What are you reading lately?

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TollandRCR
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by TollandRCR » Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:48 pm

Upton Sinclair, World's End. This is the first novel in the Lanny Budd series. It begins immediately before the first clashes of World War I. Lanny Budd is a sophisticated American teenager who had never been to America, spending much of his time near Cannes and its beaches and cafés. Sinclair is subtle enough that it is credible that Lanny did not initially perceive the signs of impending war, although his father is a successful Connecticut weapons manufacturer and merchant of death. I am enjoying it immensely as historical fiction with a lot of history in it.
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Maybenaut » Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:07 pm

I'm 6.5 books into the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I like it! I'm listening to the audiobooks. The narrator, Davina Porter, is better than most. Most male narrators do women's voices pretty well, but I find most female narrators' male voices grating. Porter does male voices well.

Edited for typing on this flippin-flappin phone.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by P.K. » Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:51 am

Right now I'm reading Shakespeare's King John. I've just joined the Shakespeare workshop at the theatre I'm affiliated with, and Lady Constance has so many good monologues! I've got to finish reading the play and memorize one of her monologs by next week's workshop.

For funsies, I just finished Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins, and I quite enjoyed it. Patricia Cornwell's latest, Depraved Heart is next on the reading list. (I love the Los Angeles Public Library!)
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Mockingbird » Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:50 am

DryInk wrote:The Jack Reacher movie was on again the other day, and it's one of those "watch it if it's on" type of movies for me. After the movie was done, I thought to myself, "I should try out the books." So far, I've read the first two. They came out mid-to-late 90's, but they hold up pretty well. If you like the action or detective genre you'll probably like these books.

Incidentally, the second book is about a white supremacist militia group in Montana taking the daughter of a General hostage. Don't worry, Reacher takes care of them. :)
I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the Reacher novels, and steadfastly refuse to watch any movie made from them.

Reacher is not some handsome movie star-looking character. He routinely solves dilemmas with brute strength, and goes around unkempt -- by anyone's definition -- for significant periods of time.

The protagonist's "homeless"-by-choice (although moneyed and accomplished) lifestyle is a study in minimalism. I'm endlessly fascinated by the prosaic details of how he manages it -- buying clothes at a janitorial supply, paying cash under the table for unbooked hotel rooms.

The Reacher novels tend to have more believable plots than many of the action/adventure genre. My interest usually wanes when spies go jet-setting around. Reacher remains down to earth and generally likable, but he has a hearty streak of brutality to him.

They are satisfying books in that they give just enough clues for us to figure out what the hero figures out about half the time, but the other half of the time, he is just one *aha* moment ahead of the reader.

Reacher makes a great hero for those of us who love to fantasize about what it would be like to be magically lifted free of bureaucracy and go around not just outwitting, but stomping the heck out of bad guys.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Jez » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:52 am

I just re-read some Tolkien books. Starting with the Simarillion, then the Hobbit, then Lord of the Rings. It's interesting reading them in order and so close together, especially adding the Simarillion into the mix. You understand so much more of the references in the other books.

Does this make me a geek?
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by NotaPerson » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:51 am

I'm currently reading John Lydon's autobiography Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs.

I'm not as high-brow as some of you. ;)
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Fortinbras » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:18 am

I just finished Don Quixote. It took several months and I had one copy for reading in bed and another copy for reading outside. I read it as a deliberate challenge; I had heart surgery a dozen years ago and one after-effect (that they didn't bother to tell me about until afterward, but it is real enough that there was a touching story about it in the NY Times Magazine) is an Attention Deficit Disorder and short term memory problems, both of which are supposed to diminish after a while. Except in my case they didn't go away completely. So I make a point of pushing myself to read LONG books; a couple of years ago it was Nicholas Nickleby. Next it may be Moby Dick.

At the moment, in addition to a lot of short readings in social science, I am working my way through Darwin's Descent of Man (1871) - the real bombshell of his career.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Addie » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:46 am

I took Gnarly's recommendation and read Ostland. 'Intriguing' is the word for it. Since I was very young, when the horrors faced by Jews in the Holocaust seemed to me something utterly unique and incomprehensible, I have wondered how human beings can bring themselves to do the things they do to each other. In today's world, we see every day that it comes fairly easy to them, this trick of forgetting the other person's humanity long enough to hold down on the trigger or wield the machete back and forth through skin and muscle or break the child's body by hand. The book shows how automatic, how automatized carrying out evil becomes for the killers and for the state. This is a book that will keep coming back to you.
Gnarly Goat wrote:Finished David Thomas' Ostland yesterday and found it a very intriguing novel. This semi-historical account traces the career of an ambitious young member of the Kripo's Berlin Murder Squad from solving the S-Bahn Murders to leading the Gestapo office in wartime Minsk. While this starts as a typical police procedural it quickly detours to a study into the depths of evil lurking within men. Very good book but still puzzling through it.
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by DejaMoo » Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:32 pm

I've been binge-reading Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series of contemporary westerns/mysteries. Walt Longmire is a sheriff of a (fictional) Wyoming county, where he is tasked with maintaining law and order over a huge expanse of territory with a small staff of employees. The series starts out well, portraying Longmire as a flawed hero: he's lost his wife, he's taken up drinking, he no longer cares, but he (thanks to the persistence of his daughter, friends, and staff) gradually gets drawn back into life. His best friend is Henry Standing Bear, part Cheyenne, part Lakota, and owner of a local rundown drinking establishment. He and Walt go back all their way to childhood, and both served in Vietnam.

The books are well written, the characters (even the minor ones) are well drawn and interesting. And if you've spent any time in or near the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, these books will make you very nostalgic for the scenery.

There's only one drawback: over the course of the series, Walt becomes too heroic. He gradually goes from flawed everyman to heroic superman, constantly taking on dangerous challenges that no one in their right minds would do, and not only surviving every time, but beating deadlines and opponents as well. The first few times, you're cheering him on. But the long string of superhero antics and outcomes eventually diminishes the character by making him less believable, less ordinary. The second-to-last book had him trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of several women in another county when he's supposed to be flying to Philadelphia to be with his daughter as she gives birth to her first child. By the time she's screaming at him on the phone about not letting her down again, I was right with her. There comes a point where a more human character would say, You know - just this one time, I can delegate this one and make my family my priority. Walt just can't bring himself to do that, but he manages to solves the mystery and make it to Philadelphia just in the nick of time.

I recommend the series, but you may not want to binge-read. And I gather there's a tv series based on the books as well, though I haven't seen it.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Mockingbird » Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:52 pm

DejaMoo wrote:I've been binge-reading Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series of contemporary westerns/mysteries.

There's only one drawback: over the course of the series, Walt becomes too heroic. .
That seems to be a common problem with series novels. They start out with a flawed, thoughtful protagonists whose actions are bound by both the laws of physics and the universality of human foible.

I'm experiencing the same thing with Alex Berenson's John Wells series:

http://www.alexberenson.com/books/

Originally the hero started out as a deeply damaged man struggling with the aftereffects of his time in combat, and finding deep calm in his adopted faith of Islam. He suffered old wounds both physical and mental. He regretted much. He trudged forward and used his skills at linguistics and cultural immersion to foil terrorists. A thoughtful hero, as though written through the eyes of someone who had experienced great anguish of the soul himself.

In the latest one I'm halfheartedly trudging through, John Wells blithely jetsets around without aches, pains, or much reflection, rubbing elbows with a two-dimensional (at most) Russian villain, and monochromatically evil politicians and 'operators'. A seductive and lurid female assassin routinely goes around foiling all known investigative techniques.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by BillTheCat » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:50 pm

"Defeating ISIS" by Malcolm Nance
"The Run Of His Life" - Jefferey Toobin
"Wired: The Short Fast Life Of John Belushi" - Bob Woodward
"A Mother's Reckoning" - Sue Klebold

I realized when I ordered these last month that these are all books about dead people :| Kinda morbid this round.
'But I don't want to go among mad people,' said Alice. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the cat. 'We're all mad here.'
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Whatever4 » Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:25 pm

Jez wrote:I just re-read some Tolkien books. Starting with the Simarillion, then the Hobbit, then Lord of the Rings. It's interesting reading them in order and so close together, especially adding the Simarillion into the mix. You understand so much more of the references in the other books.

Does this make me a geek?
Yes, but you ask like that's a bad thing.
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by DryInk » Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:44 pm

Mockingbird wrote:I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the Reacher novels, and steadfastly refuse to watch any movie made from them.
I saw the movie first, so it didn't bother me at the time. After reading a few of the books (I'm on #6) I can see why the book's fans (the Reacher Creatures) didn't like the casting. I assume they did it because he's a box office draw, but they had other people in the cast who were draws as well.

I was thinking about who they should've cast, and Ray Stevenson seems like a good choice, although possibly a little old. If Jai Courtney hadn't been cast as one of the bad guys he would've been OK, if a little short (not as short as Cruise).

A casting decision for another book-to-movie that MAY have been worse: Katherine Heigl as bounty hunter, and Jersey native, Stephanie Plum. No one would ever look at her and think: Jersey. Ranger was also horribly miscast, but LuLu was perfect. Morrelli seemed miscast, but he actually grew on me by the end of the movie.

Anyway, I digress. :)
Let's just assume I said something witty.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by magdalen77 » Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:29 pm

DryInk wrote:
Mockingbird wrote:I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the Reacher novels, and steadfastly refuse to watch any movie made from them.
I saw the movie first, so it didn't bother me at the time. After reading a few of the books (I'm on #6) I can see why the book's fans (the Reacher Creatures) didn't like the casting. I assume they did it because he's a box office draw, but they had other people in the cast who were draws as well.

I was thinking about who they should've cast, and Ray Stevenson seems like a good choice, although possibly a little old. If Jai Courtney hadn't been cast as one of the bad guys he would've been OK, if a little short (not as short as Cruise).

A casting decision for another book-to-movie that MAY have been worse: Katherine Heigl as bounty hunter, and Jersey native, Stephanie Plum. No one would ever look at her and think: Jersey. Ranger was also horribly miscast, but LuLu was perfect. Morrelli seemed miscast, but he actually grew on me by the end of the movie.

Anyway, I digress. :)
Yeah, the only actors that were okay in the Stephanie Plum movie were the ones playing Lula and Morrelli. Heigl was miscast, the guy playing Ranger was good look, but way too clean cut and Debbie Reynolds was too glamorous to play Grandma Mazur.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by TollandRCR » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:09 pm

Addie wrote:I took Gnarly's recommendation and read Ostland. 'Intriguing' is the word for it. Since I was very young, when the horrors faced by Jews in the Holocaust seemed to me something utterly unique and incomprehensible, I have wondered how human beings can bring themselves to do the things they do to each other. In today's world, we see every day that it comes fairly easy to them, this trick of forgetting the other person's humanity long enough to hold down on the trigger or wield the machete back and forth through skin and muscle or break the child's body by hand. The book shows how automatic, how automatized carrying out evil becomes for the killers and for the state. This is a book that will keep coming back to you.
A serious study of the German claim "We didn't know:" Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Historians in both Germany and the U.S. criticized it, but it won the American Political Science Association's Gabriel Almond Award. I was not convinced that Germans uniquely possessed an "eliminationist antisemitism." I think this was and is found in much of Europe and is a strong argument for a Jewish state. Nor was I convinced that one could only understand the Germans by seeing them as, say, Aztecs rather than as modern men and women who somehow went badly wrong. I was, however, convinced by his in-depth study of the men of Battalion 101: they took joy in their torture and murder of Jews. Goldhagen does not provide a satisfactory answer to one of the most perplexing questions of the 20th century, but he does effectively refute those who have held that the Holocaust was the doing of only a very few hateful men, while others watched in fear.
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Foggy » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:34 am

Upon the recommendation of the posts above, I purchased and began to read the first Jack Reacher, Killing Floor. Now I am going to have to read the whole series.
My god, it's full of stars turtles all the way down!

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by DejaMoo » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:12 am

Foggy wrote:Upon the recommendation of the posts above, I purchased and began to read the first Jack Reacher, Killing Floor. Now I am going to have to read the whole series.
Ah, I envy you in the weeks of reading pleasure you have before you. Reacher's the kind of guy we all wish was sometimes around in real life. Imagine how he'd have handled the refuge occupation.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by magdalen77 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 9:26 am

magdalen77 wrote:
DryInk wrote:
Mockingbird wrote:I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the Reacher novels, and steadfastly refuse to watch any movie made from them.
I saw the movie first, so it didn't bother me at the time. After reading a few of the books (I'm on #6) I can see why the book's fans (the Reacher Creatures) didn't like the casting. I assume they did it because he's a box office draw, but they had other people in the cast who were draws as well.

I was thinking about who they should've cast, and Ray Stevenson seems like a good choice, although possibly a little old. If Jai Courtney hadn't been cast as one of the bad guys he would've been OK, if a little short (not as short as Cruise).

A casting decision for another book-to-movie that MAY have been worse: Katherine Heigl as bounty hunter, and Jersey native, Stephanie Plum. No one would ever look at her and think: Jersey. Ranger was also horribly miscast, but LuLu was perfect. Morrelli seemed miscast, but he actually grew on me by the end of the movie.

Anyway, I digress. :)
Yeah, the only actors that were okay in the Stephanie Plum movie were the ones playing Lula and Morrelli. Heigl was miscast, the guy playing Ranger was good looking, but way too clean cut and Debbie Reynolds was too glamorous to play Grandma Mazur.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Addie » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:17 am

Ah, you guys are going to make me look for newer Jack Reacher books. I've read almost all of them, I think, but you never know. :-D
¡Qué vergüenza!

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by spiduh » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:38 am

Addie wrote:Ah, you guys are going to make me look for newer Jack Reacher books. I've read almost all of them, I think, but you never know. :-D
I totally screwed up when I started reading them, didn't realize how much I'd enjoy them and just read random scattered ones in any order. Now I have no idea which ones I've read and which ones I haven't, and due to a crappy memory it takes me a solid chunk of reading before I can tell if it is one I already know.
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Whatever4 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:44 pm

spiduh wrote:
Addie wrote:Ah, you guys are going to make me look for newer Jack Reacher books. I've read almost all of them, I think, but you never know. :-D
I totally screwed up when I started reading them, didn't realize how much I'd enjoy them and just read random scattered ones in any order. Now I have no idea which ones I've read and which ones I haven't, and due to a crappy memory it takes me a solid chunk of reading before I can tell if it is one I already know.
Kindle sample.
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Foggy » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:51 am

When I know it's a series, I google "[Jack Reacher] novels in order". There's always a website somewhere that will give you that.
My god, it's full of stars turtles all the way down!

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by listeme » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:26 am

Foggy wrote:When I know it's a series, I google "[Jack Reacher] novels in order". There's always a website somewhere that will give you that.
Yup.

And if there's a choice between chronological order and author's order, I go with author's. (Like some places put the prequels first like that is a good thing. No, stop. Read them in the order they were written. My gosh.)
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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Azastan » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:49 am

The Bridge of Gems by Louis Kornitzer. Kornitzer (1873-1946) was a prominent gem merchant based in London. He loved pearls, and tended to stick to them, but he also dealt with other gems. Interesting anecdotes.

CHOW: A Cook's Tour of Military Food by Paul Dickson. Dickson is probably best known for his books dealing with baseball, but this particular book is interesting for including recipes for military food. It was published in 1978, so could probably use a bit of updating.

Pepys' Diary (Wheatley edition). I have read and re-read Pepys' Diary several times over the years. My father used to entertain us at tea time by reading (the not salacious) bits of the diary!

Of great interest, and having a tenuous connection with some of the current events catalogued here at Fogbow--Horse Sense, by Willard 'Bill' Leonard. Often when I read things here I have brain flashes where I could swear that I have heard about something before. Bill Leonard grew up in the Lakeview area of Oregon. Born in 1902, he writes of ranch life in a very rural (still) part of Oregon. Lake County is located next to Harney County, but until I re-read the book a few days ago, I could not remember why the name Pete French sounded familiar. Yes, Pete French is in this book.

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Re: What are you reading lately?

Post by Estiveo » Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:16 pm

I just finished The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. A sweet story of a young girl, her teacher, a morally bankrupt scientist, a hard as nails army sergeant and a very green private making their way in England 20 years after a zombie apocalypse.
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