What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

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gkaplan
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:48 pm

This morning, I finished reading Ngaio Marsh: a Life, by Margaret Lewis.

This is an “authorized” biography of Dame Ngaio Marsh, writer of thirty-two crime novels, legendary producer of Shakespeare, and accomplished painter.

This was excellent, interesting, and very well written. I certainly would it recommend it for those interested in Marsh's life and extensive travels and in an overview of her writing and theatrical production. I do have two nitpicks, however:

1. The book has extensive bibliographic references; however, it has no bibliography, other than one listing her Roderick Alleyn novels and her autobiography, her short non-fiction works, her short stories, her published and unpublished plays, and a television script she wrote. In other words, the book does not have a bibliography of works, other than hers, cited in the bibliographic references.

2. The book has a comprehensive index, better than many I have seen recently. It does have several glaring omissions, though, as well as many undifferentiated page locators. In addition, the index is strictly a proper name index (people, places, and productions). I think topical entries would have been useful.
Gordon

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:08 pm

Back on the Road to Key West,by Michael Reising.

In the a 1980's two friends from the Florida Keys treasure hunt, outwit a series of dastardly villains, and have implausible adventures from the Bahamas to Bolivia to Honduras and back to Key West. More than a little bit juvenile but fun to read.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by market timer » Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:30 am

My Struggle: Book 1, by Knausgaard.

Amazon blurb:
Karl Ove Knausgaard writes about his life with painful honesty. He writes about his childhood and teenage years, his infatuation with rock music, his relationship with his loving yet almost invisible mother and his distant and unpredictable father, and his bewilderment and grief on his father’s death.

When Karl Ove becomes a father himself, he must balance the demands of caring for a young family with his determination to write great literature. Knausgaard has created a universal story of the struggles, great and small, that we all face in our lives. A profound and mesmerizing work, written as if the author’s very life were at stake.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by a2z » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:40 am

I'm rereading Sapiens and it's even better the 2nd time around. It's about "us"- where we've been and where we might be headed. If you liked Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything and Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel you'll find even greater understanding of our species in Sapiens.

a2z

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by aqan » Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:17 am

LeeInTN wrote:Just finished Susan Cains "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can't stop talking"

Excellent examples and analyses. Introverts are wired to be Bogleheads with a "stay the course" brain.

Thanks just started reading (actually listening) it. So far i like it (think I'm one)

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:29 pm

The Big Finish, by James W. Hall.

A man from Key Largo, a recluse with poorly developed social skills, is lured to the Neuse River area of Eastern North Carolina to rescue his son.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:53 pm

Date-Onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game by Jon Birger.

The book is about the statistics of dating and the resulting social, economic, and other effects. More specifically, it's about ratios of college and college-educated men and women, about the prevalence of women, and how these ratios have affected the dating culture and other phenomena.

We all are familiar with gender imbalances in the groups we belong to. However, it's revealing to see the overall picture, appreciate the ubiquity of the imbalances, and get surprised about how bad it really is. This is a Bogleheads type of a book with a lot of statistics, references to observational and controlled studies, and examples from many disciplines including animal behavior.

Women's problems start in college, if they choose a wrong college. The best college for women is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with 28% women and 72% men. The worst is Sarah Lawrence College with 75% women to 25% men. At RPI dating means relationships. At SLC "the girls complain about loneliness, the guys get more than they can handle ... and mindless, one-night stands are rampant."

Bogleheads believing in the prudence of saving may be startled by studies showing that "the men intended to save 42 percent less and borrow 84 percent more when they believed there was a scarcity of women" (p.67).

Victoria
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by denismurf » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:32 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
gkaplan wrote:This morning, I finished reading The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Svejk During the World War : Book One by Jaroslav Hasek.

The Good Soldier Svejk is a series of tales about an ordinary man's successful quest to survive and to enjoy life in the face of the endless absurdities imposed on him by the effects of the complex institutions of modern society that magnify the rational and moral shortcomings of individuals in direct proportion to their positions in the hierarchies of which they are a part. (Synopsis taken from my library's catalog record.)

This is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of satirical writing. It's an acquired taste, however. At least it was for me. The author intended to follow up Book One with five more books. He lived only to publish two more parts of the Svejk saga. He began writing a fourth book but only completed about eighty pages before his death. My library, a major metropolitan library, has only Book One. Judging from my library's inter-library loan database, apparently only Book One has been translated into English.


Extraordinary book!

Victoria


I just finished reading Svejk for the second time, in English translation. I know just enough Serbian and Russisan to get a lot of the humor I might otherwise miss.

For extremely graphic descriptions of the horrible war Svejk did so much to avoid, including bitter indictments of the officers, who displayed extremes of cruelty and stupidity toward the men they were supposed to be leading, read Poilu, The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker 1914 -1918. I read an English translation from the French, so missed much (maybe most) of the colorful language used by Barthas to describe both the company level officers and the colonels and generals way up the chain of command.

The officers I encountered as a grunt in the cold war US Army of 1960-63 were nowhere near as mean and downright incompetent as those described in most books about WWI, regardless of which armies the officers were in.

I would guess that The Good Soldier Svejk was ordered burned by Hitler.

The Barthas notebooks are not something to read while eating.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by galectin » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:15 pm

I am halfway through From Bacteria to Bach and Back by Daniel Dennett. It is about human consciousness. So far, I think it is pretty good.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:38 pm

This morning, I finished reading Call for the Dead by John le Carré.

"With the incomparable opening chapter of Call for the Dead, John Le Carré introduces his legendary spy George Smiley and immediately ensnares you in the shadowy world Smiley inhabits.

"Pulled back from overseas duty during World War II, Smiley was redirected to face the threats of the Cold War. He had been asked to interview Samuel Fennan of the Foreign Office after an anonymous letter accused Fennan of Communist Party membership. Smiley's report cleared him of the allegations, so he was stunned to learn that Fennan had died the day after the interview, leaving a suicide note that claimed his career had been ruined. Investigating circumstances that make no sense to him, Smiley gradually uncovers a spy ring and in so doing is led into a lethal duel of wits with the best of his war-time pupils.

"Call for the Dead marks the beginning of the brilliant literary career of John Le Carré, just as it launches the life of one of the most memorable fictional characters of the twentieth century."

(Publisher provided summary.)

At one time I had read all the John lé Carre novels, but I quit reading them sometime in the late eighties. I've decided to go back and read them all, in the order in which they were reading. Call for the Dead, the first of these novels and the shortest of them by far, originally was published in 1961, and the copyright renewed in 1989.

This particular edition was published in 2004 and is graced with a forward by crime novelist P. D. James. One of the things she points out is that le Carré wrote Call for the Dead when mobile phones were unknown, telephone services provided wake-up calls, and more sophisticated criminal investigative tools were to come.

The author also has provided an introduction to this edition, in which he talks about his background and how and why he came to write his novels, "Call for the Dead," in particular.
Gordon

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by snowshoes » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:53 pm

The Education of a Speculator by Victor Niederhoffer
The Seven Laws of Money by Michael Phillips.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by CynthiaCPdx » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:58 pm

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

A book about the African American migration across our country from WW1 to the 1970s.

She is a beautiful writer and the stories are fascinating.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:03 pm

Pirate by Steven.Becker.

In 1821 in Southwest Florida pirates have stolen treasure from other pirates, flee the U.S. Navy by heading into the Florida interior and across the Everglades, and arrive in the Florida Keys where they bury the treasure and learn of a possible new line of work. Wrecking.

This is the first book of a series. It is not very well written, but is still enjoyable frivolous reading.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:59 pm

This morning I finished reading Snowblind written by Ragnar Jónasson and translated by Quentin Bates.

"Siglufjörður is an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, one where no one locks their doors and accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason is a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik with a past that he's unable to leave behind.
When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theater, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life.
Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness, blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose." (Edited synopsis provided by publisher.)

This book is quite good. Library Journal and Publishers Weekly both gave the book a starred review. The book is the first in the author's Dark Island series. It was first published in Iceland in 2015 but not translated into English until 2015. This U.S. edition was not published until 2017. From what I can ascertain, Ragnar Jónasson has written four other books in his Dark Island series: Nightblind, Blackout, Rupture, and Whiteout.
Nightblind is scheduled to be published in the U.S. in December 2017, but the U.S. publication dates for the other three books are currently unknown.

The author has another series going, as well, the Hulda series. This series revolves around female detective Hulda (literally meaning “hidden woman”) and is set in Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands, in an isolated fjord, and on one of Iceland’s most picturesque and inaccessible islands.
Jónasson has written two books in this series: Dimma ("Darkness") and Drungi ("The Island"). The former was published in Iceland in 2015 and is scheduled for publication in the U.S. in 2018. The latter was published in Iceland in 2016 and is scheduled for publication in the U.S. In 2019.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:56 am

gkaplan wrote:This morning I finished reading Snowblind written by Ragnar Jónasson and translated by Quentin Bates.


Thank you for a review, Gordon. I have ordered it from the library.

Victoria
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Blues » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:03 am

"SIlence of the Grave" by Arnaldur Indriðason. (Inspector Erlendur #4)

More Icelandic crime fiction. 8-)

Having grown up with a best friend from Reykjavik during my junior high through college years, this fiction is like an old friend coming around for a visit.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:18 am

market timer wrote:My Struggle: Book 1, by Knausgaard.

Amazon blurb:
Karl Ove Knausgaard writes about his life with painful honesty. He writes about his childhood and teenage years, his infatuation with rock music, his relationship with his loving yet almost invisible mother and his distant and unpredictable father, and his bewilderment and grief on his father’s death.

When Karl Ove becomes a father himself, he must balance the demands of caring for a young family with his determination to write great literature. Knausgaard has created a universal story of the struggles, great and small, that we all face in our lives. A profound and mesmerizing work, written as if the author’s very life were at stake.


I have not gotten over the fact that Knausgaard chose to use the name of one of the world's great works of evil. There is no doubt some irony in there, somewhere, that is present in the book?

Translated into German, literally, it is Mein Kampf. As in, the book that every German household owned, in 1939. And had people read it, and taken it more seriously, in say 1930, we might have saved the world over 50m dead, destruction of historic cities and relics, near obliteration of an ancient and venerable religion from European civilization, Auschwitz etc...

I therefore suspected boyscout Nietsche.

The title just doesn't want to make me read it.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:23 am

VictoriaF wrote:Date-Onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game by Jon Birger.

The book is about the statistics of dating and the resulting social, economic, and other effects. More specifically, it's about ratios of college and college-educated men and women, about the prevalence of women, and how these ratios have affected the dating culture and other phenomena.

We all are familiar with gender imbalances in the groups we belong to. However, it's revealing to see the overall picture, appreciate the ubiquity of the imbalances, and get surprised about how bad it really is. This is a Bogleheads type of a book with a lot of statistics, references to observational and controlled studies, and examples from many disciplines including animal behavior.

Women's problems start in college, if they choose a wrong college. The best college for women is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with 28% women and 72% men. The worst is Sarah Lawrence College with 75% women to 25% men. At RPI dating means relationships. At SLC "the girls complain about loneliness, the guys get more than they can handle ... and mindless, one-night stands are rampant."

Bogleheads believing in the prudence of saving may be startled by studies showing that "the men intended to save 42 percent less and borrow 84 percent more when they believed there was a scarcity of women" (p.67).

Victoria


Couple of points.

For the younger generation (and maybe for the older ones too, now) sexual orientation seems more fluid.

The second might be that perhaps young women are well served by mindless one-night stands ;-). Given that they are at the beginnings of their professional lives, which will take long hours and heavy commitment, and boyfriends are going to be handicaps in that.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:25 am

a2z wrote:I'm rereading Sapiens and it's even better the 2nd time around. It's about "us"- where we've been and where we might be headed. If you liked Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything and Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel you'll find even greater understanding of our species in Sapiens.

a2z


OK that's a good recommendation for a book that, by and large, I was not sure about given the hype.

Bryson gets lots wrong, btw. It's not a reliable book according to all the commentary that I have read.

I've also read lots of critiques of Diamond, although as a non-specialist I felt he made a lot of sense.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Jeff Albertson » Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:06 pm

a2z wrote:I'm rereading Sapiens and it's even better the 2nd time around. It's about "us"- where we've been and where we might be headed. If you liked Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything and Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel you'll find even greater understanding of our species in Sapiens.

a2z

Barry Ritholtz interviewed the author, Yuval Noah Harari, on his 'Masters in Business' radio show / podcast.
http://ritholtz.com/2017/03/mib-yuval-noah-harari-2/

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bertilak » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:11 pm

I just finished Part I of Cervantes' Don Quixote, the 2003 translation by Edith Grossman. It is a pretty good translation, an easy read in English and, per reviews, very true to the original.

I read this once before many years ago. I don't remember whose translation. My memory of it is vague. I don't think I made it to Part II back then.

I'm sure you all know the general "plot," if you can call it that: Don Quixote goes quite mad as a result of reading many books of chivalry and knights errant (the popular "pulp fiction" of Cervantes' time) so goes out in the world to perform knightly deeds and revive the profession of knight errantry, a task he is completely unfit for. The odd thing is that he is a very intelligent and well educated man who is quite sane, and even erudite, in all other respects. Sancho Panza says of him that, if not discouraged, he can talk as much as thirty lawyers. Unfortunately Quixote is prone to drastically misunderstanding many situations and drops into his knight-errant fantasy world with disastrous consequences for him, Sancho, and those around him. Sancho sees through most of Quixote's obvious misunderstandings but his greed lets him fall for the big one: Quixote truly is a knight errant (if somewhat inept) and will win an island for Sancho to govern.

It turns out this is partially a wrapper story for the adventures of the people he meets on the road -- they all have their own stories to tell. I would guess they make up about half of Part I. I found them entertaining. They are mostly tales of young men who have fallen in love with young women and have many obstacles to overcome to win the lady. Some are personal stories and some are stories in manuscripts our little group of companions run across. The "little group of companions" is more than just Quixote and Sancho Panza. There is the Barber and the Priest, both friends of Don Quixote, and those people they meet on the road. Sometimes individual stories will come together for mutual resolution. (Cervantes was not embarrassed by unlikely coincidences!) These people range from illiterate shepherds through soldiers, priests, and people of noble lineage. An innkeeper and a couple of "ladies of easy virtue" play parts.

The whole thing is quite a romp and with all those embedded stories reminds me of Canterbury Tales.

Sancho Panza is rightly recognized as a classic character. Both he and Don Quixote gain our sympathy and admiration. We forgive them their obvious, and serious, faults.

In Part I poor Don Quixote and Sancho (and others) suffer quite a bit of physical abuse. I hear Part II is even more unkind to them. In any case, I am off to Part II!
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by galectin » Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:45 pm

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. It is about how trees grow and interact with other trees and their environment, both as individual trees and within a forest. I have found it to be fascinating and highly recommend it.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by market timer » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:29 am

Valuethinker wrote:I have not gotten over the fact that Knausgaard chose to use the name of one of the world's great works of evil. There is no doubt some irony in there, somewhere, that is present in the book?

I'm halfway through the book and see no allusions to Nazism. So far, the book seems overhyped, unfortunately. Perhaps his middle age will be more interesting than the teenage years.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:21 am

Valuethinker wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Date-Onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game by Jon Birger.

The book is about the statistics of dating and the resulting social, economic, and other effects. More specifically, it's about ratios of college and college-educated men and women, about the prevalence of women, and how these ratios have affected the dating culture and other phenomena.

We all are familiar with gender imbalances in the groups we belong to. However, it's revealing to see the overall picture, appreciate the ubiquity of the imbalances, and get surprised about how bad it really is. This is a Bogleheads type of a book with a lot of statistics, references to observational and controlled studies, and examples from many disciplines including animal behavior.

Women's problems start in college, if they choose a wrong college. The best college for women is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with 28% women and 72% men. The worst is Sarah Lawrence College with 75% women to 25% men. At RPI dating means relationships. At SLC "the girls complain about loneliness, the guys get more than they can handle ... and mindless, one-night stands are rampant."

Bogleheads believing in the prudence of saving may be startled by studies showing that "the men intended to save 42 percent less and borrow 84 percent more when they believed there was a scarcity of women" (p.67).

Victoria


Couple of points.

For the younger generation (and maybe for the older ones too, now) sexual orientation seems more fluid.

The second might be that perhaps young women are well served by mindless one-night stands ;-). Given that they are at the beginnings of their professional lives, which will take long hours and heavy commitment, and boyfriends are going to be handicaps in that.


In relationships causes and effects are frequently confounded. Young women may like one-night stands on their own merits, or it may be an acquired taste for the lack of other options.

As an engineer, I spent most of my professional and social life in male majority groups. I am used to certain standards of behavior by men and women associated with the abundance of the former and the scarcity of the latter. In retirement I am trying various new social environments including courses, thinktanks, the Camino, and most recently comedy (improv and standup). For example, most attendees of Smithsonian lectures are women, and most attendees of the Brookings and CSIS events are men; and the interactions are quite different. Surprisingly, in comedy the numbers of men and women are relatively equal.

But my observations are a single data point, biased by my own characteristics and attitudes. The beauty of the book is that it talks statistics and social-studies experiments. And it offers some remarkable insights. For example, I have always admired New York City for its history and today's culture, and thought that I would like to live there. But NYC is probably the worst place in the United States to be a woman. The competition for men is so fears that even married women risk losing their husbands.
    - "50 percent of educated Manhattan women age 30 to 39 have never been married" (p.79)
    - "For a city like New York, with a large gay and lesbian population ... complicates any attempt to accurately quantify the size and composition of the heterosexual dating pool. ... gay men outnumber lesbian women by approximately two to one." Calculations that follow lead to a conclusion that as bad as the official ratio of college-educated women to college-educated men in NYC is, the actual ratio for heterosexual women is even worse. (pp. 79-81)
    - "For women over 35 who want to marry and have kids but don't want to leave New York ... move to suburbs. ... In suburban Westchester County, New York, there are 2 percent more single college-educated men than women age 22 to 29, whereas Manhattan has 33 percent more such women than men." (pp. 85-86)

The book is decidedly anti-romantic in its focus on the economics of relationships. The supply and demand affect preferences and behaviors. One of my favorites is a description of a study where "100 women with a median age of 23 were shown head shots of 10 young men and 10 young women. For each of the head shots, there were two side-by-side, identical-looking versions of the same photo--the original, and another in which the image had been photoshopped to create facial symmetry." The experiment was well designed and had several stages. I will not cite the setup details and will just say that the outcomes were highly revealing.
- When women thought that there were more men in the population, they were judging male looks more harshly and female looks more leniently.
- When women thought that there were more women in the population, they were judging male looks more leniently and female looks more harshly.

I think most Bogleheads would benefit from reading this book. Even men enjoying their advantages have sisters and daughters who make choices with long-term consequences for their well-being.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by drawpoker » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:02 pm

"Settle For More" Megyn Kelly's autobiographical account of her TV news career, which, naturally, most of which concerns her enormous trouble with TRump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Lots and lots of juicy insider stuff! [OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek]

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:43 pm

Mangrove Lightning, by Randy Wayne White.

The granddaughter of a locally famous fishing guide is missing, sending Ford and Tomlinson to battle evil in the Everglades. A thrilling adventure story as always.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by FreeAtLast » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:50 pm

"The Pope of Physics" by Segre & Hoerlin (Henry Holt and Company, 2016).

I would assume that most Bogleheads possess a decent idea as to who Enrico Fermi was: "Oh yeah, that professor who directed and oversaw the construction of the first successful fission reactor." This short biography fully expands upon that basic description and can be readily understood and appreciated by non-scientists. Fermi is considered to be one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. He was extraordinarily accomplished in both theoretical and experimental physics, which made him a rara avis indeed among his colleagues. His name, like Einstein's, is plastered all over physics - "Fermi statistics", "Fermi coordinates", "Fermi Lab", "Fermi theory of beta decay". In the last item, Fermi essentially begat modern particle physics by inventing the idea that many sub-atomic particles were not permanent and could be created or annihilated.
His life was very full and eventful, but he died much too young (at 53 of stomach cancer). He loved to teach and practically all of his doctoral students went on to be very distinguished physicists, including a passel of Nobel Prize winners. He was very confident in his abilities but never arrogant. Unlike certain other famous scientists, it is difficult to find anyone who had an unpleasant experience with him. OK, sure, I know you can peruse Wikipedia, which has a sizable section concerning him; but the book is well-written and entertaining and I hope that you will give it a chance.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Accrual » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:15 pm

"Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder.

Mainly about the life of Paul Farmer, a brilliant doctor of infectious diseases and his commitment to helping the poor and underprivileged.

I also thought you guys might appreciate a gift that was given to me for my birthday recently: a signed first edition copy of East of Eden (my all time favorite book).

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by TimDex » Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:04 pm

Started the "Tony Underwood" trilogy by George Walden. First book in the series is A State of Fear. Excellent British based spy/thriller. Good writing, interesting plot. Most current thrillers bore me. This one didn't. An excellent review is here:

http://www.the-american-interest.com/20 ... -live-now/

Tim

Edited to add...the pen name is Joseph Clyde and that's how amazon has him listed.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by jjunk » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:56 pm

I am not your negro: James Baldwin, short powerful read
Disrupted: Dan Lyons, 50yr old re-enters the workforce via startup, hilarity and sabotage ensues

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by jdb » Thu Mar 30, 2017 5:39 pm

Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology by Eric H. Cline. I really have been enjoying this book. I wanted to be an archaeologist when young but got sidetracked. Highly recommend this book for everyone who enjoyed the Indiana Jones movies or otherwise missed out on taking part in an historical excavation and being first person to touch objects which humans had last handled thousands of years before. Maybe I will sign up to join as volunteer on one of those digs someday.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by FreeAtLast » Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:56 pm

"Child 44" by Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central Publishing, 2008).

I discovered this novel by chance, while rummaging through the "to be shelved" bins at my local public library. After reading it, I debated for a brief time whether or not I should post a synopsis of it in this thread, because the overall atmosphere of its tale is overwhelmingly depressing and hopeless. As you can see, I decided that it was not my job in life to censor other adults' reading choices.

The book eventually evolves into a desperate search for an active serial killer (we've never seen this particular plot contrivance before, right?). Before we get to that point, however, we are led to experience fully the setting of Soviet Russia during the Stalinist regime. It begins with the deliberate, government-enforced starvation of Ukrainian farm villages in the early 1930's. It then switches to 1953 when - although Stalin was nearing his end of his life - his arbitrary, paranoiac system of terror against his own people was in full swing and operating like an implacable machine. Smith evokes every nightmarish detail of this frightful existence as if he experienced it himself: the continuous surveillance of every Soviet citizen, the arbitrary questioning in public by militia, the 4 AM raids of homes by the secret State police (MGB), the torture sessions and summary executions in the Lubyanka prison, the chemically assisted interrogations by "psychiatrists", and the exile of whole families to the Gulag in freezing cattle cars. In the cases where only the parents were shot or exiled, the children were sent to "orphanages" where they starved while living in filth and being regularly beaten. Everybody who lived under Stalin's thumb was potentially a guilty traitor to the Motherland; it did not matter how loyal a citizen you were, whether you had praised Stalin profusely for every second of your life, or what protestations or evidence of innocence you offered when you were finally arrested. "Living" under him was continuous, paralyzing, and mind-numbing terror.

I think this book should be read precisely because the author portrays the profoundly disturbing minutiae of such an existence so well. The fact that he integrates his unpalatable history lesson with an exhausting chase of a monstrous criminal by a deeply flawed protagonist who himself is being pursued by the State authorities makes for a gripping story that I don't think many of you will be able to put down. "Child 44" was Mr. Smith's first novel; he has published two others derived from it and I will be searching them out. If any other B.H. had read this book, I would be interested to hear about your judgment of it.
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Blues
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Blues » Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:21 pm

I enjoyed reading "Child 44" (and the movie with Tom Hardy is not a bad adaptation but I like Hardy).

As I recall, the next two novels were not as engaging. (It's been a while so my recollection of them is a bit hazy.)
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Dave55 » Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:25 pm

Just finished The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly. Now reading The Reversal by Connelly, the 3rd in the Micky Haller series.
Love these books.
Dave

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:59 pm

The Lost City of the Monkey God, by Douglas Preston.

The compelling true story of archeology in an uninhabited, jungle covered, mountain valley of Honduras in 2015-16.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:50 am

Rookie Privateer, by Jamie McFarlane. Book 1 of an 11 part Privateer Tales series. This series is reminiscent of early Heinlein and I can't put it down. More details are here: Re: Good Modern Science Fiction
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FreeAtLast
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by FreeAtLast » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:43 pm

"The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life" by John Le Carre (Viking, 2016)

Otherwise known as David Cornwell, the creator of George Smiley, Karla, and the Circus provides us with an compilation of anecdotes about his life. And what extraordinary stories they are! Some are immensely entertaining, like his encounters with Richard Burton and Alec Guinness (of course, you have to be over 60 to know who Burton was). Others are depressingly gruesome, like when he witnesses first hand the results of genocidal actions. You also find out when and where he meets some of the real persons who served as models for his fictional characters. You receive a complete picture of his father, who was a beguiling and unrepentant con artist to his death. I am a huge fan of Le Carre's novels and love his writing style, so this book was a delightful pleasure for me. I believe that you will enjoy it as much as I did.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bertilak » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:06 pm

FreeAtLast wrote:"The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life" by John Le Carre (Viking, 2016)

Otherwise known as David Cornwell, the creator of George Smiley, Karla, and the Circus provides us with an compilation of anecdotes about his life. And what extraordinary stories they are! Some are immensely entertaining, like his encounters with Richard Burton and Alec Guinness (of course, you have to be over 60 to know who Burton was). Others are depressingly gruesome, like when he witnesses first hand the results of genocidal actions. You also find out when and where he meets some of the real persons who served as models for his fictional characters. You receive a complete picture of his father, who was a beguiling and unrepentant con artist to his death. I am a huge fan of Le Carre's novels and love his writing style, so this book was a delightful pleasure for me. I believe that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Sounds like a winner! I just put in my order with Amazon.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by FreeAtLast » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:11 pm

bertilak wrote:
FreeAtLast wrote:"The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life" by John Le Carre (Viking, 2016)

Otherwise known as David Cornwell, the creator of George Smiley, Karla, and the Circus provides us with an compilation of anecdotes about his life. And what extraordinary stories they are! Some are immensely entertaining, like his encounters with Richard Burton and Alec Guinness (of course, you have to be over 60 to know who Burton was). Others are depressingly gruesome, like when he witnesses first hand the results of genocidal actions. You also find out when and where he meets some of the real persons who served as models for his fictional characters. You receive a complete picture of his father, who was a beguiling and unrepentant con artist to his death. I am a huge fan of Le Carre's novels and love his writing style, so this book was a delightful pleasure for me. I believe that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Sounds like a winner! I just put in my order with Amazon.


And you might soon be placing another Amazon order for a new Le Carre novel due out this upcoming September; I know I will be! Its title at this time is "A Legacy of Spies" and will include not only George Smiley as a character, but has as its principal protagonist the redoubtable Peter Guillam. Evidently you can already pre-order it for your Kindle. Oh boy, I am just ecstatic about this news, which I discovered purely by chance this evening. :D
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Sun Apr 09, 2017 4:37 pm

Crazy Horse and Custer, by Stephen E. Ambrose.

This is the parallel biographies of the two opposing leaders at the Little Bighorn fight. I thought it was interesting.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bondsr4me » Sun Apr 09, 2017 4:48 pm

Charlie Munger The Complete Investor by Tren Griffin.
My second go around with it.
Very, very good book.
Don

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by steve roy » Sun Apr 09, 2017 4:57 pm

"John Wayne: The Life and Legend" by Scott Eyman

A comprehensive biography of John Wayne (aka "Duke" Morrison) that is worth reading (especially around these parts) because it goes into details about Wayne's films, their production costs and box office grosses. Eyman describes how Wayne blew through money, and how his company Batjac (spelled that way due to a typographical error -- it was supposed to be "Batjak") came close to bankruptcy after the losses piled up by "The Alamo", Duke's passion project. The epic, shot in Texas, was so expensive that there was almost no way it could earn back its costs. (It would have had to be one of the highest grossing movies of all time to accomplish the task, and it didn't come close).

An enjoyable, breezy read, filled with extensive, first-hand interviews of the friends, family and coworkers who knew John Wayne best. Mr. Eyman has written other books on major Hollywood figures -- John Ford, Cecil B. DeMille and Louis B. Mayer among them. The Ford book is especially good.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Blues » Sun Apr 09, 2017 5:57 pm

Zone by Mathias Enard

From goodreads:

Francis Servain Mirkovic, a French-born Croat who has been working for the French Intelligence Services for fifteen years, is traveling by train from Milan to Rome. He’s carrying a briefcase whose contents he’s selling to a representative from the Vatican; the briefcase contains a wealth of information about the violent history of the Zone—the lands of the Mediterranean basin, Spain, Algeria, Lebanon, Italy, that have become Mirkovic’s specialty.

Over the course of a single night, Mirkovic visits the sites of these tragedies in his memory and recalls the damage that his own participation in that violence—as a soldier fighting for Croatia during the Balkan Wars—has wreaked in his own life. Mirkovic hopes that this night will be his last in the Zone, that this journey will expiate his sins, and that he can disappear with Sashka, the only woman he hasn’t abandoned, forever . . .

One of the truly original books of the decade—and written as a single, hypnotic, propulsive, physically irresistible sentence—Mathias Énard’s Zone provides an extraordinary and panoramic view of the turmoil that has long deviled the shores of the Mediterranean.


Voices by Arnaldur Indriðason

From goodreads:

The Christmas rush is at its peak in a grand Reykjavík hotel when Inspector Erlendur is called in to investigate a murder. The hotel Santa has been stabbed to death, and Erlendur and his fellow detectives find no shortage of suspects between the hotel staff and the international travelers staying for the holidays. As Christmas Day approaches, Erlendur must deal with his difficult daughter, pursue a possible romantic interest, and untangle a long-buried web of malice and greed to find the murderer.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:49 pm

This week's fortune cookie: "The stock market may be your ticket to success." I sure hope so!

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by jdb » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:39 pm

The Hidden Life of Trees-What They Feel, How They Communicate, Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben. Recently translated from German, the book is fascinating, after reading it one will look at trees with a different perspective. The author does anthropomorphize trees to a significant extent but that to me was part of the charm. Highly recommmend for all wannabe foresters. Edit: thanks galectin for the recommendation. I couldn't recall where I had first heard of the book, and of course it was on this site a few weeks ago.
Last edited by jdb on Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Calygos » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:40 pm



How are you liking this? I read the free Kindle sample and it didn't grip me enough to continue. Loved the RS universe books and House of Suns, though. Does it compare well to those, assuming you've read any or all of them? EDIT: I should've clicked your link, but I'll leave my question. I saw the title and didn't notice the link was to another thread, just assumed it was a link to Amazon or something. :oops:

Also, to continue the thread, I'm currently reading a really interesting new book, A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System. I'm only on chapter three but it's really engrossing so far. Sounds like a strange thing to say about a book on tax reform, but it's short and geared towards a wide audience.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:45 pm

Calygos wrote:

How are you liking this? I read the free Kindle sample and it didn't grip me enough to continue. Loved the RS universe books and House of Suns, though. Does it compare well to those, assuming you've read any or all of them?

This was one of those cases where I liked the background better than the story. It had a bit of a Young Adult feel to it, which isn't my favorite style either. I didn't regret reading it. As you might expect from Reynolds, not a real happy tale, and a significant amount of violence.
This week's fortune cookie: "The stock market may be your ticket to success." I sure hope so!

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by kommisarrex » Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:04 am

Just finished Child 44. I'm not a big fiction person, but I used to have a professional interest in Russia, so thought it was worth a read.

I found the detail and story quite engaging up to a really silly plot twist about 75% into the story that totally sent it off the rails (for me). It also wrapped up way too neatly and I always feel let down spending several hundred pages developing interesting plot lines only to be washed away in a two-page last chapter. There was also a good morality/ethics sub-plot that was nicely developed, but then just sort of went away. Read it for the historical context, but as a story, it could have been much better.

Conversely, I recently read Long Ships, based on a recommendation here, and thoroughly enjoyed it despite (or maybe because) it makes no pretense about being a swashbuckling viking adventure with some great subtle (and not subtle) digs at modern society.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by FreeAtLast » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:15 pm

"Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges (Simon and Schuster, 1983)

I read this book many years ago. When the latest movie about Turing came out - "The Imitation Game" - I decided to read it again. This forum has a lot of members who are either very computer or very math literate or both. I am assuming that they would have some knowledge of Turing. He wrote an important paper in 1936 ("On Computable Numbers....") which not only was ground-breaking in the field of mathematical logic, but eventually led to the idea of software for computers. The inimitable Johnny von Neumann stated that it was an important influence upon his thinking about computer construction. When WW II started, Turing did his bit for Britain by leading the successful effort to decode the German Enigma machine. This enabled the Brits to decipher quickly the Wehrmacht's Enigma-encrypted messages and therefore made a huge contribution to the Allies winning the war. After the war, Turing was involved in the design and development of the first functioning computers. He was awarded an OBE and chosen to be an FRS. Turing was also overtly and unashamedly a gay man, which in that time period eventually got him into serious trouble with the criminal authorities. The consensus is that he committed suicide by cyanide ingestion.

As far as I know, this is the only detailed biography of Turing. So Hodges - also a gay man - has given the world a tremendous gift through his research and hard work. Unfortunately, when he gets away from describing the facts of Turing's life, and moves on into interpreting Turing's thoughts and motivations, his writing becomes oblique and tortuous. He likes to throw in literary allusions that he believes explain Turing's psychological motivations (Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, 1984, the poem Casabianca). The only reason I was able to slog through those passages was because I wanted to learn as much as possible about Turing and his life and times. Take my word, it was a struggle.

The book has a good section on how the Enigma machine worked (easy to understand) and how Turing and his colleagues finally figured out to decode it (not so easy to understand - bone up on your combinatorics). The actual historical facts are fascinating. You come away with tremendous admiration for the hard-won insights and indomitable pluck of the British. Oh - and about the movie - don't waste your time and money. They distort the historical record repeatedly for "dramatic license"; the film is an insult to Turing's memory and his accomplishments.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by MP173 » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:37 pm

"Walking the Perfect Square" by Reed Farrel Coleman.

This is a very good mystery novel involving a missing college student to a politically connected New Yorker. A recently disable and retired NYC cop, Mo Prager, finds out much more than was originally indicated. This spanned two short periods...1978 and 20 years later in 1998.

This reminded me of Lawrence Block style of writing. There are several Mo Prager books by Coleman.

Ed

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