has already read The Magician's Nephew.[6] Other similar textual examples are also cited.[7]"

If you read them when you were a kid as they were re-ordered by Harper Collins', of course, there's not much you can do about that now. I didn't read them them way, so I'm sure that has a lot to do with my preference.

However, I do like the idea of reading them in the order that Lewis imagined them. And he imagined LWW first.

Also, I think it's much more interesting to dive into the Narnian world as it's fully formed rather than beginning from its beginnings. Think, for example, how awesome something like The Matrix is when we are just thrown into that world. We get the history of it later with Neo, but there's an immense rush and gratification for a viewer when your mind is brimming with questions, questions that are gradually answered later once you've already experienced the world a little bit.

And don't think I'm dissing the Magician's Nephew! I love that book. I love all of them.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 06, 2010, 11:58:44 PM
My other big issue is that LWW isn't really my favorite. It's the one I know the most and with the movie I felt like I needed a new place to start. I do like the sense of wonder jumping right into Narnia, but I also love Aslan's song and that whole thing. And the world between worlds is a fantastic idea. I'd love to see an adaptation of it where justice can be done to the ideas. It's full on fantasy at its best.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on June 06, 2010, 11:59:18 PM
Lewis was not a reader of his books, only the writer (as if that isn't enough) and I think that TLTWATW is the best introduction to Narnia.  The Magician's Nephew is fine, I suppose, as an intro but the land itself isn't so wondrous as presented in Lucy's book.  It builds so well, with Aslan as the climax of the land.  And it does matter what order they are read.  The trilogy Caspian-Dawn Treader-Silver Chair really ought to be read that way because the children change and the reasons given are in order.  The Horse and His Boy must be read after TLTWATW because there are small spoilers there.  And, of course, The Last Battle must be read last.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on June 07, 2010, 12:20:53 AM
My other big issue is that LWW isn't really my favorite. It's the one I know the most and with the movie I felt like I needed a new place to start. I do like the sense of wonder jumping right into Narnia, but I also love Aslan's song and that whole thing. And the world between worlds is a fantastic idea. I'd love to see an adaptation of it where justice can be done to the ideas. It's full on fantasy at its best.
I hear you. It is a great book. Difficult to imagine an adaptation that could do it justice. (No movie has done justice to any of them so far. :) )

Lewis was not a reader of his books, only the writer (as if that isn't enough) and I think that TLTWATW is the best introduction to Narnia.  The Magician's Nephew is fine, I suppose, as an intro but the land itself isn't so wondrous as presented in Lucy's book.  It builds so well, with Aslan as the climax of the land.  And it does matter what order they are read.  The trilogy Caspian-Dawn Treader-Silver Chair really ought to be read that way because the children change and the reasons given are in order.  The Horse and His Boy must be read after TLTWATW because there are small spoilers there.  And, of course, The Last Battle must be read last.
Completely agree. I don't think there's much dispute about how to order the Caspian-Dawn Treader-Silver Chair-Last Battle books. Those are clearly sequels. It's just where to put the two prequels.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 10, 2010, 10:44:46 AM
Ex Machina Deluxe Vol 1 (issues 1-11) - Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris.

This is a pretty good series. It's able to deal with both superhero and political issues with relative ease and without making everything seem crazy. And the ideas are cool. And it's a fun read (wouldn't expect anything less from Vaughan).

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on June 10, 2010, 05:19:12 PM
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (by Stieg Larsson, narrated by Simon Vance)

Listened to the audio version of this.  I thought it was a great book.  The story was intricate and interesting and there was good character development. Warning, it is a bit graphic at some points, but that doesn't normally bother me.  I also thought it dragged on a bit at the end, but now that I have started the second book The Girl Who Played with Fire, I can see that Larsson was setting up the next part of the story.  I thought the narration was also very good.  I am going to check out the film this weekend, and I look forward to the next two books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on June 10, 2010, 05:35:52 PM
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (by Stieg Larsson, narrated by Simon Vance)

Listened to the audio version of this.  I thought it was a great book.  The story was intricate and interesting and there was good character development. Warning, it is a bit graphic at some points, but that doesn't normally bother me.  I also thought it dragged on a bit at the end, but now that I have started the second book The Girl Who Played with Fire, I can see that Larsson was setting up the next part of the story.  I thought the narration was also very good.  I am going to check out the film this weekend, and I look forward to the next two books.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is nearly impenetrable, unfortunately.

Also Larsson wrote the text as one long book.  The publisher made the decision to divide the manuscript into three books so they do dovetail nicely.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 12, 2010, 12:03:32 AM
The Sandman Vol 1. Preludes and Nocturnes. - Neil Gaiman.

And so the great re-read begins. I got through maybe four or five of the TPBs a couple of years ago and this summer I want to do the whole thing. So I've read this book three or so times now and I think I finally get most of what's going on. The stuff all works as it should. And it's really engrossing. The 24 hour segment is fantastic and disturbing and great.

A+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on June 12, 2010, 01:57:28 AM
Have you ever read past the fifth TPB?  If not, you are in for a treat.  I think the series remains consistently great through to the end after it finds its footing in the second TPB.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 12, 2010, 09:53:59 AM
I don't really remember where I read. I know I did the one that revealed the missing sibling but I don't even remember what went on in it.

Speaking of rolling...

The Sandman Vol 2. The Doll's House - Neil Gaiman.

Yes, this is a fantastic work of fiction. Everything works. There are ideas here that just astound me (like the Gilbert thing) and the convention is just great. Awesome stuff.

A+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on June 12, 2010, 09:58:16 AM
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is nearly impenetrable, unfortunately.
Impenetrable? I thought it was kind of silly.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 13, 2010, 01:35:31 PM
The Sandman Vol 3. Dream Country - Neil Gaiman.

The least connected story-wise set is just 4 little short stories set within the Sandman universe. Of course, using the word "just" is kind of misleading because these are amazing stories. Calliope is probably the weakest, but the stream of ideas at the end is really interesting. A Dream of a Thousand Cats is right up my alley because cats are awesome and it shows another way of looking at the Sandman himself. A Midsummer Night's Dream is likely the most famous of the Sandman stories and rightfully so. The first time I read it I hadn't read much Shakespeare but after the class I took I got a lot more of the jokes and stuff. It is good stuff. Façade is a story that is right up my alley. I like the philosophical nature of the story, cool stuff. I like the book but its nature prevents it from reaching the heights of some of the other, longer stories as a whole.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 20, 2010, 11:02:54 PM
The Sandman Vol 4. Season of Mists - Neil Gaiman.

This is my favorite so far. I love this kind of stuff. When the key to Hell is given to Dream he has to find a way to do something with it that makes sense. A hard task when everybody from demons to faeries to a cardboard box wants to control the vast kingdom. Political intrigue and drunkeness abound and I had a great time reading it. Gaiman is flashing his knowledge of tales from all over at us and I drink it up.

MILKSHAKE!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 20, 2010, 11:08:46 PM
The Sandman Vol 5. A Game of You - Neil Gaiman.

Here a young woman is sucked into a corner of the Dream land and must fight the evil Cuckoo to survive. It's gory as all get out, especially early on, and that sets the stakes for what could have been just a fantasy story with little impact or relevance. Luckily Gaiman continues to be a stupidly awesome writer. Not the best of the series but certainly a good read.

A-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on June 20, 2010, 11:54:15 PM
Season of Mists is, I think, my favorite Sandman thus far.  A Game of You is certainly my least favorite.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on June 24, 2010, 01:11:40 PM
The Twits by Roald Dahl, read/performed by Simon Callow (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060852712/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_2?ie=UTF8&cloe_id=14afe06b-225b-4d84-883c-2073826fe32f&attrMsgId=LPWidget-A2&pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0060091266&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=18SWSH0YGD75PYDZBC4K)

Absolutely  marvelous.

Listened to this on our way up to Canada on Monday morning, and I think Uri and I enjoyed even more than our children, if that's possible.
Callow reads it brilliantly, and the book itself is classic Dahl, hilarious and very mischievous.

"You twit!" has taken on a whole new resonance.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: michael x on June 30, 2010, 12:55:46 AM
The Big Short - Michael Lewis at the top of his game. He is so good at finding the interesting characters in a story while explaining complicated financial concepts in a simple and logical manner.

Destiny Disrupted - Very readable general history of the Islamic world. Rather than write a completely Westernized history, the author lets religion, culture, wars, and politics remain intertwined, like they did in actuality. It's not academically rigorous - this book is for the casual reader who wonders how Muslims see the History of the World. For example, many of the early events surrounding The Prophet and subsequent Imams are obviously legends and myths, so it's disappointing to see them treated so factually and uncritically in an otherwise informative book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on June 30, 2010, 01:09:00 AM


Destiny Disrupted - Very readable general history of the Islamic world. Rather than write a completely Westernized history, the author lets religion, culture, wars, and politics remain intertwined, like they did in actuality. It's not academically rigorous - this book is for the casual reader who wonders how Muslims see the History of the World. For example, many of the early events surrounding The Prophet and subsequent Imams are obviously legends and myths, so it's disappointing to see them treated so factually and uncritically in an otherwise informative book.

I'm going to look for this.  I think it's important for some histories to be written from the point of view of another culture, so that we can understand them.  If we keep an arm's distance from their viewpoint, to remain objective, we will never really understand them.  Knowledge comes with acceptance.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: michael x on June 30, 2010, 05:25:18 PM


Destiny Disrupted - Very readable general history of the Islamic world. Rather than write a completely Westernized history, the author lets religion, culture, wars, and politics remain intertwined, like they did in actuality. It's not academically rigorous - this book is for the casual reader who wonders how Muslims see the History of the World. For example, many of the early events surrounding The Prophet and subsequent Imams are obviously legends and myths, so it's disappointing to see them treated so factually and uncritically in an otherwise informative book.

I'm going to look for this.  I think it's important for some histories to be written from the point of view of another culture, so that we can understand them.  If we keep an arm's distance from their viewpoint, to remain objective, we will never really understand them.  Knowledge comes with acceptance.

Definitely do! I think you'll like it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Emiliana on July 02, 2010, 05:35:52 PM
Nocturnes - Five Stories of Music and Nightfall
by Kazuo Ishiguro

I like/love all three of Ishiguro's novels that I have read so far, and this collection of short stories is as beautifully written and evocative as you would expect. Plus, all of them are about music, and people "at some moment of reckoning", as the blurb on the back of the book informs me, so I thought there was no way that this could go wrong. And I absolutely loved the first story - three-dimensional characters you knew and cared about after only a page or two, and a beautiful and melancholic plot that suited the city of Venice where it was set. After that, the other stories were about different people in different parts of the world, but they all shared a quality of loss, of break-up, of melancholia, of unfulfilled dreams and ambitions, both musically and romantically, and of extremely uncertain futures, so that by the end of the book, I had read something quite beautiful, but I was utterly depressed. I probably should have spread the stories out over a longer period of time, but of course I didn't know that beforehand.

I'm reading Mark Kermode's It's only a Movie now - that should help raise my spirits :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on July 02, 2010, 05:50:22 PM
Nocturnes - Five Stories of Music and Nightfall
by Kazuo Ishiguro
That sounds lovely. I'm beginning my list of book ideas for my book group's new year (we'll decide on books in August), and I've been thinking of suggesting an Ishiguro, maybe The Remains of the Day, but I've never read any of his stuff.

What do you recommend?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Emiliana on July 02, 2010, 06:21:48 PM
Nocturnes - Five Stories of Music and Nightfall
by Kazuo Ishiguro
That sounds lovely. I'm beginning my list of book ideas for my book group's new year (we'll decide on books in August), and I've been thinking of suggesting an Ishiguro, maybe The Remains of the Day, but I've never read any of his stuff.

What do you recommend?

Remains of the Day, definitely. It probably works better if you haven't seen the film (have you?), but even if you have, please please read the book! Such beautiful prose... Actually, it is far and away my favourite of his novels. There is so much detail, texture and atmosphere in the 1930s English country house setting, the characters and plot are extremely well-drawn, and they reveal their layers very slowly, almost imperceptibly, but there is sooooo much there. All this works so brilliantly because of the narrative voice that Ishiguro chooses: the first person narration of someone with clearly limited experiences and views, and also limited access/insight into what is happening. So you get endless questions about ideology, tradition vs. modernisation, class, politics, love...  So, um, yeah, I'd recommend that one!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on July 02, 2010, 07:23:31 PM
Nocturnes - Five Stories of Music and Nightfall
by Kazuo Ishiguro
That sounds lovely. I'm beginning my list of book ideas for my book group's new year (we'll decide on books in August), and I've been thinking of suggesting an Ishiguro, maybe The Remains of the Day, but I've never read any of his stuff.

What do you recommend?

Remains of the Day, definitely. It probably works better if you haven't seen the film (have you?), but even if you have, please please read the book! Such beautiful prose... Actually, it is far and away my favourite of his novels. There is so much detail, texture and atmosphere in the 1930s English country house setting, the characters and plot are extremely well-drawn, and they reveal their layers very slowly, almost imperceptibly, but there is sooooo much there. All this works so brilliantly because of the narrative voice that Ishiguro chooses: the first person narration of someone with clearly limited experiences and views, and also limited access/insight into what is happening. So you get endless questions about ideology, tradition vs. modernisation, class, politics, love...  So, um, yeah, I'd recommend that one!
I've seen the film, yes, but honestly, I don't remember it much - it's been years - just remember liking it. Anyway, the book sounds perfect!! I'll definitely be putting it forward as an idea to the rest of the group.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on July 03, 2010, 12:44:29 AM
Persepolis 2

The two volumes of Presepolis are clearly based on Maus.  Not only because it is in two volumes, but it is an autobiographical graphic novel, in which parents play a large part and it talks about prejudice and the atrocities of war.  However, if anything, Persepolis is more fascinating than Maus.  Maus certainly gains points for originality, but Persepolis gets points for humor and a kind of inside-out point of view of the Iranian revolution.  Marjane Satrapi has such a unique perspective, and she has a powerful and entertaining voice.

One other point: Reading these volumes reminds me of the many Iranian immigrants I have known and their struggles.  Bijan, who lived with my family as he was beginning school just as the revolution broke out.  My wife's boss, Hooshi, who was Jewish and had his own unique perspective on his home country.  And, most of all, Nadja, who went to school with me, was a businesswoman in Paris and Germany and just died of a stroke this last year.  Iran has an unbelievably rich and complex culture and I strongly agree with Ms. Satrapi that it should not be stifled by a mono-cultural perspective.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on July 03, 2010, 09:06:40 PM
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/21/TheFountainhead.jpg)

"I am a man who does not exist for others"


I was surprised by how much I liked this book, and how much I agreed with Rand's line of thought (though be it maybe more in theory than in practice and faaar less extreme than her).  Howard Roark is an interesting main character and I was always wanting to see how he would deal with each situation he faced.  And to top it off, I found Rand's writing very nuanced and clever, and the words flowed so well that I would read for hours without realizing it.  However, I do feel that it was a bit long and meandered a little towards the end.  I'm glad I read it, and I will consider checking out Atlas Shrugged sometime now.

4/5



Wicked by Gregory Maguire (1995)

(http://www.jimhillmedia.com/mb/images/upload/Wicked-Book-Cover-web.jpg)

"The more civilized we become, the more horrendous our entertainments"


I really enjoyed Maguire's writing in this book, but it ultimately didn't work for me.  I should acknowledge that some of this might have to do with my misconception that it would be a sort of parallel companion piece to The Wizard of Oz along the lines of Ender's Shadow (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ender's_Shadow) to Ender's Game.  Reading it though, I felt that it only really had the loosest of connections to the source material, and would be barely different had it just have created its own world.

While I thought the characters were strong and well defined for the most part, they began to make strange decisions that seemed very inconsistent to me as the story went on, which disengaged me from the book.  Similarly, I thought the pacing of the novel was all over the place, sometimes linger in uninteresting bits, and then rushing through sections that could have used more explanation.

This is a shame because it was still very readable and I like the voice that Maguire gives the characters and the way he writes descriptive text.  I still may give the next book in the series a shot at some point though.

2.5/5

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: StarCarly on July 04, 2010, 09:33:12 AM
(http://img.infibeam.com/img/dc11daa6/607/1/9780573691607.jpg)

Quick read, very funny. I'd kill to see the play.

Grade: B+
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on July 05, 2010, 01:40:17 AM
The Appeal  by John Grisham

There are three kinds of Grisham novels.  There are the standard hero-lawyer stories that made his name, such as The Firm and even though different, The Testament.  Then there are the more recent light non-law novels such as Skipping Christmas and Playing for Pizza.  And then there are a couple books that could be non-fiction, if his research went a different way: The Chamber and The Appeal.

These books are more about process than character.  They are exposes on a complication issue in law, explaining why they are so complicated.  For this reason, they are fascinating and informative, but they don't work for me as novels.  Especially in The Appeal, there is no central character, and the writing is stilted compared to Grisham's usual easy flow.  As a discription of the connection between the higher courts, politics and corporations, it is eye-opening.  But now I wish I had read it as a non-fiction book so I would know what information was invented and what is an accurate representation of the process.

3.5/5-- probably one of my least favorites of Grisham's, but still good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 07, 2010, 12:33:25 AM
The Magicians - Lev Grossman

Though I don't really like to do this, the book is Harry Potter if Narnia was a part of it and all the characters had a lot of sex. Yes, there's a school for magicians, but it's more like college than high school and it's in upstate New York. And it only takes up half of the book. And there is a book series about young British kids that travel to a magical world and fight an evil woman. Except none of these things is how they seem. And there's a lot of sex.

With seven years of magic school in the form of Harry Potter, it'd be easy to write the first half of the book in such a way that the reader would get bored. Fortunately, Grossman knows the dangerous land he walks and navigates the pitfalls well. Only one scene takes place in a classroom (and what a scene it is!) and the Quidditch stand-in works pretty well in that it's more like chess with black holes than basketball with broomsticks. There's a fun sequence involving geese and the south pole, too. And lots of sex.

I won't go into the second half of the book, but let's just say that it switches over to being more like one of the other influences. And there's a lot of sex. Grossman captures the feeling that goes with both wanting more from your life and realizing that what you got is pretty damn good. It's tone isn't often light, but the dark humor keeps a reader interested when the characters start being mean to each other. This ain't your father's Harry Potter (or maybe it is, with all the sex involved).

It's a good summer read. It treads familiar ground but takes a new and interesting path while Grossman writes a good sentence and creates realistic characters. Well worth a look-see.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 11, 2010, 11:09:38 AM
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

I'll never tell (until July 25th).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on July 11, 2010, 11:20:17 AM
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

I'll never tell (until July 25th).

I think you can tell before then. I think we're all just posting as we go, but that the dates are the times to move on to the next book/film. Does that sound right, Corndog?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on July 11, 2010, 12:06:21 PM
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

I'll never tell (until July 25th).

I think you can tell before then. I think we're all just posting as we go, but that the dates are the times to move on to the next book/film. Does that sound right, Corndog?

Sounds about right. I think I would prefer you wait until the second week of the two week window though. But in reality it doesn't matter all that much, just try and get 'em in before the deadline is all.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 11, 2010, 12:09:48 PM
Ah, gotcha. I'm still gonna wait 'til I watch the film.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on July 11, 2010, 11:53:52 PM
The Lightning Thief

For a young adult novel, this was a lot of fun.  It moved along quickly, had interesting characters, surprised me a few times and, most of all-- it was accurate with Greek myths.  I can't wait to read the next book.  I also can't wait to not see the movie.  So much happens here that they can't help but ruin the book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 11, 2010, 11:58:00 PM
So much happens here that they can't help but ruin the book.

My family tells me that this is true. I haven't verified yet.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 13, 2010, 01:02:34 AM
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Written by J.K. Rowling, Read by Stephen Fry)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on July 13, 2010, 11:44:46 AM
(http://i30.tinypic.com/outvdh.jpg)

Right up there with Ball Four, Game of Shadows, The Bronx Zoo, and Feeding The Monster as absolute must reading for the baseball fanatic.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on July 13, 2010, 04:12:45 PM
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985)


(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mfMRTBDpgkM/SN2-LzevTDI/AAAAAAAABEc/p5BHZ_UW2dQ/s400/Picture+1.png)


"I was afraid I was goin to die and then I was afraid I wasnt"

McCarthy has a way of creating a tone somehow that just completely pulls me into his writing.  Looking at it on the surface, it seems like the type of writing I wouldn't enjoy, as it has a lot of run on sentences and describes mundane activities often and repetitively.  However, it all just adds to the feel of each scene and the characters and kept me interested the entire time.

The story, in short, is about "The Kid" that falls in with a gang around the Texas/Mexico border who hunt Indians and collect their scalps for the large bounties placed upon them.  This allows for a bunch of great battle/showdown scenes that are beautifully described and intense.  I wasn't really into most of the characters for awhile, but it really is a slow burn, and by the end there is a decent cast that I genuinely cared for or hated. 

This being my third McCarthy novel (the others being The Road, perhaps my personal favorite book of all time, and No Country For Old Men (http://filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=4769.msg444508#msg444508)), I can officially cement him as my number one author.  I'm looking forward to reading The Border Trilogy soon.

4.5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on July 13, 2010, 05:17:12 PM
About Blood Meridian, Candace said McCarthy's language was much more lush than in The Road. It was more lush in All the Pretty Horses, but there were sections of sparseness, like The Road. I'd be interested to know if McCarthy got more and more sparse through his writing career or if The Road is a singularity, the language chosen to express the landscape.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on July 14, 2010, 12:55:24 AM
It's hard to say, but from my experience the language has grown more sparse with each novel chronologically, but it fits the type of story being told very well in each case.  Blood Meridian has a lot more descriptive language than a remember from The Road, but it is still very direct.  It has quick, one sentence exchanges between characters, but there are some sections where characters talk over multiple pages.

Either way, the writing is damn captivating and I am just overcome with a sort of serene sense of place while reading his work.  It feels like the world he's describing has always existed there in this way and I've always been a part of it.  It's really hard to explain, but I just love his text.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 15, 2010, 11:17:02 AM
The Gates by John Connolly.

The author of our very first book club outing (The Book of Lost Things) returns to the world of fantasy. This time he imagines a world where a glitch in the LHC at CERN sends off one little particle to a small house in a small English house to open a portal to Hell. A young boy watches his neighbors in the basement get eaten and replaced by demons. From there the plot is pretty clear, the bad guys will try to open the titular gates and the good guys will try to stop them. It's a relatively short book, only 300 really fast pages and they go by even faster thanks to the hilarious wit on display. There's a level of whimsy and playfulness even as the later chapters describe the demon horde entering and trying to destroy the town. And Samuel, the young boy who witnesses the first demons' evil deeds, is a pretty funny and clever character. He gets in trouble for asking why so many angels would want to dance on the head of a pin and emailing CERN about what he saw at his neighbor's basement. Like I said, it's fun and short, no reason not to read it. And you can learn about quantum physics!

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: IDrinkYourMilkshake on July 18, 2010, 06:51:41 PM
The Longest Cocktail Party.
An insiders diary of The Beatles, their milion-dollar Apple empire and its wild rise and fall....


"This is a f**king brilliant book" - Noel Gallagher.

Yeah, its ok.... funny, but the potential is definitely there to make it a f**king brilliant film:

http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1653086/ (http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1653086/)

apparently its being produced by the same team that made 24 Hour Party People, and the source material is absolutely ideal for that kind of treatment.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on July 19, 2010, 09:51:06 AM
(http://i29.tinypic.com/54d4s5.jpg)

it is a book twinkie. not much nitritional value but it tastes great.

the story sucks you in and patterson's 3 page chapters really make you read 1 more, then 1 more, next thing you know you have been reading for 3 hours.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on July 19, 2010, 10:07:23 AM
(http://i29.tinypic.com/54d4s5.jpg)

it is a book twinkie. not much nitritional value but it tastes great.

the story sucks you in and patterson's 3 page chapters really make you read 1 more, then 1 more, next thing you know you have been reading for 3 hours.
See the name at the bottom of the cover.  He wrote the book.  Patterson comes up with a story idea, hires a writer, and edits the final copy.  He's not really a writer at all.  He plays a lot of golf though, on your dollar.

This isn't to say the book is good or bad or a twinkie or whatever.  
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on July 19, 2010, 10:10:05 AM
(http://i29.tinypic.com/54d4s5.jpg)

it is a book twinkie. not much nitritional value but it tastes great.

the story sucks you in and patterson's 3 page chapters really make you read 1 more, then 1 more, next thing you know you have been reading for 3 hours.
See the name at the bottom of the cover.  He wrote the book.  Patterson comes up with a story idea, hires a writer, and edits the final copy.  He's not really a writer at all.  He plays a lot of golf though, on your dollar.

This isn't to say the book is good or bad or a twinkie or whatever.  
yeah, i know, but the style is Patterson. Back when he actually wrote his books it was like that as well. Besides, it is easier for me to remember James Patterson than peter De Jonge or whomever is writing this month's book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on July 19, 2010, 03:10:21 PM
The Road (Cormac McCarthy)

The man read this book. While reading, he thought back to the days before the great fires. As a child, his mother read "Robinson Crusoe." The Man liked that book. The man liked this book too, but it wasn't as good as that book. The man liked the boy in this book. The boy perfectly captured the spirit of a child. The man put the book down for a while after the kettle scene. It was a bit too much for the man.

The man thought he should rate this book, but he didn't. The man would only say that it kept the fire going, and that was enough.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on July 31, 2010, 05:14:42 PM
(http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d171/flourish_leslie/51VA9GT0X1L.jpg)

Well, that was beautiful/wonderful/memorable/understated/lovely. Recommend. Recommend very much.

Guess I need to read that Ghost World thing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on July 31, 2010, 08:29:38 PM
(http://www.newcomicreviews.com/GHM/columns/A+/archives/images/road1.jpg)

This was simply amazing.  I love it when a book has such excellent pacing.  And the art was well done as well.  It reads just like the movie, which is good, but I need to see the film again to note the differences.  Which I will, since it's on my Top 100 Marathon.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 31, 2010, 09:43:50 PM
Perdido Street Station - China Mieville.

Only my second or so voyage into the urban fantasy/sci-fi genre and boy does Mieville go heavy on the city-building. Damn. I can't say I really got a sense of where things were in relation to others (though admitedly I didn't try that hard, didn't look at the map provided once), but it was hugely successful in creating a mood of the city. New Crobuzon is a hodge-podge, hot, smelly, breaking down city and the descriptions piled on top of each other go a long way to create the mood. Then there's the story, which is also pretty cool. There's a fat scientist as the lead, which is something that doesn't happen often. The sci-fi elements are great, crisis engines that are fueled on things going wrong and a small cleaning robot that may be more than it seems. And the fantasy elements are wonderful, especially all the different creatures that inhabit the city like the cactus men and the Weaver, a god-like spider that travels through multiple dimensions at once and speaks in one long monologue. And there's even a glimpse of Hell.

And I haven't even gotten to the whole idea of the book. There's a moth, see, and it's big and it eats people's subconscious. That's a great concept and it works well, though some of the portions where we see the world from their point of view could have been more... strange than they were. For such a radical creature their sections should be crazier, I'd think. Anyways. It's a huge book and I wasn't really ever tired of it. There are some truly scary scenes, especially those that describe human evils rather than the monster ones. If there's one idea in this book that stands out it's that of the Remade. You know those places where you get your hand chopped off for stealing something? The Remade are humans that are punished by having their arms replaced by robot arms or praying mantis arms or their heads are twisted around 180 degrees and even more horrific things. There's a story about a woman who kills her baby and what her Remaking is will stay with me for quite some time.

Mieville's world-building status cannot be denied. He's a master at it and the story and emotions are present and well done. As this is the first of three books set in New Corbuzon I'm sure I'll be checking out the others shortly.

A-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on August 01, 2010, 01:41:25 AM
(http://www.newcomicreviews.com/GHM/columns/A+/archives/images/road1.jpg)

I hate it when I don't know that a film was derived from a book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 01, 2010, 02:12:47 AM
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Written by J. K. Rowling, read by Stephen Fry)

A new year and a new mystery.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on August 02, 2010, 08:23:51 PM
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (by Stieg Larsson, narrated by Simon Vance)

Listened to the audio version of this.  I thought it was a great book.  The story was intricate and interesting and there was good character development. Warning, it is a bit graphic at some points, but that doesn't normally bother me.  I also thought it dragged on a bit at the end, but now that I have started the second book The Girl Who Played with Fire, I can see that Larsson was setting up the next part of the story.  I thought the narration was also very good.  I am going to check out the film this weekend, and I look forward to the next two books.

Just finished The Girl Who Played with Fire on audiobook.  I enjoyed this story as well, though not as much as the first.  I figured out parts of the story well before they were revealed, and thanks to the movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I knew what "all the evil" was.  It was still gripping and entertaining though.  On to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 02, 2010, 08:54:35 PM
ses, did you ever say what you thought of P.D. James? I remember you starting a book of hers a while back?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on August 02, 2010, 08:57:31 PM
ses, did you ever say what you thought of P.D. James? I remember you starting a book of hers a while back?

I read her first Adam Dalgliesh novel, Cover Her Face.  I thought it was a light, fun, very British detective crime novel.  You don't learn much about Dalgliesh, rather you spend time more with the characters involved in the murder mystery, I do want to read more in this series, just haven't been able to yet. I hope to learn more about Dalgliesh, because he seems like an intriguing character. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 02, 2010, 09:02:46 PM
ses, did you ever say what you thought of P.D. James? I remember you starting a book of hers a while back?

I read her first Adam Dalgliesh novel, Cover Her Face.  I thought it was a light, fun, very British detective crime novel.  You don't learn much about Dalgliesh, rather you spend time more with the characters involved in the murder mystery, I do want to read more in this series, just haven't been able to yet. I hope to learn more about Dalgliesh, because he seems like an intriguing character. 
Cool. :) Yes, it's light - but fun, as you say. Solid genre writing, I think. And yeah, I enjoyed following Dalgliesh through her novels.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 03, 2010, 11:51:49 AM
The Sandman: Brief Lives - Neil Gaiman.

And we finally learn about the enigmatic and elusive member of the Endless that left the family 300 years ago. This was kind of a weird one for me, though. I really liked everything that happened but there wasn't anything that touched me emotionally. Perhaps the best part was when Delirium had to pull herself together in order to keep they quest going. That was great. Overall, good but not great.

B.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on August 05, 2010, 09:39:26 PM
(http://i34.tinypic.com/2mhug0j.jpg)

A macabre retelling of Kipling's The Jungle Book - awesome - as usual Gaiman create a world that is both fantastic, a little creepy and hugely inviting.
Please check it out if you can.
9/10
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 05, 2010, 09:53:23 PM
Sounds interesting! I really liked Coraline; I'll have to check this out.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on August 05, 2010, 09:58:19 PM
I was sorry to finish it...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on August 06, 2010, 01:41:14 AM
The Sandman: Brief Lives - Neil Gaiman.

And we finally learn about the enigmatic and elusive member of the Endless that left the family 300 years ago. This was kind of a weird one for me, though. I really liked everything that happened but there wasn't anything that touched me emotionally. Perhaps the best part was when Delirium had to pull herself together in order to keep they quest going. That was great. Overall, good but not great.

B.

Delirium is one of my favorite characters of all time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Emiliana on August 06, 2010, 04:03:01 AM
The Graveyard Book is wonderful! I listened to the unabridged audiobook version read by Gaiman himself - maybe you could try to find that version if you do check it out, OAD?!?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 06, 2010, 05:51:49 AM
The Sandman: Brief Lives - Neil Gaiman.

And we finally learn about the enigmatic and elusive member of the Endless that left the family 300 years ago. This was kind of a weird one for me, though. I really liked everything that happened but there wasn't anything that touched me emotionally. Perhaps the best part was when Delirium had to pull herself together in order to keep they quest going. That was great. Overall, good but not great.

B.

Delirium is one of my favorite characters of all time.

She's so well written and sad. They're all kind of sad, except for Death. I guess that's the point.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 06, 2010, 11:21:46 AM
The Graveyard Book is wonderful! I listened to the unabridged audiobook version read by Gaiman himself - maybe you could try to find that version if you do check it out, OAD?!?
Oh, that's a great idea! I have so little time to sit down and read; I get through audio books much more quickly. I'll see if my library has it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on August 07, 2010, 11:12:32 AM

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

"The rules are the only thing we've got!""

Almost everyone I know read this in high school, but for some reason I did not.  I wish I had, because this is exactly the kind of book I would have loved then, and still love now.  We see people and civilization at its highest-highs and lowest-lows. I could feel my muscles tense as I read through some of the dangerous sequences. I loved how much of the early happenings tie together with what happens at the climax and the end, and how much is told through imagery rather than outright said by the characters.

The main characters are superbly drawn and meaning can be read into each of their beings in so many ways. Having them be young kids is brilliant, as it adds a weird sort of innocence to them, even though they can commit the most heinous crimes. The antagonists are not simply evil, but believably resort to their actions in a way that makes me feel the frustration of the protagonists.  No character is completely flawed or without error, the must rely on their combined strengths to survive, but they are too young to realize it.

I really liked this and I'm sure I'll be thinking about it for quite awhile.

4.5/5


I didn't read it in high school, either, so I sought it out.  I loved it, it was very provocative.  My wife hated it.  Oh well.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on August 07, 2010, 11:22:37 AM
I like provocative books! He's got another book called The Spire that is pretty amazing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on August 09, 2010, 09:39:56 PM
The City & The City by China Miéville (2009)

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/d/d1/Mieville_City_2009_UK.jpg/200px-Mieville_City_2009_UK.jpg)

"He walked with equipoise, possibly in either city. Schrödinger’s pedestrian."

This "weird fiction" novel is essentially a murder mystery in an unusual city(s). Besźel and Ul Qoma occupy much of the same physical space as one another, but people can only live in one or the other.  Those living in Besźel must ignore, or "unsee" the people and buildings in Ul Qoma, and vice versa, or risk the swift justice of "Breach" for crossing these invisible lines. Of course, the murder is strangely connected to both places at once, allowing a deep look into the relationship between them.

This concept just completely hooked me when I heard about it. I don't think the set-up of the cities works entirely, but it is a very complex idea. I found myself asking too many "What if..." questions during the exposition that were never really addressed and found a lot of the reasoning a little underwritten.  I think it was a mistake to set this in the modern real world (mentions of Canada, America, and Britain are made) because it makes me constantly try to fit it into what it would be like if that place actually existed now, rather than allowing for a disconnect that the future or another world would allow.

Once the exposition is over and you can accept the rules of the cities, the story becomes a fantastic ride. I became really attached to the main character, Inspector Borlu, and ate up the morsels of information they fed to the more mysterious aspects of the cities, such as Breach. I don't know if Miéville has any plans for it, but I would love to read another tale set in this world now that I have become attached to it.

3.5/5


I really enjoyed this book and I also wanted to read more about this city - also he makes hints of other cities with duel nature like Besźel and Ul Qoma - I think Jerusalem was one....what an exciting possibility.

 I am just starting on a China Meiville marathon - in the middle of Perdido Street Station and plan on reading all of his Bas-Lag Novels... ;D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 09, 2010, 11:50:28 PM
The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason.

This is a wonderful little book. At little over two hundred pages it makes for a quick read. It's a collection of short stories (though it's called "A Novel") which purport to be lost sections or retellings of parts of Homer's Odyssey and Iliad. The more successful stories play with both the connections to the original story and the emotional impact that a bit of a change brings. In one story we find that Polyphemus, the cyclops that Odysseus blinds, carries out his revenge by telling the story of his tormentor, Nobody, and putting him through countless struggles which eventually become the Odyssey. It's a great origin for the story and it really makes the vengeance aspect clear and touching.

The other sections that work great are the ones that deal with the act of mythmaking. In one story we see Odysseus as a coward that runs away during the early days of the Trojan war and becomes a bard who makes himself into the hero of his own songs. Yet another involves Agamemnon ordering an assassination on Odysseus who ends up receiving his own kill order and sends back a message that he is hot on his own tail. The stories are mostly under five pages and they mostly work in at least one way. Whether it be the emotional journey that one story has Odysseus going on as he returns to all the locations of his great journey home many years later or the cleverness of the story where Agamemnon requires Odysseus to learn everything in the entire world and then condense it down to a book, then a sentence, then a word. I only skipped one story after it wasn't going anywhere.

A knowledge of the Odyssey and Iliad aren't required but certainly do help. Either way its a fun and moving story (or stories) and one to seek out.

A.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on August 10, 2010, 07:43:23 AM
also he makes hints of other cities with duel nature like Besźel and Ul Qoma - I think Jerusalem was one....what an exciting possibility.

Actually, this was just referring to how there was a convention about "dual cities" that included Besźel and Ul Qoma with Berlin and Jerusalem, and how people didn't understand their situation because Jerusalem and Berlin just have histories of their cities being split (the Berlin wall, East Jerusalem being captured by Jordan in 1948), and are really nothing like unseeing.

I'd be interested in hearing what Miéville's other books are like though for sure.  I see Junior is reading some as well, so I hope you guys put up your thoughts on here after.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 10, 2010, 09:38:10 AM
I already did and will continue to do so!

Perdido Street Station - China Mieville.

Only my second or so voyage into the urban fantasy/sci-fi genre and boy does Mieville go heavy on the city-building. Damn. I can't say I really got a sense of where things were in relation to others (though admitedly I didn't try that hard, didn't look at the map provided once), but it was hugely successful in creating a mood of the city. New Crobuzon is a hodge-podge, hot, smelly, breaking down city and the descriptions piled on top of each other go a long way to create the mood. Then there's the story, which is also pretty cool. There's a fat scientist as the lead, which is something that doesn't happen often. The sci-fi elements are great, crisis engines that are fueled on things going wrong and a small cleaning robot that may be more than it seems. And the fantasy elements are wonderful, especially all the different creatures that inhabit the city like the cactus men and the Weaver, a god-like spider that travels through multiple dimensions at once and speaks in one long monologue. And there's even a glimpse of Hell.

And I haven't even gotten to the whole idea of the book. There's a moth, see, and it's big and it eats people's subconscious. That's a great concept and it works well, though some of the portions where we see the world from their point of view could have been more... strange than they were. For such a radical creature their sections should be crazier, I'd think. Anyways. It's a huge book and I wasn't really ever tired of it. There are some truly scary scenes, especially those that describe human evils rather than the monster ones. If there's one idea in this book that stands out it's that of the Remade. You know those places where you get your hand chopped off for stealing something? The Remade are humans that are punished by having their arms replaced by robot arms or praying mantis arms or their heads are twisted around 180 degrees and even more horrific things. There's a story about a woman who kills her baby and what her Remaking is will stay with me for quite some time.

Mieville's world-building status cannot be denied. He's a master at it and the story and emotions are present and well done. As this is the first of three books set in New Corbuzon I'm sure I'll be checking out the others shortly.

A-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Abomination on August 10, 2010, 10:53:11 AM
I must have missed that review earlier, sounds great though.

Miéville certainly has a way with words and can create a compelling world, even if I thought he stumbled with it a few times. I'll definitely put some of his other stuff in my queue.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 15, 2010, 07:49:26 PM
WARNING! THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR THE THIRD BOOK THROUGHOUT THIS REVIEW. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Written by J.K. Rowling, Read by Stephen Fry.

The third Harry Potter book is widely acclaimed as one of the best in the series. I certainly always liked it and upon revisiting it I began to understand why. While the first book is mainly concerned with world building and the second with a bit of increase in stakes, the third story starts the emotional journey in a very significant way. The best parts of the earlier books were the parts about Harry and his family, the mirror of Erised and the book of photos in particular. So when the man that led Voldemort to Harry's parents escapes from the wizard's jail you know that emotion will be a key part of the book. And boy is it ever. The chapters towards the end of the book with the confrontation between Harry, Sirius and the others are pretty damn great. It's a lot of exposition and twisting in these chapters but it moves quickly and Rowling makes it work, mostly. My biggest issue is Ron, who doesn't believe that his rat could be a person, much less the real informant. He maintains his conviction for way too long for me to really believe. Not until he sees Scabbers transform from rat to rat-like-person does Ron believe what everybody is telling him. Rowling tries to get away with this by saying he's concerned about Scabbers throughout the book, but in both of the previous books he didn't seem to give a shit about him. It doesn't work and it makes him look like an idiot. Not a thing I like at all.

Again, there are new characters introduced here, way more than in previous books. Professor Lupin takes the position as the DADA teacher and is really great. He's in my top 5 non-kid characters of the series. He's a great father-figure for Harry and clearly cares about him and the students in general. It's great to see an actual DADA class, too, where they actually defend against the dark arts (though it seems a bit more like Care of Magical Creatures, but whatever, at least it's something). Going through the first three books this time the amount of mentions werewolves get is pretty crazy. There are at least a couple per book, and when you combine his name and the use of the word "lunatic" several times to describe characters I don't know how I didn't connect the dots when I first read it. I like the idea of a friendly werewolf (and one that's not super sexy, Twilight) and the revelation of a certain character later in the series gives him a good counterpart.

And Sirius, of course. What a character. Rowling makes him so evil throughout the book. First he's just a mass murderer, then he's a mass murderer that betrayed Harry's parents, then he's a mass murderer that betrayed Harry's parents even though he is Harry's godfather. And then he's nice. It's a great journey and the dialogue in the Shrieking Shack scene is wonderful for him. His words seem to be evil but they really aren't. And Peter Pettigrew is the epitome of slimeballness.

Finally, the Dementors. They are one of Rowling's greatest inventions. So evil and their inability to be reasoned with or talked to is what makes them terrifying. They only way to make them better is to see them in the movie.

In conclusion, there are several issues I have with this book, including Ron's sudden and brief dumbness and the one book only use of the time travel (though it was fun, the classic "why don't they use the time travel to make sure nothing bad ever happens" thing really isn't addressed here or in the later books). Other than that, the book is pretty damn great. Emotional and exciting way beyond the things that happened in previous books.

A+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 24, 2010, 09:07:35 AM
Grendel - John Gardner.

Beowulf from the beast's POV. An interesting idea and well executed, but I just didn't connect for some reason. The monster is kind of a whiny cynical jerk and, as it is written in the first person, this gets to be annoying. And Gardner uses "as if" too damn often. As if the last leaf on the tree fell. Entertaining elements include Grendel's visit to the dragon, whom Gardner pictures as the highest of high psychology student explaining how the world works. His advise to Grendel: "Acquire as much gold as you can and sit on it." Fun. Beowulf only appears in the last two chapters and Hrothgar is the more important character. I really enjoyed the segments where Grendel realizes that there isn't much different between him and the rest of the people, and these segments mostly come when the bard guy is playing and singing. Anyways, more to like than to dislike, but unfortunately not enough to love.

B-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on August 24, 2010, 11:02:29 AM
Eat Pray Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)

I decided to read this after having enjoyed the movie. I am glad I did because, while it is obviously similar, I also found that it was completely different than the movie. Each are good in their own way. The movie has everything owed to the book, but I also commend the screenwriters for adapting it the way they did. They combined character traits and actions to make a movie that works instead of staying faithful to the book and making a complex movie with too many characters and in the end making the runtime exhausting. But as for the book, as is almost always the case, the book is richer in terms of details and experiences. It chronicles her entire journey and all of the great things that she thought, that she met, that happened to her and her writing style is great too. So easy to read, it almost comes off as conversational. I was sitting in Liz Gilbert's living room while she told me this great story of self deiscovery. I didn't really read about it, I just heard about it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: StarCarly on August 24, 2010, 01:21:42 PM
As Nature Made Him (John Colaptino)

The story of identical twin boys, Brian and Bruce. Due to an unfortunate circumcision accident, Bruce was raised to the age of 14 as a girl named Brenda. He became the poster child for the "nurture" side of the nature vs. nurture approaches to child rearing. His story was used in scientific literature all over the world as an example of a biological male being perfectly content living as a female. This whole story was a lie, of course. The book is a fascinating, detailed look at gender identity and the scientific community's attempts to make everyone "normal." I can't imagine knowing you are one thing and being told by literally everyone in your life that you are the opposite. A great read if you're interested in the subject.

Grade: B+

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: IDrinkYourMilkshake on August 24, 2010, 01:51:57 PM
Porno, by Irvine Welsh

Sequel to Trainspotting. Ewan McGregor has been kind of fuzzy on this; he says that because its a good sequel to the film, rather than a good sequel to the book he doesnt want to make... the film ???  "I dont want to be remembered for an inferior sequel"... inferior prequels, on the other hand, he has no qualms with whatsoever.

McGregor does have a point - it is a sequel to the film and would have been a different book entirely had the film not been the success it was. Like Trainspotting, narration comes from several characters - Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie, Spud with one new character, a neurotic mid-20's female student called Nikki - albeit in conventional narrative mode with each section used to advance one of three plot lines; Sick Boy, Nikki and Renton colluding in an attempts at producing a pornographic film, Begbie, freshly released from prison, and bent on getting revenge on Renton (for the stolen money at the end of the film/book), and Spud in his attempts to kick drugs.

I think there's definitely potential for a good film in here (im pretty sure a screenplay is floating about), but its a much, much easier read - glossier, funnier, brighter - than Trainspotting was.

That said i did enjoy it - Begbie's parts were a lot of fun and the way Sick Boy becomes an egomaniacal, totally ammoral monster by the end is an enjoyable ride, and reminded me of Dorian Gray.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on August 24, 2010, 03:15:01 PM
(http://i994.photobucket.com/albums/af69/qtadbam/Nobody-1.jpg)

I read this book over and over again. It is my most favourite book in the WHOLE WORLD.

It's about the social aspirations of Charles Pooter, written in 1888 and set in Victorian London. That may not sound gripping but it is a classic; a lovely gently humorous book and everyone should read it.

That means YOU.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 24, 2010, 03:18:21 PM
(http://i994.photobucket.com/albums/af69/qtadbam/Nobody-1.jpg)

I read this book over and over again. It is my most favourite book in the WHOLE WORLD.

It's about the social aspirations of Charles Pooter, written in 1888 and set in Victorian London. That may not sound gripping but it is a classic; a lovely gently humorous book and everyone should read it.

That means YOU.
Ok. I'm sold.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 24, 2010, 03:21:47 PM
P.S. My library has only the audio book and a movie version (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0944833/).  ???
Guess I'll go with the audio book for now. (Is the movie any good?)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on August 24, 2010, 03:43:05 PM
P.S. My library has only the audio book and a movie version (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0944833/).  ???
Guess I'll go with the audio book for now. (Is the movie any good?)

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
not the film

Who's reading the audio book?

You're a good egg you know.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 24, 2010, 03:46:25 PM
:D  Don't worry, I'm not inclined towards the film.

It's read by Martin Jarvis (??).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on August 24, 2010, 03:49:22 PM
AHA. Martin Jarvis, he's cornered the market in the UK. He will read it very nicely thank you.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 24, 2010, 03:52:00 PM
AHA. Martin Jarvis, he's cornered the market in the UK. He will read it very nicely thank you.
Oh, good. (Just looking at his imdb page - totally recognize him - he's been in loads, yeah? - but can't really place him specifically in what I've seen.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on August 24, 2010, 03:57:58 PM
Yes, he's that kind of actor

See this page? Is it legal, will it work? Because if so, the audio book there will be even better as it's read by Arthur Lowe who was Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army and has just the right voice for a self-important man.


(I hope you got Dad's Army or you won't know WHAT I'm talking about!)


EDIT:  sorry...use pm for those links, thanks.  saltine
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 24, 2010, 04:09:36 PM
I do get the reference to Dad's Army :) (though I'm not sure I can recall seeing any full episodes  :-\ ).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on August 25, 2010, 09:15:56 AM
Great Expectations

I love Dickens a lot, but this book did nothing for me. It's got some compelling scenes and the writing is strong, but the story and characters just never came together for me like the rest of his books. I think my big problem is that I found Pip to be a generic protagonist who seemed more defined by what happened around him than who he actually was. Perhaps that's part of the story, but it just made him dull and uninteresting to me. And it's odd because the book has a lot of stuff I generally love, it just didn't work for me here because I could never get behind the characters. Also, the revised ending is pretty lame, I like the original one better. Dicken's had stupid friends.  :P


Lesson Learned: Women are trouble, they will only give you ambition and wealth, neither of which will make you happy.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 25, 2010, 10:20:27 AM
Which novels of his are your favorites?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on August 25, 2010, 02:10:24 PM
Great Expectations

I love Dickens a lot, but this book did nothing for me. It's got some compelling scenes and the writing is strong, but the story and characters just never came together for me like the rest of his books. I think my big problem is that I found Pip to be a generic protagonist who seemed more defined by what happened around him than who he actually was. Perhaps that's part of the story, but it just made him dull and uninteresting to me. And it's odd because the book has a lot of stuff I generally love, it just didn't work for me here because I could never get behind the characters. Also, the revised ending is pretty lame, I like the original one better. Dicken's had stupid friends.  :P

Lesson Learned: Women are trouble, they will only give you ambition and wealth, neither of which will make you happy.

Yes Pip definitely a doee and not a doer. Have you read Hard Times? I think it's a better read than GE.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: IDrinkYourMilkshake on August 25, 2010, 02:28:12 PM
Great Expectations

I love Dickens a lot, but this book did nothing for me. It's got some compelling scenes and the writing is strong, but the story and characters just never came together for me like the rest of his books. I think my big problem is that I found Pip to be a generic protagonist who seemed more defined by what happened around him than who he actually was. Perhaps that's part of the story, but it just made him dull and uninteresting to me. And it's odd because the book has a lot of stuff I generally love, it just didn't work for me here because I could never get behind the characters. Also, the revised ending is pretty lame, I like the original one better. Dicken's had stupid friends.  :P

Ive got to read this for my degree (the book, not Sams post), ordered it today, hoping to get it read at least once by the time the course proper starts (Sept 27th). Ive always been intimidated by Dickens - size of the things! 'Bout a trillion pages, or summink innit?

Lesson Learned: Women are trouble, they will only give you ambition and wealth, neither of which will make you happy.

Where are these women giving you wealth? You dont want 'em send 'em my way. Wealth'll do me just fine.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 25, 2010, 02:30:59 PM
Great Expectations

I love Dickens a lot, but this book did nothing for me. It's got some compelling scenes and the writing is strong, but the story and characters just never came together for me like the rest of his books. I think my big problem is that I found Pip to be a generic protagonist who seemed more defined by what happened around him than who he actually was. Perhaps that's part of the story, but it just made him dull and uninteresting to me. And it's odd because the book has a lot of stuff I generally love, it just didn't work for me here because I could never get behind the characters. Also, the revised ending is pretty lame, I like the original one better. Dicken's had stupid friends.  :P

Ive got to read this for my degree, ordered it today, hoping to get it read at least once by the time the course proper starts (Sept 27th). Ive always been intimidated by Dickens - size of the things! 'Bout a trillion pages, or summink innit?
You shouldn't be intimidated. :) Dickens is pretty readable.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on August 25, 2010, 02:31:52 PM
Great Expectations

Ive got to read this for my degree, ordered it today, hoping to get it read at least once by the time the course proper starts (Sept 27th). Ive always been intimidated by Dickens - size of the things!
'Bout a trillion pages, or summink innit?

You must be English, isn't it?

If you were truly lazy, you could look at SparkNotes
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on August 25, 2010, 11:02:49 PM
Which novels of his are your favorites?
A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times and A Christmas Story. Probably in that order too. Oliver Twist could easily jump up on a reread.

Great Expectations

Yes Pip definitely a doee and not a doer. Have you read Hard Times? I think it's a better read than GE.
Yes. It's a great one and I think just as good, if not better than Dickens more popular books.

Great Expectations

Ive got to read this for my degree (the book, not Sams post), ordered it today, hoping to get it read at least once by the time the course proper starts (Sept 27th). Ive always been intimidated by Dickens - size of the things! 'Bout a trillion pages, or summink innit?
Ehh, it was long I guess, but I like longer books. Short novels just don't have the breadth I'm looking for in a book. I actually got a faulty copy and it only had half the book so then I had to get another copy with the rest.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: IDrinkYourMilkshake on August 26, 2010, 07:44:46 AM
Pictures any good? :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on August 26, 2010, 07:47:56 AM
There are a few in the version I had. I dunno, I guess so. I tend to hate pictures in novels because part of the beauty of books is imagining what each moment would look like in your own head.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on August 26, 2010, 11:02:55 AM
Love Tale of Two Cities, a proper adventure story, which shows Dickens could write 'em, just chose to write those overlong socially conscious novels, all very worthy. Bloody Victorians. Great Expectations is great but is tainted by having to read it at school- which always sucked the life out of any book. Our English teacher was a hideous b....
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on August 26, 2010, 11:16:16 AM
I could usually divorce the material from the evilness of a bad English teacher, which I did have one of.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 26, 2010, 11:29:38 AM
Which novels of his are your favorites?
A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times and A Christmas Story. Probably in that order too. Oliver Twist could easily jump up on a reread.
All great ones. :) Not sure which is my favorite - maybe Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on August 26, 2010, 11:58:21 AM
I'm going to read Bleak House after Dracula and P&P.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 26, 2010, 02:45:02 PM
I'm going to read Bleak House after Dracula and P&P.
Cool!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on August 29, 2010, 08:31:42 AM
Which novels of his are your favorites?
A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times and A Christmas Story. Probably in that order too. Oliver Twist could easily jump up on a reread.
All great ones. :) Not sure which is my favorite - maybe Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend.

OAD, I think I like books you like. Have you read The Odd Women, by George Gissing, and Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather. Super books both.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on August 29, 2010, 06:20:12 PM
(http://i38.tinypic.com/30vzv2v.jpg)


Wow - started out kinda slow but this finished strong! What an adventure with the unlikeliest of heroes. Slake moths will forever haunt my nightmares.


(http://i35.tinypic.com/rlyuiq.jpg)

This book was so good - I can't recommend it enough. It's about a platoon stationed literally in the most dangerous posting in Afghanistan - it doesn't concern itself with the politics of the war but rather what makes a good soldier and what makes men courageous - the bond of brotherhood that forms in combat. It is riveting reading that I could not put down.
Curiously enough Junger was also making a documentary at the same time while writing this. (http://www.sebastianjunger.com/page/restrepo-1)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 29, 2010, 06:30:55 PM
Kraken - China Mieville.

Mieville's newest book is a marked improvement over the other of his I've read (Perdido Street Station) since it adds a much needed element into his astounding world-building and story-telling prowess: humor. Yes, Kraken is a book about the end of the world brought on by the stealing of a preserved giant squid but it's also pretty damn funny. It's sarcastic and punny and great. Also, the plotting is tighter than Perdido and the characterization is super great. It's a pleasure to read and the 500 pages fly right by.

A+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on August 29, 2010, 08:29:41 PM
Damn, those all sound like great reads.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 29, 2010, 10:07:33 PM
Which novels of his are your favorites?
A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times and A Christmas Story. Probably in that order too. Oliver Twist could easily jump up on a reread.
All great ones. :) Not sure which is my favorite - maybe Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend.

OAD, I think I like books you like. Have you read The Odd Women, by George Gissing, and Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather. Super books both.
Oh, yes, I love Death Comes for the Archbishop. Most people's favorite Cather seems to be My Antonia or O, Pioneers! - both great - but I'm really partial to Archbishop.

Haven't read The Odd Women - will definitely check it out - thanks!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 29, 2010, 10:18:20 PM
P.S. From Amazon's description, The Odd Women sounds absolutely like something I'd like:

Quote
George Gissing's The Odd Women dramatizes key issues relating to class and gender in late-Victorian culture: the changing relationship between the sexes, the social impact of 'odd' or 'redundant' women, the cultural impact of 'the new woman,' and the opportunities for and conditions of employment in the expanding service sector of the economy. At the heart of these issues as many late Victorians saw them was a problem of the imbalance in the ratio of men to women in the population. There were more females than males, which meant that more and more women would be left unmarried; they would be 'odd' or 'redundant,' and would be forced to be independent and to find work to support themselves. . . .
In Gissing's story, Virginia Madden and her two sisters are confronted upon the death of their father with sudden impoverishment. Without training for employment, and desperate to maintain middle-class respectability, they face a daunting struggle. In Rhoda Nunn, a strong feminist, Gissing also presents a strong character who draws attention overtly to the issues behind the novel. The Odd Women is one of the most important social novels of the late nineteenth century.

(Just ordered myself a used copy from Amazon since a) my library didn't have it and b) I have no self-control when it comes to buying books.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 29, 2010, 10:39:27 PM
Kraken - China Mieville.

Mieville's newest book is a marked improvement over the other of his I've read (Perdido Street Station) since it adds a much needed element into his astounding world-building and story-telling prowess: humor. Yes, Kraken is a book about the end of the world brought on by the stealing of a preserved giant squid but it's also pretty damn funny. It's sarcastic and punny and great. Also, the plotting is tighter than Perdido and the characterization is super great. It's a pleasure to read and the 500 pages fly right by.

A+.

Also, the book pretty thoroughly examines the implications of Star Trek's teleportation and involves phaser fights.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on August 30, 2010, 01:11:58 AM
A Boy's Own Story - Edmund White
I love beautiful prose (see Hazzard) but this is ridiculous. There are huge paragraphs that just go nowhere and having nothing going on, just excuses for White to show off his prose. I never skim, but I was skimming this. And for the first time in ages, I put down a book that I had read more than half off without intending to pick it up again. Probably the worst book I've read in the last three years.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on August 30, 2010, 07:52:28 AM
Oh, yes, I love Death Comes for the Archbishop. Most people's favorite Cather seems to be My Antonia or O, Pioneers! - both great - but I'm really partial to Archbishop.


Yes, me too. It's unique.

Have you a special book you can recommend to me?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on August 30, 2010, 11:41:54 AM
Have you a special book you can recommend to me?
I'll think about it and get back to you!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on September 02, 2010, 02:26:40 AM
The Bay of Noon - Shirley Hazzard

Towards the very end of this beautiful novella, a reference to the Soviets putting a dog in space finally gives this novella a definite time, although, we never really need to know much more than what we're given at the very beginning, that this is Naples, after the war, but soon enough that the damage is still deeply, consciously felt.

The revelation I had, reading this, was that Hazzard might just be the closest comparison the written world has to Claire Denis. There is a similarity to the pace, the style of storytelling, an obsession with place, and, not meaning to sound rude, but a distinctly feminine presence, and I respond to both so, so well.

This isn't as grand as The Transit of Venus. It doesn't have the same scope. But it does have the same depth of feeling. The occasional turn of phrase that makes me die a little. The characters who live and breathe and live ordinary lives that I get so wrapped up in as I get further and further pulled in by Hazzard's beautiful prose. It's the story of Jenny, sent to Naples to work on a report, who meets Gioconda, a writer, Gioconda's lover, Gianni, a filmmaker, and Justin, a Scotsman. Hazzard observes the web of these relationships with an eye to the city of Naples itself, whilst wandering between the present and the past. She loads every single moment with meaning, and there isn't a single moment that can be discounted. Just as everything that falls under the gaze of Denis by way of A Godard must be considered important, so must every single mark Hazzard makes on the page be taken into account.

This won't be making my upcoming book list, but it does make me so, so eager to read more of Hazzard's work. A phenomenal writer.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on September 03, 2010, 12:04:15 PM
Un Lun Dun - China Mieville.

CM does Alice in Wonderland. Except this time it's more like Alice's friend in a trash London. UnLondon is where all the old broken things from London goes to get a new life. This includes broken umbrellas that become unbrellas and serve a less-than-good overlord. And, of course, there's the police force which comprises of trash can ninjas called binjas. It's not a new idea, really, to have a young girl go off and save a fantasy-style land, but Mieville does some fun stuff with it. First, it's set in a city instead of a more classical fantasy land. Second, there is a chosen savior of UnLondon and a prophecy but they aren't exactly what they seem.

And Mieville's imagination really sets this one apart. There are Black Windows that live in Webminster Abbey and a walking deep-sea diving suit. It's great.

A.


Black Hole - Charles Burns.

Here is a story of teenage love, and sex, and drugs, and mutants? It's set in the 1970's and there's a bug going around. It seems that once you have sex with an infected person you'll grow an extra mouth that talks in your sleep or a small tail or a lot of facial hair. It's pretty clearly a metaphor for all kinds of adolescent things and that's really cool. It's also kind of terrifying. As the story goes one the characters get in deeper and deeper. It's a sad tale (tail?) but there are moments of happiness and that's a pretty great way of telling a story of youth. Even the New York Times calls this a masterpiece. And I tend to agree.

MILKSHAKE!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on September 04, 2010, 01:51:31 AM
Quitter-- Harvey Pekar

I saw this on the shelf and decided to check it out in honor of Mr. Pekar's recent death.  This volume is the best of his I have read so far.  It talks about his childhood and how he ended up in a dead end job.  It also speaks of his social disorder of being unable to follow through consistently any thing he began.   And how he finally achieved success in comics.   It's the perfect background to his American Splendor books, and an excellent book on its own.  If you appreciated the movie or any of his comics, I highly recommend it.  4/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: edgar00 on September 06, 2010, 09:29:13 AM
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

B

It was alright, although for some reason I expected more. I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but after all the hype about the books and an entire trilogy of films (which I haven't seen yet), I thought the story was going to be more epic. As it stands, it's a decent enough mystery thriller. The pacing is a bit odd however. I don't get why this story had to be over 800 pages long.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on September 07, 2010, 01:58:51 PM
Oh, yes, I love Death Comes for the Archbishop. Most people's favorite Cather seems to be My Antonia or O, Pioneers! - both great - but I'm really partial to Archbishop.


Yes, me too. It's unique.

Have you a special book you can recommend to me?
Ok, seems like you're a bookish person :) so I bet you've read most of my favorites, but here are a couple on my bookshelf that I love and that not many people I know have read:


        (http://i56.tinypic.com/eb4wi8.jpg)
(195 pages, published 1995)

The author, Rosina Lippi, spent 4 years in a remote Austrian village, doing research for her doctorate in linguistics, and this novel is a kind of by-product of her time there. The novel is set in a mountain village  in Austria and it follows several different women from the same village, over a period from 1909-1977. Each chapter is from a different woman's perspective and each chapter moves forward in time a bit; Lippi beautifully weaves these women's individual stories into one fabric, so that one gets a sense of time and place and generation in the life of this village.




(http://i51.tinypic.com/1zzwxw.jpg)
(200 pages, published 1992)

The author, Wendell Berry, is himself a fascinating person; he taught in the university environment (English - creative writing, I believe), but then bought a farm and settled down to become a kind of scholar-writer-farmer - rejecting academia in a way and living out his values, which are related to community and a closeness to the land - sustainability, to use the buzz word. But his writing is in no way pretentious, and he reminds me a good deal of Garrison Keillor in his humor, clear-sightedness, and gentleness, as well as his affection for a particular region and people. Much of Berry's fiction is set in one particular (fictional) area of Kentucky, and the community he creates - the individuals who lives intersect - is so vivid and yet he writes in beautifully sparse language. Fidelity is a collection of stories that follows individuals who are a part of the same Kentucky farming community.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on September 08, 2010, 10:54:36 AM
Thanks oad.

So many books, so little time. Same goes for films. And olives.

I have managed to get the Lippi book ordered at my local library and have just bought Fidelity new, on good old Amazon for £4.40. I think that's probably a bargain!

Will let you know how I do.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on September 08, 2010, 11:49:24 AM
Thanks oad.

So many books, so little time. Same goes for films. And olives.

I have managed to get the Lippi book ordered at my local library and have just bought Fidelity new, on good old Amazon for £4.40. I think that's probably a bargain!

Will let you know how I do.
Eeep! Now I'm a bit nervous; I hope you like them. :)

Also, olives - yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on September 27, 2010, 08:58:33 AM
(http://i51.tinypic.com/so5vde.jpg)

Carl Hiassen is one of my favorite authors. His books are the literary equal of a twinkie but who doesn't love twinkies?

This one was not on par with his previous books. When writers have recurring characters in a series I think they can get lazy when writing them. Same character doing the same things. This is the case with Star Island. Two of my favorite recurring characters, Skink and Chemo, are in this book, but it give me nothing new to their characters.

It has the usual cast of unsavory characters with the one decent character being protected by Skink. Overall predictable and a little boring.

The ending was uneventful. It you are trying Hiassen for the first time stay away from Star Island. Try Sick Puppy, Tourist Season, Stormy Weather, or Lucky You.

My favorite is Sick Puppy.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ¡Keith! on September 27, 2010, 10:24:02 PM
My issue boils down to the interview part at the end. Up until that point it was a fun fantasy story that made sense as a story. Then the Japanese guys or whoever come in and explain away all of the things that happened, which isn't horrible (but certainly not good). The kicker is when the guy/Martel uses the understanding of the story we had for most of the book as a reason for believing in God because the fantastical story makes them feel good or whatever. This is stupid. You can't spend an entire book detailing exactly how you survived living on a boat with a tiger and then say that this story isn't believable. I believed it was real, even the island stuff. And the thing is that it could be real. There's no reason to believe that a boy couldn't survive on a boat with a tiger with the training/life experience he had. And even the island thing could exist in nature. That's the thing that really got to me. It's saying that it must be God because it's too weird. God=the fun part while Science=the boring explanation. This just doesn't work for me. If anything the science I've seen can be stranger or more fascinating than the religious/fiction stories I've read.

I don't actually think it says this.   the stories are not a science/God dichotomy.  instead its a statement on doubt.  both stories have no obvious proof of either being factual - save starting with a shipwreck and ending on a beach.  They are instead - to degrees established by the Japanese which conform to fairly normative thoughts on the subject - more and less "believable." 

Quote from: me! on goodreads
A completely engrossing volume. Strongly detailed with prose that plays with your assumptions while integrating a narrative thick with fantastical elements. But to say (as the author has) that it will "make you believe in God" is to typically dismiss the convictions of those who prefer doubt or tangibility. It is an insult to blindly assume that one group would just disregard a life thought when presented with a well told story - whether that be the Bhagavad Gītā, King James Bible, Koran or Life of Pi.

Fortunately, there is much to be gained (and some universal truths that supersede the mystical) irrespective of authorial ego.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on September 29, 2010, 01:43:01 PM
Super Freakonomics

Not as startling as the first volume, but there's still some marvelous insights coming from out of left field.  The most stunning chapter was the one on global warming, and I still don't know what to think about it.  In a way, though, this volume better communicates what is meant by "micro economics", or solving social problems by determining motivation.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 'Noke on September 29, 2010, 01:48:48 PM
Super Freakonomics

Not as startling as the first volume, but there's still some marvelous insights coming from out of left field.  The most stunning chapter was the one on global warming, and I still don't know what to think about it.  In a way, though, this volume better communicates what is meant by "micro economics", or solving social problems by determining motivation.

I agree with this.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on September 29, 2010, 02:55:09 PM
oad, I am halfway through

(http://i994.photobucket.com/albums/af69/qtadbam/lippi.jpg)

So glad you recommended this. Very unexpected in places. When I get to the end, I'll tell you what I think.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on September 29, 2010, 03:47:48 PM
oad, I am halfway through

(http://i994.photobucket.com/albums/af69/qtadbam/lippi.jpg)

So glad you recommended this. Very unexpected in places. When I get to the end, I'll tell you what I think.
Yay! Looking forward to hearing those thoughts. :)


As for me, I just finished As I Lay Dying a couple of days and am still trying to process . . .  :o

Incidentally, in the extra, critical materials in my edition, there's a transcript of an interview with Faulkner. I loved his response here:

Q. Did you consciously or unconsciously parallel As I Lay Dying with The Scarlet Letter?
A. No, a writer don't have to consciously parallel because he robs and steals from everything he ever wrote or read or saw. I was simply writing tour de force and as every writer does, I took whatever I needed wherever I could find it, without any compunction and with no sense of violating any ethics or hurting anyone's feelings because any writer feels that anyone after him is perfectly welcome to take any trick he has learned or any plot that he has used. Of course we don't know just who Hawthorne took his from. Which he probably did because there are so few plots to write about.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Mike Shutt on October 04, 2010, 09:58:53 PM
Beowulf

I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more if the characters had dissimilar ways of speaking. Everyone speaks in this boastful, formal way that it is hard to distinguish one character from another in who's talking. Also, most of the battles scenes are quite anticlimactic as they only take place in a stanza or two. A big disappointment, but, then again, I don't really enjoy reading.

Grade: C
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on October 04, 2010, 10:05:32 PM
I got home late, but I got the post up. It's my first review as part of Harry Potter Days at TheReelists.com. My review of the novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone! (http://www.thereelists.com/main/2010/10/4/book-review-harry-potter-and-the-philosophers-stone.html)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 06, 2010, 01:14:29 AM
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Written by J.K. Rowling, Read by Stephen Fry.

This book was much maligned, at least in my circle, when it first came out. Why did Harry get all whiny, they'd ask. Why did Sirius die? Why isn't it as fun as the previous books? To these questions I'd answer "because".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on October 06, 2010, 06:33:40 AM
The Secret History (Procopius, 580??)

This book is so dry and kind of boring, but putting it into historical perspective and looking at it as an historical document make it much more interesting than it has any business being. 6th Century gossip!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on October 13, 2010, 08:05:09 PM
The Giver (Lois Lowry, 1993)

What a wonderful book.  I was a bit too old for it when it was released, so I never read it in school for any kind of required reading.  The world that Lowry sets up is quite intriguing and the true nature of the world is revealed bit by bit.  Things that you take for granted turn out not to be so, and it is quite a revelation.

I understand that this is a young adult novel, and that might play into the length of it, but I just wish it would have been longer.  I wanted to know more about The Giver and Jonas, and what happened after Jonas made it out. Really great, though.  I can see why you love it so much Junior
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 14, 2010, 10:09:17 AM
AHHHH! I love it so much. I'm so happy you liked it, too. There are two sequels, though I haven't read them. Dunno if they're as good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on October 14, 2010, 10:55:09 AM
The Giver (Lois Lowry, 1993)

What a wonderful book.  I was a bit too old for it when it was released, so I never read it in school for any kind of required reading.  The world that Lowry sets up is quite intriguing and the true nature of the world is revealed bit by bit.  Things that you take for granted turn out not to be so, and it is quite a revelation.

I understand that this is a young adult novel, and that might play into the length of it, but I just wish it would have been longer.  I wanted to know more about The Giver and Jonas, and what happened after Jonas made it out. Really great, though.  I can see why you love it so much Junior

excellent, excellent book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on October 14, 2010, 10:57:12 AM
(http://i54.tinypic.com/6xrsde.jpg)

there is a reason some books are considered classics. about half of the stories i remember reading in school at some point. i enjoyed this book completely. one of my favorite fictional characters. also, this was my first kindle book.I can't say enough about the kindle. I LOVE IT!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Steven O. Selsnik on October 14, 2010, 10:57:38 AM
AHHHH! I love it so much. I'm so happy you liked it, too. There are two sequels, though I haven't read them. Dunno if they're as good.

they are
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: alexarch on October 24, 2010, 09:46:37 AM
Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

This is not a complete review, merely a thought I had while reading it, a surprising aspect of the book.

I checked the copyright date on the title page at least twice while reading because I couldn't believe it was written in 1939 — not because the concepts seemed current or applicable to today's cultural obsession with consumerism, but because of the prose style. It was contemporary, readable, easily digestible. In the past year, I've picked up so many classics that I knew, going in, were going to try me. That's why I picked them up in many cases.

But this was something very different. I never once stumbled over a difficult sentence construction or word combination. I never once thought, "This digression is going on far too long." It's all plot, plot, plot. It carries you through its pages like the best Stephen King story. And yet it's taught in high school along side Moby Dick. Even The Great Gatsby, which I love, isn't as easy to read as Brave New World.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on October 27, 2010, 08:53:41 AM
That makes me want to read it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on October 27, 2010, 08:19:13 PM
(http://s3.amazonaws.com/pldzimages/products/791655_detail.jpg)

Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus

As a general rule, the earlier the Orson Scott Card, the better.  For most people, Ender's Game, Card's first novel is his best.  My favorite is Speaker for the Dead, his second novel.  And there are a series of excellent works he produced in the 80s: Wyrms, Maps in a Mirror, Seventh Son, Red Prophet.  In more recent years, Card has avoided never-ending series (with the Ender's Shadow series an exception) and stuck with single volume works.  But, for the most part, these works lacked imagination and the intensity of the earlier works, as well as the compassion. 

This book is the exception to the rule.  It is a stand alone work that could sit comfortably with any of Card's early works.  For a time travel story, it is amazingly grounded in reality and some good historical research.  But the characters are also compelling and filled with compassion.  This is the kind of novel Card should be writing, but I thought he had lost the knack.  I would put it among my favorites by him:

1. Speaker for the Dead
2. Maps In A Mirror
3. Wyrms
4. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus
5. Red Prophet
6. Ender's Game
7. Shadow Puppets


Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Beavermoose on October 30, 2010, 09:00:21 PM
Just finished reading Gatsby for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed it, old sport.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on November 11, 2010, 12:15:35 PM
Surface Detail Grade-B+
(http://img.skitch.com/20101018-n1k1hi8jaddgp7719b21qbm6hd.preview.jpg) (http://skitch.com/verbals/dhyfa/surface-detail)

Hope nobody minds a long book review but to do this justice it needs a bit of explaining.

This is about the tenth of Banks' Culture books. He does a good job of giving introductory explanations of the story elements that have carried over from the other books. However, those explanations don't help when these elements combine in this new story. DON"T read this book if you haven't read some of the early Culture story its just confusing. But the beauty of a continuing series like this is that complex elements can be explored further. I should try to explain some of the elements;
1) The universe is so old that civilizations have risen and fallen many times, new ones are advancing still. The Culture is one of many at the end of its development. Infinitely resourced, have anything you want. Old civilisations don't die (unless someone blows them up) they move to another phase of existence called subliming. Different levels of civ exist next to each other, the older ones struggling to contain the younger ones who would blow themselves up if they got their hands on more advanced technology. It is frowned upon to interfere with less advanced civs but the Culture do like to meddle; thinking they know whats best for others.
2) Mind and body are loosely linked. Copying personalities is old tech so if you die you can be revented; your mindstate put into a new body or any body type or machine- you choose. Story threads with people wearing armoured tanks etc are common.
3) Artificial Intelligence has grown far beyond human intelligence. Civs have to choose how much trust to put in their machines ie war ships run by AI,. The Culture just lets the machines run everything. It is not clear if these Minds are running things for the humans benefit or for their own.

OK enough, technobabble, Banks isn't interested he never uses maths or engineeering to explain much. He is more interested in machine personalities or what is like to live in different bodies. Most of his books read like Travelogues visiting more exotic worlds and habitats. But he does have a way with action, BIG action sequences- wars run by machines.

His new theme in Surface Detail regards mind states and virtual reality. Some advanced civs having kept their religious beliefs and a belief in celestial reward and punishment after death recreate their heavens and hells to place mindstates in. Some other civs disagree with this barbaric looking practice. How The Culture feel about this isn't ever clear but this book is about a war to destroy these virtual hells. I know how daft this sounds, like I say it makes more sense as the tenth book not the first.
Characters include a woman killed early on, revented and then travelling back to take revenge on the man who killed her; an AI in a worryingly advanced warship's body with a deranged personality, some cute aliens getting a bit too big for their boots, and a horrible businessman with too much knowledge about where the Hells are being stored; trying to blackmail everyone with that knowledge.

Banks' books are structured like Ellroy, a chapter for each main character and then back again each storyline colliding by the end. His books slow when he goes on a travelogue flight of fancy about some strange new world, or when describing some less advanced civ which is a bit dull compared to The Culture's bells and whistles. When he gets it right (books like Look to Windward, Excession & Matter) it is poetic, funny, taut, majestic. When it doesn't quite work like here it gets a bit flabby. There is always the danger of Deus ex Machina interventions by the Culture in the less advanced civ plotlines. This happens here but it is still cool throughout.
Banks has the advantage over a lot sci-fi writers of being a great literary figure first and an imaginer of worlds second. Insights about the nature of existence filtered through the view of advanced tech (really you can't die) are incredibly original, Shakespeare would approve.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on November 11, 2010, 05:50:36 PM
Surface Detail Grade-B+
(http://img.skitch.com/20101018-n1k1hi8jaddgp7719b21qbm6hd.preview.jpg) (http://skitch.com/verbals/dhyfa/surface-detail)

Have recently discovered Banks (Transition) and was very impressed - I have the 1st two of the culture series on my Kindle in queue. :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on November 11, 2010, 09:23:46 PM
Surface Detail Grade-B+

Have recently discovered Banks (Transition) and was very impressed - I have the 1st two of the culture series on my Kindle in queue. :)
How did you like Transition? I have never gotten into the non-sf books {strangely}
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: StarCarly on November 11, 2010, 10:27:31 PM
Freakonomics -

I was looking for another non-fiction book to read ravenously after I finished "Stiff" and this fit the bill. I finished it in under 24 hours and I wish it were longer...never ending even. It's really just fascinating. Only one of the stories really blew my mind, but they were all great. Can't wait to read the sequel.

Grade: A
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on November 12, 2010, 08:34:37 AM
Surface Detail Grade-B+

Have recently discovered Banks (Transition) and was very impressed - I have the 1st two of the culture series on my Kindle in queue. :)
How did you like Transition? I have never gotten into the non-sf books {strangely}

It's SF - people who can slide between parallel universes and times to directly affect the course of history throughout all of them.

It's a very good book - jumping back and forth between times sort of reminded me of The City & The City by Meiville and it disjointed yet compelling narrative.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on November 12, 2010, 10:32:01 AM
Surface Detail Grade-B+

Have recently discovered Banks (Transition) and was very impressed - I have the 1st two of the culture series on my Kindle in queue. :)
How did you like Transition? I have never gotten into the non-sf books {strangely}

It's SF - people who can slide between parallel universes and times to directly affect the course of history throughout all of them.

It's a very good book - jumping back and forth between times sort of reminded me of The City & The City by Meiville and it disjointed yet compelling narrative.
OK missed that one thanks.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on November 15, 2010, 04:58:49 PM
verbALs - just finished Glitz, which I very much enjoyed.
Like his writing style and the character of Vincent, of course.
Have to say he reminds me a lot of Ed McBain (or vice versa, who came along first?)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on November 18, 2010, 11:15:04 PM
Just finished God Emporer of Dune, the 4th in the series.

After loving the first book, the second book was a bit of a decline, and the third was wayyyy too muddled. Book 4 was my favorite sequel thus far....with Herbert achieving the terrific balance he found in the first.

I really liked it. Got another book or two Im looking into before I get to book five in the series, but Im looking forward to it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 18, 2010, 11:42:33 PM
Hurm. It's okay. I like 2 a lot, 3 is solid. 1 is still my favorite. 5 and 6 are just gaudy trash.  :P
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on November 18, 2010, 11:53:13 PM
The fourth is my favorite, at this point of multiple re-reads, even over the first.  It gets to the main points Herbert hints at in the third, and we can see what Paul was both trying to achieve and what he rejected in the first two books.  It all makes sense now-- both the promise and the abomination.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on November 19, 2010, 01:37:09 AM
I should clarify my comment about 2 being a decline...I think its pretty damn good still. For some reason it feels less epic in scope than the other 3 Ive read.

After a read the 6 are the sequels by the son and Kevin anderson worth a go?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on November 30, 2010, 05:38:52 AM
I really wanted to try and write something interesting this time, but I don’t know that this captures a percent of how I feel about this. But I kinda feel like I’m in the middle of a shitstorm right now, so maybe this’ll have to do.

(http://ela.zonalibre.org/archives/ghost%20world%20comic.bmp)

Ghost World - D. Clowes, 1997

The first question that Ghost World makes me ask myself is: why do I suddenly want to curl up into a ball and never face the world again and reassess my life and change my goals and on and on and on?

I don’t know what I was expecting from GW. And at first I found it difficult to like. We’re thrown into the lives of these American teenagers who act so much older than their years and so much younger at exactly the same time, and we work out names and ideologies and the rest from dropped hints. It doesn’t necessarily invite you in. It’s more measured than that.

What makes it compelling is how raw it is. How real. Reading GW for me was like being back in high school, and I’m fresh enough that it wasn’t exactly a fun experience to have it relived so clearly.

What makes it powerful is how fractured the relationship between these two girls is, and how much they depend on each other, and the growing realisation that they maybe don’t like each other at all, and that they maybe have nothing in common, but that they hold on because as much as they want to pull each other’s faces off, being alone would be worse. Far worse.

These girls struggle so hard to be hipper than thou, to find some sort of identity that seems to fit, a way to express themselves that hasn’t been mined of all residual value. They lash out at friends, at family. They do stupid things and feel bad about it later. They search desperately to find that one record from their childhood, and fall asleep listening to it. Enid has a garage sale, can’t sell anything, abandons it all, but is still more than relieved to come home and find that something remains.

I get the angst. I get the struggle. What makes GW good, is, despite the lack of a real narrative, it does tell a story of youth, not misspent, but perhaps misdirected, and it tells it with an honesty that is blistering. And it will make you hate yourself, but art does that sometimes, and sometimes you gotta be okay with that.

To say I liked Ghost World misrepresents my current relationship with it, but it’s sticking with me, no doubt, and it’s powerful in a way that I will always respect. So yeah. Read it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on November 30, 2010, 08:13:56 AM
(http://img.skitch.com/20101130-j2wx6qpaubwjc6pfcmmnh7ecb3.jpg)
Have you come across Peter Bagge; kind of bridge between Robert Crumb and the more modern stuff like Ghost World.

(http://img.skitch.com/20101130-prx7r789dscnm62grhg3fdd52e.jpg)(http://img.skitch.com/20101130-q419q6cbbrjp9dhch8es9krd82.jpg)
Or Love & Rockets and Heartbreak Soup by the Hernandez Brothers; same kind of angsty dramas- very good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 30, 2010, 01:12:49 PM
Dracula

Surprisingly engaging, given that I've seen about 8 versions of this story before I read the book. I think the conceit of the book being composed of journal entries goes a long way to making the book eminently readable.

4/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on November 30, 2010, 01:15:57 PM
Freakonomics -

I was looking for another non-fiction book to read ravenously after I finished "Stiff" and this fit the bill. I finished it in under 24 hours and I wish it were longer...never ending even. It's really just fascinating. Only one of the stories really blew my mind, but they were all great. Can't wait to read the sequel.

Grade: A

Once you read the sequel I should direct you to the chapter-by-chapter breakdown I did of it on my blog...I definitely found the sequel discussion provoking if not always reliable.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on November 30, 2010, 02:30:45 PM
There's no Rate the Last Magazine thread  :)
This is such a good mag
(http://i994.photobucket.com/albums/af69/qtadbam/chap.jpg)
and I'm a gel
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on December 06, 2010, 12:27:08 PM
That guy looks like Peter Cook.

Cop Hater, Ed McBain  Grade-B

Mosca, finished this in three sittings so even for a short 180 page, that to me is the sign of a well-written book. It is the dialogue that really skipped along and there are a lot of crime writers who could give their more literary peers lessons in how to pound out a page purely comprised of two people talking.

A couple of indigestible pieces of plotting were hard to swallow. You know when that little light goes off, when you think, hey this doesn't seem to fit the rest of the story. In this case when the main detective sits down with a recently widowed piece of hottie, the sirens and searchlights went off, telling me something's up! Or a detective sitting down with a reporter and trusting him? Whodunnits that are actually about who did it can be clunky, but this seems to be written with the series of 87th Precinct in mind, so McBain doesn't try hard to develop the characters; knowing he was coming back to them and needed room for manoeuvre. I can see myself reading the next one but what it really made me want to do is read some of that Elmore Leonard again. The actual crimes or threats in Leonard are purely incidental, it is all character and dialogue.

Thanks for the recommendation now where's my Labrava review? Quid pro quo ain't a 70s cover band you know.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Adrienne on December 06, 2010, 03:38:32 PM
verbALs, sorry STILL reading Riddley Walker. It's going to be a while.  :D
So, you kind of liked Mr McBain.
Quid pro quo ain't a 70s cover band you know.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 15, 2010, 05:59:23 AM
I finished, but don't think I ever reviewed, Burley Cross Postbox Theft. It started slow for me, but ended blisteringly well. An amazing portrait of the modern British village, the politics, the relationships, the hate, the lies. It's pretty phenomenal stuff, although I totally get that Barker might not be for everyone.

I also read Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith, which is a pretty awesome collection of essays. I might have to buy a copy soon, because I expect it will go out of print sooner rather than later. The early essays, about various writers, zoomed over my head a little, but the essays on film are brilliant (especially a collection of reviews published over a six month period in the Daily Telegraph - lots of people here should take note at her approach) and the longest piece, on Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men made me appreciate how much I might've missed in that, but how much I might just have managed to pick up on.

Finally, I also read Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman, and it impressed me a whole lot. I always find the book you read after the great one difficult, because it never holds up, but this didn't do too bad a job. Gaiman clearly tempers Pratchett's more manic qualities and brings a depth that makes this good fun, but with that little bit of extra bite. I enjoyed the time I spent with it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on December 15, 2010, 04:34:17 PM
Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Very fun and clever, but not overly substantial. Definitely makes me want to finish out the series and maybe even more Douglas Adams generally (already read Watership Down, which I think is better). Who knows how I'll feel after the whole thing is done but right now it wouldn't make my ballot.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on December 15, 2010, 06:11:31 PM
Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Very fun and clever, but not overly substantial.

Hmm... I'm not sure I agree with the "not overly substantial" bit. Care to elaborate?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on December 15, 2010, 06:53:06 PM
It certainly has pointed commentaries on things (bureaucracy for example) but it was so zany that the characters never really feel real or relatable or demand emotional investment or develop in meaningful ways. I'm not sure any character is at a different place at the end than they are at the beginning.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on December 15, 2010, 09:43:52 PM
That's fair. Fwiw you may find the rest of the series more satisfying in that respect, if you decide to carry on with it. Either way I'm really glad you enjoyed it :)

Are you game to watch the movie now? please say yes
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on December 15, 2010, 09:51:18 PM
Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Very fun and clever, but not overly substantial.

Hmm... I'm not sure I agree with the "not overly substantial" bit. Care to elaborate?
Dude, there are so many life lessons to be learned:

Don't Panic
Always know where your towel is
It's not the end of the world (even thought it totally is)
If a man is qualified to be president, he should never be given the job
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on December 15, 2010, 10:29:32 PM
Smirnoff,

A. I put the 5-in-1 book on my christmas list so hopefully I'll be finishing the series shortly.
B. Saw the film back when it came out and laughed a lot, I loved your clip from the top-100 about the whale. Couldn't help casting it from the movie when reading it. I do want to rewatch it (and the BBC series). The TV show covers the whole series I think but the film just covers the first book? I want to hold off watching/rewatching until I've read the appropriate amount of the books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on December 16, 2010, 07:35:53 AM
That sounds right. I haven't seen the tv series myself. I think it'd be hard to go back and watch it now, considering it's age and the amount of effects it would require.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on December 16, 2010, 08:52:44 AM
Maybe so, but it is so temptingly available on Netflix Instant. Damn you Netflix for enabling film addicts across the US, and now Canada.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on December 16, 2010, 11:18:26 AM
That sounds right. I haven't seen the tv series myself. I think it'd be hard to go back and watch it now, considering it's age and the amount of effects it would require.

The effects were horrible.  However, with both the tv show and the radio show, Adams wrote the script from scratch, so each version has its own freshness about it.  I actually started on Hitchhikers back in the 80s, so I heard the radio show first then the tv show then the books and finally the movie.  I was more dissatisfied with the movie more than any of the others, but it couldn't possibly meet my expectations.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on December 16, 2010, 11:43:23 AM
That sounds right. I haven't seen the tv series myself. I think it'd be hard to go back and watch it now, considering it's age and the amount of effects it would require.

The effects were horrible.  However, with both the tv show and the radio show, Adams wrote the script from scratch, so each version has its own freshness about it.  I actually started on Hitchhikers back in the 80s, so I heard the radio show first then the tv show then the books and finally the movie.  I was more dissatisfied with the movie more than any of the others, but it couldn't possibly meet my expectations.

Yeah, I think I was kind of underwhelmed by the movie as well the first go around because of my expectations. I dunno though, it stuck in my head because there was really nothing else quite like it (much like Labyrinth or Wizard of Oz)... and as time passed I kept thinking "you know, that movie sure did a lot of neat things, like the art design, Marvin, Ford, Arthur, the random quirky stuff, the guide itself, the gorgons (another Jim Henson workshop success), the general vibe was right"... it started adding up in my head to the point I just had to see it again and ended up falling in love with it. :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on December 16, 2010, 10:33:35 PM
The TV show isn't boding well...the first episode covered less in a half-hour than I would simply by reading the book, and I'm not a notably quick reader. So I think the series is just the first book. And yeah, the graphics are horribly dated.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Marbe on December 16, 2010, 10:42:14 PM
Hunger Games

Effectively chilling, although the ending was perhaps a bit overkill (pun not intended) the whole idea is horrifying enough that's just hitting the reader over the head with it.

I give it two shockeds, a tear, and a kiss.

 :o :o :'( :-*

There needs to be a rate the last book you didn't read thread, in which it was Daughter of Persia and according to my essay it was heroic and fascinating memoir.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: philip918 on December 28, 2010, 01:18:56 AM
The Windup Girl

Absolutely epic.  Bacigalupli's novel succeeds in creating a scarily realistic 23rd Century in which ocean's have risen, fossil fuel has been depleted and most of the world's crops are sold and controlled by enormous calorie companies.

Thailand is one of the few countries independent of the calorie companies' dominance thanks to drastic measures taken to prevent their bio-engineered plagues and genetically modified seeds from entering the country.  Anderson Lake is a "Calorie Man" on a secret mission to locate the Thai's most prized possession - a seed bank with original, organic seeds.  His love affair with the Windup, Emiko, a genetically modified human from Japan, unexpectedly sets in motion nation-changing events.

It's a glimpse of a world in absolute chaos, teetering on the brink of extermination, and the lengths people will go to out of greed, pride and fear.  Without being preachy (because the story is just so damn good) it certainly makes one consider the natural course Capitalism takes when corporations are left completely unfettered - I mean, Monsanto is already on the path of genetically modifying foods and taking ownership of them - and the economic warfare that ensues.

One of the best novels to come out in some time.  I'm sure they'll find a way to turn this into a film and if done right it could be Blade Runner x 1000.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on December 28, 2010, 01:47:52 AM
Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson

I'm rereading the Thomas Covenant series from the beginning so I can fully appreciate the third trilogy.  The book that started it all is fascinating and a little disappointing.  On the one hand, it borrows quite a bit from Lord of the Rings.  A menacing forest, a "slow" species, a quest to reach a leading city, etc.   Every time Donaldson borrows wholesale from Tolkien it makes me cringe. 

On the other hand, it has one element that makes every aspect-- even the clearly borrowed portions-- completely new, and that is the unique anti-hero.  This is not your typical fantasy hero.  He is a leper who is forced to disbelieve in the healing the Land gives him or else he would lose not only his sanity, but potentially his life in the "real" world.  He is not only without control over his magical ability, but also over his very body.  And he is as evil as he is good-- truly wild, unmanageable and powerful in the most terrible, impotent way possible. 

Donaldson's writing is rough, certainly a first work, but his conjunction of unique ideas is brilliant and unequaled in the fantasy genre.  I look forward to reading the better of his works, like the next book, the Illearth War. 3.5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on January 10, 2011, 06:28:04 PM
The Insanity Defense by Woody Allen

A collection of three short Woody Allen books (Getting Even, Without Feathers, Side Effects). Some of the essays in this book are terrific, some were too esoteric for me, and some werent all that funny at all. Im a big fan of the guy and seen all his movies, but Id be much more inclined to recommend a collection of Klosterman or Sedaris stuff.

3/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on January 10, 2011, 07:31:16 PM
Luna by Julie Anne Peters

So this is one of those teen chick-lit meets after-school special type books. I've read two of the author's previous books (she is based out of Colorado it seems), one basically dealing with cliques and popularity the other dealing with lesbians. Luna focuses on a girl whose sibling is a trans girl on the fringe of coming out and starting to transition. It has some interesting stuff about the early signs, the general treacherous nature of emerging, the way the emotional effect can suck the oxygen out for everyone else. But while the latter is especially benefited by the narrator being the sister, the downside is that you get way too much of the narrator's emo-ness related to a boy at school. Twilight had some unbearable moments in the first book but it was still way better at this craft than this book is. There was also one particular plot point that just seemed like too obviously a really terrible idea that was going to go wrong to be believed, even from a teenager.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on January 13, 2011, 10:49:30 PM
Rethinking Worldview (J. Mark Bertrand)

I met the author back in my high school days and he convinced me of the awesomeness of this whole worldview thing. The nice thing about this book as opposed to other similar books is he promotes a more humble, thoughtful approach as opposed to some of the more militant groups of people who are all about your rigorously learning sound arguments and debate tactics. Good stuff, but most of it I already learned from his talks.

Double Lives, Second Chances (Annette Insdorf)

A must for Kieslowski fans. Insdorf provides deep insights in a surprisingly brief book. At barely 200 pages, she works through the director's entire career and is able to summarize and sharply analyse each film perfectly. It's a joy to read, such an economy of words and yet it's always thought provoking in a way that makes me want to jump back into his films all over again and dig even deeper. If you love Kieslowski read this book as soon as possible.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on January 13, 2011, 11:05:45 PM
Double Lives, Second Chances (Annette Insdorf)

A must for Kieslowski fans. Insdorf provides deep insights in a surprisingly brief book. At barely 200 pages, she works through the director's entire career and is able to summarize and sharply analyse each film perfectly. It's a joy to read, such an economy of words and yet it's always thought provoking in a way that makes me want to jump back into his films all over again and dig even deeper. If you love Kieslowski read this book as soon as possible.
I must get this.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on January 14, 2011, 01:24:32 AM
Double Lives, Second Chances (Annette Insdorf)

A must for Kieslowski fans. Insdorf provides deep insights in a surprisingly brief book. At barely 200 pages, she works through the director's entire career and is able to summarize and sharply analyse each film perfectly. It's a joy to read, such an economy of words and yet it's always thought provoking in a way that makes me want to jump back into his films all over again and dig even deeper. If you love Kieslowski read this book as soon as possible.
I must get this.

My library system's got it.  It's on hold for me. :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on January 14, 2011, 10:37:07 AM
My library system's got it.  It's on hold for me. :)
Mine doesn't. :( But I've put in a request for an interlibrary loan.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on January 14, 2011, 09:25:11 PM
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

At its best, this memoir is truly great. The first 200 pages, roughly, tell her story from being born in Somalia to traveling around to various countries in the region responding to this or that change in conditions. You get to see the plight of a girl in Islam, but also the variations of Islam over time and place. This is interesting but is a part that often falls into the memoir trap of being important to the author but less so to the reader.

But at this point the story shifts to Holland and I was even more gripped here seeing from the inside how this system's immigration and welfare structures worked, or as we find to be much the case, didn't work. I'm a political scientist so I guess listening to another political scientist talk about politics was bound to be fascinating to me. This setting also sets up a harsher contrast where things seem even more tense and dramatic in a way than the clearly more terrible stories from Africa.

One thing I would say is that it is hard to read this and not have your views of Islam be hardened. On its face it is a call for reformation in Islam, but it also takes a far more pessimistic view toward the notion that the more negative aspects represent a minority of an otherwise "good" religion. Perhaps the most shocking part for me is that it is basically considered a capital crime to renounce faith in Islam. That isn't a religion, that is a hostage situation. While the five pillars sound great and there are plenty of other aspects of Islam that are splendid, I get feeling about it a bit like I feel about Christianity. If anyone was still practicing literal Judeo-Christian law, it would be every bit as barbaric which I suppose shows that such a reformation is possible. Yet while I wasn't raised in a literalist tradition, I still got to wondering what the point of looking at these religious documents is if you've already decided to ignore half of it. Once you've removed the mystique of infallibility, what's the point of the exercise? So yeah, I guess what I'm saying is that this book is good enough to make you feel miserable and become fatalistic...or maybe that's just my default state and I'm blaming it on the book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on January 14, 2011, 09:29:00 PM
Sounds like a helluva a read. Thanks for the review. Always see it in the store, never known quite what it's about.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 16, 2011, 02:49:45 PM
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.  (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/01/book-review-shades-of-grey-by-jasper.html)

Quote
This book (thankfully denoted as "A Novel" for those of us that don't know how books work) is a departure from Jasper Fforde's popular Thrusday Next series. Instead of being based on an alternate England where literature crosses over with reality, Shades of Grey is the story of an alternate England where color perception denotes your social standing. There is a Colortocracy in place and it ensures that everybody is kept in their right place. Purples (those that can see, well, purple) are at an almost religious position and Greys are of such little importance that they don't even have to follow the Law of Munsell, the man that instated the Colortocracy after the Something That Happened. All of this is to say that it's kind of like a typical utopia/dystopia story like 1984, A Brave New World or Brazil. Everything seems pleasant at the beginning but the reader slowly learns about the way the world works and that it may be more sinister than we initially thought.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on January 16, 2011, 07:16:30 PM
Some notes on David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, as of 317 pages (my edition runs to 1079, so a little under 1/3 read). Spoilers, to an extent, although...

Open to any page of this novel, and have a scan for the acronyms and abbreviations that will inevitably litter the page. Some of the funniest jokes are in there, such as O.N.A.N.ism and O.N.A.N.ites, E.T.A. and multiple others.

“his customized fauteuil de rollent” with the footnote 37, which is, quite simply, “wheelchair”. Similarly, footnote a inside footnote 110 (yes, footnotes within footnotes), which is simply “don’t ask” while b is “ibid”. Or the footnotes that tell you to refer to other footnotes. Or that Hal spends part of footnote 110 flipping through old letters, only to have Wallace, on returning to the main text, refer to a “more furtively nauseous kind of sense, as if someone had been reading mail of Hal’s he thought he’d thrown away”.

The glorious, beautiful, clever, heart-rending, stop and read it sixteen times: “He’s one of these people who don’t need much, much less much more.”

The way he finally describes people, sometimes hundreds of pages after their introduction (see pages 312-317).

That at 317 pages in, I’m finally feeling the momentum that one feels usually in the last third of a good book, when things are coming together, and you are used to the style, and you can feel the end approaching - except I’m still in the first third, and I’m well aware that this may get much harder before I reach the end.

The stylistic changes, not quite as formal as The Broom of the System but usually more interesting, all of which add such texture and depth.

Pages 299-306, in which Wallace vividly describes the fall of Poor Tony, who starts to withdraw from heroin, then everything else, before having an epileptic seizure on the floor of a train, all in physically effecting, excuse-me-while-I-go-vomit, I-may-just-have-nightmares-because-of-this detail.

Footnotes that frequently obfuscate, rather than clarifying.

I should really pause every time I come across a word I don’t know and look it up. There is a richness to the language here, and while meaning can generally be grasped from context, there is a deep awareness that a full understand of the word, its history and full connotations would make that whole sentence sparkle.

Similarly, I have a strong urge to read the O.E.D.. The price is, unfortunately, prohibitive.

I keep telling people about it, especially at work, and desperately fail each time to express both how challenging it is (which I usually manage) but also how rich and wonderful and filling and expanding it is. It’s like eating a meal with very strong, rich tastes, but that is also incredibly hearty and warming and makes you feel satisfied for hours afterwards.

I shall report back in somewhere around the two-thirds mark, depending.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on January 17, 2011, 10:30:48 AM
My library system's got it.  It's on hold for me. :)
Mine doesn't. :( But I've put in a request for an interlibrary loan.

Hey now, don't take mine!  ;)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on January 17, 2011, 11:22:52 AM
My library system's got it.  It's on hold for me. :)
Mine doesn't. :( But I've put in a request for an interlibrary loan.

Hey now, don't take mine!  ;)
Ha! ;D Most stuff I get on loan comes from Seattle so you should be pretty safe. :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on January 20, 2011, 03:27:44 AM
The Hunger Games

Over the first couple days I plugged away at this like previous books, a couple chapters a day until I got to page 100 last night. I read the rest of the 380 page book tonight, foregoing a proper night's sleep. It is compelling stuff and makes me want to charge full on into the second book in the series. There are two directions I could see it heading. Either way, pretty compelling stuff about class divisions and kind of a reality TV/fashion obsession. This is probably getting on my top books list.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 23, 2011, 01:07:40 PM
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Phillip Pullman (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/01/book-review-good-man-jesus-and.html)

Quote
TGMJatSC (which is a long title even when abbreviated!) is a retelling of the story of Jesus with a couple of twists thrown in, the most important of which being Jesus' twin brother, Christ. Jesus follows his path as we know it and his brother follows him around to record his deeds. But he doesn't just record the "history", he records the "truth".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on January 25, 2011, 12:07:37 PM
My Year of Flops

Up and down. A lot of fun for the movies youve seen, but doesnt really intrigue one to see the rest.

3/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on February 02, 2011, 02:42:37 AM
Catching Fire

After finishing The Hunger Games I saw two directions it could go. It did follow one of them but in a somewhat unpredictable way. There are certainly elements I liked here but like so many middle parts of trilogies, it doesn't quite feel like a contained plot. It does however set up the third book pretty strongly and I am looking forward to reading that before too long.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on February 07, 2011, 02:01:33 PM
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/02/book-review-hunger-games-by-suzanne.html)

Quote
Imagine a world where kids are picked at random to compete in an all out fight to the death which is engineered and broadcast by the government. Imagine an arena that is booby trapped and filled with implements of death with which the young contestants can maim and kill and monitored by hundreds of cameras. If you're thinking of Battle Royale you aren't wrong. However much The Hunger Games borrows from the concept of that novel/manga/movie - and it borrows a lot - it totally works on its own right. The idea isn't original at this point but it is supremely well executed and hits all of the right emotional buttons.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on February 09, 2011, 04:50:56 PM
When You Are Engulfed In Flames
David Sedaris

Glad I gave another Sedaris book a try after feeling lukewarm to Holidays on Ice. The essays I liked in HOI involved Sedaris' observations on this or that, and the ones I didnt were where he wrote as a character (comedy sketch essays shall we say). The former brand of essays are what we get in WYAEIF, and the collection is terrific because of this. Made me laugh quite a bit.

4/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on February 17, 2011, 08:26:35 AM
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Douglas Adams

To some degree I get the same feeling reading these books as I do watching a Python film. It jumps from gag to gag, with a little downtime between and slightly weak overall plot arc, but man are the gags great. As a whole I don't think this was quite as good as the first book but it still delivered much greatness (maybe it is just the recency effect, but the leaf currency/inflation bit right at the end was priceless) and keeps me excited to continue on (now that I have the complete volume).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Mosca on February 17, 2011, 02:38:33 PM
Yes, I don't think it's as good as Hitchhiker's but good enough, no? And I have always been partial to The Meaning of Liff
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on February 17, 2011, 05:51:09 PM
I think that the Hitchhiker's books go down in quality with each volume, but only a little for each one.  Some of the best scenes are in the third volume.  Enjoy!

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Classic Neil Gaiman. It tells of Richard, who sees Door, a girl wounded on the street and helps her out.  Unfortunately, he ends up losing his whole life and world, being lost in the London Underground.  Of course, it is really under ground.  And Richard finds that he can't ever get back.

I love the fact that our protagonist is completely hapless and helpless.   That he spends pages following a corpse travel down a sewer.  His colorful, playful and ultra-violent antagonists.  The anti-Wizard of Oz ending.  Perhaps this isn't as thoughtful or filled with as many wonderful characters as Sandman or the American Gods sets.  And it isn't as deeply thoughtful.  But it certainly belongs on that shelf of books that proves that Neil Gaiman is one of today's masters of storytelling.

The Legend of the King by Gerald Morris

This is Morris' tenth book of retelling classic medieval Arthurian tales.  I've read Arthurian tales from Mallory to White to modern versions and Morris' are my favorite.  They are funny, have excellent characterization and aren't so anal to stick strictly to the original tale if a little twist here or there would fit the characters better.  They are opinionated, funny and better for that.  If you don't believe me, just read the first chapter of the first book, A Squire's Tale, and you try to NOT keep reading.

Of course, the tale must end and it must end in a tragedy.  Morris hasn't proved himself to really appreciate tragedies, and he says himself that he delayed this final book as long as he could.  The good part of it, and the previous book, The Squire's Quest, is the integration of characters that were already introduced, especially the wisecracking knight-troubadour Dinadan, who is my favorite of all the books.  So we revisit some wonderful characters, have some final adventures and head inevitably to the end that must come.  These final two volumes are telling stories that are less thematic than the other books, but they are still worthwhile.  And while the finale isn't as great as the other books, still, this is the series I would want to introduce my kids-- and anyone else-- to the Arthurian story.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on February 21, 2011, 11:18:02 PM
On Chesil Beach

I'm a big fan of Atonement (book and film) so I've been giving Ian McEwan some more tries. I read Amsterdam two years ago (I think) and considered it an interesting and thankfully brief tale of euthanasia and rivalry. Based on some of the mentions during the top books list, On Chesil Beach caught my attention. Another brief book at 200 pages (I read it today in 3-4 hours).

I got into it extremely fast as the first chapter, close to the first quarter of the book, has a couple, Edward and Florence, on their wedding night, experiencing their mutual anxieties, awkwardness and fears. The book plays out this evening intercut with scenes of the relationship's development. Their mutual timidity, based on inexperience and old-fashioned social mores, is something many can probably relate to from their first romances. There is almost something peaceful or even quaint about the calm pacing and so I'm not sure I took the hesitations seriously enough and found it a rather charming and optimistic tale.

Unfortunately, that was apparently too good to last because the final quarter of the book (of which I will not detail) is rather jarring. It isn't that the first 3/4 don't suitably set up the characters for the climax so much as it just seems a little unlikely or extreme and of course I simply wanted something different in an aspirational sense. I vaguely see the point it makes by heading in this direction but it doesn't resonate like the original nature of the story.

This still showed McEwan's talent but it remains with Amsterdam at the interesting rather than great level for me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on February 23, 2011, 10:26:15 PM
Nice review Bondo, I had a somewhat similar reaction.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on February 24, 2011, 11:10:59 AM
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Pretty much copy Bondo's review for the second book (which Ill read soon) and you got my review for this one. For me the best parts are when you are reading a entry in the Guide or a throwaway joke that is given a lot more time than you would expect (for instance, something involving a whale).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on March 06, 2011, 09:05:16 AM
(http://ocob.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/naked_economics.large_-268x408.jpg)

If you liked Freakonomics you are likely to enjoy this book also. It's slightly more academic, and does not contain the mirth of Dubnar and Levitt's best seller, but it will force you to think in new ways.

My recent foray into economics has been pretty interesting. I traveled to anti-globalization protests in the 90's. I was at the WTO protests in 1999. Back then I carried Naomi Klein's No Logo as a bible. Today, I am pretty convinced that globalization is in fact a net good.

The 1999 version of me would think the 2011 version of me was an capitalist sell out!  ;D Believe it or not, I am in fact less Left-wing today than I was then.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on March 06, 2011, 09:30:23 AM
A win for neoliberalism!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 06, 2011, 10:16:25 AM
Interesting looking book.  You sold me on the comparison to Freakonomics.  I'll check it out.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

Philip Pullman is writing a "novel" based on his own version of a historical Jesus.  I am more attracted by this book than offended.  Pullman is respectful with the original material-- the synopic gospels-- trying to do as little damage to it as possible, while making it completely materialist and non-supernatural.  It is a quick enough read, and an interesting perspective.

And in the end I think Pullman's respect is my biggest problem with the book.  It is clearly the gospel's style, not Pullman's.   And there are some sections where it seems that he just adding a little touch here or there onto the gospel's version.  My other problem is that Pullman doesn't know the cultural subtext of the story, and so it doesn't seem to be adding anything.

I think what really bugs me is that Pullman is a great author, but I could have written this one better (while I couldn't possibly touch The Golden Compass).  And now I want to.  But he's already done it.  Sigh.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on March 15, 2011, 05:24:45 PM
The Accidental Billionaires

I liked this book. The movie follows it pretty well, although Sorkin was also working with the court transcripts, which I dont believe were available at the time the book was constructed.

Kind of funny that Sorkin is picked on for things that some percieve as racist or sexist in the movie. Those moments would probably be more offensive to people with that complaint in the book.

4/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on March 16, 2011, 04:58:34 AM
Freedom (Jonathan Franzen)

Yikes, the reviews for this one were really misleading and the Amazon editor has no business quoting Jean Renoir movies in a review for this book :-\. On the plus side, it's a really breezy read which was nice considering I was stuck on a plane and would've ended up watching Burlesque if that wasn't the case! Other than that, I have almost nothing good to say.

I guess I am a little bored of the whole "peek a little closer into the lives of this nice suburban family and see all the demons you'll find" plotline. As is often the case with this genre, the characters are pretty severely damaged and frequently unlikeable. But that wasn't my problem with it at all. The thing is that these characters are not just unlikeable but also terribly uninteresting. Everyone's addicted to either drugs, alcohol or sex or a combination thereof and uses it as a crutch to carry on.

The first 1/3rd or so isn't too bad. The description of the dynamics between the neighbors in this suburb at least had a tinge of humor that kept me interested. But soon the book completely loses all of this and just diverges into a million subplots that don't ever come together meaningfully.

The worst offense to me though is the bad writing. I was skeptical to begin with because normally I like making a note of sentences that stand out to me and halfway through the book I hadn't used my pencil even once. The book has this device where parts of the book are in the form of an autobiography written by one of the main characters. However, the voice / writing style in the autobiography are no different from the voice of the author in the other parts. So I don't really see the point of the device. So much so that somewhere towards the end of the book, one of the autobiographical chapters begins with this:

"The autobiographer, mindful of her reader and the loss he suffered...., has been trying very hard to write these pages in first and second person. But she seems doomed, alas, as a writer, to be one of those jocks who refer to themselves in third person."

Great. The book is also rife with terrible similes. I skimmed through the book to find one to post here and found this gem:

"Grim situations were Katz's niche the way murky water was a carp's."

Huh, what? There are also plenty of clunky sentences like this one:

"The pain was quite extraordinary. And yet also weirdly welcome and restorative, bringing him news of his aliveness and his caughtness in a story larger than himself."

Sigh. How does the NYTimes call this a masterpiece of American fiction (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/books/review/Tanenhaus-t.html).

Junior, am sorry to rant on the book so badly. I hope you enjoyed it more than I did and am really curious to hear your reactions to it on the podcast.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on March 16, 2011, 08:05:26 AM
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace, 1996

When Plato talks about forms - well, if the novel had a form, a perfect example, this is would be it. Superb, sublime, supreme.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on March 16, 2011, 08:56:23 AM
Wallace could have written tv repair manuals and they would have been sublime. His suicide was the greatest artistic lose of our generation.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 21, 2011, 03:01:32 AM
The Illearth War

The pace was a lot slower than the first Thomas Covenant volume, but it also gave time to question what this whole "unbeliever" position really is and what it really implies.  The consequence of the Giants and the final scene with Elena were powerfully told and well-executed, but the rest of the book languished.  But I know it will pick up again in the third volume.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on March 21, 2011, 08:49:29 PM
The Finkler Question (Howard Jacobson)

The first few chapters are pretty good with some really nice writing and the Woody Allen-esque solipsistic humor. I found the writing mostly consistent but the characters seemed rather underdeveloped and somewhat stereotypical to me and after a while I couldn't quite make out what all the introspection about Jewishness was leading towards. It makes for an engaging read but it didn't seem quite Booker-award worthy to me (although I've only read one of the other books on the shortlist and didn't care too much for that one either).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on March 27, 2011, 01:05:34 PM
Life, the Universe and Everything

Again, a number of really clever bits, but definitely hitting diminishing marginal returns. This was much more of a beast to get through. I think I'm done with Hitchhiker's for a bit. I own the collected set so I'm sure I'll come back with books 4 and 5 at some point, but I just need some time away.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 27, 2011, 02:28:39 PM
The Absolute V for Vendetta

It was great reading the comic all as one novel.  However, it certainly felt episodic, as if they weren't really sure how it was going to end.  But all the parts were marvelous, even better than the film because it looked grittier, dirtier, more awful.  The stakes seemed higher although the plot was the same.  The end was different and I preferred how the film ended it, but for overall drama, I prefer the book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on March 30, 2011, 10:15:45 PM
The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch, 2008)

There really must have been something to this book because I managed to read it in all of two sittings, which is highly irregular for me. To put it into perspective, the only book I have ever read faster is Holes by Louis Sachar, which I read in one sitting. Certainly the small chapters and fairly simple, conversational text aided me in my endeavor, but at the same time the content had to be pretty good too. By the end of the book I realized more and more that what I was reading was not in fact exemplary. It is not the best, or the most important book I've ever read, but it was quite good. Pausch comes across as one of those guys that was a real go getter. He didn't sit on his butt and wait for things to come to him, he went and got them and there is something to be admired about that. He was also quite honest and very straightforward. The Last Lecture is most interesting when Pausch is recounting remarkable stories from his life and career and surprisingly more bland when he tries to instill life lessons. The lessons are better learned from his great stories, of which he has many. Recommended, but there is no real rush here. I think I will go watch the lecture now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on April 01, 2011, 01:52:04 AM
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Fan-freaking-tastic. Maybe even better than the first entry. I feel like both the first and third books are almost perfect in their plot and the second book is just the slightly awkward bridge between them. The series is probably gonna end up in my top-5 next books ballot. Too bad this series will never probably be done justice in filmic form. One can't really do these things properly with teenage actors and certainly can't show them to teenage viewers.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on April 02, 2011, 07:54:37 PM
(http://www.hmtk.com/wp-content/uploads/liarspoker.jpg)

A pretty interesting read about the rise of the finacial sector in the 1980's. It's the true account of the world depicted in Wall Street. The scariest thing is how closely this fall mirrors the 2008 fall. People simply do not learn lessons from past failures, especially when money is involved.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on April 04, 2011, 07:41:15 PM
Into Thin Air

Breathtaking. To think there are people who choose to attempt something with a one in seven death rate (Everest) or even worse a one in two death rate (Annapurna). Not only do they choose it they pay tens of thousands of dollars.

The death rate among Bering fisherman, the most deadly job on earth, is 1.4 in 1000!

The story of Beck Weathers is a Grimes fairytale that would never be believed if it were not in fact true.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 04, 2011, 07:56:14 PM
The Power that Preserves

A powerful end to a typical fantasy story with a unique hero.  In the end, the story is all about this anti-hero, Thomas Covenant who has leprosy and who cannot believe in the world he suffers in or else he cannot care for himself in his diseased state.  In this volume, he chooses to reject the world he is a hero in so that he might save a child in our world. The results of this difficult choice is powerful, and the conclusion of the trilogy is worth all the suffering that comes before.  Now I remember why this is one of my favorite fantasies of all time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on April 04, 2011, 08:01:06 PM
Clovis, you'd probably enjoy No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks by Ed Viesturs.  I didn't love all of it, but the stories associated with his climbs were unbelievably incredible. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on April 04, 2011, 08:06:02 PM
Clovis, you'd probably enjoy No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks by Ed Viesturs.  I didn't love all of it, but the stories associated with his climbs were unbelievably incredible.

Thanks I will check it out. I tend to go on binges and right now I am on a climbing binge. :D I have been watching movies, documentaries and now reading about it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on April 04, 2011, 08:20:34 PM
Have you read Touching the Void?  I would also recommend Forever on the Mountain: The Truth Behind One of Mountaineering'​s Most Controversial and Mysterious Disasters by James M. Tabor and K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
by Ed Viesturs
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on April 04, 2011, 08:25:17 PM
Have you read Touching the Void?  I would also recommend Forever on the Mountain: The Truth Behind One of Mountaineering'​s Most Controversial and Mysterious Disasters by James M. Tabor and K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
by Ed Viesturs

I have read these. Touching the Void is my favorite documentary of all time. I love the book also.


It sounds like you have all read many of these. Can you help me remember something?

I was trying to tell my girlfriend about a climbing or mountaineering book I had read and one of the stories I remember is this crazy guy who wants to solo Mount McKinley. He has to cross this huge glacier to get there and is worried about falling in a crevasse so he buys a pole and sticks in horizontal in his backpack hoping it will catch him if the earth gives out. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on April 04, 2011, 08:29:20 PM
I would NOT recommend the film version of Into This Air (in case you were thinking about it). I believe Shooter McGavin plays Jon Krakauer. It's nothing special.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on April 04, 2011, 08:40:03 PM
Was it from In the Shadow of Denali: Life and Death on Alaska's Mt. McKinley by Jonathon Waterman?  That sounds familiar?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on April 04, 2011, 08:41:43 PM
Was it from In the Shadow of Denali: Life and Death on Alaska's Mt. McKinley by Jonathon Waterman?  That sounds familiar?

Nope can't be that. I have not read it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on April 04, 2011, 08:45:46 PM
I am not sure then.  I will ask my boyfriend, he has also read a bunch of moutaineering books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on April 05, 2011, 07:42:42 PM
The War for Late Night (Bill Carter)

A mostly journalistic account of what went down during the Leno/Conan/Tonight Show debacle. The writing is accomplished and smooth but simple as journalistic writing should be, I support. But the story is fascinating and I was engaged throughout. Conan seems like a really swell guy and the Maron interview only conforms that hypothesis. Fun read overall.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on April 06, 2011, 10:40:29 AM
Finally finished Patton Oswalt's Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. I could've easily finished it in one sitting but decided to spread it out to maximize my entertainment. If you like his comedy (and if you don't, you're a damn fool) I can't see not really liking his book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: munchin on April 06, 2011, 12:12:23 PM
Just finished Louis de Bernières' epic Birds Without Wings an account of the lead up, devastation and aftermath of World War I as seen through the eyes of the diverse inhabitants of a small Turkish town. It was alternately gruesome, hilarious and fascinating. Featuring a wide cast of characters, we experience the war from the trenches to a harem. It was an absolutely wild ride. The only issue is that it starts very slowly and introduces a lot of characters very quickly. You look at a 600 page book where the first 50 pages are perplexing and meandering and you may not want to continue, but in this book, it is entirely worth it.

9 out of 10.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: philip918 on April 08, 2011, 01:40:56 PM
Bambi vs Godzilla by David Mamet

Entertaining read with a few nuggets of screenwriting wisdom. Goes off on quite a few tangents and he seems to have a compulsion to explain just how incredibly macho he is.

Which Lie Did I Tell by William Goldman

This guy is such a great writer and has such an endearing voice. Lots of hilarious anecdotes and very open accounts of his life as a writer. The small section on Andre the Giant is incredibly touching. Great stuff.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer

Kind of a let down. Love his fiction and heard amazing things about this, but I didn't think he took his examination and vegetarian philosophy far enough. I'm lucky enough to live in Seattle and be able to go to a farmer's market every weekend where I can buy pasture-raised, grass-fed beef, poultry, pork and lamb from small, organic, family farms. Foer limited his argument to nationally sold products and how few and far between those farms are and that factory farmed animals account for 99% of all US meat consumption. Well, I'm in the other 1% and would have really liked to read a logical and impassioned argument for still not eating those animals.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: MartinTeller on April 08, 2011, 02:27:05 PM
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt - Kind of disappointing.  Oswalt's one of my favorite stand-ups, but this is definitely a mixed bag.  Some of the autobiographical sections are greatly entertaining ("The Victory Tour") and some meander without anything of substance ("Ticket Booth").  The more humor-oriented segments are hit ("Wines by the Glass") or miss ("The Song of Ulvaak") as well.  The central piece about Zombie/Spaceship/Wasteland mentalities feels really inconsequential and not fleshed out well enough.  On the whole, there's more good than bad, but I was often left with the feeling that Oswalt's literary aspirations were impeding his natural sense of humor.  6/10 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on April 17, 2011, 01:20:04 AM
The Hangman's Daughter - Oliver Pötzsch

Very interesting thriller, especially from a historical perspective. You are treated to what seems to be a forensic type thriller set in the middle ages complete with 2 very unlikely partners - Jakob  - the local hangman who is as good at fixing bodies as he is breaking them and Simon - the son of the local physician, or at least what passed for a physicians in that time period. Both are men of science and reasoning, Jakob is self taught and Simon is rebelling at the stagnant lessons passed down in his universities studies. A local midwife is accused of witchcraft and murder and Jakob, while in the process of torturing her confession out - tries to actually solve the crime with the aid of Simon. Through all of this they must contend with the religious and societal norms (stupidity) of the day.
An engrossing and quick read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on April 18, 2011, 12:36:51 AM
Life, the Universe, and Everything
These books have their moments, but overall Ive felt pretty lukewarm to the series.

War & Peace
Started January 31st and finished today. Just a flat out amazing achievement. Tolstoy gives a big time war layman like me a fantastic tutorial on military strategy, movements, politics, etc then swoops seemlessly into brilliant drama in the lives of his brilliant fictional characters. Just a fun and interesting read. One of the best books Ive ever read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on April 18, 2011, 01:14:10 AM
Life, the Universe, and Everything
These books have their moments, but overall Ive felt pretty lukewarm to the series.

But that's the book with Agrajag, possibly the funniest concept for a fictional character ever conceived.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on April 18, 2011, 10:23:11 AM
I like all the middle men of another planet's society using leafs as currency at the end of the 2nd book the best so far.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on April 18, 2011, 10:26:36 AM
Hahaha. That's the first time the concept of inflation became clear to me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on April 18, 2011, 11:25:59 PM
Just read:

(http://i53.tinypic.com/2s76oee.jpg)

Freakin amazing - to be leaping through time, fighting a senseless war and to find love - I read this in one sitting. There is a reason this is a classic SF, award winning novel.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on April 19, 2011, 06:37:33 AM
I definitely want to get that read before the movie comes along.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: munchin on April 19, 2011, 09:41:41 AM
Just read Bossypants by Tina Fey

It would highly rank in my top 5 funniest books. Chuckles, belly laughs and guffaws on a very regular basis. I had a great time with it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on April 23, 2011, 06:23:27 PM
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

The stories are terrifc, the bits are ok to not so great. Overall I got some laughs.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 24, 2011, 12:37:01 AM
(http://i52.tinypic.com/f3vmmg.jpg)
Blue Kiriko Nananan, 1997

The story of a couple of girls who form a very close relationship during their last year of high school. Its emotions spring from its wonderfully minimalist compositions, and from its deft use of its Japanese high school tropes (rooftops!). This is wonderful stuff, but also, you know, devastating.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 24, 2011, 11:37:12 AM
(http://i52.tinypic.com/2d0l2ly.jpg)
Disappearance Diary Hideo Azuma, 2005

For a story about a man who's continually abandoning his wife and family and falling into alcoholism, this is surprisingly funny. I think what's funniest is the random asides that the main character has, or his bemused reactions to events (his character design helps, that eye thing is so funny).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on April 24, 2011, 11:45:26 AM
These are things I should read. Keep 'em coming, roujin!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on April 28, 2011, 07:50:31 PM
Wolves of the Calla

Finally, Stephen King gets back into some good story after the two previous dark novels languished in a state of nonplot. The problem is that like half this book is a Salem's Lot crossover, and it's one of the most annoying subplots I've ever read in a novel because it literally has no bearing on the narrative of this story. This means the book has major pacing issues and it probably took me about a year to read this book, which is about how long it took me to read Wizard and Glass as well, because it also had massive pacing issues.

Why do people love this Steven King? His characters are fantastic, but damn, his stories are so hard to get into and every-time I feel like I'm about to get hooked, I'm way layed by some stupid subplot or drawn out scenario that makes me put the book down for a good month or two.

Guess it's time to get the next book.  :P
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 28, 2011, 07:59:15 PM
I look forward to your further rants on that series. You're wrong about 3, though. That was some good stuff.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on April 28, 2011, 08:05:23 PM
The last act of The Waste Land was good, but the rest of that book was way too drawn out and long-winded. I only remember two significant things happening the whole book. Which is two more than book four had...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 30, 2011, 11:33:05 AM
Major Barbara/Pygmalion  by George Bernard Shaw

I love how Shaw takes ideas and puts them in the real world with real characters.  I love his sly humor, and I had many lol moments with both of these books.  But I especially love his prologues/epilogues.  They take his comedic drama and turn them into theses.  Major Barbara is primarily about salvation from poverty and Pygmalion is about social class and relationships between genders.  But the additional content to the plays show that Shaw isn't just about making an entertaining way to pass the time, although he does that well, but he is providing smart, interesting social commentary, much of which is still applicable today.  The best application of criticism ever.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on April 30, 2011, 11:35:41 AM
Nice, glad you enjoyed Pygmalion. It is a favorite of mine.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on May 01, 2011, 04:42:06 PM
Really disliked 1,5,6, and especially 7 within the Dark Tower Series. Went through most of his stuff in jr. high...caught up on 5, 6, and 7 of Dark Tower when they were coming out while I was in college. I appreciate that he wanted to finish the series before he dies, but it really hurt the quality to me.


Anyways
So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish by Douglas Adams
From various people Ive heard this series really declines in quality...I havent found that to be the case. In fact, I really dug this book, mainly due to the absence of the zaniest characters of the series, who never really worked for me.

The Jerusalem Syndrome by Marc Maron
If you listen to the podcast, youve heard a good deal of these stories...but I liked reading this book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on May 01, 2011, 04:50:38 PM
Please tell me So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish focuses heavily on Marvin. I find that after the first book there has been far insufficient levels of Marvin. I think he agrees with me. Now that I should be getting to more reading starting this month I'm probably going to get this one read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on May 01, 2011, 06:21:03 PM
it focuses almost exclusively on Arthur and a new character.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on May 01, 2011, 11:52:09 PM
Favorite quote from So Long and Thanks For All the Fish: "The bathroom was large enough to swing a cat in as long as it was a good natured cat and didn't mind a few nasty knocks about the head."
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on May 02, 2011, 02:59:28 PM
Nine Stories

Im really getting a kick out of JD Salingers books that are considerably lesser known. Just got to read Raise the Roof Beam High and Seymour: An Introduction and Ive finished his published stuff.

Anyways, of the 9, I liked the last one, Teddy, the best. All are at least decent though. A good book to read over 9 lunch breaks  :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on May 05, 2011, 04:17:19 PM
I read all the Salinger books a couple years ago when he died.  The 9 Stories are pretty great and Catcher in the Rye was even better than I'd remembered.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on May 06, 2011, 11:29:31 AM
agree on Catcher in the Rye. Liked it when I read it in high school 10 years ago...but man, I really got a lot more out of it now
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on May 11, 2011, 10:58:22 PM
When Movies Mattered Dave Kehr

I wish I could write about the formal qualities of films in the way (and with the detail) that Kehr does. He's very good at that. He's also very good at making me want to check out things I didn't know I wanted to check out (such as Blake Edwards films). A great man!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on May 12, 2011, 12:43:46 AM
Haven't gotten to the book yet, but I'm not buying Blake Edwards.  Too many bad memories of Switch.

I'm all for jumping on the Raoul Walsh train though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on May 14, 2011, 02:28:32 PM
Never seen a Blake Edwards film.

He made a compelling case for Walsh. He also made me want to reevaluate those 80's Godard films (the ones he talked about I'm not really big on).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on May 14, 2011, 07:58:57 PM
You haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's???

I still have almost every 80s Godard to see.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on May 14, 2011, 08:01:02 PM
You haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's???

Never seen an Audrey Hepburn film...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on May 14, 2011, 09:43:22 PM
Wow.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on May 15, 2011, 02:06:59 PM
The Art of War by Sun Tzu

I didnt get much out of this. Maybe having just read War and Peace, and watching Ken Burns docs, Ive just seen the priniciples of miltary strategy applied within a much more interesting context. Most of the stuff in this book is just kind of...."duh". A general that exploits the weaknesses of his enemy gains a great advantage. take the offensive when you have an advantage. Take the defensive when at a disadvantage. well um yeah.

Furthermore, the version I read poorly dispersed the annotations throughout the text, making it a horribly clunky read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Verite on May 17, 2011, 08:53:29 PM
You haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's???

Never seen an Audrey Hepburn film...

They All Laughed.  Unless you're talking about a movie in which she's the lead.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 18, 2011, 03:59:46 PM
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Quote from: http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/05/book-review-name-of-wind-by-patrick.html
The Name of the Wind owes a lot to Harry Potter. There's the school for learning magic, the dead parents, the snooty aristocrat arch rival, the wandering Big Bad enemy, the teacher with a grudge against our hero and the teacher with loopy but seemingly knowledgeable insights, and there's the girl that is kinda strange but makes a connection with Kvothe, the hero of the tale. Yes, there's a lot of overlap there but what The Name of the Wind does with these characters and ideas (which I recognize weren't exactly invented for the Harry Potter universe but the popular girl get's all the dirty looks, I guess) makes it a great story. This, the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series does a lot of heavy lifting as we hear about the first 15 years of Kvothe's (pronounced like "quoth") life. The framing story is a clever conceit in this tale because the Kvothe we know in the present is quite different from the Kvothe at the beginning of his life (and he doesn't even come close to old Kvothe's melancholy by the end of this book, the first day of his recitation of his life).

Read the rest at Benefits of a Classical Education! (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/05/book-review-name-of-wind-by-patrick.html)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on May 19, 2011, 11:44:44 AM
The Art of War by Sun Tzu

I didnt get much out of this. Maybe having just read War and Peace, and watching Ken Burns docs, Ive just seen the priniciples of miltary strategy applied within a much more interesting context. Most of the stuff in this book is just kind of...."duh". A general that exploits the weaknesses of his enemy gains a great advantage. take the offensive when you have an advantage. Take the defensive when at a disadvantage. well um yeah.

Furthermore, the version I read poorly dispersed the annotations throughout the text, making it a horribly clunky read.

I read the Thomas Cleary translation by Shambhala Books - he is a great translator of old Chinese texts and he takes several different translations and shows how Sun Tzu can be taken according to the time period of Chinese history. I often tried to apply his teachings to interpersonal relationships and see how it would fit into my job.

You might enjoy The 48 Laws Of Power (Bob Greene) a bit more - it takes a lot of different writings and musings on power and relationships (between people, groups, countries) and distills them down to 48 laws. Very entertaining read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on May 19, 2011, 05:55:35 PM
Not really a book, but:

The Brothers Bloom Screenplay (http://www.rcjohnso.com/bloom)

Johnson's screenplay for The Brothers Bloom is a pretty incredible document. It's intensely readable, which, by all accounts is the key aim of the screenplay, but it goes so much further into putting tone and character and all those little touches. It really is a document that demands to be read. Super great.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Antares on May 19, 2011, 06:08:13 PM
Stars in their Courses by Shelby Foote. I think this was an excerpted segment from his mammoth work The Civil War: A Narrative. I enjoyed it immensely.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on May 20, 2011, 11:35:34 AM
Not really a book, but:

The Brothers Bloom Screenplay (http://www.rcjohnso.com/bloom)

Johnson's screenplay for The Brothers Bloom is a pretty incredible document. It's intensely readable, which, by all accounts is the key aim of the screenplay, but it goes so much further into putting tone and character and all those little touches. It really is a document that demands to be read. Super great.
I'm going to have to check this out after the quarter finishes - thanks for posting, FC!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 20, 2011, 12:23:03 PM
Just a quick writeup for this one.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

Like I said in the other thread this was a re-read from when I was 10 or so. I remember liking it then but I also remember having some trouble understanding some elements. Well, that part has disappeared. It's a very simple story without much build-up or plot to speak of. Three mysterious beings take three young children to a faraway planet in order to rescue their father and defeat the Dark Thing. And that's about it. There're a couple of other characters (Aunt Beast is the best of these, but the man with the red eyes is sufficiently creepy) but really it's just one quick plotline that wraps up quickly and semi-easily. That's unfortunate because the universe that L'Engle creates is pretty cool. The couple of planets they go to before reaching the potentially-Communist-planet where most of the action takes place are really cool; the description of the two-dimensional planet is the highlight of the book for sure. I'm looking forward to reading the sequels because this seems like a group of characters and ideas that could be great in a more fleshed-out story (or stories) but is, in this book, only just quite good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on May 23, 2011, 09:59:51 AM
Mere Christianity

Went Audiobook with this one, hearing it was basically the written form of CS Lewis' various lectures. He draws a lot of interesting conclusions and what not, although I dont know if this would actually change anyone's mind (I suppose he states this early on) about their faith or lack thereof. It may be my Jesuit college education, but I really enjoy a good theology discussion. Overall book has its ups and down.

Mostly Harmless
Welp, this finishes off the series rating by Filmspotters as the #1 piece of literature out there. My favorite thing throughout the series was these little tangent/non sequitor chapters that basically give one a entry from the Guide. The notion of things being explained making those things even more bizarre, ridiculous, and confusing is the charm of the series in my opinion. The last entry in the series didnt seem to have so many asides, which was disappointing. Oh well, generally about the same as the rest of the series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on May 28, 2011, 05:09:44 PM
(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_brnQ_SAA444/TUa7v-aQZPI/AAAAAAAABXw/ZnD6jTcqzJ4/s1600/WhereGoodIdeasComeFrom.jpg)

Some interesting insights into the titular question but hardly enough to justify an entire book. The author lays out the 7 different things that he feels generate good ideas but really each chapter is just an endless series of examples. A single article would've been sufficient (but I guess there's not as much money in that).  ::)

At the end of the day I didn't really pick up anything I could use to improve what I'm already doing. The book basically just an explanation of why stuff like networking, exposure to other fields, and writing stuff down can enhance creativity and spawn good ideas. In other words stuff most people already do and find effective (even if they don't know why).

(http://noffload.net/uploader/files/1/econs/bored.gif)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on May 28, 2011, 05:12:55 PM
I'm hoping the trend of short e-books or "singles" catches on. Non-fiction books have the tendency of being way longer than they need to in order to justify printing but long-form articles are sometimes not quite long enough.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on May 28, 2011, 06:00:04 PM
Bondo, I hadn't thought about that publishing problem before, but it seems so spot on, I am not just accepting it as fact.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on May 29, 2011, 01:41:59 AM
(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_brnQ_SAA444/TUa7v-aQZPI/AAAAAAAABXw/ZnD6jTcqzJ4/s1600/WhereGoodIdeasComeFrom.jpg)


I had recently read just the intro to this book and it was wonderful.  Still, from what you wrote, I'm glad I didn't have time to finish the whole thing.

A Wrinkle In Time is fantastic.  It is tightly written and the characters are so well done.  The following volumes aren't as good, but the second-- A Wind At The Door-- is almost as good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on May 29, 2011, 08:45:14 AM
(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_brnQ_SAA444/TUa7v-aQZPI/AAAAAAAABXw/ZnD6jTcqzJ4/s1600/WhereGoodIdeasComeFrom.jpg)


I had recently read just the intro to this book and it was wonderful.

Heh yeah, I've been sucked into a few books of this type in the same way.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on May 29, 2011, 05:42:39 PM
Better by Atul Gawande

And about time too, I was about to go two months without finishing a book but I snuck this one in. It is a strong book, highly readable for non-fiction, looking at medical practice. It has little stories that illustrate various ways that people have made targeted efforts at improving the performance of their system (large or small).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on May 29, 2011, 09:52:32 PM
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (http://corndogchatscinema.blogspot.com/search/label/ridley%20scott) (Philip K. Dick, 1968)

Along with Blade Runner
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on May 30, 2011, 05:00:35 PM
The Ask by Sam Lipsyte

Heard this recommended on the WTF podcast back episodes and then saw it at the library so I gave it a read.
The best dark comedy Ive read since A Confedaracy of Dunces. Basically just the story of a bitter middle aged man dealing with his crappy job, crumbling marraige, and a series of pretty interesting characters.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on June 04, 2011, 11:49:05 PM
Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert
(spoilers)
I didnt love 2 and 3, but the 4th and now this 5th Book in the series at least match the 1st book in ambition, if not overall enjoyment. Amazing how Herbert created a universe where he can jump forward 3500 years and then 1500 years in time and still keep continuity.
Succeeds in its characters, but, as is the problem with the other sequels, HoD lacks the density of the first novel. In addition to all these mystical characters, the first novel just had this incredible setting with an interesting society and ecology....and one just doesnt get that sense following the first book.
id rank them 1,4,5,2,3 so far.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on June 05, 2011, 12:01:57 AM
Really? I thought the first three were great, the fourth was okay and the last two completely jumped off into the deep end.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on June 05, 2011, 01:31:56 AM
Yep...I know it's against the grain but oh well...

I was studying for a big engineering exam as I read 2 and 3 though and wasn't reading with as much momentum
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on June 05, 2011, 01:37:10 AM
1 is the best, but I love the dialogues of 4 and the fulfillment of Herbert's utopian vision.  2 and 3 were good, I don't remember anything of 5 and only made it a third of the way through 6.  Still, one of the great classic series of science fiction, if not THE classic series (all apologies to Foundation).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on June 05, 2011, 02:05:59 AM
Anyone read beyond franks books?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on June 05, 2011, 02:08:56 AM
I'm afraid to.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 'Noke on June 05, 2011, 07:41:48 AM
(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_brnQ_SAA444/TUa7v-aQZPI/AAAAAAAABXw/ZnD6jTcqzJ4/s1600/WhereGoodIdeasComeFrom.jpg)

So, could I just find this in some bookstore, read those seven ideas quickly and get the gist of the plot? Cause the idea sounds fascinating.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on June 07, 2011, 07:25:58 PM
I'd encourage you to check out this (http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2010/nov/16/idea-time-come/) Radiolab episode first. It's the discussion that sold me on checking out the book in the first place. In hindsight it briefly covers most everything in the book. I think on the amazon.com review page for the book you can find a list and brief description of all the principals in the book. But yeah, you could just go find the book, skim it and be done with it. A more thorough reading might strengthen the case but wouldn't provide any additional revelations, imo. :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on June 08, 2011, 02:13:49 AM
It was the Radiolab podcast that turned me on to that book as well.  Radiolab is awesome.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on June 12, 2011, 07:35:22 PM
The Social Animal by David Brooks

(http://www.marginalrevolution.com/.a/6a00d8341c66b253ef014e5fa9eed0970c-800wi)

There has been a lot of research on the brain and about how an individual is marked by society.  But apart from some studies and chapters in broader books, there really hasn't been a work that summarized the recent science supporting social influence.  Brooks attempts to fill that void in a unique way.

Instead of writing another dusty old tome, he writes the story of Harold and Erica, from how their parents got together to their deaths as a married couple.  Because, Brooks postulates, every aspect of life is determined by society and how we fit in it.  Even though the specifics all deal with this two individuals, the summary of research applies to us all. 

Brooks deals with falling in love, sex, brain differences when becoming a part of a couple, politics, searching for a job, different kinds of employment, hobbies, brain differences in old age and so much more.

Not only is this book important-- probably the most important book I will have read this year-- but it is written well.  I swallowed it up in a week and am thinking about having it permanently on my shelf for re-reading later.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on June 12, 2011, 07:42:16 PM
I'm going to pick that up Steve.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on June 12, 2011, 08:39:50 PM
I have an instinctual dislike of David Brooks. Well, maybe not instinctual, but his NYT column, it isn't good.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on June 20, 2011, 11:12:18 AM
Blink by Malcom Gladwell

Interesting book with a lot of in depth case studies that really delve into the power of the unconscious part of the brain. I liked this one a lot more than Gladwell's previous book, The Tipping Point. He describes how our quick impressions define our view of other races, our view of who would be good to date, etc. Really a terrific and interesting study. Im listening to his next book now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on June 21, 2011, 01:17:22 AM
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

picked this one up at 1/2 Price Books when Norm Macdonald started @Normsbookclub on Twitter and made it the initial dictation. Discussion on 6/23-30 that Im looking forward to.

Anyways, this is a very good book, and between Jack Burden and Willie Stark Id have to say it creates two of my favorite characters in literature. One GETS the Stark character with the brilliant Broderick Crawford performance in the 1949 film, but its the philosophical ramblings of Burden (the story's narrator) that really pushes this novel past its adaptation.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on July 05, 2011, 11:18:09 PM
Blink by Malcom Gladwell

Interesting book with a lot of in depth case studies that really delve into the power of the unconscious part of the brain. I liked this one a lot more than Gladwell's previous book, The Tipping Point. He describes how our quick impressions define our view of other races, our view of who would be good to date, etc. Really a terrific and interesting study. Im listening to his next book now.

I agree. A really fun read. It helped me understand my own decision making better, particularly in my job. I should re-read it.

(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_MsMI2Le-Dn0/TINLTOSvnQI/AAAAAAAACWQ/OeRVjxaqjLw/s1600/handmaid%27s+tale.jpg)

It's shameful how long this took me to read but I've been busy. I didn't find it to be the kind of book that lends itself well to short bursts, because of the broken up timeline, so I would only pick it up if I had an hour or more to really sink in.

Quite an experience though. Atwood is certainly of a higher caliber of writer than I'm used to. I don't mean the story telling or ideas (although those were terrific too) but the language and words. She seems to know what she's doing (I'm no expert but you can just kind of tell, can't you?). The book seems to have something to say about everything. Human nature, religion, torture, servitude, jealousy... you name it. Every chapter provided some new insight on some old topic. And the story itself is just so compelling. What a world!

I was surprised by the epilogue thing and still don't really know how to feel about it. I thought her story ended so well. I wanted it to be over, it felt like the right time. The switch is so sudden and things become so clinical, I wanted to pretend it wasn't there.

Heavy, kind of brutal but riveting too, and rewarding. Like nothing I've read before.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on July 06, 2011, 12:05:22 AM
(http://i53.tinypic.com/2wn5ukz.jpg)

Junior - I don't know if you commented on this yet but I am almost ready to label this as Mieville's best.
Never would I thought I would have enjoyed a lesson in linguistics as much as I did.
This is the story of the evolution of language for an alien race - we take language for granted daily but we fail to take into account how complex our thought processes are because of it. We can take a statement - it can be a truth, a lie or even both all at the same time for us and simultaneously define our world around us and our position in it.
I nearly cried when Avice finally got through to Spanish Dancer and he began to communicate with her - it was truly a thrilling literary moment for me. As original as The City & The City but giving a better emotional pay-out (for me) at the end.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on July 06, 2011, 09:05:17 AM
Have you read any other Atwood, smirnoff? My favorites are Cat's Eye and Alias Grace.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on July 06, 2011, 09:38:12 AM
Have you read any other Atwood, smirnoff? My favorites are Cat's Eye and Alias Grace.

I have not. I'd be most interest in checking out her other sci-fi/concept world type stuff if there is any.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on July 06, 2011, 09:54:02 AM
Loved Oryx & Crake - am reading the sequel The Year of the Flood right now.

Noff - both of these would be what you are looking for... 8)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on July 06, 2011, 10:02:21 AM
Yeah, Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood are the way to go for that, for sure. Also The Blind Assassin.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on July 06, 2011, 10:06:09 AM
Cool, thanks for the recommendations.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on July 06, 2011, 07:19:09 PM
Fans of Atwood might be interested in hearing her Desert Island Discs (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/desert-island-discs/castaway/2f0408b1#p00937l3).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 14, 2011, 05:25:27 PM
Read it before the movie comes out this winter and is derided for being too emotional!

Book Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-extremely-loud-and.html)

Quote from: me
I've cried plenty of times at movies, songs, and even TV shows. They're able to reach that level where the emotions are high enough quickly and effectively through the combination of sound and (in the case of movies and TV) pictures. It almost seems like cheating. A book has never made me cry though a few have come close, including Roald Dahl's Danny the Champion of the World and Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. But for whatever reason they never quite reached that point to turn words into tears. It's probably not their fault, I don't blame them any. It has as much to do with my investment as it does with the quality of the writing. There's just something about the way books work which makes it harder for me to get attached enough to shed a tear. All of this was true until I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a book about a young boy dealing with his father's death on 9/11 and looking for a lock to match a key. There was not one but two moments in the book that made me cry in addition to the countless others where I laughed and exclaimed in shock. What I'm saying is that this books is not only extremely well written and incredibly emotional but that those two combine to vault it into my short list of the best books I've ever read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on July 16, 2011, 02:45:27 PM
Nocturnes (Kazuo Ishiguro)

A collection of five short stories that are loosely connected like movements in a piece of music. All the stories feature music and musicians prominently. It's well-written which one pretty much assumes when t comes to Ishiguro. But while I find most of his novels extremely poignant, I found these stories terribly sterile and very forgettable. Disappointing.

Blow-Up and Other Stories (Julio Cortázar)
This is easily one of my favorite author discoveries over the past couple of years. These are some of the most imaginative, surreal and deeply moving stories I've read in a long time. Each one is so different from the other and yet, each one is a little masterpiece unto itself. Absolutely delightful.

I find it very hard to describe Cortázar's style. But if you want to get a sense of his style, am pasting links to a couple of his stories online.

Axolotls (http://sayberklas.tripod.com/anthology_short_stories_in_english/id32.html)
Letter to a Young Lady in Paris (http://akissonthephiltrum.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/letter-to-a-young-lady-in-paris-julio-cortazar/)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on July 16, 2011, 04:01:43 PM
Descartes' Bones

A fascinating history of a skeleton that goes through the history of three hundred years of science and enlightenment.  I learned a lot from this book, especially about how early scientists thought.

Sabriel
A highly praised novel by Garth Nix.  I'm looking forward to the next two books, but the characters weren't that compelling to me.  The world and types of magic were fascinating.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 17, 2011, 12:18:45 AM
My review of Embassytown by China Miéville. (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-embassytown-by-china.html)

Basically I agree with St. Martin except for his conclusion.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on July 17, 2011, 01:26:16 PM
2030 by Albert Brooks

The first 100-150 pages of this book were really rough for me. Comparing it to 1984 (unfair yes, but if you name your future vision story after a year you open it to the comparison) there is just too much telling and not enough showing. Orwell throws you right into the world, and rarely is it necessary for the narrative to fill in the back story. Brooks' novel just explains and explains for pages at a time, and its just kind of clunky.

After that however, it reads really well and I was plenty invested into the characters. The four or five main story threads blend really well, and I found myself casting the movie as I read along. Brooks of course, would play the president.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bill Thompson on July 17, 2011, 03:25:16 PM
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997, J. K. Rowling)

My first exposure to the books, and I have to say, it's quite a world to jump into. I won't be making many, if any, comparisons to the movie, each takes place in their own medium and deserve to be judged on their own merits. Early on Miss Rowling does something that impressed me mightily, she refuses to dumb down her book while at the same time making sure that it is easily accessible for a younger reader. I was impressed with how fleshed out the world and its characters were. I especially liked the hints at characters and events to come. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone moves at a leisurely pace, and to be honest the story is very slight, but that's okay because this is a story about introducing us to the world and to the characters. The only minor complaint I have is that Quidditch, as it is described in this book, is very hard to follow. That may just be me though, and maybe on a second read it will make more sense to me. Great book, I'd say.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on July 17, 2011, 05:28:27 PM
Great to hear you've started in on the series, Bill! It reads quick eh?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bill Thompson on July 17, 2011, 05:33:20 PM
Great to hear you've started in on the series, Bill! It reads quick eh?

Very quick actually, I took some breaks so in actual time it took me about four days to read the first book. In actual reading time it probably took me only around four-five hours I think.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on July 17, 2011, 05:36:22 PM
They get longer but I honestly couldn't tell.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bill Thompson on July 17, 2011, 08:46:29 PM
They get longer but I honestly couldn't tell.

The first chapter in Chamber of Secrets was a bit too "this is what you need to know" exposition and it took me a while to get through that. Now that I have, it's moving at the same pace as the first book, and that pace is very fast. :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: AAAutin on July 17, 2011, 09:15:33 PM
My review of Embassytown by China Miéville. (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-embassytown-by-china.html)

Good review! Please write more. I find serious book discussion/criticism severely lacking in current internet culture. These days, it seems if you aren't a wizard, a vampire, or a teen gladiator, you don't rate.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 18, 2011, 12:12:57 PM
My review of Embassytown by China Miéville. (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-embassytown-by-china.html)

Good review! Please write more. I find serious book discussion/criticism severely lacking in current internet culture. These days, it seems if you aren't a wizard, a vampire, or a teen gladiator, you don't rate.

Thank you very much. I sometimes feel like I'm shouting into the void and I really appreciate any time somebody reads (much less enjoys!) something I've written. So thank you, seriously.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bill Thompson on July 19, 2011, 08:54:03 PM
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998, J. K. Rowling)

The world expands, and I loved being along for the ride. Another quick and easy read, the pages flew by. The characters are all a year older and the book reads like they are a year older. My only real complaint was the consistent recapping of the first book. I understand why it was there but it became repetitive and did bog down the story somewhat. My complaint is not a major one though, just letting you know it exists. I liked how the stakes were raised in Chamber of Secrets, I especially liked how much more meaning there was behind the ending of this one. Another great read in the series to be sure.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on July 19, 2011, 09:17:31 PM
Yeah, that's an understandable gripe. One of the downsides of rapid reading the series I guess... but fortunately it's minor like you said. Glad to hear things are keeping pace.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on July 19, 2011, 09:29:59 PM
Yea, the first three books are pretty much the same book to me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on July 19, 2011, 09:33:11 PM
I felt the same way, and almost didn't bother reading the fourth book (especially when I saw how long it was-- I was so glad I did, though).

Now, however, the only book I felt that could have been dropped out without too much difficulty is the second.  It gives a little bit more info and character development, but it seems like too much of a re-write of the first book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on July 19, 2011, 09:48:20 PM
The third book is not at all the same book. Not even close. It doesn't even have Voldemort.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on July 19, 2011, 09:53:46 PM
The third book is not at all the same book. Not even close. It doesn't even have Voldemort.

You're right, but like the first two books, it focuses on the daily life and holidays of the Hogwarts students, and that perspective as an outline seemed pretty dull by the third time through.  The third time I read the books, I didn't compare the third to the first two at all as the stakes were really different and the new characters were so fascinating.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on July 19, 2011, 10:40:39 PM
The second book is important in hindsight. At the time, not so much.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FroHam X on July 19, 2011, 10:52:38 PM
The second book is important in hindsight. At the time, not so much.

Yeah, re-reading it I was struck by how much from the second book came back around. Even the Room of Requirement shows up!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Totoro on July 25, 2011, 01:17:01 AM
Do graphic novels get any love around here?

I just finished GIRLS, a very long winded weird graphic novel miniseries written and illustrated by the Luna Brothers. IT WAS STRANGE. IT WAS FREAKY. BUT MOST OF ALL... IT WAS AWESOME. All I got to say is that you may read a synopsis and think it's kind of sexist, but it's not in the least. It's all very real. Think The Walking Dead mixed with a battle of the sexes. I will say it starts out like this. Ethan, a mid-twenties slacker, is not doing well six months after his break up. He lives in a small town. One night, after he gets into a bar fight, he drives home and finds a naked woman in the middle of the street. He takes her home, heals her wound, and tries to talk to her. She seduces him, they have sex, and then everything goes horrifically wrong.

What I liked most about the story is how well drawn the characters are. The women aren't overly glamorous sex objects and the men aren't extraordinary heroes. They're a bunch of normal people with everyday problems. Over the course of a week, their marriages and lives are tested emotionally, physically, and mentally. It's all very gripping, sad, and kind of funny too. The story also brings up a wide variety of problems men and women have with each other. The failure to understand each other, the selfishness of men, the "all men are sex hounds" assumption women have, marriages falling apart, etc. It's great stuff. I highly recommend the read.

Has anyone else read it?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bill Thompson on July 25, 2011, 06:18:30 PM
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999, J. K. Rowling)

The series keeps getting better, and it speaks to the quality of this book, and the series as a whole, that while I did have issues with Azkaban it's still that great. My issues are twofold, 1) the opening with the Dursley's is overkill. The first two novels have adequately expressed how terrible they are and how bad Harry's situation with them  is. That section of the book could have used a good trimming to cut down on the redundancy. 2) I found Sirius' offer for Harry to love with him as well as Harry's reaction to be rushed. It's not that I don't believe the genuine nature of their actions, but the moment felt off to me because of how hurried it came across. Those problems aside, everything else in Azkaban is darn tootin great. Quidditch has never been better, the build of all the mysteries and the tension to the action moments was superb. I especially loved the conflict between the main three, it makes the true strength of their friendship shine more brightly. All in all I continue to be impressed with this series, very impressed.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on July 25, 2011, 07:13:30 PM
About your 1) point, I can completely relate to the feeling of early chapter redundancy. It could be said I suppose that this was Rowling's intention, to get you longing for Hogwarts just like Harry is in that moment, in which case she played you (and me) like a fiddle ;)

Eh, I'm just puttin' a positive spin on it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on July 28, 2011, 09:20:35 PM
(http://www.faithinterface.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/The-Grand-Design.jpg)

Even the science in layman's terms is tricky to wrap your head around, but amazing nevertheless. What I find funny is that in a couple generations people will grow up learning string theory, the 10 dimensions, quantum mechanics, space-time, and all that other stuff. They'll understand it easily, like we understand Newton's laws. Good book, interesting conclusions.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on August 01, 2011, 08:26:40 AM
In the event that you accidentally start reading the Harry Potter series at Azkaban, with no prior knowledge, the repetitive beginnings aspect is a real help. ;) I seriously got a long way through Azkaban without realizing it wasn't the first book in the series. This was pre-movies obviously.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 05, 2011, 12:36:41 PM
Benefits of a Classical Education - Book Review: Company by Max Barry. (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/book-review-company-by-max-barry/)

Quote from: me
With Company, author Max Barry, writes a fine entry in contemporary satirical business writing. As silly a genre as that sounds like it is a well populated one, with The Office (both versions) and Parks and Recreation and even The Crimson Permanent Assurance (the short film in front of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life about a company in the middle of a takeover which suddenly turns into a pirate ship/building and assaults their new bosses with the weapons available to any average office worker) being both popular and well received by critics. It is a genre that stretches back to Bartleby, the Scrivener, that endless source of high school and college papers about disaffected cogs in the corporate machine that sometimes grind to a halt with only a small, quiet “I would prefer not to,” as a rallying cry. Everyone, it seems, from Mr. Martin of James Thurber’s The Catbird Seat to Company’s own Jones (he’s not given a first name because the nametag at his new job shows only his last) gets annoyed at the politics and demeaning nature of corporate life but only some are in a position to do anything about it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on August 05, 2011, 02:45:03 PM
Quote
the 10 dimensions
I thought there were 13, so difficult to keep up
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on August 10, 2011, 12:45:32 PM
Easy Riders and Raging Bulls

Kind of essiential reading for the big New Hollywood fan (as my top 100 is filled with Scorsese, Coppola, Altman, Malick from that era I think that's me). I feel like I had a pretty good grip on a lot of these guys' stories but it was good to fill in the gaps. Furthermore, I learned a lot about directors I like a lot (Rafelson, Ashby, Beatty) but never really took the time to check out a lot of DVD special features on. I like Biskind's writing style, where he seemingly knows how to only stay on a subject as long as it is interesting, then bounce away from it for a perfect amount of time. I plan on reading his book about the 90s independent film scene soon based on how much I liked this. Only minor complaint is that he didnt spend too much time on Heaven's Gate, which, in its own special way, is as important to the story as Apocalyspe Now, Bonnie & Clyde, etc.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on August 10, 2011, 04:32:01 PM
I think that book made me hate all those films and directors  :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on August 10, 2011, 04:36:07 PM
I've had my eye on that book for a while, but I've got enough material on hand to read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: AAAutin on August 10, 2011, 04:42:46 PM
Haven't read the book, saw the doc. Thought it was overly dishy and glam-laden. Would rather stick with A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE.

Have you seen the documentary, jrod? And, if so, what's the comparison?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on August 10, 2011, 06:19:13 PM
I have not seen the documentary.

The book is has a pretty impressive compilation of stories and quotes from the people involved. I cant imagine getting all of that content into a doc and telling a compelling story. I was using the appendicies and indexes a lot just to keep up with all the studio heads, girlfriends, screen writers, etc.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on August 10, 2011, 07:36:05 PM
It's not that hard really, they love talking about themselves and have a ton of free time now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on August 10, 2011, 09:33:29 PM
So cold. Love it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on August 18, 2011, 12:39:23 PM
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Thought Id read one of the highly regarded works by the man who got A Confederacy of Dunces published, as that is a book I really enjoy. The title made this one the obvious choice for me.

The story's main character and narrator is Binx Bolling. He is certainley a rather angst filled character, but its not really the Catcher in the Rye angst that such a description conjures. Rather, he is about as detached a character as one could possibly imagine. You read through the book and rather dramatic and strenuous life events are happening or are discussed. Our narrator has less interest in these things than the new William Holden movie. Its a tone I found pretty damn amusing.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on August 18, 2011, 01:27:53 PM
When my computer was down I caught up on a little bit of reading (when I could stay awake):

Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix:  Harry's rage seems TOO irrational, (even though Dumbledore tries to explain it away at the end).  But I'm glad Rowlings made the effort to make Harry less than perfect.  Plotwise, it is almost perfect. 

To Kill A Mockingbird: This story IS perfect. If you have never read it, please do.  One of the simplest, yet literary books in existence.  And it is liberal in the best sense of the word. 

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on August 18, 2011, 01:45:13 PM
Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix:  Harry's rage seems TOO irrational

I felt the same way at times.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on August 18, 2011, 02:06:29 PM
The Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
Is this a satire on college sports? A spoof of Romeo and Juliet?  Or another polemic on racism?  Or just a comedy with nothing much to say?  Well, it's a little of each, with it being more character driven than many Discworld novels.  If you like Discworld, it's a good book.  If you've not read any Discworld books, this isn't the one to begin with.  Good, but not great (like Thief of Time or Going Postal).

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on August 23, 2011, 07:34:58 PM
Magician - Raymond E. Feist

Kulgan stopped for a moment "This explains how he knew so much." He resumed his reading.

Gee, thanks Mr Feist, I really needed that clarification. And the many others. It's such a shame they're there, because this was pretty great to revisit. The story is still a great ride, and some of the narrative ideas are top notch. I had no intention to re-read the two books that follow, but I may have to go there. A nice surprise.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on August 28, 2011, 03:38:16 AM
Sabriel--Solid fantasy, but the characters don't seem really well developed.  Just hints and glimpses of a clearly fully developed fantasy world.  I can't wait to see how it unfolds.

Lirael-- Much better volume.  I am caught by it immediately, even though it doesn't seem to have much to do with the first volume, at first blush.  The two main characters develop naturally and expertly, especially the title character.  But the way the world is opened up slowly, so we understand more of the magic and the history in fits and starts throughout the volume is brilliant.  Marvelous second volume.  It bugs me that it doesn't end, but at least I have the third volume to pick up right away.  And so I have.


Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on August 30, 2011, 04:37:34 PM
With all of this Lord of the Rings talk I figure I should chime in with a recommendation of my own.

Benefits of a Classical Education: Book Review: The Magician King by Lev Grossman (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/book-review-the-magician-king-by-lev-grossman/)

Lev Grossman’s breakout book, The Magicians, was part Harry Potter, part Narnia, and part “literary”. Someday soon I’ll write about how silly the distinction of “literary-ness” is but until then we’ll just assume it means that it gets down to real feelings and is well written. And The Magicians was all that, a disaffected youth finds out that magic is real and goes to school to learn how to do it. Then he goes to a fantasy land and defeats an evil magician. Sounds like one of a billion fantasy romps but the anger and sadness emanating from Quentin, the hero, twists it just enough to make it a worthwhile effort. I didn’t love that book, well written though it was, because the near-constant whining was kind of annoying. This sequel, The Magician King, fixes that for the most part and is better for it.

Read the rest at Benefits of a Classical Education.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on September 06, 2011, 02:06:39 AM
The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Second book in the series and it continues to be quite enjoyable if not exactly fine literature. I appreciate that it takes a certain nerdy epidemiological/public health angle in explaining the situation in this fairly fresh take on the vampire story that removes the elegance that has more recently been associated with vampires and gives it a bit more of the grunge expected of zombies. One can often see del Toro's hand at work in certain descriptions that seem to be creating the movie image on the page. I would like to see him adapt this, though considering the first two books unfold in a couple weeks, I'm wondering if an extended mini-series might cover the whole trilogy effectively.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on September 13, 2011, 10:59:01 AM
The Postmortal

I rather like Drew Magary's immature ranting and mockings at Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber, and following him on Twitter I get his Maxim and NBC articles and what not when they look interesting. Anyways, Im a fan so I bought his new book. Quite a departure from his normal writing.

Basically it starts in 2019, when the cure for aging is discovered. The characters deal with the morality and practicality of having an unlimited lifespan. The first half of the story is terrific, the second half wasnt my favorite (according to the acknowledgements, this half was rewritten several times)

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on September 14, 2011, 10:52:03 AM
Bossypants by Tina Fey

Well this is about the last comedian audiobook that my library has that I can listen to (tear). I really thought this one was a lot better organized than some of the various other comedy people books Ive gone through. It really does a good job weaving together the life stories and the fun bits. I liked Patton Oswalt and Sarah Silvermans books ok, but they really struggled with that blend.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: MP on September 15, 2011, 07:34:03 PM
"Postmortal" sounds like interwebz speak for "hungover".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on September 17, 2011, 08:27:40 AM
Bossypants

I thought it was dull at first, but after she is performing it gets a lot funnier.  Overall, a good read.  My wife loved it.  3/5

Thief of Time
This is the one Discworld novel that I can recommend without reservation to almost everyone.  It is truly thoughtful and innovative.  If you had read all the previous ones, perhaps it wouldn't seem so unique (Pratchett tends to reuse parts of his plots), but still, this book is amazing.  Good characters, as usual, but some really interesting ideas.  It isn't just funny.  5/5

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on September 18, 2011, 09:17:14 AM
Dune

My third time through the book and while I still remember a lot of the story, it's still as rewarding as ever. This time around, I got the most out of the dialogue, which is so precise, controlled and smart. Frank Herbert payed a lot of attention to how each character uses their words and the connotations and meanings that each one has. And I'm still astounded by how he brings so many ideologies into the story and seamlessly weaves them together: politics, religion, theology, ecology, economics and sociology all play an important part in the book. I've yet to read another book that is quite as encompassing and grand in this sense. Still one of the best books I've read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on September 18, 2011, 09:21:15 AM
Miranda Cosgrove and Emma Roberts love that Tina Fey book as well, I think.

I thought about reading it, but I really do not like Tina Fey. If I do read it, I expect to like it about as much as you did, Steve.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jim brown on September 20, 2011, 04:41:48 PM
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

(http://i51.tinypic.com/2cmptsk.jpg)

I'm a sucker for any book, movie or television show that features a snowy locale, and if you throw a serial killer into the mix then that's pretty much nirvana to me.  This is the first book that I've read by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, but it's his seventh in a series involving Oslo detective Harry Hole.  Hole is investigating the disappearances of some women around Oslo and is convinced that it is the work of a serial killer.  His colleagues don't believe him (apparently there are no serial killers in Norway, or something like that).  That's pretty much all the plot you need to know.

The book is eminently enjoyable.  I had no issues with the translation - no frustrating malapropisms or awkwardly inept turns-of-phrase.  The prose is dry; it's a bit like Henning Mankell but it moves at a much quicker clip.  And even though I figured out who the murderer was early on, Nesbo populates the story with enough interesting characters and back stories to keep you guessing how it all fits together.  An easy book to recommend to anyone who enjoys a good mystery or thriller.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: AAAutin on September 22, 2011, 08:52:24 PM
(http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/425673/2007_04_23rawshark.jpg)


A bit like JAWS, off the coast of SHUTTER ISLAND.

(In other words: lotsa style, little substance.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on October 03, 2011, 11:17:18 AM
In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan

In some ways this short story collection was perfect for me. It is after all filled with all kinds of depravity. There is a woman-simian relationship, a man-doll relationship (years before Lars and the Real Girl would come along), a relationship between a young teen girl and her tween girlfriend, with the former's body described with interest by the father/narrator. All manner of edgy sexual material is present. Yet I was still a little underwhelmed as a whole.

The most interesting stories to me were Dead As They Come and Two Fragments. DATC, the one involving a man's relationship with a mannequin, which in many ways takes into account all the feminist critiques of the real doll industry and what it says about the men. By having the female be an inanimate object, the story can hone in on the man's psychology and has interesting things to say.

Two Fragments takes place in a broken down or dystopic England. I'm not sure it says anything brilliant but it has good mood and interactions. Anyway, it was really only the final two stories (out of seven) that really fell flat for me so I guess that is worth some praise.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Ryecatcher on October 06, 2011, 04:45:36 PM
Dune

My third time through the book and while I still remember a lot of the story, it's still as rewarding as ever. This time around, I got the most out of the dialogue, which is so precise, controlled and smart. Frank Herbert payed a lot of attention to how each character uses their words and the connotations and meanings that each one has. And I'm still astounded by how he brings so many ideologies into the story and seamlessly weaves them together: politics, religion, theology, ecology, economics and sociology all play an important part in the book. I've yet to read another book that is quite as encompassing and grand in this sense. Still one of the best books I've read.

Reading that one for the first time right now actually. I saw the David Lynch film way back when (didn't really think it was that well done), but I've been putting off reading Dune for quite a while. I've always been a huge Tolkien fan, but thought perhaps it would be time to find something new, as reading the Lord of The Rings for the 21st time just seemed somehow a bit... I don't know... excessive).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on October 06, 2011, 06:53:08 PM
I haven't got to 21 times with LotR, but I've probably read it around 10 times. As long as I get more out of it, I'll not see rereading it as excessive.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 13, 2011, 05:19:54 PM
Benefits of a Classical Education: The Handmaid's Tale; The Old Man and the Sea; Cat's Cradle. (http://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/the-handmaids-tale-the-old-man-and-the-sea-cats-cradle/)

I recently went on vacation to Portland, Maine. I took a few books with me to read, waiting to decide which one would get the call up from the general population to a seat of high honor until I arrived at our destination and got a feel for the place. You can’t just charge into these things willy-nilly. The lucky book was a used copy of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t know why. Anyways, I read it, and I got some new used books. I finished it on our second night there. The next night I had to decide what book would succeed it. I took our location into account and decided that Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea should enjoy its reign. It was short, a one night stand. And then, finally, I chose to re-read Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, a book I hadn’t read since high school and had only vague memories drifting around in my head. These three books in the span of a week. So there won’t be any single review, instead let us look at each book as it relates to the other. Because what good are coincidences if they are not explored?

Read the rest at Benefits of a Classical Education.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on October 19, 2011, 03:49:56 PM
Go Down, Moses

My first Faulkner book is a collection with 2 novellas and 5 short stories, all tied together through the McCaslin and their slaves (eventually their black employees after slavery is abolished) family over the span of a century or so. Overall I really liked it, although I am currently rereading a 60 page section of the Bear, the longer of the two novellas. Faulkner's style is tough to follow in places :P
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on October 19, 2011, 03:52:23 PM
I've only read one Faulkner as well, but I really loved The Sound and the Fury.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 19, 2011, 09:04:08 PM
My only Faulkner so far was As I Lay Dying, and that book is phenomenal. I have The Sound and the Fury waiting on my bookshelf, though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on October 19, 2011, 09:27:43 PM
I believe his best, and the best American novel ever written, is Absalom, Absalom. I haven't read it, and when I tried I had too difficult of a time penetrating Faulkner's writing style, but my one former professor swears by the merits of Absalom. And this guy, he's old and wizened, and knows everything (even if I didn't agree with him about a number of things), so I have little reason to question him.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on October 31, 2011, 12:25:15 PM
Life Itself by Roger Ebert

Really enjoyed the middle of this book the most, when Ebert talks about his time with his favorite people in the film world, including Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum, Robert Altman, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese and Gene Siskel...all of whom I believe have a chapter devoted to them. He also goes into discussion about Rahmin Bahrani, Pauline Kael, Richard Roeper, and more here and there.
Also is good at the end, with chapters pondering the biggest questions of all.
The chapters about growing up and getting started are rarely too interesting to me in biographies, but it was ok for me in this book, I just liked the other stuff better. Also in this category Id add stuff about his world travels.
Anyways, if you like Roger's writing, which I do, this is a pretty good memoir.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on October 31, 2011, 01:30:01 PM
Finished up The Strain yesterday afternoon. It was good pulpy stuff, nothing super spectacular. There's one sequence that is really great, though. The 20 or so pages that describe the occultation of the sun by the moon (an eclipse, basically) is really well written. The rest is kinda straightforward. I'm looking forward to the next two books, but they're not exactly at the top of my to-read list.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Mike Shutt on November 15, 2011, 04:12:05 PM
Batman: Noël

Lee Bermejo has established himself in the comics world as one of the most detailed, stylistic, and disciplined artists in recent years. Previous to this book, he collaborated on another Bat-book with the great Brain Azzarello on Joker, which is astounding. This time, Bermejo pulls double duty by not only creating some of the most beautiful artwork you'll ever see but also writing an emotional Batman story that will soon be considered required reading for Batman fans, along with Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Long Halloween. Bermejo takes the structure of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and fills each role with various Gotham inhabitants (and one outside of that). However, it really is a Batman story. It deals with Wayne's personal demons and how angry a man he has become in the cape and cowl. It takes this night of haunting to realize he is a force for good and should be remembered as such. Though it may seem odd at first glance to pair up Batman and A Christmas Carol, but as you are reading it and the pieces all come together, the result is extremely emotionally affecting and instantly makes you want to read it again. But of course what elevates this book from being great to a masterpiece is Bermejo's artwork. Each panel looks is filled with an immense amount of detail. You can feel the cold and hear the snow crunch as Batman's boots trudge through it. Everything is filled with slavish detail that is hard not to be caught up in it. Below is a page to hopefully kind of understand what I mean.
(http://i43.tinypic.com/xgmhcn.jpg)
Overall, this is a beautiful Batman story that is beautiful to look at. Bermejo proves that he is an extremely talented writer,and once again shows his artistic perfection. And you do not have to be a Batman fan or even a comic book fan to enjoy this story. I highly recommend everyone check it out. Chances are you will finish it in one sitting and be grateful you read it. As a fan of this stuff, I loved every bit of it and cannot wait to read it over and over and over again.

Grade: A+
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on November 26, 2011, 04:51:58 PM
Chapterhouse: Dune

Unfortunately I took a 4 or 5 month break between books 5 and 6 in this series. I figured Id be ok considering the time between their release dates was probably longer than that and fans probably dealt with it well enough...but I wasnt. I reread maybe 30 pages of Heretics of Dune before combing the internet for an extremely detailed synopsis that answered questions I had regarding one character's motivation or another. Frustrating. Herbert also doesnt seem as interested in the adventure or ecology that made his earlier books in the series so special. Books 5 and 6 are just chapter after chapter of characters discussing strategy and politics. Works for awhile but we need a few more payoffs.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 26, 2011, 05:57:22 PM
Yea, it's dense, boring and doesn't make much sense. I think I disliked Heretics more, but Chapterhouse is pretty close. A disappointing ending to an interesting series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on November 26, 2011, 10:46:57 PM
Dune is one of my favorite series of all time.  But I never could finish Chaperhouse.

Has anyone read his son's prequels?  Are they worth bothering over?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 26, 2011, 10:52:37 PM
Never did touch the prequels. Beyond Tolkien, I've not been much of one for expanded universe.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on November 27, 2011, 01:09:09 AM
I bought the out of print Eye by Herbert, a short story collection with one or two in the Dune universe. going to read that in a month or two I think.

Id be more keen to at least try some of his sons efforts if they were nearer the 300 page range than the 800.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on November 27, 2011, 02:20:21 AM
Anyone remember the Herbert books Destination: Void and the follow ups The Jesus Incident and The Lazarus Effect?  The first was pretty heady hard sci-fi... the second two were much more like Dune follow ups with a really spooky premise.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on November 30, 2011, 05:57:55 PM
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Didnt read this in school growing up because there were some parents that complained about it's language, so I decided to catch up, it being considered one of the great American novels and all.
I really liked it overall, particularly the two story arcs where Huck comes to live with a family involved in a rivalry with another, and the one where he is caught up with two grifters trying to sucker some young women out of the inheritance left to them by their dead father. The last story arc, with Tom Sawyer involved felt like the weakest part of the book to me (I just found out that Hemingway suggested stopping before this portion of the book according to the book's wiki page).
Ive read Tom and Huck now....going to take on another Twain in a month or two. Recommendations? 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 30, 2011, 06:38:39 PM
Anyone remember the Herbert books Destination: Void and the follow ups The Jesus Incident and The Lazarus Effect?  The first was pretty heady hard sci-fi... the second two were much more like Dune follow ups with a really spooky premise.
I've got The Jesus Incident but I need to get a hold of a copy of Destination: Void before I start the series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on November 30, 2011, 06:42:07 PM
Should we just rename this the "Dune and other books (sometimes)" thread?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 30, 2011, 06:55:05 PM
Works for me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on December 01, 2011, 04:34:21 PM
Anyone remember the Herbert books Destination: Void and the follow ups The Jesus Incident and The Lazarus Effect?  The first was pretty heady hard sci-fi... the second two were much more like Dune follow ups with a really spooky premise.
I've got The Jesus Incident but I need to get a hold of a copy of Destination: Void before I start the series.

Destination: Void is completely different from other Herbert books.  Hope you like it, once you find it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FifthCityMuse on December 20, 2011, 05:56:46 PM
The Pale King - D F Wallace

It's hard to know how to feel about a novel that is so obviously not what we would have seen had the author been present to present their complete vision. Instead we have an assortment of chapters and stories, assembled as best as possible, through indications in the text itself and accompanying notes, but it ends up inevitably falling short.

There are moments of sheer brilliance, some of which I wouldn't mind discussing in greater detail, although I'm also aware that the joy I experienced from some of those moments was their surprise, so I'm of a mind to keep them unspoiled. In fact, more than just moments, I would say that there are longer chapters that are wonderful, but the connective tissue doesn't hold together, and so the experience is lesser. Even tho Brief Interviews With Hideous Men shot mostly entirely past me, it was still a more cohesive and powerful experience than The Pale King.

I think I might just go and be all sad an shit.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on December 23, 2011, 12:36:00 AM
Mrs. Warren's Profession by G. B. Shaw

Not among my favorite by Shaw.  I'm sure it was pretty edgy stuff in Victorian England, but it's dull and the conclusion is pretty judgmental, actually.  The characters are all pretty shallow and petty, and it wouldn't surprise me if none of them ever spoke to each other again.  Still, some good conversations, and well executed as usual.  A couple good quotes:

People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.

3/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on December 30, 2011, 09:36:54 AM
The Computer Connection- Alfred Bester

This might also be called Extro. Never mentioned in the same breath as his classic novels but it shares a similar neck breaker pace. It really is such a collection of bizarre ideas that the old story of an AI out for world domination gets lost in a fog of spectacular notions, such beings shocked into immortality by violent experiences (Krakatoa). If you have read the best of Bester this will sit very, if not read the classics or approach this with caution. I think Bester might have been a genius.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on January 01, 2012, 03:46:12 AM
Good Country People & Revelation- Flannery O'Connor

Two short stories from a collection of her complete short stories. I thought I would comment on themes & style and then see how these develop/ cohere through the entire volume.

The strongest impression was that the emphasis on the first person narrative that is the strength of literature generally is being brutally exploited in her work. In both stories the perspective of the narrator, which is naturally flawed means they cannot see that their faults lead them into trouble. In the first an academically learned girl is deceived by the same "good country people" she despises and looks down upon. In the second, the near stream of conciousness conversation in a country surgery waiting room leads to an attack, which is inexplicable to the pious lady involved.

O'Connor writes some deliciously dark descriptions of the thoughts in peoples' heads. In doing so she reveals the ways in which people undermine themselves and how their egotistical self-centred views of the world can hurt them. Neither of the offended characters ends the stories having their selfism diminished and they certainly aren't learning from what happens. In both cases, O'Connor creates claustrophobically small world situations where people feel safe in their own little worlds, until something "other" comes from outside their experience to hurt them. Similarly, the attack is from the younger generation, as if these new people don't play by the same rules as "good country people". That psychosis of "the killer inside", of petty criminality reminded me strongly of Jim Thompson. A casual darkness.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on January 01, 2012, 03:50:56 AM
Those themes you mention seem strong in the story A Good Man is Hard To Find as well.

Have you read her first novel Wise Blood?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on January 01, 2012, 05:43:35 AM
A Good Man Is Hard To Find & Everything That Rises Must Converge are the next ones I am going to read. These are the first I have read. Very much my kinda thing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on January 01, 2012, 02:42:43 PM
I love her writing.  I'm pretty sure OAD does too.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on January 02, 2012, 04:29:35 AM
I love her writing.  I'm pretty sure OAD does too.
It was her recommendation to read those stories in particular, so I thought I'd better write to let her know I had finally read them.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: worm@work on January 02, 2012, 05:03:00 AM
The Pale King - D F Wallace

It's hard to know how to feel about a novel that is so obviously not what we would have seen had the author been present to present their complete vision. Instead we have an assortment of chapters and stories, assembled as best as possible, through indications in the text itself and accompanying notes, but it ends up inevitably falling short.

There are moments of sheer brilliance, some of which I wouldn't mind discussing in greater detail, although I'm also aware that the joy I experienced from some of those moments was their surprise, so I'm of a mind to keep them unspoiled. In fact, more than just moments, I would say that there are longer chapters that are wonderful, but the connective tissue doesn't hold together, and so the experience is lesser. Even tho Brief Interviews With Hideous Men shot mostly entirely past me, it was still a more cohesive and powerful experience than The Pale King.

I think I might just go and be all sad an shit.

I haven't read Pale King yet and am slowly making my way through Brief Interviews which I started a couple of weeks ago while on vacation. But this part-remembrance / part-review (http://nplusonemag.com/king-of-the-ghosts) by one of his former students just broke my heart.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on January 02, 2012, 08:46:40 AM
A Good Man Is Hard To Find & Everything That Rises Must Converge are the next ones I am going to read. These are the first I have read. Very much my kinda thing.
Wow, these are beautifully dark. The line "you aren't who you think you are" ends up being a murder weapon.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on January 02, 2012, 07:33:22 PM
I love her writing.  I'm pretty sure OAD does too.
It was her recommendation to read those stories in particular, so I thought I'd better write to let her know I had finally read them.
Ooo, yay! So excited to read some of your initial thoughts.  Will return to write more when I have time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 04, 2012, 01:31:05 PM
Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicles Day 2) - Patrick Rothfuss

Everything I said about the previous book in the series applies here. It's episodic to the maxx, which isn't a bad thing, but it makes for halting reading. It works when the episode is good (the false gypsy camp late in the book is a good example) but there are a few that take way too long to get through. We start to see more cracks in the Kvothe armor. And it's interesting to consider that he's an unreliable narrator. This series has been hailed as one of the saviors of the Fantasy genre. I don't buy it. It's fine, not messianic.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on January 04, 2012, 01:46:26 PM
I believe his best, and the best American novel ever written, is Absalom, Absalom. I haven't read it, and when I tried I had too difficult of a time penetrating Faulkner's writing style, but my one former professor swears by the merits of Absalom. And this guy, he's old and wizened, and knows everything (even if I didn't agree with him about a number of things), so I have little reason to question him.

Absalom, Absalom is maybe the only book I've ever read that was a thoroughly exhausting chore to get through but also had me wanting to reread it again the instant I was done. I really, really liked it, though it's definitely not as accessible as As I Lay Dying and The Sound of the Fury.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: MartinTeller on January 04, 2012, 02:40:05 PM
Oh god, I tried reading Absalom once.  There was a sentence that went on for three pages and I put it down forever.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on January 04, 2012, 02:59:05 PM
I believe his best, and the best American novel ever written, is Absalom, Absalom. I haven't read it, and when I tried I had too difficult of a time penetrating Faulkner's writing style, but my one former professor swears by the merits of Absalom. And this guy, he's old and wizened, and knows everything (even if I didn't agree with him about a number of things), so I have little reason to question him.

Absalom, Absalom is maybe the only book I've ever read that was a thoroughly exhausting chore to get through but also had me wanting to reread it again the instant I was done. I really, really liked it, though it's definitely not as accessible as As I Lay Dying and The Sound of the Fury.

pixote

That's what I hear, which is why I really do want to read it/did want to instantly love it before I put it down and never found time to get back. Just had such difficulty penetrating that text, and my general aversion to reading novels in my free time when I could be getting more out of poetry, plays, or even short stories, that I'm not sure when I will get a chance to try reading it again/force myself through it. I think it's still the only Faulkner I've tried to read (I could be wrong about this though, but I don't believe I am). I really should try out The Sound and Dying, but the way this guy talked up Absalom, and the close reading he gave of a passage from the text about three or four years ago, have elevated it so high in my mind that I feel it's something I need to read. Or at least need to find some way I can get through it before moving on to other Faulkner.

Oh god, I tried reading Absalom once.  There was a sentence that went on for three pages and I put it down forever.

That sentence thing excites me too, especially since I enjoy the idea of seeing how far and how long I can string out sentences while still remaining coherent and focused, or if not focused at least substantive in what I am writing. That should make me want to read it more, but it just doesn't, which I guess is another reason why I should work on changing my own writing style. If I don't even want to read texts like that, only admire them, then I guess I can't expect other people to want to either.

Or maybe I should just accept that, mostly, novels aren't for me and I'm best keeping them to the side as a rare indulgence.

However, what pix says about Absalom echoes a lot of what I have heard, and I've had that feeling with every artistic medium I regularly ingest and it's a great feeling.

I should be a better reader.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on January 04, 2012, 03:02:48 PM
I'll revisit the Faulkner text someday, right after I memorize the Old Testament.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on January 04, 2012, 05:07:34 PM


It's definitely not as accessible as The Sound of the Fury.

pixote

Never thought I'd ever hear that statement.  Along the lines of, "It's certainly not as easy to read as Ulysses" or "It's not as simple to learn as Mandarin Chinese"
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jim brown on January 04, 2012, 05:08:44 PM
My mother is a fish.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 04, 2012, 05:11:45 PM
Hey, man. Just cuz we're talking books doesn't mean you have to write a whole chapter about it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jim brown on January 04, 2012, 05:21:18 PM
 :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on January 04, 2012, 06:26:36 PM
It's definitely not as accessible as The Sound of the Fury.

Never thought I'd ever hear that statement.  Along the lines of, "It's certainly not as easy to read as Ulysses" or "It's not as simple to learn as Mandarin Chinese"

Even rocket science isn't exactly "rocket science."

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on January 04, 2012, 07:36:52 PM
Hey, man. Just cuz we're talking books doesn't mean you have to write a whole chapter about it.
Haha.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on January 05, 2012, 12:21:33 AM


It's definitely not as accessible as The Sound of the Fury.

pixote

Never thought I'd ever hear that statement.  Along the lines of, "It's certainly not as easy to read as Ulysses" or "It's not as simple to learn as Mandarin Chinese"

It's pretty easy once you get the hang of it.  Ulysses too.

Hell, millions of little kids learn Mandarin Chinese every day.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on January 05, 2012, 12:54:30 AM


It's definitely not as accessible as The Sound of the Fury.

pixote

Never thought I'd ever hear that statement.  Along the lines of, "It's certainly not as easy to read as Ulysses" or "It's not as simple to learn as Mandarin Chinese"

It's pretty easy once you get the hang of it.  Ulysses too.

Hell, millions of little kids learn Mandarin Chinese every day.

Yeah, but I'm not a little kid.  And they don't have the much simpler language to learn as an option. 

Not only do I have English, but I also have Harry Potter.  How am I supposed to catch up with my Faulkner reading and my Chinese studies?  (even Hebrew kicked my butt)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on January 07, 2012, 01:10:25 AM
A Good Man Is Hard To Find & Everything That Rises Must Converge are the next ones I am going to read. These are the first I have read. Very much my kinda thing.
Wow, these are beautifully dark. The line "you aren't who you think you are" ends up being a murder weapon.
Next- O'Connor The Life You Save May Be Your Own & The River.
When you find yourself reading something completely other, when you can't define it or easily categorise it, it is all the more disturbing. These feel like case studies for a social worker.  Perhaps they are just frameworks for the dark thoughts of ordinary people.
The River, in particular, has really stayed with me. Short stories usually don't allow for significant character development so the fate of the people involved isn't what carries you along. It's a good idea or fleeting unusual way of thinking. O'Connor seems to be using the form for something different, and I am still working out what that is. At the moment it seems to be something akin to the process of reduction in chemistry or cooking. Taking basic known ingredients and then applying a process that strips away the less dense elements and leaves the thick brown juice. The over imaginative boy in The River, the bible teaching, the influence of a river preacher produce a reasonable response- it ends with the kid feeling disappointed & rejected by the river; and making you FEEL that.
The short form is perfect for this writing. This is really hitting home to me.
Got any more homework, teach?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on January 16, 2012, 10:26:57 PM
Just finished Romeo and Juliet tonight. I have to admit it was tough at first to get in tune with the language, which I guess should be expected, but then I just got to a point where everything was clicking linguistically. Oad's suggestion of starting with a story I was familiar with probably helped. The language is foreign, but there is a such immense beauty and flow to the words that it seems not odd, but majestic. Look forward to continuing my Shakespeare journey. So what should be next Filmspotters?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on January 17, 2012, 01:08:38 AM
My vote is King Lear.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on January 17, 2012, 01:12:05 AM
Maybe mix in a comedy? Much Ado About Nothing?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on January 17, 2012, 01:31:22 AM
Yeah, or A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on January 17, 2012, 08:15:01 AM
My vote is King Lear.
Epic
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on January 18, 2012, 03:24:37 PM
Macbeth
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 18, 2012, 03:28:39 PM
Macbeth

Yup.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: shuabert on January 18, 2012, 03:48:06 PM
Midsummer Night's Dream is wonderful.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 18, 2012, 06:02:26 PM
Batman: Hush - By Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee.

I always heard good things about Hush. It introduces a new villain while touching on most of the rogue's gallery we know and love. Even Superman gets a little segment. This book seems like an obvious inspiration for Arkham City with each bad guy getting something special to do while a larger mystery builds and builds. But it doesn't have the atmosphere that game has going for it. It does focus on Batman's friends and co-workers and how his relationship with them is potentially dangerous, which is nice, but it doesn't really hold the attention as it should. The mystery is ok, but I kinda figured it out, which I never do.

This book is good, but it's no Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on January 18, 2012, 08:40:49 PM
Going comedy, going A Midsummer Night's Dream. Then I'll go and do Macbeth, which I was supposed to read in high school anyway.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on January 18, 2012, 09:10:22 PM
BORING! Way too few beheadings in that play.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on January 18, 2012, 09:15:01 PM
Going comedy, going A Midsummer Night's Dream. Then I'll go and do Macbeth, which I was supposed to read in high school anyway.
I know you'll enjoy both! :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on January 18, 2012, 11:54:06 PM
Ghostopolis

Good, quick read, with a movie-like pacing.  Fantasy about a boy who is accidently pulled into the Afterlife, where all ghosts live except for the few that sneak or cheat their way back to Earth.  Of course, all of Ghostopolis is threatened and must be saved by the unlikeliest of heroes.   Well crafted plot, it concludes well, but I honestly wish it had a sequel.  It feels that there are a number of areas that could be more developed.  4/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on January 20, 2012, 12:06:15 PM
It's Only A Movie and The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex by Mark Kermode

Recently I listened to the audiobook versions of Mark Kermode’s “It’s Only A Movie” and “The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex.” Though I have no aversion to the audiobook format, I do tend to go with text books. Yet with Kermode, most notable as a film critic on BBC Radio 5, he has such a way with saying his words that listening to a his books as read by him would really do the text justice and I think that certainly proved to be the case. Nobody gets into flappy handed rant mode quite like Kermode.

“It’s Only A Movie” is Kermode’s memoir, talking about the films that informed his approach to film as well as his long trek to the critical powerhouse he is today. I expect he sells himself a little short throughout the book for comedic effect, making himself out to seem a bit of a spaz. Yet as he himself says, it is in some ways “based on a true story,” the reality having been shaped in his memory by time, and one imagines his own fears when experiencing the moments. He does capture the sort of crazy thoughts that one could easily see running through one’s head when sitting down to do a radio show for the first time.

While his first book was engaging, I did ultimately have a better time with “The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex.” This book was more about the state of cinema, a collection of Kermode’s favorite rant topics with some nice personal stories entered in. From bemoaning the impersonal dominance of digital, automated theatres likely to screw up the experience and the hollowness of 3-D to the way moviegoers are tolerating crap because they have grown to have low expectations, Kermode covers a lot of the leading concerns of modern cinema.

Like the radio show, the books are inherently about Kermode. You either love him or hate him. I don’t think the books are essential reading in a broad sense, but if you are one of those people, like myself, who loves Mark Kermode’s bombastic nature, they are definitely a joy to experience.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 1SO on January 20, 2012, 12:25:38 PM
I'm generally not a fan of audio books, but it's kinda perfect that it's read by Kermode. Imagine if someone else read those rants.

The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex as read by Brad Garrett
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on January 20, 2012, 12:27:29 PM
Well, ideally it would be read by Jason Isaacs.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: AAAutin on January 20, 2012, 12:41:43 PM
The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex as read by Brad Garrett

"WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT was rubbish, Raymond."

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on January 20, 2012, 01:16:31 PM
 ;D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on January 23, 2012, 09:22:39 PM
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Di-tRCA43RQ/TubBb_qhR6I/AAAAAAAAB6w/1SulDu5i-8M/s1600/wheatbelly.jpg)

I wasn't really in it for the wieght loss aspect so much as the nutritional science. I had no idea wheat (of all types, and not just because of gluten) could have such insidious, and sometimes immediate, effects. Shocking some of the cases and studies he cites.

I'm not an expert but his underlying message is convincing enough for me to take action. I don't think I'll say healthy whole grains ever again without putting quotations around it.

amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Wheat-Belly-Lose-Weight-Health/dp/1609611543/ref=cm_rdp_product) for more, if you're interested.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on January 24, 2012, 04:26:08 PM
(http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq159/theendofcinema/When-Movies-Matteredjpgscaled500.jpg)

Pretty good.  It's limited to just longer essays Kehr wrote for the Chicago Reader from 1977-1986, so as mostly a collection of reviews it doesn't have the range or scope of a real book.  Many of the reviews are great though, and he has a whole section devoted to revivals, which includes considerations of Lang, Walsh and an epic essay on five Hitchcock films.  Kehr's a brilliant critic, possibly the greatest capsule writer in the history of the form, and when he's writing about something he likes he's as good as anyone.  His negative judgements, however, I find largely inscrutable.  I don't know if he just lacks judgement or he simply isn't as good at explaining why something isn't good as he is at explaining why it is.  Fortunately, these are all positive reviews, so that issue rarely causes much of a problem.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on January 30, 2012, 12:05:45 PM
Anna Karenina

One of the 4 or 5 biggest books Ive read, and certainley not a disappointment. I certainley perfer War and Peace, wherein the stakes of the characters relationships are constantly contrasted against the stakes of the war, while in AK we just get really good character drama.
Levin and Anna are right up there with Pierre and Natasha as far as great characters go. A lot of heartbreaking stuff and a lot of sympathy for some characters that arent the greatest people in the world.
Randomly watched the movie Funny Face when I was 75% through this. Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn spoiled the book's ending for me  :-\



Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on January 30, 2012, 08:54:10 PM
Anna Karenina

One of the 4 or 5 biggest books Ive read, and certainley not a disappointment. I certainley perfer War and Peace, wherein the stakes of the characters relationships are constantly contrasted against the stakes of the war, while in AK we just get really good character drama.
Levin and Anna are right up there with Pierre and Natasha as far as great characters go. A lot of heartbreaking stuff and a lot of sympathy for some characters that arent the greatest people in the world.
Randomly watched the movie Funny Face when I was 75% through this. Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn spoiled the book's ending for me  :-\

Remember those old Reader's Digest abridged versions of books. Of course you don't.

AK needs that treatment, leave out the wheat fields and other agrarian stuff and you've got a great novel, in my view.  I of course skipped those pages so I read a great novel anyway.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: tinyholidays on January 30, 2012, 09:36:22 PM
I get wanting to skip over the pure political stuff, but the chapters where Levin works in the fields are some of the most moving that I have read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on January 31, 2012, 10:20:45 AM
the chapters where Levin works in the fields are some of the most moving that I have read.
Yes, love those chapters.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on January 31, 2012, 10:44:23 AM
The chapters where Levin is doing something that sounds kind of boring (farming, hunting, politics) are also the chapters where he does the most thinking. Those were some of my favorite parts.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on January 31, 2012, 10:53:03 AM
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
Little change of pace for Sedaris. Instead of autobiographical essays we get a series of short stories about animals. Some are pretty funny stuff...I particularly liked one about a couple of animals standing in a customer service line talking about how much they hate the person at the desk. Not as good as his other books, but fun little reads for lunch breaks and stuff. Illustrations throughout the book are funny too.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on February 03, 2012, 03:55:44 PM
Blood Meridian
This one took me quite awhile, because I found Cormac McCarthy's writing style hard to mow through. There's no quotation marks, and when a character speaks in Spanish, well, it's written in Spanish. I also found myself frequently peaking at the online dictionary because I didnt know what some of the antiquated (the book is set in the 1850s) language meant. Its difficult to read like a Faulkner novel perhaps.
All that said I wasnt put off by the style at all. If you are ok with putting in the effort, this is a hell of a read. 350 pages throughly stocked with brutal violence. Judge Holden is a terrific character, much in the style of Anton Chigruh in NCFOM.
This was my first venture in McCarthy's writing...may go through the Border Trilogy soon.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on February 03, 2012, 07:29:19 PM
Terry Pratchett-- Snuff

The Night Watch is my favorite group of books in the Discworld.  Of course, it deals with a thinly-veiled racism, and there are wonderful familiar characters and wonderful new characters.  And some of the scenes-- like his counsel to Jane Austin and her characters-- were classic.  Overall, however, it seemed to lose steam by the end.  3.5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on February 05, 2012, 12:02:15 AM
Blood Meridian
This one took me quite awhile, because I found Cormac McCarthy's writing style hard to mow through. There's no quotation marks, and when a character speaks in Spanish, well, it's written in Spanish. I also found myself frequently peaking at the online dictionary because I didnt know what some of the antiquated (the book is set in the 1850s) language meant. Its difficult to read like a Faulkner novel perhaps.
All that said I wasnt put off by the style at all. If you are ok with putting in the effort, this is a hell of a read. 350 pages throughly stocked with brutal violence. Judge Holden is a terrific character, much in the style of Anton Chigruh in NCFOM.
This was my first venture in McCarthy's writing...may go through the Border Trilogy soon.

I got used to McCarthy's writing style after I had read a few of his novels, it is a bit hard to get into at first. I've only read All the Pretty Horses and The Road, I've been meaning to read Blood Meridian. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on February 05, 2012, 12:51:14 AM
Blood Meridian
This one took me quite awhile, because I found Cormac McCarthy's writing style hard to mow through. There's no quotation marks, and when a character speaks in Spanish, well, it's written in Spanish. I also found myself frequently peaking at the online dictionary because I didnt know what some of the antiquated (the book is set in the 1850s) language meant. Its difficult to read like a Faulkner novel perhaps.
All that said I wasnt put off by the style at all. If you are ok with putting in the effort, this is a hell of a read. 350 pages throughly stocked with brutal violence. Judge Holden is a terrific character, much in the style of Anton Chigruh in NCFOM.
This was my first venture in McCarthy's writing...may go through the Border Trilogy soon.

I got used to McCarthy's writing style after I had read a few of his novels, it is a bit hard to get into at first. I've only read All the Pretty Horses and The Road, I've been meaning to read Blood Meridian.

Blood Meridian is his best book!  I liked the Border Trilogy very much, but those books don't have the depth of Blood Meridian.  I so hope he's writing a new book as we speak.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: saltine on February 05, 2012, 12:52:34 AM
Halfway through The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  It's compelling.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on February 05, 2012, 07:56:39 AM
Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon

Look at me finishing a relatively long book without pictures all on my own.

This is the third McMahon book I've read and to be honest I'm not sure why I bought this (and her fourth, as yet unread, book) considering I wasn't super enamored with the first two. They are passable mystery novels to be sure but nothing spectacular. This one has kind of a supernatural bent.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: jbissell on February 07, 2012, 12:16:22 AM
Blood Meridian
This one took me quite awhile, because I found Cormac McCarthy's writing style hard to mow through. There's no quotation marks, and when a character speaks in Spanish, well, it's written in Spanish. I also found myself frequently peaking at the online dictionary because I didnt know what some of the antiquated (the book is set in the 1850s) language meant. Its difficult to read like a Faulkner novel perhaps.
All that said I wasnt put off by the style at all. If you are ok with putting in the effort, this is a hell of a read. 350 pages throughly stocked with brutal violence. Judge Holden is a terrific character, much in the style of Anton Chigruh in NCFOM.
This was my first venture in McCarthy's writing...may go through the Border Trilogy soon.

It wasn't my first McCarthy, but it was definitely the most challenging for all the reasons you mention. Easily my favorite of the 3 I've read (The Road/No Country being the others).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 09, 2012, 10:02:11 AM
The Star Beast- Robert Heinlein

What appears as an extraordinary boy and his dog story, just gets bigger and bigger, and is inverted in the finest sense. That's a built-in advantage of the genre, where science fiction has the universe to play in.

As appears to be his wont, Heinlein emphasises the political repercussions of the problems caused by an outsized extraterrestrial pet roaming the neighbourhood. The manoeuvrings in the corridors of power, and courtroom battles really fascinate him. Another author might go for the action sequences inherent in the story. Heinlein prefers a battle of intellect and some sneaky backstabbing.

There are plenty of surprises, and I could accuse the writer of palming some his best tricks in order to maximise these elements. He starts the story from the beast eye view, expressing thoughts that, later in the tale don't quite add up. If I say the creature isn't the simpleton it is made out to be, then this should add interest rather than take it away. Heinlein's strength over a lot of sci-fi is the dialogue of his characters who are world-shapers with the brainpower and interpersonal skills to match, and he is as good with the blustering official types. Hyperbolic curves of speech suiting exponential flights of fantasy.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on February 09, 2012, 11:44:21 AM
I think Heinlein, especially his earlier works, aren't read as widely as they should.  His ideas and plots are just wonderful.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 09, 2012, 01:53:15 PM
I was weary because there are some Heinlein-kids books mixed in, and this sounded like it might be one of them until the spaceships started dropping in. Great alien concepts here. Reminded me of Niven/Pournelle's Heorot samlon. I'd love it if anyone knew what I was talking about but Niven seems like an undiscovered country (outside of Ringworld) even though he is a classic Californian author. Someone must have heard of Jerry Pournelle though, sweet guy.

Next Heinlein is The Puppetmasters which just predates Invasion of the Bodysnatchers on a similar theme. Then maybe Starship Troopers which I can't imagine is the same as the film.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on February 09, 2012, 01:54:45 PM
Heinlein is one of those authors I find tedious to read. Maybe his plots and ideas are wonderful, but his writing bores me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 09, 2012, 01:56:30 PM
Is it sci-fi in general you don't like from a prose pov? 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on February 09, 2012, 02:03:15 PM
It's more that his writing gets in the way for me. I like Dune a lot and I don't think Herbert is a masterful writer, his writing serves his stories and ideas in a way that Heinlein never does for me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 09, 2012, 02:09:16 PM
Like he gets wrapped up in long conversations between characters, more like diatribes. That would be my feeling.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on February 09, 2012, 04:37:08 PM
I like diatribes.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: StudentOFilm on February 13, 2012, 09:14:01 PM
I just finished 11 books (collecting 75 or so issues) of Mike Carey's comic book series "Lucifer". It's a spin-off of Neil Gaiman's Sandman (featuring... you guessed it- Lucifer aka Satan aka the Devil, you know, that guy) and it truly is worthy of being associated with that series. Gaiman served as a consultant and he himself praised Carey's book. It is just as complex as Sandman, has as wide of a cast of characters, is as epic with storylines of different lengths (and styles- from comedy to tragedy)... by god (or should I say Yahweh), it was a very deep series that really explored a lot of topics. And the art, what a phenomenal rotation of artists and guest artists that helped out.

Unless a lot of the people who voted Sandman into the Top 100 Books list are no longer here, or if you've read it already- I can't recommend this highly enough. Powerful. A series that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on February 13, 2012, 09:35:22 PM
I will check that out for sure. Love Sandman. Love the Lucifer character. The argument over who owns hell is my favorite part of the Sandman saga.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: StudentOFilm on February 13, 2012, 11:01:01 PM
You won't regret it and the argument over who should rule over Heaven, Hell, and other realms is pretty much the backbone of the Lucifer series as well. There are also some Sandman cameos (nothing forced, they all make sense).

I also love how Carey will jump all over the series' own history (it would take me a while to keep track of everything and everybody and the order of it all, but the series recaps through exposition when necessary), in fact we don't see Lucifer's revolution in Heaven until a flashback sequence in the final issues. Characters who have a minor role in one issue turn out to be important many issues later or become a more central character. I love how Gaiman did that as well with Sandman's supporting cast.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on February 14, 2012, 01:18:31 AM
I'll check Lucifer out... umm, the comic book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Monty on February 15, 2012, 05:55:27 AM
Homage To Catalonia (George Orwell) Rating(http://www.filmspotting.net/images/4stars.jpg)

George Orwell's first hand account of the Spanish Civil War. Orwell arrived in Barcelona in December 1936, enlisted in the POUM (the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification) to fight Fascism and Franco. Essentially its a book in two parts, where Orwell describes his own personal experiences of the war and the political aspect and ramifications of the War. I must admit I was the political aspect was heavy going, due to my own lack of knowledge / perspective on the subject (something I need to rectify).
However where the book does triumph is in Orwell's experiences' of the war, starting with his enrolment in Barcelona, to the fighting on the front line in Aragon and eventually back to Barcelona in early/mid 1937. Here Orwell describes in great detail the ramshackle nature of the POUM, many of them were young men, even boys, the inadequate clothing, faulty arms, the living conditions and the fact that not much fighting was actually undertaken.

Quote
Somewhere in front an occasional rifle banged, making queer rolling echoes among the stony hills. We had just dumped our kits and were crawling out of the dug-out when there was another bang and one of the children of our company rushed back from the parapet with his face pouring blood. He had fired his rifle and had somehow managed to blow out the bolt; his scalp was torn to ribbons by the splinters of the burst cartridge — case. It was our first casualty, and, characteristically, self — inflicted.

The above segment is typical of the book. I read somewhere that Orwell was in a fairly belligerent and cantankerous mood when he wrote the book. It's written in a sardonic manner with many of the events described in a comic, gallows humour tone. The book does finish with a wonderful little ode to England and all those creature comforts he has missed during his time in Catalonia, soon to be under threat from another fascist regime raising from Germany.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: AAAutin on February 15, 2012, 11:36:57 AM
Homage To Catalonia (George Orwell) Rating(http://www.filmspotting.net/images/4stars.jpg)

It's one I have been meaning to read for years. I've been told that it's superior to FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, at least in terms of capturing the war. Would you agree?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Monty on February 15, 2012, 01:42:52 PM
Homage To Catalonia (George Orwell) Rating(http://www.filmspotting.net/images/4stars.jpg)

It's one I have been meaning to read for years. I've been told that it's superior to FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, at least in terms of capturing the war. Would you agree?

I'm sorry I can't help you there, as I haven't read For Whom The Bells Tolls, there it is, a gaping black hole in my reading. It's on the to do list, but I've got Orwell's Down And Out In Paris And London next to start, then it's a few football books, before I can think of whats next to read.

By the way could anybody recommend a book on the Spanish Civil War? At the moment I looking at Anthony Beevor's The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, has anybody read this book?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 15, 2012, 01:57:32 PM
I've read his Battle of Normandy and Berlin books. Fantastic detail and soldier's eye views, pretty well written. If you get to Barcelona, the Museum of Catalunya has a lot of fascinating Civil War detail and a bar on the roof overlooking the harbour (I give myself away every time).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on February 15, 2012, 06:48:39 PM
Next Heinlein is The Puppetmasters which just predates Invasion of the Bodysnatchers on a similar theme. Then maybe Starship Troopers which I can't imagine is the same as the film.

It's truly a bizarre adaptation! With Starship Troopers, possibly more than any other book, it could be said that Heinlein wrote the story to have an outlet for his politics and philosophies. Every chapter is another lesson. This did not bother me in the least, as I find him fascinating, but I also never shook that feeling. I believe he's also written books at the opposite end of the spectrum than are more "good story" than "good politics". At his best I think he balances the two.

Anyways, along comes Edward Neumeier to write the screenplay for Verhoeven (the Robocop dream team together again).  Weirdly, instead of taking the political and philosophical meat from the book they take the fat. They lift scenes which are really only there to provide structure to Heinlein's essay. It's like robber's breaking into the Louvre and stealing all the frames and leaving the art!

So when you watch the film there IS something surprising similar! The structure, it's all laid out just as it was. The attention to detail is actually quite remarkable. Even some of the most trivial details are accurate to what Heinlein wrote! And yet the movie is missing the reason the story existed in the first place.

It's just weird that way, like they took the weakest part and decided THAT was what they'd make a movie with. Such an odd place to find inspiration. And the craziest thing of all, the movie actually turned out good! As a sci-fi action adventure it's great fun.  ;D

The concept, the characters, the wonderfully imaginative ideas about what would exist in the future and how it would operate, all those great bits turn up in the film. Is Verhoeven there making a subtle mockery of it all? Eh, maybe. Depends how much credit you want to give him. I like it straight up.



Star Beast sounds great!

I've never heard of that guy you mentioned. Prounelle.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 16, 2012, 03:11:19 AM
My thought is that the enemy in Starship Troopers and in Ender's Game, is so similar. At least it will look that way, when it gets onto the big screen. The subtle differences are going to get lost and people will shout rip-off! Also the amount of straight-up child abuse in Ender's Game, will be very hard to soften. It could get a very ugly reaction. Imagine families going to see Ender's Game, on the basis that it looks like a kids' film!! I'm also not sure the guy who directed Wolverine is going to get it right, since he is doing the screenplay as well. However, Ben Kingsley as Rackham is a juicy piece of casting.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on February 16, 2012, 03:19:34 AM
Homage To Catalonia (George Orwell) Rating(http://www.filmspotting.net/images/4stars.jpg)

It's one I have been meaning to read for years.

Me too. That and Robert Graves' Good-Bye to All That.

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: AAAutin on February 16, 2012, 09:47:27 PM
That and Robert Graves' Good-Bye to All That.

Wait, the same Robert Graves of I, CLAUDIUS fame? Is it historical fiction, too?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on February 19, 2012, 02:42:47 AM
Been reading quite a few shorts lately. Added links to 3 of the 4 if anyones interested (20-30 minutes each)

The Swimmer by John Cheever

A bizarre little story with a lot of interesting surrealism as it proceeds along. After reading it I immediately went to check out the Burt Lancaster movie, which doesnt even come close to doing it justice. I guess I was hoping for something a little bit more Blue Velvet-y.
Ned Merrill decides he is going to "swim" home from a friends residence by going house to house and swimming a length of each persons pool. Things might not be as they seem though, and it really makes for a powerful story.
http://shortstoryclassics.50megs.com/cheeverswimmer.html

Rich Man, Poor Man by Adam Carolla
Kind of an unpopular opinion around here, but Im a big Carolla fan. This was a "support the podcast" purchase really, and I wouldnt really recommend this one unless you want to do the same. Frequently, he does a segment on his podcast wherein he talks about common things between the very rich and very poor (ie an outdoor shower). Really Carolla's talent is being quicker on his feet than just about any funny man out there, and the book isnt really the best meedium for him.

To Build a Fire by Jack London
Survival story about a man and his dog trekking on foot through the 50 below weather in the Yukon. A very "Meek's Cutoff" type feel, where every single action, while simplistic sounding, is life or death. Very well done, probably my favorite of this bunch.
http://www.jacklondons.net/buildafire.html

The Shades, a Phantasy by Vladimir Korolenko
Took me back to reading Plato in my 200 level philosphy class. This story starts out with a bit of back story surrounding Socrates' execution, but then eventually gets along to a "classic" Socratic arguement. a character observes the ghost of Socrates in debate about the alleged greateness of the gods with another ghost. Really a lot of fun to watch Socrates break down one arguement or claim after another.
http://www.classicreader.com/book/2151/1/
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on February 19, 2012, 08:46:31 AM
To Build a Fire by Jack London
Survival story about a man and his dog trekking on foot through the 50 below weather in the Yukon. A very "Meek's Cutoff" type feel, where every single action, while simplistic sounding, is life or death. Very well done, probably my favorite of this bunch.

Read this one in HS. I remember it being a really tense read. That isn't something I can say about Meek's Cutoff. ;)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on February 19, 2012, 06:02:09 PM
To Build a Fire by Jack London
Survival story about a man and his dog trekking on foot through the 50 below weather in the Yukon. A very "Meek's Cutoff" type feel, where every single action, while simplistic sounding, is life or death. Very well done, probably my favorite of this bunch.

Read this one in HS. I remember it being a really tense read. That isn't something I can say about Meek's Cutoff. ;)

I got way more out of MC than TBaF.   Of course, it's been 30 years since I read the London story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 20, 2012, 08:18:50 AM
The Puppetmasters- Robert Heinlein

I don't think this worked too well. Nothing to do with the unoriginality of invading creatures with mind control powers, all that paranoia and suspicion, are cool dark themes. Heinlein walks a fine line between Bodysnatchers and Zombies, which sounds a fine mix. I thought this would push him into more action, but those scenes with more fights and flights, aren't that great, just OK. The politics and espionage, actually seem as if they are in development here, and Heinlein feels like he is noodling around the sort of themes that really firm up in later stories. The hilarious bit of true Heinlein, was his fascination with a plot device, that leaves everybody having to wear less and less. He thinks the English would be in denial even in the face of extinction, refusing to take off the "waistcoat old boy". He really is a hippy before hippiedom; probably too much time on campus, but his main character sees public nudity as a step forward, cool man!

The book dragged under the weight of sitting around talking about the problem. That this mind control storyline most reminded me of the EE Doc Smith "Lensman' stories hurts it. The Lensman stories are golden age space hero books, and are stuffed full of lightning speed action set-pieces. Despite their old fashioned scientific ideas, they are wonderfully kinetic, written seemingly before anyone had invented cynicism. The Puppetmasters is an example of Heinlein being a bridge between early century sci-fi and the hard and political types of sci-fi, that he is rightly acknowledged as a father of. This is one where he falls between the banks and into the water; ending up a bit wet.

Starship Troopers next!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on February 20, 2012, 11:49:12 AM
The Swimmer by John Cheever
A great one!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on February 20, 2012, 12:38:42 PM
(http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq159/theendofcinema/6a00d8341c630a53ef015433558dd2970c-400wi.jpg)

I bought this in San Francisco when I was there for the film festival two years ago.  As I was leaving the register, a man stopped me and asked if he could look at the book.  I handed it to him and he started writing in it.  When he handed it back, I realized he was the author and had just autographed it for me.  He said that had never happened to him before, someone randomly buying his book right in front of him.  Seemed like a nice guy.

I enjoyed this quite a bit.  It's a fun story with lots of great period detail that creates a believable world without getting too much in the way of the narrative (my favorite is Walter Huston as a vaudeville soft show act) and some real suspense and a surprising thread of sadness throughout.  Interesting to compare it to The Prestige a film about magicians that's almost entirely joyless.  Carter goes to some very dark places as well, but it also captures the, well, magic of performing illusions, giving a much more complete, rounded experience.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on February 20, 2012, 06:33:58 PM
The Big Short - Michael Lewis

Mouthwatering!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on February 20, 2012, 06:36:05 PM
The Big Short - Michael Lewis

Mouthwatering!

Great book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on February 20, 2012, 08:58:28 PM
Something Happened

Good bye American Dream. This book is some dark stuff (mostly humor). Bob Slocum is in middle management at a large corporation, along with a family man with a wife and three kids. He basically spends the whole book talking about his past and his current life in fragments, zooming from one thought to the next in a couple of loosely organized streams of consciousness (some of the chapters are well over 100 pages with no real breaks). Our narrator seems jumps between distrubed, meek, loving, cruel, unfeeling, etc.
I really liked this book, although its a bit difficult to really sum up its plot much more than I have.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on February 20, 2012, 10:24:14 PM
The Puppetmasters- Robert Heinlein

The hilarious bit of true Heinlein, was his fascination with a plot device, that leaves everybody having to wear less and less. He thinks the English would be in denial even in the face of extinction, refusing to take off the "waistcoat old boy". He really is a hippy before hippiedom; probably too much time on campus, but his main character sees public nudity as a step forward, cool man!

Classic :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: philip918 on February 23, 2012, 02:52:49 AM
The Forever War - Joe Haldeman

Epic and awesome. Just top-notch storytelling and frighteningly prescient (well, more timeless, I'm afraid). Hopefully Ridley gets it right.

The Strangers in the House - Georges Simenon

First Simenon. Certainly won't be the last. Great characters and intrigue. Not much of a mystery, but the atmosphere Simenon creates is captivating.

Fatale - Jean-Patrick Manchette

Completely. Bad. Ass. A woman shows up in a small town, plays the wealthy against one another and when they try to double-cross her, she takes them down - hard. I must make this movie.

Sleepless - Charlie Huston

Huston is a hell of a writer. This took a little while to dig its hooks in me, but by the end my room seemed to fill with dust and onion mist, because, whew, it's just so damn sad. Great future noir.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 23, 2012, 08:13:00 AM
I am reading Starship Troopers, which has a similar feel to The Forever War, although more of a glorification of the values and disciplines of warriors, I think. The other media that comes to mind with these two is Alan Moore's "The Ballad of Halo Jones", which includes some horrific future war pieces. One of my favourite authors, James Crumley's first book was a Viet-era/ From here to Eternity feeling story called "One Count To Cadence", which is poetic and epic like these other stories.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on February 23, 2012, 10:23:14 AM
Verbals: I recommend Podkayne of Mars and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  Also a great set of short stories which collects his "future history", The Past Through Tomorrow.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I love this book.  Second time reading it, it is simply brilliant at characterizing the old gods and putting them in a modern context.  However, it works best as an insight on American culture, providing insight on what constitutes "religion" in America.  Simply brilliant.  Among my all-time favorites.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 23, 2012, 11:04:04 AM
I never finished American Gods or that related book of his (blanking). I went through a period of never finishing any book, so nothing against Gaiman of course.

Read Moon is a Harsh Mistress, very good book; I'll bear Podkayne in mind, thanks.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on February 23, 2012, 01:01:02 PM
I never finished American Gods or that related book of his (blanking).

Anansi Boys, I believe.  Good, but not as good as the first one.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 23, 2012, 02:18:37 PM
That's it. Another good book, so no idea why I never finished it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: philip918 on February 23, 2012, 02:38:28 PM
I was so excited when I picked up American Gods. Definitely my kind of thing, but 200 pages in and I was so bored I stopped reading. So much was right with it - characters, atmosphere, tone - but the story itself just absolutely crawled.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on February 23, 2012, 02:43:29 PM
I trudged through to the end but never really connected. The only thing I remember really liking was the violin con. I have no idea wtf the rest of it was about.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on February 24, 2012, 01:35:36 AM
I was so excited when I picked up American Gods. Definitely my kind of thing, but 200 pages in and I was so bored I stopped reading. So much was right with it - characters, atmosphere, tone - but the story itself just absolutely crawled.

It's a 500 page book and it doesn't really make sense until the final 150 pages.  But those final pages are worth every hour spent.  It all comes together and there is so much wisdom in those pages.  Ah, my favorite kind of read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 25, 2012, 10:23:22 AM
Starship Troopers- Robert Heinlein

After the slightly fuzzy themes of earlier books, I have just read, Star Beast & The Puppetmasters, this is rock solid Heinlein. A story about military life, that turns its back on action, and looks at the life of a soldier. For large portions of the book, this could be a military story from any age. Heinlein explores in detail and depth; mixing an academic approach with a great "ear" for character and dialogue. Individual treatises on military structures and fighting tactics, as Juan Rico goes from volunteer grunt to career leader. It's a good soldier's story, never mind the genre.

The sci-fi, when it comes, is great. The descriptions of powered armour, life aboard battle cruisers and, of course, the bug menace from Clendathu, are where Heinlein gets his reputation as a father of the modern genre. The bugs are a fascinating bunch, a lot closer to Card's Formics than Verhoeven's killer morons. Book and film do completely different things. The film's fascism is certainly an element, but it is more intriguing, to see people, who live comfortably in a militaristically dominated society. Soldiers are the only ones who can be trusted with the civic responsibility of the vote, after the civilians, gave up the right by reducing the world to rubble...it's a working idea.

Voerhoeven's work is an escapist movie. Heinlein's intention is to make you think about responsibility and self-sacrifice. He wants you to think, the last thing he wants to do is let you escape. He sets up a premise where you can decide not to engage with society, but don't expect much respect or too many "rights" if you do.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on February 25, 2012, 11:01:18 PM
I think you give the film too little credit. It's not just a dumb action film. I haven't read the book, but it seems to me like the film was made almost as a counterpoint to the book through adaptation. It's an interesting idea and I love pretty much everything Voerhoeven did with the film.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on February 26, 2012, 02:54:45 AM
When did "dumb action film" become a perjorative? ;D It is loud, messy, visceral, has some of the most stunning cg effects, just by weight of numbers on occasions. I wrote this almost from the point, that it is a given what a good action film it is.

Hang on I said "escapist movie" not "dumb action movie". I really dislike it, being misrepresented for effect. It might also seem to you that it is counterpoint because that is very much what I wrote. I shall practice ever harder to be clearer in my writing.

I thought this review from Amazon; puts a succinct perspective on the book;

Quote
Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" is one of those oft-spoken of books which is held up by those at either end of the political spectrum as either an example of what or what not to do. Usually, those holding it up have not read it.

I have, and it is neither of those things.

"Starship Troopers" is, plain and simply, a sci-fi book which speaks of a society of fascists (and by fascists, I mean the original meaning of the term - a group who all pull together for the common good and sacrifice personal goals for those of the body politic) in a war against alien invaders and aggressors. It is a novel of heroism and loyalty, duty and self-sacrifice.

Fundamentally, it is not a way to run a society - it would never work. But neither is it something to avoid at all costs. Perhaps if we were expected to give something for the franchise (as the Citizens in the novel have to) we might take it more seriously. Perhaps if we had civic responsibility drummed into us we might have some. Perhaps the UK and the US wouldn't be in the mess they are if we thought of others before ourselves.

None of these concepts are alien or even unpleasant - most people would agree that some civic responsibility would be a good idea. But Heinlein is brutal and harsh in the way he puts them forward.

Perhaps that will make us tune away from what he has to say, or perhaps it will make us listen.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on February 26, 2012, 11:49:14 AM
Sorry for my evilness. I guess my ticket to hell has been punched now.

But seriously, you said this:

Voerhoeven's work is an escapist movie. Heinlein's intention is to make you think about responsibility and self-sacrifice. He wants you to think, the last thing he wants to do is let you escape.

You contrast Voerhoeven's film with Heinlein's book. You say one is escapist and the other makes you want to think. You deliberately say that the book is smart, doesn't want to let you escape. So the movie, being escapist, is therefore dumb. I dislike being misinterpreted for effect, too.

What I'm saying is that the movie isn't dumb. In fact, it's pretty smart. Do you want to know more?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on February 26, 2012, 12:03:28 PM
I think I pretty clearly laid out how, by the transitive property of reviews, you did.

Thing 1 is escapist.

Thing 2 is not escapist and therefore smart.

It follows that Thing 1 is, by the transitive property of reviews, dumb.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on February 27, 2012, 01:57:11 PM
Adventures Indeed!

(http://networkingnerd.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/ghost-in-the-wires-my-adventures-as-the-worlds-most-wanted-hacker.jpg) Amongst my dorky friends and I, as kids, we would toy around with widely available "hacking" programs and mess with each others computers. We had no knowledge of how to make such programs, we didn't even understand how or why they did what they did. We thought we were hot stuff though, which shows how little we knew. Eventually you grow up and become a little more self-aware. You realize you don't know squat. And it's for the best that we didn't know more... kids can be cruel, and the anonymity of the internet does NOT promote restraint. Luckily our limited knowledge kept us from doing harm. I wish I could say our conscience played a part too, but I don't think it did. The internet was new, and our parents understood it even less than we did. Anything that happened on the internet was, to them, inconsequential, and to us, outside their jurisdiction. A dangerous combination. I think the best thing that could have happened to any of us would have been to suffer an attack, and experience the pain of data loss (or worse), thereby learning the consequences our actions could potentially have. We were good enough kids, we would've taken that lesson to heart. I guess at some point all of us did.

Still, we all understand the allure of hacking. It's like anything else. Say, kung fu. It depends what you use it for, but who wouldn't want to be good at it? That's what makes this book so readable. It's the exploits of what must surely be one of the most skilled hackers of his time. You can go along for the ride with a clear conscience because Mitnick happens to be a relatively moral hacker. Never earning money from it, never doing anything out of meanness. He's really just doing it for the thrill of the challange... for fun. Granted it does cause headaches for the people trying to stop him, so he isn't clearly in the right by any means (a lesson he learns as he matures). The stories though, they're fascinating, they're thrilling... they're like great chess matches. Most surprising was the fact that so much of what he did had nothing to do with breaking encryption or bypassing security software. The success of every hack, for him, seems to hinge on exploiting human weaknesses not digital ones. For example, calling Tech departments pretending to be a worker in the field, and needing administrative access, saying you lost your password and you're on a deadline. Mitnick's real strength it seems was as a quick thinker, smooth talker and dedicated researcher. The kind of ruses and cons and hacks he pulls off, and the access it gets him, well, it just makes you laugh in disbelief.

Mitnick himself is an interesting character, humble enough to point out his short-comings and not letting his reputation go to his head (at least not anymore). It's a story about maturing as much as anything. Very relatable, very fun.

Most satisfyingly perhaps is that the book doesn't gloss over the technical details of each hack. It's written in such a way that any reader will understand the mechanics of what he's doing, even if the language gets jargon-laden. Fantastic read. One of the best in a while for me, and I won't soon forget it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on February 27, 2012, 07:48:09 PM
I loved it too 'noff. The technical stuff even when it was over my head was interesting.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on March 02, 2012, 12:41:39 PM
Down & Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind

I liked Biskind's "sequel" to Easy Riders and Raging Bulls a lot better than the original. I think the main reason is the focus is quite a bit more pointed, as 75% of the roads in the book lead to Harvey Weinstein, a pretty fascinating character responsible for the rise and/or fall of a lot of household names, and probably the best award season manipulator ever.
In addition to this there's a lot of talk about Sundance and Redford (not as interesting) and Bingham Ray's journey (excellent stuff).
Through that main plot and the two subplots the book covers Soderbergh, Tarantino, Ben & Matt, Kevin Smith, Russell, Haynes, Solondz, Payne, Jonze, Thorton, Leigh, Paltrow and plenty of other interesting personalities in the business.
A good read. Debating whether to read his 50s book, so if anyones read that one lemme know what you think. Amazon reviews have me a bit skeptical.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on March 02, 2012, 02:03:31 PM
The New New Rules by Bill Maher

Christmas Gift.

Anyway, I love Bill Maher's TV show, but not really for his humor but rather because he has good guests and some of the better political discussion on TV. So what happens when you take the last five minutes of his show over the course of about 5 years and jam it (at very low density) over 350 pages? Well, at least the book was a very fast read.

2/5

Oh, and before that I read:

Human Resources, Martinis and Other Bad Things by Vesta Vayne

A $.99 e-book. Easy to read and pretty enjoyable in a early-30s feminine angst sort of way. There will be girl drama.

4/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: pixote on March 02, 2012, 03:34:46 PM
That and Robert Graves' Good-Bye to All That.

Wait, the same Robert Graves of I, CLAUDIUS fame? Is it historical fiction, too?

Same author, but it's an autobiography (http://www.amazon.com/Good-Bye-All-That-An-Autobiography/dp/0385093306/).

pixote
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on March 04, 2012, 08:21:08 AM
Hard Times

Absolutely, not what I was expecting, which explains why the book stared at me for so long, practically daring me to put down the noir and get some culture. It looks exactly like it is going to preach at you, in that self-righteous crusading manner, that the Victorians became so rightly laughed at for. The benevolence and altruism of the cultured Englishman telling the heathens around the world what was good for them.

Dickens disrobes the educated upper classes and the upstart self-made men of industry, equally. He writes, in metaphor, about their baseless superiority and new found "scientific" method, for improving the lives of others. This is a very acidic satire. The word, satire, is more apt because it reads like a Monty Python sketch half the time. The monstrous Bounderby, brought up in an egg box by a grandmother; the most evil woman in the world, is the fool that launched a thousand sketches. The teachers, Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild, damned in the naming; filling the children with facts is a brilliant and hilarious opener. It bites subtly. Dickens, in fact, is very direct in how he condemns. He doesn't leave it to the reader to decide. He starts referring to one wretched character, very early on as "The Whelp". This books is marvellous for the characterisation of dozens of people. It reminded me of I Know Where I'm Going and how people represent factories or other institutions. He boils the hypocrites in oil by the end. Nobody in our cynical modern world does it better.

The melodrama and pathos lay thick like Coketown chimney smoke. For Dickens this is a very light read, with enough plot to keep the fires stoked. An entertainer of a writer, disguising his vilification of a world turned to iron and coal, in funny story-telling.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 04, 2012, 11:57:36 AM
Mangaman

An interesting experiment of a mix of Japanese and Western-style comics.  In the end, it's a fun idea, but with no depth.  The comic Zot did a much better job of this kind of idea, with real characters.  Still, it had some interesting ideas.  It was worth the half hour it took to read it.  3/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Lobby on March 04, 2012, 02:06:44 PM
Just revisited A Princess of Mars as a preparation for watching John Carter. It's been 26 years since last time I read it.

I think Burroughs imagination is pretty charming. There's no shortage of different sorts of creature! And I love his space travel. Just think of a place and you'll end up there. :)

Still I really wonder if this will make any good picture... Well I suppose I'll find out soon!

It's a bit hard to rate this. It's got high scores for charm, but of course the gender perspective is what it is...

If grades are necessary... 3/5 perhaps?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on March 04, 2012, 03:48:53 PM
If grades are necessary

Welcome to the forum  ;)

Everything must be rated and ranked.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on March 05, 2012, 10:10:45 PM
Hard Times

Absolutely, not what I was expecting, which explains why the book stared at me for so long, practically daring me to put down the noir and get some culture. It looks exactly like it is going to preach at you, in that self-righteous crusading manner, that the Victorians became so rightly laughed at for. The benevolence and altruism of the cultured Englishman telling the heathens around the world what was good for them.

Dickens disrobes the educated upper classes and the upstart self-made men of industry, equally. He writes, in metaphor, about their baseless superiority and new found "scientific" method, for improving the lives of others. This is a very acidic satire. The word, satire, is more apt because it reads like a Monty Python sketch half the time. The monstrous Bounderby, brought up in an egg box by a grandmother; the most evil woman in the world, is the fool that launched a thousand sketches. The teachers, Gradgrind and M'Choakumchild, damned in the naming; filling the children with facts is a brilliant and hilarious opener. It bites subtly. Dickens, in fact, is very direct in how he condemns. He doesn't leave it to the reader to decide. He starts referring to one wretched character, very early on as "The Whelp". This books is marvellous for the characterisation of dozens of people. It reminded me of I Know Where I'm Going and how people represent factories or other institutions. He boils the hypocrites in oil by the end. Nobody in our cynical modern world does it better.

The melodrama and pathos lay thick like Coketown chimney smoke. For Dickens this is a very light read, with enough plot to keep the fires stoked. An entertainer of a writer, disguising his vilification of a world turned to iron and coal, in funny story-telling.

Hurrah!!  Wonderful write-up! You nail exactly why I love Dickens, the over-the-top, hilarious, scathing satire, and the thick pathos and melodrama.  And I hadn't thought of the Python comparison, but I love that - it's perfect.  It strikes me all the more so since I've been watching the doc mini-series Monty Python: Almost the Truth - Lawyer's Cut (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1422182/) (currently on Netflix Instant!) lately and thinking again about their brilliant comedy.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on March 06, 2012, 10:58:54 PM
The Conservative Nanny State by Dean Baker

Last year's documentary Hot Coffee explored how legislation on civil courts and related torts and contract law had basically been set up to advantage corporations (the wealthy) over plaintiffs (the poor). Dean Baker's book The Conservative Nanny State includes this same message as part of a much broader system of policies that increase inequality.

The opening premise is that there is this myth that inequality is the result of the free market, the rich are rich mostly because they are smarter and worked harder and thus it is wrong to tax them heavily to support the poor. Baker presents the case that a lot of policies exist that are actually distorting the market to actively benefit the wealthy, and that these policies ultimately involve far larger amounts of money than the sum of all the governmental programs to help out the poor.

Baker discusses a broad range of policies in a fairly (mercifully) brief book, including:
The point is, he covers a lot of territory and he does so very reasonably, though I'm generally disposed toward the type of arguments he makes. It is firmly entrenched in mainstream economic thinking, but one of liberal values. A related topic is covered in another e-book I'm likely to read in the near future called The Rent Is Too Damn High by Matthew Yglesias that discusses how zoning policies in big urban areas prevents the level of population density that the market would tend to demand, making housing more expensive (great if you are already bought in), generally reducing economic production and also increasing energy usage.

All of this is a very important line of discussion to shift the narrative. Though we probably do need more substantial safety net programs, simply taking the finger off the scales to stop benefiting the wealthy through ill-conceived policy would do a great deal to boost the economy and move toward a more sustainable level of equality. Never let someone tell you that the wealthy "earned" it.

4/5 and available for free (http://deanbaker.net/index.php/home/books/the-conservative-nanny-state).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on March 12, 2012, 12:03:56 PM
A Canticle For Liebowitz by Walter M. Miler

There is a thread of grandeur that science-fiction generally does very well. These are stories that encompass phenomenal lengths of time. A couple of the other SF Masterwork series, Cities In Flight by James Blish and Haldeman's The Forever War do tremendous tricks with time on the grand scale. Of course, the granddaddy would be Asimov's Foundation, which goes from one galactic falloff one empire to the rise of another, which necessarily takes thousands of years, time and space being so inextricably linked.

The link is, it takes a great tranche of time to recover from near total annihilation. A Canticle For Liebowitz takes 600 year giant steps; following an order of monks, who guard some the world's remaining knowledge against the barbarian horde, and then those that would hasten the next fall; by using the techniques of the old science, without any of the wisdom that should go with it. The spiritual dimension can take the passing of time in its stride, and the monks plan for the chance of a resurrection of nuclear threat. It does so, not expecting the terrible lessons learnt from the first World Nuclear War to be ignored. Mass genetic mutation has infiltrated the human population, and newborns are regularly discarded with deformity. The question is how the lesson be forgotten when it is in your face daily. The monks simply plan, because they watch men at each stage, repeat mistakes. Highway robbery gives way to territorial aggression and, as night follows day, the weapons of mass destruction are put back in their silos, even as man sets up colonies in space.

The imagination is immense. The religious perspective is given greater emphasis as the corporeal and animalistic tendencies of man reassert themselves. With every author the percussive tone of the writing needs to be tapped along to by the reader. Once that rhythm is in your head, books become a joyful, soulful experience. This book interprets world historical events in religious terms. As the weapons are warmed up, the devil is seen to be in the land. A nuclear war becomes part of a stupid, wasteful, abhorrent cycle. It isn't the end of everything, it isn't even a good enough lesson to be learnt properly.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on March 13, 2012, 01:11:04 AM
Princess of Mars

One of the most impressive things in Princess of Mars is the way Borroughs sets up a variety of tribes and varying sets of cultural norms that provide the biggest obstacles of all. Sure, there's a lot of deadly enemies to be overcome, but really it is the cultural institutions that make it so hard on the outsider John Carter.

This won't go down as one of my favorite novels or anything but it was a light, fun read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on March 13, 2012, 10:21:51 AM
I don't know if I'll ever get to reading these last 3 books, but they sound very good so thanks for the reviews.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 13, 2012, 10:46:25 AM
The Conservative Nanny State:  I read the first couple chapters and they disturbed me greatly.  My general feeling is that perhaps the Republicans are spreading a purposed lie to the populace.  I hesitate to read the rest of the book.  I am angry enough at the Republicans.

A Canticle for Lebowitz: Classic, excellent SF.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on March 13, 2012, 10:57:37 AM
The Conservative Nanny State:  I read the first couple chapters and they disturbed me greatly.  My general feeling is that perhaps the Republicans are spreading a purposed lie to the populace.  I hesitate to read the rest of the book.  I am angry enough at the Republicans.

Yeah, pretty much. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince us that our socioeconomic status is the result of our personal worth as people.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on March 13, 2012, 11:18:15 AM

A Canticle for Lebowitz: Classic, excellent SF.
Now this is a book right up your street! How does the Catholic ideology go down with you? Ideas late in the book about the evidence of sin and the dilemma the abbott gets into about helping refugees from Texarkana only to see them advised to euthanise;have a Catholic tone to them? It's a very different Christianity isn't it?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 13, 2012, 09:32:49 PM

A Canticle for Lebowitz: Classic, excellent SF.
Now this is a book right up your street! How does the Catholic ideology go down with you? Ideas late in the book about the evidence of sin and the dilemma the abbott gets into about helping refugees from Texarkana only to see them advised to euthanise;have a Catholic tone to them? It's a very different Christianity isn't it?

I'm very familiar with Catholicism (being in the States that shouldn't be surprising), and I thought that the book being informed by Catholicism was brilliant.  It wasn't just some random jumble of Christianity or Christianity-and-other-religions the way that other SF books sometimes do.  It indicates growth in a very particular tradition.  The book is just so smart, in so many ways.   I wish the characterization was a bit deeper, though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 14, 2012, 10:49:38 AM
Ex Machina: Deluxe Editions Vol. 1-4 by Brian Vaughn and Tony Harris

Sped through these graphic novels.  Actually, they act like a TV series, where there is a continuing story, but also is a collection of short stories, each of which ends satisfyingly.  I read most of Vaughn's previous effort Y:The Last Man, and Ex Machina has many of the strengths of that series: strong, realistic characters, decent action, solid laughs.  But it also has a more realistic SF plot where the action makes more sense.

The basic set up is: Mitchell, an engineer, is involved in an "accident" that gives him a cool superpower: the ability to command machines-- any machine, from computers to chainsaws.  He also dreams of new inventions which he builds with his friend, Kremlin.  He becomes a superhero for a while, which he bungles frequently.  Finally, after he has a reputation, he puts himself into the running for mayor of New York City, which he wins after 9/11 because, due to his intervention, the second plane never hit the twin towers.

The stories are centered around his actions as mayor, which gives the series a strong West Wing feel.  But with a good helping of Watchman and Greatest American Hero. 

I still have one more Deluxe Edition to read, so I don't actually know the end of the overarching story yet.  But it's all wonderful so far.  4/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on March 14, 2012, 11:03:32 AM

A Canticle for Lebowitz: Classic, excellent SF.
Now this is a book right up your street! How does the Catholic ideology go down with you? Ideas late in the book about the evidence of sin and the dilemma the abbott gets into about helping refugees from Texarkana only to see them advised to euthanise;have a Catholic tone to them? It's a very different Christianity isn't it?

I'm very familiar with Catholicism (being in the States that shouldn't be surprising), and I thought that the book being informed by Catholicism was brilliant.  It wasn't just some random jumble of Christianity or Christianity-and-other-religions the way that other SF books sometimes do.  It indicates growth in a very particular tradition.  The book is just so smart, in so many ways.   I wish the characterization was a bit deeper, though.
Your last point struck me as very apt. The story spreads itself out, has tons of interesting characters but skims past them as the story keeps going. It occurred to me Foundation is at its best when it stays with the story of the Mule. Those characters really shine. Even Seldon, the guy who starts it all gets short shrift. In the prequel Foundation book, Seldon becomes the main character, so you really get to read his story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 14, 2012, 10:41:00 PM

A Canticle for Lebowitz: Classic, excellent SF.
Now this is a book right up your street! How does the Catholic ideology go down with you? Ideas late in the book about the evidence of sin and the dilemma the abbott gets into about helping refugees from Texarkana only to see them advised to euthanise;have a Catholic tone to them? It's a very different Christianity isn't it?

I'm very familiar with Catholicism (being in the States that shouldn't be surprising), and I thought that the book being informed by Catholicism was brilliant.  It wasn't just some random jumble of Christianity or Christianity-and-other-religions the way that other SF books sometimes do.  It indicates growth in a very particular tradition.  The book is just so smart, in so many ways.   I wish the characterization was a bit deeper, though.
Your last point struck me as very apt. The story spreads itself out, has tons of interesting characters but skims past them as the story keeps going. It occurred to me Foundation is at its best when it stays with the story of the Mule. Those characters really shine. Even Seldon, the guy who starts it all gets short shrift. In the prequel Foundation book, Seldon becomes the main character, so you really get to read his story.

That's the main reason why the Foundation series fails to be the "greatest" SF.  It is chock full of great ideas, in true Asimov form, but in the end, who is our protagonist?  Seldon?  Not really.  The Second Foundation?  We only have a clue who they are.  In the end, the true protagonist is an idea-- an amazing idea, a wonderful progress of history toward freedom.  And we root for it wholeheartedly.  But is that really enough?  I find that the best novels are the most human ones.  This is why I vote for the Dune series as the greatest SF of all time.  It is very human, full of human wisdom and error and greed and nobility-- all in our main protagonist, who charts the future much like Seldon does.  Except we really get to know him.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on March 15, 2012, 04:12:13 AM
The Forever War skips around that problem. As I remember it, it has the same hero throughout, but because of relativity effects every time he comes back to earth years have passed, and the weapons just keep getting bigger. Best of both worlds. In fact, Speaker for the Dead uses time dilation effects in a very melancholic way, doesn't it? Lots of time passes as characters move through space.  Near light speed travel is like a personal sacrifice, because everybody ages then dies while the space traveller stays young.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 15, 2012, 05:57:40 PM
The Forever War skips around that problem. As I remember it, it has the same hero throughout, but because of relativity effects every time he comes back to earth years have passed, and the weapons just keep getting bigger. Best of both worlds. In fact, Speaker for the Dead uses time dilation effects in a very melancholic way, doesn't it? Lots of time passes as characters move through space.  Near light speed travel is like a personal sacrifice, because everybody ages then dies while the space traveller stays young.

Although both Ender and Valentine are quite different characters in Speaker than they were in Ender's Game because they grew up in the meantime.  But don't get me started.  Speaker is my favorite novel of all time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on March 20, 2012, 03:01:23 PM
The Boy Who Followed Ripley- Patricia Highsmith

By now, in this series, Ripley has become a more rounded specimen of psychopath than many (any?) of the breed. He now begin to gather followers, as if his particular disease is spreading. A young man appears in Paris, who may or may not have killed his millionaire father. Obviously, a prize for a collector of stressed humanity like Ripley. What I like is that, whilst some of his crimes have stuck to him, like a bad smell, it is his personality that is so repulsive to some (his parents-in-law) and attractive to others (his wife). Ripley has a gift that most liars don't master, which is to keep his deceptions compartmentalised and ordered. He lives in a web of deceit, whether it is the fictitious career he created for a long deceased artist, for the purposes of forgery and a living; or the murder/ suicide of the forger, whose nerves frayed, whilst Ripley reminded calm in an earlier story.

This book is more Paris/Berlin travelogue. Highsmith leaves an undertone of ambiguous sexuality, that started with Tom's attraction to Dickie Greenleaf. Berlin is the ideal place for this ambiguity to run riot, as Ripley enjoys a spot of homicide in drag. This book drags itself under with little plot and a lot of Ripley weirdness. Characters tend to revolve around the "hero" and the main players in stories like, what became Wenders' The American Friend, are just much more interesting. However, and as ever, Ripley seems to understand the strains of European life better than the natives and steers another meandering course through the rapids, which is always fun to watch.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on March 24, 2012, 10:41:51 AM
A review in pieces!

I finished the first third of The Hunger Games. The writing is bad. Like, really bad. Katniss is a terrible character thus far, and I hope she gets better by the end of the novel. I guess the world itself is okay, but when it's filled with people I actively dislike it's tough to get invested. Hopefully the second section, apparently focusing on The Games as the subheading would imply, is more interesting. I have to imagine that it would have been improved by using a third person narrator, as the interority is so off putting I almost feel like stopping. I'm also hoping that what is revealed in the first third, and how it connects to the titles of the forthcoming two books, is not as obvious as it appears to be. We'll see. I have them all, so at some point I'll probably get through them.

Another review in fewer pieces!

I am on about page 970 of A Storm of Swords. Thus far it's easily the best of the series and the way Martin tells the story continues to impress. There was a pretty crazy portion earlier that challenged everything I thought I knew about how the series works. Shit is getting real, and the world is going to shit even more as shit continues to happen. Big thangz will soon be poppin' I'm sure, though I'm also approaching the ending so maybe thangz will just wind down. Or not. They never do, really, they just build and challenge my ability to predict what will happen. I wish the books were more open about exactly when certain events are happening in relation to others, but that's ultimately a minor problem because the characters continue to get better and better. Hell, Sansa and Jon actually have chapters I look forward to reading! Not much left to go, so I hope to push through it by next weekend or something.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on March 24, 2012, 10:49:36 AM
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

That is all.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: smirnoff on March 24, 2012, 04:43:53 PM
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Awesome.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 25, 2012, 01:08:44 AM
Batman: Year One

Perhaps this should be on the Batman thread, but I'm not committed to seriously studying up on The Batman this year.  However, Miller is a  good writer, and his revival is one of Batman's best eras.  This book was a fantastic re-introduction to the character and Gotham has never been so gritty.  So much more Sin City than anything else.  Great artwork as well.  Fun read, if not deep.  4/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on March 26, 2012, 12:11:46 PM
Batman: Year One

Perhaps this should be on the Batman thread, but I'm not committed to seriously studying up on The Batman this year.  However, Miller is a  good writer, and his revival is one of Batman's best eras.  This book was a fantastic re-introduction to the character and Gotham has never been so gritty.  So much more Sin City than anything else.  Great artwork as well.  Fun read, if not deep.  4/5

I was unimpressed with this one actually, but I love his two Dark Knight Returns books, even the second one which everyone seems to hate.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on March 26, 2012, 12:13:51 PM

I finished the first third of The Hunger Games. The writing is bad. Like, really bad. 

Im in the same boat, although Im enjoying the story enough (more than you it seems). Overcoming the writing is tough though  :-\
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on March 26, 2012, 12:49:04 PM
(http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq159/theendofcinema/31563.jpg)

Acting in the Cinema by James Naremore.  I find it incredibly hard to write about acting, hopefully this will help.

A really great read.  Works as both a film/acting theory book as well as a history of acting in the movies, focusing on major stars like Cagney, Gish, Grant, Hepburn, Brando and Chaplin.  A must-read for anyone that thinks real acting only began with the Method.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: 1SO on March 26, 2012, 12:52:15 PM
I assume the cover photo is a composite of all six actors.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on March 26, 2012, 01:00:25 PM
That is, of course, the actress I didn't mention.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: ses on March 27, 2012, 11:46:18 AM
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

As part of the Dystopian book club  (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=10787.msg662726#msg662726)my boyfriend and I are doing, The Time Machine fit in nicely with the Iron Heel and We.  It's interesting the "people" that the Time Traveler encounters, and his musings on how and when they became what they became.  I found this book though provoking and highly entertaining, though I think Wells was a bit misguided on his visions of the future.  I really want to read other things by Wells after this.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on March 27, 2012, 12:01:39 PM
A review in not as many pieces as I had expected:

The Hunger Games

Once the games get started things start to pick up simply because you want to see how the competition plays out. How the numbers are thinned, I guess, since I was fairly sure Katniss wouldn't die since, you know, there are still two more books and Jennifer Lawrence is slowly but surely approaching 'brand name' status thanks to her ability to be in both indie and mainstream films that critics decide they want to accept so it really doesn't make sense to kill her in the first book. That's too bad though because as the story goes on her character only gets worse. The first person narration continues to hurt the text as well, because it constantly indicates that Katniss is kind of stupid. The writing doesn't get better either, and even for a YA text it gets blatant. I mean I've read plenty of great YA texts, but this is certainly not one of them. At one point this was used to begin one of the sentences in the last three chapters: "This was the climax of the Hunger Games,".

Don't know why they didn't just decide to capitalize the article and put the title in italics. The only time I really use the note taking feature on my Kindle is when I'm reading the SoIaF books because I like to track how literal dreams are used as foreshadowing devices in the series and what happens when someone lies about dreams (though that only happened once so far, I think). But when I saw that sentence I highlighted it and added this note: "lol really? Super dumb. 'And that's the end of act two' ~ 21 Jump Street" because it was as purposelessly jarring and out of touch with the rest of the text that it seemed like the most apt comparison.

I may blast through the other two books (depending on how the film is) once I finish ASoS and before I start AFfC just to see how it all ends, but I'm still on the fence. The series eventually has to have an interesting character, right?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on March 28, 2012, 01:38:28 PM
The Caves Of Steel- Isaac Asimov

The detective story that isn't. I think this might be the original robot novel, though I don't think it proceeds some of the great "I, Robot" short stories. Instead of the thought problems, revolving around the three robot laws, of "I, Robot", Asimov gets his teeth into a fully functioning society. Robots aren't having the positive effect that "I, Robot" mainly represents. The chronic over-population of Earth (8 billion people!!) leads to food rationing and a striation of society as more resources becomes luxuries. I'm describing the central problem. A person's job becomes linked to the privileges and the resources he can access. For instance, eating real meat is a once a month luxury for the lower classes.

When a man's social position becomes threatened by the loss of employment, and basic resources are denied the unemployed man, then that job becomes something akin to a matter of life and death. Now consider, a robot, more able to do your job; smarter, faster, never needing sleep. This Earth is at war with the idea of the robot.

These sociological ideas are so fascinating that the reader, as well as Asimov, is far more interested in the ideas than in a mere detective story. He can't hold his attention on the murder at the heart of the book and neither could I! You end up with a frustrating, poor crime mystery, but a terrific, monumental idea.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 29, 2012, 02:31:38 PM
The Robot Novels are among my most favorite books of all time.  If you can, read them all, they just get better.  Well the final book, Robots and Empire is weak on plot, but the conclusion is amazing. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on March 29, 2012, 02:38:05 PM
I've read "Robots of Dawn" but, obviously, so long ago I didn't recall the two detectives were in it. If they follow through with the space colonisation ideas of "Caves" it would be a great series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on March 29, 2012, 03:04:09 PM
They do.  But the next one is The Naked Sun, where societal themes opposite the first book are explored.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: MartinTeller on March 29, 2012, 03:31:51 PM
The Complete Robot
Pebble in the Sky
The Stars, Like Dust
The Currents of Space
The Caves of Steel
The Naked Dawn
Foundation
Foundation and Empire
Second Foundation
The Robots of Dawn


All terrific.  The later Foundation novels get a little dull.  Good concepts, tedious execution.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on April 02, 2012, 11:45:19 AM
FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History
I read a couple NBA related books every year and this is the best Ive done in quite awhile. Essays by a lot of pretty terrific contributors about what has mattered in the sport throughout its history. All sorts of interesting and colorful charts and graphs and what not throughout as well. Interesting and funny.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 04, 2012, 12:14:53 AM
Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A. S. Byatt

A telling of the Norse mythology, at least part of it, wrapped up in a semi-autobiographical frame story about a "thin girl" in WWII England reading about said myths. It's pretty good, covering much of the basic stories we know and a few lesser known stories (Loki's children are super great). The real reason to read this book instead of the wikipedia pages is Byatt's marvelous prose. It borders on poetic, focusing on the forms and functions of the various deities and the supernatural world around them. Rivers flow, rocks move or don't. Loki shifts. It's beautiful in its horribleness. Because this is a book about how evil we can be to each other. The WWII border isn't just there to give the girl something to worry about. It's there to remind us that we're still playing out the Ragnarok as long as we fight each other. "The black thing in her brain and the dark water on the page were the same thing, a form of knowledge. This is how myths work. They are things, creatures, stories, inhabiting the mind. They cannot be explained and do not explain; they are neither creeds nor allegories. The Black was now in the thing child's head and was part of the way she took in every new thing she encountered."

The Infernals by John Connolly

This is a sequel to the YA book The Gates, also by Connolly, who is best known for his crime novels. In the first book, young Samuel Johnson and his trusted basset hound fought off an invasion by Hell's denizens by way of the Large Hadron Collider. In this book, his Hellbound nemesis, Mrs. Abernathy (the demon Ba'al in an Earthly disguise) drags Samuel and his dog and a few innocent bystanders into Hell in order to reclaim her spot at the left hand of The Great Malevolence. It's kind of confusing, I guess, but Connolly writes with a jaunty wit that keeps everything moving. There's less here than in the first book, though the friendship between Samuel and a demon he met as he tried to stop the first invasion is nicely written and quite touching. The book flies from place to place, not stopping long enough to create a sense of dread that a book about wandering around the plains of Hell should probably have. There are a few moments of scariness, including a nicely mythical description of one of Hell's less fortunate denizens, Old Ram, and his torture by twisted souls transformed into twisted trees. It goes by very quickly, being just a little over 300 pages of not-at-all-difficult writing. A fun, if a little too inconsequential, time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 04, 2012, 12:41:30 AM
Hmmm.  I've got The Infernals on my shelf.  Sounds like my wife will enjoy it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 04, 2012, 12:43:07 AM
It's fun. There's a science-y aspect that I like. Multi-verses and all that jazz. It is laugh-out-loud funny, too.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 04, 2012, 11:38:25 AM
On second thought, maybe I'd like it better than she.

The Red Tent

You might think it strange for me to say, but I love the Bible.  I know, I'm a pastor, so I'm supposed to love the Bible, but I am surprised at how few pastors really appreciate the Bible.  Most Christian teachers scour the Bible for their own points of view, or review it quickly for their sermons, or for proof texts.  But I think the Bible is full of not only ancient wisdom, but of some of the best stories ever.  That's one of the main reasons the Bible survived at all, you know, because so many of the stories are unforgettable.  Not only are they memorable, along the lines of Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson, they are short and easy to repeat.  You can just read them aloud in a completely different language and you can get a sense of their impact.

But there are some issues that are problematic with the Bible.  Not only those who claim more for the texts than the texts themselves allow, but also a matter of perspective.  There are only three stories that are told from a woman's point of view-- a spare book named Ruth, the story of Samuel's birth and a thinly told story of Jesus' resurrection.  All the rest of the Bible is told from a male point of view.  Yes, at times women are included, but more often than not, women are treated as possessions of men, with not even their names passed on.  There are certain heroes who are women: Sarah, Esther, Deborah, Abigail, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Tabitha.  But these stories are told from the wrong side of the ancient sexual veil, and their hearts aren't revealed, only actions.

Anita Diamant has written a book which breaks down that veil.  One of the most ugly, deeply disturbing stories of the Bible is found in Genesis, about Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, taken by a local prince who was taken vengeance upon by her brothers Levi and Simeon.  But what was her perspective?  And what about the four wives of Jacob, how do they see their co-marriage, their children, their husband's sometimes strange actions?  Daimant does a marvelous job of taking the Bible text and reading between the lines to understand the woman's perspective.  She not only understands the ancient women, but also their pagan perspective, so their stories are not given through the Yahwist's perspective.  The novel is raw, emotional and strangely joyful for all the ugliness of the original stories. 

Even if you aren't a fan of the Bible, if you like historical fiction in any form, this is a keeper.  It is powerful and dramatic.  In a sense, it might be better without knowledge of the stories of Genesis, because they can impact you better.  5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on April 05, 2012, 02:49:17 PM
The Steep Approach To Garbadale- Iain Banks

First time I have read a non-science fiction book by Banks. My initial impression was to wonder why Banks was restricting himself to the prosaic real world. His imagination is so powerful, that describing the delights of a Scottish estate pales next to his description of Sphereworlds and Orbitals. This is the story of a member of a dynasty, who control the rights to a world popular board game, something like Risk. Knowing Banks is to know it is going somewhere gruesome and bizarre. It takes it's time getting there. Banks always does good characters and reminds me of Irvine Welch especially when he gets on to some of the Scots reprobates, the lead associates with. We get a lot of travelogue and location hopping. We also get some heavy liberal wailing at the imperialist tendencies of the USA, and a few nauseating caricatures of Americans, including an evangelist type. There is a total oil and water incompatibility between English insincerity and US bible belt fire and brimstone passion. From a British perspective it is akin to shooting fish in a barrel to ridicule evangelism. Leaves me slightly queasy; it ain't big nor clever.

It has a horrible extended love story that goes unrequited in the most miserable way. I f***ing hate stories like that; especially when it is down to some guy being a complete fop, moping around waiting for the favour of some magically gorgeous creature who usually sleeps with everyone apart from him. There is a stunning tale told of a survivor of the Boxing Day tsunami, another lady who is twice as smart and equally gorgeous but who for some reason, our hero doesn't allow to throw herself at him. Bloody annoying.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on April 11, 2012, 01:51:38 PM
The Man In The High Castle- Philip K. Dick

First, here's a selection of marvellous covers for this book;
(https://img.skitch.com/20120411-d7abck5u6c3wqn9ax6ehas1pm3.jpg)(https://img.skitch.com/20120411-ds3rjj5imuyh4qxaksjy5i4f1y.jpg)(https://img.skitch.com/20120411-furxpmj4x723gkqn9b4cbeqcg4.jpg)
(https://img.skitch.com/20120411-cni29gwaa3qynbusca33hpi3cs.jpg)(https://img.skitch.com/20120411-ny3c7kh5wjknti3db35rjcugma.jpg)(https://img.skitch.com/20120411-g9i3c4ufec232ru115ey7sjfrh.jpg)

Evocative, powerful, disturbing imagination; and a good argument against digital downloads. The crumpled, crinkled ageing paperback has a value of its own.

Oh yeah, the book. It's apt to talk about the feel of objects in relation to Dick. Ubiq was a book all about objects (money, home appliances) not ageing but regressing through time. I mean stuff the explanation for why this is happening, just get on for the ride, as cars age whilst you drive them. In fact don't ignore reason the way Dick so enjoys doing. It hurts his books that so much of his work revolves around either distortions of reality or alternative worlds; slightly undermining the power of his concepts, in a "it was only a dream" sense. The same thing happens here, but this is still the best of his stories that I have read.

Both the distorted reality of an America sub-divided between Japan and Germany, and the subversive book "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" which tells the story of the Second World War won by America, Britain and Russia, are beautifully realised. The West Coast under Japanese rule is culturally subjugated with Tao philosophy and the teachings of the "I Ching" natural elements of everyday life. German Rocket planes whisk you on Berlin- San Fran flights in 45 minutes, and Germans walk on Mars. This is all attractive "what-if"fery. Nobody complains too much, which is the power of the message "History is written by the victors". The alternative history speaks of a world where Roosevelt wasn't assassinated, Britain helped defend Stalingrad to turn the war, and the US and Russia divided the world. From this perspective, with the horrors of American Imperialism never happening (joke), the world doesn't look too bad. The subjugated mind accepts its fate, and surrenders, simply to go back to living day by day. Eventually, the spiritual life of the law-abiding, efficient Japanese master begins to look attractive to even the most hardened warrior.

Dick sets up a divide between "book" reality and our world and sows seeds, in the furrow ploughed, in between. The Japanese are fascinated by Americana. Collectors pay exorbitantly for ads from the 1800s for pills and nostrums. There is a plot to the book bubbling under the surface, but the writer is more interested in his twists of reality. He isn't your standard storyteller and little fragments of tale flutter in and out of the light. It is unsatisfying but because the original premise is so strong, he gets away with it. Passages detailing how the defeated British turn London into a charnel house (from the Germans' perspective), really tug at the racial memory, and it makes you wonder.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 11, 2012, 08:07:02 PM
A very good book, but not my favorite of PKD.  Have you ever read the novella The Penultimate Truth?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Clovis8 on April 11, 2012, 09:05:47 PM
I love dick.

too obvious.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 11, 2012, 11:19:19 PM
I feel like a Dick book is always like 3rd on my to-read list. The same thing with Dune.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on April 11, 2012, 11:31:32 PM
I am master of all things, except Dick. We've already discussed how I haven't gotten around to him yet. Your day will come, Dick!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on April 12, 2012, 12:24:42 AM
A very good book, but not my favorite of PKD.  Have you ever read the novella The Penultimate Truth?
Nope, but I can only take small doses of dick at a time (that one for the frat boy mods). It's such a compelling story and he still nearly writes into a standstill; talking about "historicity" and such personal preoccupations. There are two major action plot threads here and he spends more time admiring the value of modern jewellery (or something).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 12, 2012, 09:44:26 AM
I agree, which is why I've only had a handful of PKD (sorry, frat boys) to read over the years.  He is good and thoughtful, but not the easiest reads.  Right now I've got a selection of his short stories on my shelf, but I haven't gotten to it yet.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on April 18, 2012, 03:42:58 PM
The Naked Sun- Isaac Asimov

Part 2 of the robot detective storyline. This book does a better job of creating a sense of alienation than most sci-fi I have ever read. More so for all the characters being human....if you don't count the robots. We have the human detective and his robot "sidekick" leaving earth, where everybody lives in "caves of steel" packed inside mega-cities and who never venture outside. One of the 50 human colonies, where robots outnumber humans by a factor of 20,000 to one, and people live alone on vast estates, is the scene of a curious murder. Asimov does this trick where 3D tv is so good that people project into each other's presence, but avoid actual contact. They call it "viewing" but never "seeing" other humans in the flesh. They live in vast luxury, but by some other twists and turns rarely "see" anybody else.

Asimov communicates brilliantly, both the alien nature of a man who is afraid of the open sky and the naked sun, and a group of humans pretty much scared to death of being near other people; especially an earth man who carries vast numbers of diseases that would kill the average colonist, where disease has been bred out. There is a fair amount of eugenic theory built into this colony, which always sends a chill down the spine. Messing with human genetic make-up for the sake of some ideal of perfection, the old God delusion. I'd give Asimov 8 out of 10 for making these complexities and quirks work. Once he establishes these ideas, he manipulates them fantastically. Again as with "Caves of Steel", the actual murder investigation is all convolution and subordinate to the scientific wonder of it all.

These are 1950s novels, but Asimov is a marvel for avoiding anachronisms. The positronic brain that makes these robots so advanced is a device that works on analogue "potentialities"; coming from a pre-digital age of valves and gears. Asimov seems to second guess himself to weed out any false assumptions that could foul his stories up. All those ideas of miniaturisation that drive Foundation are deftly handled. Personally, I like the EE Doc Smith approach which is to go for broke with machines fantastically improbable in nature, inertialess drives and the like.

Enough with the sci-fi. Conrad's Heart of Darkness should be enough of a change of pace.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 18, 2012, 09:52:22 PM
The Naked Sun is one of my favorite novels.  Glad you liked it.  (You did like it, right?)

Heart of Darkness is also one of my favs, even though it's a bit slow.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on April 19, 2012, 12:26:22 AM
I initially read "positronic brain" as "postironic brain", and was all like "::) Yeah, whatevs."
I think Marvin has one of those, not that anyone cares.

oldkid, I thought it was a truly out there idea. I think the detective form mixes up how effective the book is.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oneaprilday on April 19, 2012, 12:01:07 PM
Conrad's Heart of Darkness should be enough of a change of pace.
Will be curious to hear what you think (this is a first read or re-read for you?), esp after our discussion (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9545.msg644557#msg644557) about HoD a few months ago.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on April 24, 2012, 10:52:50 AM
Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad

Perhaps the densest novella I have ever read. Less than two hundred pages of mounting dread and mental disintegration.

I confess that HoD is so attached in my mind to Apocalypse Now that I found the fact this was written by a Ukranian emigré turned Englishman tremendously dislocating. To get the comparison out of the way, my admiration has grown for Coppolla's adaptation and regeneration of this story into the horrors of war, and a conflict, which reached levels of insanity beyond even the general craziness of war in general. Conrad's sense of creeping apprehension, of a world on the skew, is what AN extracts and uses.

It reflects I think EA Poe's influence and standing as granddaddy of suspense. Poe's descriptions of a world, not quite right, is ideal for a story concerning the destruction of colonial Africa. I found the writing styles very similar. Conrad paints a picture very much in the style of a Poe thriller. He makes it his own. His own background in British merchant shipping puts him, at that time, in a front row seat to witness the brutal subjugation and ....well the word is rape, of Africa by colonial power. Vast dark empires of ivory and minerals under the heel of tiny countries, like Britain and Belgium. Conrad captures this. He writes, in the character of Kurtz, the epitome of the exploiter, a man lauded as the most successful Ivory collector along the river. As our narrator gets closer the details of the horror being wrought by Kurtz, in pursuit of wealth, become clearer. Africa gets Kurtz, turns him inside out and spits him back.

However, Kurtz is masterfully written as an immense personality, an influencer and a great man in any other context. He seems to subjugate everybody that comes close to him. There's a touch of madness that he imparts. Coppola, himself, seems to have spent too much time contemplating the character and flips. As for Brando, that's more like looking in a mirror.

A brutal book, the revenge of Africa.

EDIT: Just read the recent HoD discussion. Can a writer avoid using racist epithets at this point in time? Well William Wilberforce (the father of British antislavery) had been dead for 60 years by this time. The exploitation of Africans would be a given. However the exploitation of Africa would be in full swing, and a crucial element in this would be the subjugation in all the obvious ways; both openly and insidiously undermining the rights of the natives. Once you consider them as equals, you better have your bags packed before they ask you to get the hell out of their country. Exploitation begets dehumanisation and that might be more important than racism alone. Conrad as writer is taking a step back, but Conrad the sailor would have been part of that exploitation culture. As for blatant racism, the use of the N word just seems beyond their ken for them not to use. More important is the rendering as white men as gods, and Kurtz, in particular, is accepted in this role by natives. Now Conrad may have seen this himself, but even if it is fact it turns racism around and has Africans saying they are inferior themselves. This is a dangerous message that Conrad only counteracts by sending every white man loopy, like Africa getting its revenge.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: FLYmeatwad on April 26, 2012, 10:48:01 AM
Will have to read and ponder this, I never connected Poe to HoD.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on April 26, 2012, 10:34:20 PM
Great review, verbals.  And I agree with you completely about the connection between HoD and AN-- I don't know which work of art I appreciate more, the original dark masterpiece or the thematically perfect adaptation.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on April 30, 2012, 01:27:06 AM
(http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq159/theendofcinema/13541615.jpg)

A fun look at the depressing history of the Seattle Mariners, focusing most of the blame on execs Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln.  It's reasonably well-written, but needs some serious editing.  The book is incredibly repetitive, often the fist third of a chapter will be spent reiterating the exact information presented in the previous chapter, like he expected the book to be read at a one chapter per month pace and the reader would need a "previously on" catchup.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on April 30, 2012, 09:47:01 AM
the depressing history of the Seattle Mariners, 
Where do the 1998 "Turn Ahead the Clock" uniforms rank on the list of depressing moments in Mariner history? 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on April 30, 2012, 11:28:50 AM
Not even top ten.  This is the team that pioneered teal, after all.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: roujin on April 30, 2012, 02:31:40 PM
(http://i1258.photobucket.com/albums/ii537/roujinz/Untitled-1.png)
One Pound Gospel Rumiko Takahashi, 1987-2007

This is one of Takahashi's shorter works (regardless of what the publication dates may say - 4 volumes over 20 years). It tells the story of a young boxer who falls in love with a nun. He's very talented and has a crazy strong punch, but his problem is his ridiculous appetite - he can never make his weight. Seriously half this manga is just a bunch of panels of him either trying to eat, or suffering because he can't eat. The rest is all chaste comedy/romance as he grows closer to the nun, and as she prays to God to try and find out what's going on with her. It retains the mostly low-key vibe of something like Maison Ikkoku while still being pretty hilarious (just like Maison Ikkoku, actually - her greatest works?). Another one of those things I get far too invested in that just makes me mad that life can't be exactly like it. Here I am just death and disease. Everything I long for is out there.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on May 05, 2012, 01:32:19 AM
Solar by Ian McEwan

As is not actually uncommon, I went from reading the first 50 pages of this over 6 weeks to reading the final 275 pages over 3-4 days. If I can give the book the compliment of saying that it did eventually catch me, I can't actually say I liked it because the ending kind of embittered me. It was a book that was a bit dark and a bit melodramatic but by the end it just became mix of shakespearian tragedy and soap opera. The last 20 pages is a whirlwind that draws all the fun out of it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Jared on May 07, 2012, 11:25:23 AM
Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Really had a lot of fun with this, although I was slightly worried after what was in my opinion a pretty poor prolouge. Immediately after that though we get introduced to several of the characters that we will be following through out the book. From here it really builds methodically and I enjoyed just about all of it. The format of the book is interesting...Chapters alternate between the perspective of 8 different characters. It works well overall, but I have to admit I was frustrated when I turned the page and the next chapter was specific to a certain character rather than another.

Going to jump right into the second one. Is the TV series Season 1 = Book 1, Season 2 = Book 2, etc? Or should I read em all before I start watching the tv show?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 07, 2012, 11:33:25 AM
Book 1=Season 1, Book 2=Season 2, Book 3 will likely = Seasons 3 and 4.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on May 10, 2012, 02:26:39 PM
Drive by James Sallis

Drive is a film that begs you to send the camera in a 180 degree spin, so that you end up looking out through Gosling's eyes, hearing his thoughts in first person. Since, the actor can't express very much, reading the book seemed like a necessary adjunct to a fine movie. The advantage of first person thinking in a book complementing the expression of feeling in a film.

Sallis' book isn't much more than a screenplay itself. It is only 160 pages on an iPhone/Kindle app. Driver turns out to be pretty much as closed mouth as Gosling plays him; which doesn't excuse his lack of any attempt to create the character in the gaps the story gives him. It does explain something of his origins, which is valuable. I questioned a film where a guy whose skills seem to be solely as a driver, was so good at taking people down. Even luck doesn't explain it. These "men of violence" stories need a decent explanation. The device of the returning war vet (WW2/Korea/'Nam) explains it quite satisfactorily, and fit the profile of so many noir characters of the late 40s. The ability to take a shotgun off a man, is not a skilled learnt in normal life, where just the sight of a gun would cripple most people with fear.

It's strange that Sallis leaves any explanation for the penultimate chapter a) to explain the driving skills, and b) how accustomed Driver is to violent situations. It might seem a picky purist's attitude, but if you care about this genre of hard-boiled, then you care about internal logic. Especially, in a story where a guy is killing people with the casual ease of picking food from his teeth. Some extra action scenes not used in the film make the journey worthwhile. Also, the clunk of the Driver/Mother/Benicio relationship is removed and replaced with less lovey-dove and more sense. I don't expect 158 small pages to be enough to reach any decent level of characterisation, and it doesn't.

I'm starved for hard-boiled fiction. Sallis joins Connelly, Burke, Coben as writers who dabble in crime fiction, but can't justify their tough characters. It ain't about the guns and knives, it's about the cool dialogue and a believable diamond hardness.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: AAAutin on May 10, 2012, 03:34:01 PM
In that case, Duane Swierczynski's THE WHEELMAN might be more your--*ahem*--speed.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on May 10, 2012, 03:40:50 PM
That's a new name, ta.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on May 10, 2012, 11:24:46 PM
Half The Sky

Solid book that explores some of the more pressing problems facing women in the developing world, efforts to address them and the general importance of women to the future of the world.

Two main thoughts:

It is easy to become fatalistic at the savagery of some of these things and think it's beyond solving. Yet there's enough to suggest that the "evilness" is a weird set of ignorance and the like and to some degree the victim to be rescued isn't the woman directly harmed but the perpetrators whose souls become poisoned in the act.

Second, to quote (more or less) Coupling, "men are the species only failed gender." You get various empirical things mentioned here, from the way men are wasteful with money, spending on instant gratification (hookers and blow, roughly) rather than food and education and health, to the significant economic strength of Western corporations who have more women in meaningful roles relative to those that don't. And then I think about the House Republican caucus and just recon maybe we need to take a 5-10 year vacation from having men in charge of anything.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on May 11, 2012, 02:09:24 AM
Half The Sky
 I think about the House Republican caucus and just recon maybe we need to take a 5-10 year vacation from having men in charge of anything.

Just so.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on May 14, 2012, 11:45:35 AM
Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind

As is typical of plays, this was a very quick read. Still, it was a struggle in its own ways. Being over a century old and translated from German, there's a lack of plainness to the dialogue that somewhat obscures the story. Also, it seems almost too abrupt, the scenes feeling a bit too isolated, the characters a bit too undeveloped. I can appreciate enough the broad story about a group of teens struggling with sexual awakening in an environment that opts for enforced ignorance and repression but it doesn't really offer the depth to pull it off. Apparently the recent filmed version of the play isn't very good. I'm listening to the soundtrack of the Tony-winning musical adaptation and it sounds decent, maybe I'll get an opportunity to see that (they need to make more film adaptations of musicals since live musical theatre is an elitist endeavor, expensive and restrictive in access).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: oldkid on May 14, 2012, 01:03:27 PM
Habibi by Craig Thompson

(http://thehungryreader.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/habibi-1.jpg)

Among the top five graphic novels I have read.  It is a form of Scheherazade about an Arabian girl who ends up raising a black boy on a boat in the middle of the desert.   The story is complex and jumps around in time, but isn't difficult to follow.  The themes talk about love and sex and power and abuse and religion and narrative... and yet it all works together.  This is a truly unique novel, and beautiful.  The book is filled with the most exquisite designs and illustrations.

However, it is NOT for children.  My children read it.  That was NOT a good idea.  However, I highly recommend it to any adult.  Especially, you, Bondo-- the treatment of sexuality you would find interesting.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on May 14, 2012, 01:27:15 PM
Added it to the "To Read" list.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on May 14, 2012, 02:17:24 PM
I've been looking for that one for a long time. I should just buy it by now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on May 17, 2012, 12:04:20 PM
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I'll start by saying how depressing this book is at regular intervals. Jobs was a $100 plus millionaire by the time he was 26. This seemed to teach him the lesson that savage belittling of people and their work is the secret to success; rather than the innovation of one of the seminal technological devices of the past 100 years, the PC. The people who got this innovation right were bound to reap the rewards that would follow. That the innovation was really due to his partner, Steve Wozniak, appears lost on Jobs and actually created jealousy between the two, and pettiness on Jobs part. Being ejected from his own company and years of technical failure, and then 3 years of serious illness, did nothing to temper his...temper; and the mitigating circumstance that this relentlessness drove innovation, doesn't wash.

There are lessons here, but the sick feeling that aspiring business people will decide that screaming at people is the real source of success pervades the book. Those sorts of morons don't need the excuse for being reckless aggressive idiots that Jobs profile gives them. I needed a wash a few times during this book.

There are some nuggets of wisdom within the madness obviously. There is a blend of intuition with logic. Jobs expresses this another way. Another innovator described it as standing at the intersection of the Humanities & the Sciences. Jobs himself was a blend of the electronics geek and the Zen Buddhist. He, again worryingly, ascribes his own creative freedom to adventures in taking acid trips, meditation and fasting, and spent most of a year "looking for his guru" in India as a young man. He also had people like Bill Hewlett around him who he phoned up when he was 13 yr old to get some electronics parts, and who gave him a job. So he lived at this confluence of high tech innovation (=logic) and counter-culture spirituality (=intuition). There is a strong through line from these strong beliefs to such simple, unified products. Whilst the geekiness of computer tech allowed his initial successes, the second wave of Apple of creative devices and content providers; of music, movies, books; of art basically played into his particular strengths. He seemed so adept at giving people what they wanted before they realised they wanted it. As Ford said, if he gave people what they wanted then he would have made faster horses.

The Pixar story from the Jobs' perspective is one that played to his strengths as well. He bought the company for its hardware and software. John Lassiter created animations for Pixar to test the graphics powers of the computers. Pixar haemorrhaged money to the tune of $50 million of Jobs own money. Jobs ruthlessly cut the workforce at Pixar. However whenever Lassiter showed him his ideas for films Jobs always found extra money and resources; purely from a sense of Lassiter's vision and talent. Once his first shorts showed such brilliance Disney came back in for Lassiter who didn't want to return to Disney so the Disney/Pixar relationship began. It shows how poorly Pixar was doing because it signed over the rights to all future Lassiter characters plus 50% of all profits in return for Disney's support. This had detrimental effects upon the original Toy Story because Katzenburg notes resulted in the "mean Woody" character, which made Lassiter despair. It wasn't until the half completed film was shown to Katzenburg that he realised what a depressing movie it was with Woody pushing Buzz out of the window deliberately, and left Lassiter to make the film he wanted to. It was Jobs' job (sic) to stand in the way of Katzenburg, two equally awful characters pushing back against each other, and leave Lassiter the room to be creative. Later, Lassiter told Katzenburg about his plans for a movie about ants and other bugs, so when Dreamworks "coincidentally" came out with Antz it earnt Katzenburg a very rare "f*** you" from the mild-mannered Lassiter.

I don't ascribe to the idea that personal abuse has to be part of business success, no matter how many times I have seen it. The ability to say NO and be uncompromising about demanding better work does not have to include the word NO being screamed in peoples' faces. Jobs paid for that by losing his beloved Apple, got his second chance more by luck than judgment, but made one great decision after another to create a great company. He very much believed in Karma, but tempted fate continuously with a world-class bad attitude. Cancer doesn't respect the good or bad lives people lead, so Karma can't be part of the equation for his early death, can it? A man who lived with one foot in a world of intuition and Zen spirituality, might find that question difficult to answer negatively.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on May 17, 2012, 10:33:53 PM
Matched by Ally Condie

This teen-fic dystopia, seemingly popular in the same circles as The Hunger Games, is one I gave up on about 2/3 through. I kept pushing along waiting for it to really get going, but it never did. It is perhaps a disturbing trend that this is yet another female-authored book with a female character (Cassia) as the protagonist involved in a love triangle. The love triangle thing works very well, IMO, in Twilight and serves a thematic purpose in The Hunger Games. Here it just feels painfully contrived. She's got a close friend from childhood, Xander, to whom she becomes matched and seems thrilled about that. He never indicates any reason she shouldn't fancy him. Yet with the slightest bit of intrigue, suddenly she is deeply conflicted between him and Ky, who has the added element of depth and intrigue as someone who grew up in the rugged Outer Provinces.

I feel like Suzanne Collins managed in the 20 page first chapter as much as Condie manages in the first 200 pages/20 chapters in terms of worldbuilding. The world of Matched is certainly a totalitarian state, one that makes removing or restricting choice its primary goal. Your romantic match is picked based on all kinds of screening for genetic and personality match (that is if you choose to be matched), your job is selected for you based on your skills. There is a set of recreational activities to choose from and the society has eliminated all music/movies/poems/etc beyond 100, feeling like that was enough. There is some interesting research about how choice is rather problematic, stressful or overwhelming. So as dystopias go, this one seems pretty reasonable and orderly, capable of providing a perfectly pleasant life. The only serious signs that this totalitarian regime is terrible happens through a story Ky tells Cassia over time, lacking the immediacy of the horror of something like The Hunger Games. Reading the plot summary to know how this book ends, it looks like nothing overwhelming really happens, and reviews from the second book say it is pretty lacking in action too.

So yeah, this was a pretty big disappointment. Having been optioned by Disney, I think I'm actually more interested in The Host, Stephanie Meyer's book I quit halfway through, as a film property. I'm just not sure there's enough cinematic material here to make it interesting.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on May 20, 2012, 09:01:38 PM
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I decided to go ahead and start this series after I saw the film with my mother, liked the film, and then happened upon the books once my mother bought all three. If she hadn't of done that, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this, but as such, I can't say I'm mad at the time it took me to read through this first book (which wasn't more than about 5 sittings). It is certainly an easy read and there really wasn't much different or added to set it much apart from the film. I guess the one thing I can say is that I wasn't sure everyone was making the film out to be such a girl thing, especially with the violent premise, but after reading the book, which is first person from the point of view of Katniss, I can see that angle a little clearer now, especially when she is thinking about everything between herself and Gale and/or Peeta. It's that whole teenage girl how-do-I-really-feel vibe, which is not off putting for me, but definitely more categorically female.

The writing I was never really too impressed with, but lucky for Collins, she had a great story to tell, so the storytelling really didn't need to be that strong for it still to be a success and a decent read. There were parts where I found everything to be fairly convenient and not fully realized, part where I felt like if I cared to I could shoot holes right through the yarn, but I never really cared to because the book is innocuous enough despite featuring some fairly grim circumstances and consequences. I will continue to read into the second book if for no other reason than a little bit of curiosity as to where it will go from there. What will Katniss do with her love triangle, but more importantly what will Collins have these characters do now that the main attraction (The Hunger Games) has already happened. As I said, I did enjoy this first installment well enough. It kept me entertained and reading, but it's prose was not as engaging or as interesting as I maybe had hoped for. A good piece of pop lit, which fits my needs and interests in terms of reading more than some some dense dissection of some boringly broad.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on May 28, 2012, 11:14:14 AM
(http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq159/theendofcinema/tender.gif)

Finally finished another F. Scott Fitzgerald book, after The Great Gatsby, which is probably my all-time favorite novel.  It's horribly unfair to compare, but this one isn't as good.  It's the story of the slow motion dissolution of a marriage between an alcoholic psychiatrist and his crazy wife, told in three sections, each adopting for the most part, the limited point of view of one of the three protagonists: a young actress who meets and becomes enamored of the couple, rich fashionable Jazz Age swells and who falls in love with the doctor; then the doctor himself, who though he (initially) rejects the girl's advances, sees the cracks in his marriage and his manufactured place in society begin to deepen in the wake of his encounter with her and degenerates into a fat drunken ass; and finally the wife, who begins to assert some autonomy of her own in the face of her husband's devolution.  The first section is the best, it's also the most Gatsby-like in its lyrical swoon of fabulous people being fabulous.  The latter sections are really good as well, exposing the hollowness at the heart of those idolized in the beginning, but the book's autobiographical elements leave an unpleasant taste: it often feels more like self-justification and self-pity than anything else.

The influence of Fitzgerald on Mad Men is pretty obvious, Don Draper is a classic Gatsbian romantic self-invention.  I wonder if the character was also inspired by the doctor in Tender is the Night, a hollow man with the perfect surface.  The names have a certain similarity: Dick Diver and Dick Whitman/Don Draper.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on May 28, 2012, 11:38:46 AM
(http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq159/theendofcinema/Bob-Dylan-in-America-hi-res.jpg)

There's a ton of books about Bob Dylan out there, but this is a good one.  Not really a biography, it's a look at Dylan's relationship to history, beginning with the (less obvious than Woody Guthrie) immediate antecedents to his artistic style (Aaron Copland, Marc Blitzstein and the Popular Front artists of the 30s and the Beats, specifically Allen Ginsburg in the 50s) and spending the second half of the book on the very much underdiscussed work he did in the 90s and 2000s, returning initially to the darkest, deepest roots of American music and reinventing it, followed by vast surveys of American popular music, from 19th century spirituals to ancient blues songs to Bing Crosby, rockabilly and Christmas carols.  It's a great companion to Griel Marcus's somewhat similar examination of The Basement Tapes, The Old Weird America, and Christopher Ricks's formalist study of his lyrics, Dylan's Visions of Sin.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on May 28, 2012, 11:53:11 AM
That reminds me of a book written about Jimi Hendrix by a British rock journalist, Charles Shaar Murray; titled "Crosstown Traffic". It explains how Hendrix fit with all the earlier strains of black music, and produced this music which was both hybrid of the old and a synthesis into something completely new. You even get a parallel with Robert Johnson that Jimi disappeared for a period and then came back playing this unearthly guitar, the old "sold his soul at a crossroads" myth. Personally I think he met some London hippies and had his mind expanded.

Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Wilson; the holy trinity of American musical genius.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on May 28, 2012, 12:10:05 PM
That sounds great.  I've never read a book about Hendrix.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on May 29, 2012, 08:50:47 AM
Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Wilson; the holy trinity of American musical genius.
How quickly they forget MC Skat Kat.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on June 02, 2012, 04:45:26 PM
Listened to the first chapter of Confederacy of Dunces and the lead character was annoyingly pompous so I returned the e-audiobook to the library. I am getting into Damned by Chuck P.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on June 02, 2012, 04:55:40 PM
Were you somehow under the impression that it was not a book about an annoyingly pompous character?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on June 02, 2012, 04:57:37 PM
Well, when I checked it out, I think I was thinking of Infinite Jest.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: sdedalus on June 02, 2012, 04:58:47 PM
Oh yeah, wildly different books.

I can't imagine how an Infinite Jest audiobook would work, with its hundreds of pages of (essential) footnotes.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on June 08, 2012, 01:04:40 PM
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Quite a fun read (well, listen). Reminds me a bit of Hitchhiker's guide in its very episodic nature. An overall plot does open up eventually but the format, about 40 "letters" from the recently deceased and damned to hell 13 year old Madison to Satan, certainly breaks things up. It's a very aware work, with a number of deliberate references such as The Breakfast Club and, naturally, Inferno.

The Third Translation by Matt Bondurant

One does not wish to speak poorly of one's distant relatives but this book, the first from the author of the source material of the upcoming film Lawless, left a lot to be desired. The main character is an American Egyptologist working at the British Museum. He gets in all manner of difficulties. He's a bit of a hapless being and there's no clear quest or resolution to drive the narrative. It's a lot of things happening that are confusing to him and us and never fully get explained. This would be fine if they were more entertaining. I'll probably check out Wettest County In The World anyway because that's a mostly historical account of my relatives and I don't want to leave it to the film.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on June 09, 2012, 12:51:05 AM
Middlesex

Tried listening to this. It was like My Big Fat Greek Hermaphrodite...only with too much Greek and not enough Hermaphrodite. I haven't read The Virgin Suicides, but I assume the annoying narrative structure of that is from the book, and getting this now makes it not surprising. Just couldn't get into it after about two hours or 15%.

Oh well, The Game of Thrones begins.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 09, 2012, 01:01:26 AM
Pretty sure I just picked that one up from the Goodwill for a buck. It'll be a while until I get around to it, though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Emiliana on June 09, 2012, 03:45:16 AM
Oh well, The Game of Thrones begins.

I'll be interested to know how that works out for you!

I started listening to the audiobook again now that I have finished the whole series (what there is so far), and I have to confess that there were definitely details that flew over my head when I listened to it for the first time. However, I'd say it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the story or my grasp on the world and the machinations of the game of thrones played by the characters. Have fun!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on June 09, 2012, 06:50:35 AM
Game of Thrones is happening in old fashioned e-book, not audio, so hopefully it'll work out.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on June 17, 2012, 10:07:48 PM
I've been listening to something new that I downloaded from Audible-- I think that counts, right?  It's a very interesting, rather sobering biography of Kurt Cobain called Heavier than Heaven

I've had to face the possibility that one of my big Gen X heroes may have been, like, a bit of a douche.

I'll have to read another biography by someone else, get another perspective. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: AAAutin on June 19, 2012, 12:47:44 AM
I've heard HEAVIER THAN HEAVEN is the better of the two, but I like Michael Azerrad, so I'll still recommend his COME AS YOU ARE (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/104961.Come_As_You_Are).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: OmNom on June 21, 2012, 03:37:39 PM
I've heard HEAVIER THAN HEAVEN is the better of the two, but I like Michael Azerrad, so I'll still recommend his COME AS YOU ARE (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/104961.Come_As_You_Are).

Thank you for this, AAAutin.  I will definitely pick up Come As You Are
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: mañana on June 21, 2012, 04:00:39 PM
COME AS YOU ARE (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/104961.Come_As_You_Are).
Grade six birthday present from mom!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Corndog on June 21, 2012, 09:32:02 PM
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

At this point, I think I am going to read Mockingjay and finish out the series only because I am a completionist, it is readily available to me, and I suppose there is some curiosity where it will go, though based on the first two I am sure I won't be shocked. Which brings me to my first complaint from this book: it is overly predictable. There was never really a point where I was ever caught off guard by anything, but what is perhaps even worse is it seems to have very little ambition in its journey. And by that I mean it stayed so tried and true and generic. Collins has set up an interesting world with The Hunger Games and a compelling storyline, and for that I praise her, but this book seems to go nowhere, but over the same trodden ground, only delaying the climax I hope Mockingjay to be.

I continue to be annoyed and unsympathetic towards Katniss and her situation and really do find it a shame how little we ever really interact with Peeta, who is a character who does greatly interest me. Even more (or little in this case) may be how little ever see Gale, in this book or the first. Are we really supposed to think he is a suitor for Katniss if we hardly get to know him and interact with him? Though I do think Peeta is above Katniss, so maybe Gale and her are a perfect match. I mean look, it sounds like I hated this book, but really I didn't, it just frustrated me how limited and bound it seems to be. Collins' strength lies in her base story which is utilized and slowly built upon in this novel. The Hunger Games premise creates for some fast paced, exciting action and a quick read, which is always nice and usually a sign of a good book. It is not well written, and seems to be done in fairly broad strokes, but it is also hardly a waste of my time. So I will read the final book of the trilogy and see where my feeling lie after everything is nicely tied up in a pretty bow, as I assume it probably will be.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Bondo on June 21, 2012, 10:31:50 PM
though based on the first two I am sure I won't be shocked.

Don't be so sure. I agree to a fair extent about the problems of Catching Fire. Fun enough but not pushing the story forward near enough.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: Junior on June 22, 2012, 02:03:09 AM
Yeah, I'm not so hot on the series as a whole but the second half of the last book takes some interesting turns and the ending is quite strong.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you read.
Post by: verbALs on June 22, 2012, 09:34:33 AM
Matter- Iain M. Banks

"The Nestworld was an ordered tangle of massive tubes within gigantic braids forming colossal ropes making up stupefyingly vast cables constituting loops almost beyond imagining, and- despite the fact that the transparent outer casing of each tubular component was metres thick- it all twisted, turned and revolved, easy as a length of thread.

The Nestworld's principal components were giant tubes full of water; they varied in diameter between ten metres and many tens of kilometres and any individual tube might range over its length from the narrowest gauge to the greatest. They were bundled together without touching into larger braids which were contained within encompassingly greater pipes measuring a hundred kilometres or so across, also water-filled; these too revolved independently and were also bundled within yet greater cylinders.......a halo world tens of thousands of years old, millions of kilometres across and set circumference-on to its local star, its every million-kilometre-long strand twisting and revolving to provide the tens of billions of Morthanveld within the vast construction with the faint, pleasant tug of gravity they were used to.
"
- Matter

The Morthanveld are a race who like to be able to see vast numbers of their own kind, so they like living in vast transparent tubes. Another race are too involved in the politics of the galaxy to personally go to war; which they consider a highly intellectual, cultural process. As a result, they like to get lesser races in the technological tree to fight wars for their entertainment. Another lesser race feel they are the direct descendants of a once all-powerful, now extinct race; and are making imprudent strides to reassert their position well above their current technological level. Finally, two near human races fight for supremacy using steam powered engines and newly acquired rifles; again for the amusement of the superior race, who are supposed to be nurturing them.

The meddling and power plays of a half dozen different species; using and misusing power and privilege, for moral or corrupt, or confused or religious reasons, make for one of the most complex, but most deeply satisfying books I have read. "Matter" is the sixth of Banks' Culture novels. I wonder if diving into a book, which isn't connected narratively to the other books, but which builds and bolsters the Culture Universe, is something to recommend. Thing is, the first book "Consider Phlebas" jumps into this universe feet first. It is followed by two books which have simpler single strand stories, which thicken the mixture; and two more complicated stories. There are elements to the Culture storyline, which take whole books to explore. "Look To Windward" is a travelogue describing an artificial world called an Orbital, similar to a Ringworld or the Halo from the game. "Excession" dissembles the machine society of the culture where Artificial Intelligence "Minds" run starships, or manage the Orbital Habitats; a book about a space war, where most of the participants are machines, with quirky, capricious personalities.

The Culture itself is Banks' idea of what a utopian, socialistic, anarchistic society would look like. There is no money, no want, every resource is freely available; everybody is equal and the machines take care of providing every service. The question is whether the AI Minds are running things for their own benefit and what they are planning behind the humans' backs, whilst everyone is enjoying themselves. "Matter" investigates how much meddling, all these high-powered civilisations can get away with, without annoying anyone else; and what happens when it goes wrong.

Larry Niven had this idea that if you wrote stories far enough into the future, then they become self-defeating. Technology becomes so advanced that there is no threat anymore, no danger exists- hence boring stories. Banks extends this idea, and has a better understanding of the nature of the motivations of potential powerful species. He can start an argument in an empty room, in other words. The Culture acts as if it knows better than the lesser species. Both "Use of Weapons" and " Player of Games" are stories about their equivalent of MI5 and MI6 and their operations within lesser civs.

If this sounds far too esoteric to be of interest on the humanistic level, well Banks can make even a machine personality strange, humorous, dangerous, deranged; and these books are full of such crazy characters. At any moment he will twist the astounding technology in his story into a comic scene. At the beginning of "Excession" a human Culture agent inside a protective, high-tech suit takes his place at a banquet hosted by the most tremendously foul, powerful, aggressive space monsters called "The Affront"; whose every friendly gesture would flatten the fragile human if it wasn't protected. These comedic scenes are handled very much in the style of Adams' "Hitchhikers" stories. The ships have personalised stupid, slightly-threatening, names like "Fate Amenable To Change" and "Grey Area".

On the human level; "Matter" is the three-parted story of three siblings, the children of an avaricious king who is conquering the lands around him; using mid- Victorian level technology. Much of two of these stories is told in the mode of a medieval, Lord of the Rings- type novel. One of these stories developes into a race out away from this world through levels of different technology towards the top of the tree, The Culture. It means that three or four very profound character arcs take place. The Prince who starts out as a total fop and scoundrel; becomes a man and a suitable ruler. There is terrific comedy as this weak man and his servant, keep butting up against more weird civilisations. The prince is always pretending not to notice the strangeness around him and tries to take control of bewildering situations. His servant continually asks blunt question to the distress of his aloof master. The cultural clash is always played towards humour, but with open-mouthed wonder.

There is a prevailing dismissal of science- fiction as full of wonder; but generally badly written. I can't argue with generalisations that broad, but sci-fi is often proscribed as "trash". Whilst, I can