What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Wed Dec 31, 2014 3:00 pm

Currently reading Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, by Eric Schlosser. I think it was Valuethinker who suggested it to me. Excellent.

I sort of lived through those years but wasn't following the historical texture and changes in policy, etc. Along the way it inspired me to rent and view the 1955 James Stewart movie, "Strategic Air Command" which was... interesting. Big-deal wide-screen Technicolor, not-quite-docudrama, not-quite-propaganda. Lots of shots of what I believe to have been real B-36's and B-47's. Stewart was sorta-kinda before my time but this movie made me realize he was quite a good actor--not the kind of actor who turns into another person, but the kind of actor who retains his identity but convinces you that everything is really happening. For example, when he was on the phone I was always convinced he was really talking to someone; not so for June Allyson. I was also intrigued by how the screenwriters attacked the problem of how to create a sense of drama without anyone actually firing a shot in anger. And indeed--reading "Command and Control"--how amazingly the film completely avoided ever mentioning nuclear weapons.
market timer wrote:...Tried reading The Way of All Flesh, after all the Nisiprius quotes from that book. Really struggled to get into it, maybe because I have so little background in Christianity. Gave up after reading 25%. Might return to it...
Sorry if I gave you a bum steer. If it's boring, forget it. 25% is a good sample, if it hasn't grabbed you by then it probably isn't going to.

I mean, you've gotten to the part about "Why cannot we be buried as eggs in neat little cells with ten or twenty thousand pounds each wrapped round us in Bank of England notes, and wake up, as the sphex wasp does, to find that its papa and mamma have not only left ample provision at its elbow, but have been eaten by sparrows some weeks before it began to live consciously on its own account?"

If you decide to go on, the Christianity stuff is not too important, except you need to notice that he is just as irreverent about it as he is about parent-child relationships, etc. You don't need to understand any of the theological points--I don't. You just need to be aware that you are reading a book about a time, place, and subculture that took minute details of Christian theology seriously and had all of these various squabbling factions.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by market timer » Thu Jan 01, 2015 2:36 am

nisiprius wrote:Sorry if I gave you a bum steer. If it's boring, forget it. 25% is a good sample, if it hasn't grabbed you by then it probably isn't going to.

I mean, you've gotten to the part about "Why cannot we be buried as eggs in neat little cells with ten or twenty thousand pounds each wrapped round us in Bank of England notes, and wake up, as the sphex wasp does, to find that its papa and mamma have not only left ample provision at its elbow, but have been eaten by sparrows some weeks before it began to live consciously on its own account?"

You actually didn't recommend the book, just quoted it often enough that I was curious. It's also ranked #12 on the Modern Library's list of top 100 English-language novels of the 20th century: http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/

Yes, I did make it past the part about the eggs wrapped in Bank of England notes. That was amusing.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Exuberent » Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:11 am

Just finished "The Beautiful Struggle" - subtitled a father, two sons , and an unlikely road to manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Really enjoyed it. Just started reading his article "The Case for Reparations" that was recently published in The Atlantic magazine. Mr. Coates will be discussing the article at The American Library in Paris later this month - hopefully I will be able to attend.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Mrs.Feeley » Thu Jan 01, 2015 3:10 pm

A Perry Mason mystery! "The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink" by Erle Stanley Gardner. I had never read a Perry Mason mystery before, and the TV and radio shows were before my time, so I was surprised to find it was pretty good. Rather noir. With secret messages written in lipstick under furniture in a red-light district hotel room, a police sergeant who likes to rough up detectives and threaten to take away their license, and supper-club waitresses who spill all. Four stars.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by seeshells » Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:43 pm

Losers, by Michael Lewis.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by market timer » Fri Jan 02, 2015 3:34 am

Finished House of Debt. I agree entirely with Larry Summers' review (available here: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/3ec604c0 ... z3NePKnajg) that the book summarizes some great economics research for the first 2/3rds, but then Mian and Sufi stretch a bit too far in their policy recommendations.

Moving on in nonfiction to The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Dave55 » Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:54 am

The House that Bogle Built
Excellent read!

Dave

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by avenger » Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:17 pm

Desert Solitaire - A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Riprap » Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:20 pm

7 by Jen Hatmaker

I received the book as a gift, so I felt obliged to read it. I think it was probably one of the worst books I have read in the last several years.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by 6miths » Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:48 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Munir wrote:Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. A Harvard surgeon discusses life in retirement especially independent & assisted living, retirement homes, and hospice.


My Being Mortal has arrived today. I am looking forward to reading it.

Victoria


My spouse has read it.

It is a cracker. A profound book.


Yes a very thought provoking book. I ordered his earlier books at the library and have to pick them up this week. DW tells me that a couple of them are on our local MD programme's reading list. Currently reading 'How We Got to Now' by Steven Johnson. It's amazing to me how little we think about the technologies that surround us and the interconnectivity of things.
'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so!' Mark Twain

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by avenger » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:45 pm

Also just finished reading The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing for the 3rd time.

Happy to know that in the year I have been a Boglehead, I have aligned my personal financial life quite well to the book!
cheers ... -Mark | "Our life is frittered away with detail. Simplify. Simplify." -Henry David Thoreau | [3 fund portfolio: VTI, VXUS, SV fund (yield 3.01%)]

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by stemikger » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:51 pm

Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger by Janet Lowe.

Charlie Munger is a private man, so to get a glimpse inside his life is fascinating. I just started it, but so far I'm loving it.
Choose Simplicity ~ Stay the Course!! ~ Press on Regardless!!!

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by dodecahedron » Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:30 pm

A Mathematician's Shiva, a wondrous novel with a remarkable family story. I discovered the book through a review in a literary magazine edited by a dear friend of mine. Yes, there's a little bit of math in there, but the exposition is charming and vivid humanity of the characters, with all their flaws and gifts, will stay with me a long time.

I am not Jewish, but my late husband was Jewish (with a gift for storytelling that ran in his family), and I have long been delighted and intrigued by the remarkable storytelling gifts I have found in novels written by Jewish authors about Jewish life. The central character, the person being mourned in the shiva, is an extremely accomplished and mathematically passionate Russian emigre mathematician in Wisconsin, an elderly Jewish woman who was born in Poland before World War II and survived horrific hardships in Siberia as a young girl and many subsequent obstacles before she managed to defect to the west (making the heartbreaking choice to leave her husband and young son behind) and landed at the University of Wisconsin, where she does pathbreaking mathematical research (and was eventually joined by the husband and son). The primary narrator in the novel is her son (from his perspective in middle age, reflecting back on growing up with her and also reading through her childhood memoirs.) Her son provides something of a lay perspective on the mathematics as he himself is not a mathematician (to his parents' severe disappointment, he is an atmospheric scientist, studying phenomena like turbulence, which apply the pure mathematics his parents loved.) The family story has many unexpected twists and turns.

Her death (and the shiva) takes place in snowy Madison, Wisconsin, and so it makes perfect reading on a snowy day in Upstate New York, as I stay warm and cozy inside and watch the snowflakes drift down and create a blanket of snow.

I enjoyed the book for so many reasons: it is about math and women and overcoming obstacles and it is about Wisconsin (I have a number of sentimental connections there, even though I have never visited). I also liked that this remarkable if fictional woman was still passionately pursuing math research at the end of her long life.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Fallible » Sat Jan 03, 2015 11:23 pm

6miths wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Munir wrote:Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. A Harvard surgeon discusses life in retirement especially independent & assisted living, retirement homes, and hospice.


My Being Mortal has arrived today. I am looking forward to reading it.

Victoria


My spouse has read it.

It is a cracker. A profound book.


Yes a very thought provoking book. I ordered his earlier books at the library and have to pick them up this week. DW tells me that a couple of them are on our local MD programme's reading list. Currently reading 'How We Got to Now' by Steven Johnson. It's amazing to me how little we think about the technologies that surround us and the interconnectivity of things.


I'm halfway through and it's excellent, a very tough reality check.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by MP173 » Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:14 pm

Since my last posting:

"Before I go to Sleep" by S.J. Watson...not a bad mystery.

"Twilight of the Great Trains" by Fred Frailey. An excellent look at private rail passenger service in the 1960's before Amtrak. An excellent look at the operations of several railroads passenger operations and a very nostalgic look for us "train nerds". Fred was the Editor of Kiplinger Report, a personal finance magazine and is a contributor to Trains Magazine. He is an excellent reporter of the railroad industry, primarily on the business side, but he also has a soft spot for the industry.

"The Burning Room" by Michael Connelly. Probably my favorite mystery author and my favorite charactor (Harry Bosch). Harry is nearing retirement and his career is winding down. He is training a new partner, she hopefully will assume the mantle of Connelly's main charactor. I am enjoying every page of this book as it is obvious there will not be many more pages of Harry Bosch.

Ed

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by abuss368 » Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:38 pm

Trumped! Interesting.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by abuss368 » Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:06 pm

Dave55 wrote:The House that Bogle Built
Excellent read!

Dave


I really enjoyed this book!
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by protagonist » Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:17 pm

market timer wrote: It's also ranked #12 on the Modern Library's list of top 100 English-language novels of the 20th century: http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/



I don't know what "Modern Library" is, but their "board's list" puts Ulysses as #1. I hardly know anybody who got through Ulysses. I tried twice. The second time, about a quarter of the way through, I asked myself: "Could I read the whole thing and understand it?" My answer was probably yes. Then I asked myself: "Do I want to?" My answer was definitively no.

And their "Reader's List" puts two Ayn Rand books and an L. Ron Hubbard book as the three best novels ever written. Sheesh.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by frugalguy » Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:29 am

I just finished listening to the audiobook Lips Unsealed by Belinda Carlisle. I thought it would provide insight to the origins of the LA punk music scene (which it did) and also the development of the Go-Gos, which it also did, but the most compelling part of the book was Belinda's secret life as an out-of-control, and I mean OUT-OF-CONTROL, drug addict.

Carlisle is the narrator of the book, which makes her death spiral more interesting with her sweet/polite/refined and matter-of-fact voice. The book follows her path of ruin which includes perpetual partying, multi-day coccaine binges, scary encounters with foreign drug dealers (including a crazy episode in Rio), the total f*ing up of her career through her irresponsible behavior, her suicidal despair in an empty hotel room (a scene I will never forget), and an establishment-type hustand who stood by her the entire time -- an almost superhuman feat -- although he was also in the dark much of the time about her secret life. For anyone who has become jaded about the topic of drug addiction, this audiobook is jolting.

Of course, the audiobook is more enjoyable if you're a music fan and enjoy learning how somebody with a lousy voiice ( :D ) made it big and even though Carlisle morphed from punk to pop (to the dismay of her early supporters), that didn't stop her from being part of the "rock scene", so there's some fun name-dropping.

Although Carlisle's solo career after the Go-Gos wasn't great in the US, she was big in Europe and lived in both the south of France and England, which are the scenes of some interesting stories.

After listening to this book, I went back and looked at some photos of Carlisle. I'd always thought her eyes were vacuous, and now I know why. But recent pictures show her with the actual spark of intelligence in her eyes, and a relaxed sense of self-acceptance and "life is good". It took her entire life for her to learn to accept herself. Sad story, but good ending.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:27 am

frugalguy wrote:I just finished listening to the audiobook Lips Unsealed by Belinda Carlisle. I thought it would provide insight to the origins of the LA punk music scene (which it did) and also the development of the Go-Gos, which it also did, but the most compelling part of the book was Belinda's secret life as an out-of-control, and I mean OUT-OF-CONTROL, drug addict.

Carlisle is the narrator of the book, which makes her death spiral more interesting with her sweet/polite/refined and matter-of-fact voice. The book follows her path of ruin which includes perpetual partying, multi-day coccaine binges, scary encounters with foreign drug dealers (including a crazy episode in Rio), the total f*ing up of her career through her irresponsible behavior, her suicidal despair in an empty hotel room (a scene I will never forget), and an establishment-type hustand who stood by her the entire time -- an almost superhuman feat -- although he was also in the dark much of the time about her secret life. For anyone who has become jaded about the topic of drug addiction, this audiobook is jolting.

Of course, the audiobook is more enjoyable if you're a music fan and enjoy learning how somebody with a lousy voiice ( :D ) made it big and even though Carlisle morphed from punk to pop (to the dismay of her early supporters), that didn't stop her from being part of the "rock scene", so there's some fun name-dropping.

Although Carlisle's solo career after the Go-Gos wasn't great in the US, she was big in Europe and lived in both the south of France and England, which are the scenes of some interesting stories.

After listening to this book, I went back and looked at some photos of Carlisle. I'd always thought her eyes were vacuous, and now I know why. But recent pictures show her with the actual spark of intelligence in her eyes, and a relaxed sense of self-acceptance and "life is good". It took her entire life for her to learn to accept herself. Sad story, but good ending.


Thanks for this. I was unaware of it and I was/ am a fan. You are right she was big as a solo artist 'over here'.

Carrie Fisher's book on the same theme 'Postcards from the Edge' got made into not a bad film with Merryl Streep.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:33 am

protagonist wrote:
market timer wrote: It's also ranked #12 on the Modern Library's list of top 100 English-language novels of the 20th century: http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/



I don't know what "Modern Library" is, but their "board's list" puts Ulysses as #1. I hardly know anybody who got through Ulysses. I tried twice. The second time, about a quarter of the way through, I asked myself: "Could I read the whole thing and understand it?" My answer was probably yes. Then I asked myself: "Do I want to?" My answer was definitively no.

And their "Reader's List" puts two Ayn Rand books and an L. Ron Hubbard book as the three best novels ever written. Sheesh.


Hubbard we understand. Lawrence Wright's The Tower (based on his New Yorker articles) was not published here (UK) because our libel laws are much more plaintiff friendly. Similarly the film with Seymour Hoffman The Master never mentions the religion once yet is clearly based on the early days and his charisma. I came across Hubbard history because he was part of that circles of SF authors in the late 40s early 50s: Heinlein, Pohl, Van Vogt, De Camp, Kornbluth, Asimove etc. The history embedded in the theology reads like an AE Van Vogt novel without Van Vogt's magnificent sweep and memorable (albeit thin) characters. It would be interesting to know how much Hubbard was in control of, versus being a prisoner of, his religion in his later years.

Ayn Rand? Well they are regularly listed in American surveys as the most influential novels in readers' lives, after the Bible. There are several books about Ayn Rand out there (I think I referenced them earlier) and she is a significant figure in mid 20th century American cultural history, not least because of her friendship with Alan Greenspan (who was, in effect, one of her disciples).

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by htdrag11 » Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:18 am

2 books:

The Bogleheads' Guide to Retirement Planning

and Gone Girl, after watching the movie. It's a black comedy. Makes my marriage almost perfect. :D

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:15 pm

I'm reading Stand Before Your God: a Boarding School Memoir by Paul Watkins.

Watkins writes the Inspector Pekkala series of books under the Sam Eastland nom de plume, all of which I have read and all of which I have liked. He also has written, under his own name, numerous books of both nonfiction and fiction. Born in California of Welsh parents, he recounts in this memoir his experiences at the Dragon School and at Eton and how it felt to be an American, though of Welsh heritage, in a decidedly British culture and British environment. It's quite hilarious at times, something like Adrian Albert Mole.
Gordon

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by chaz » Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:12 pm

"The Innocent" by David Baldacci.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Wed Jan 07, 2015 3:38 pm

Lone Star: a history of Texas and the Texans, by T. R. Fehrenbach. Very interesting detailed history, beginning with the Spanish attempts to explore and colonize.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Petrocelli » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:11 pm

This year, I have read finished two books:

1. The Fall of the Roman Empire by Peter Heather. A good book, but not an easy read.
2. Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut. A semi-autobiography. Fun for Vonnegut fans. Others may not care for it.

I just started Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout. I enjoyed the HBO mini-series, and my wife had already bought the Kindle book, so I thought I'd give it a try.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:00 am

Valuethinker wrote:...I don't know what "Modern Library" is, but their "board's list" puts Ulysses as #1...
Does "Everyman's Library" mean anything to you, because it is sorta-kinda the U.S. equivalent. I think it is fading. It is/was a rather good book-publishing project in the U.S., a set of books in more-or-less uniform format (which has changed from time to time over the years), of, I don't know, books the publisher thinks are of permanent worth and was able to get the rights to. A quick glance at my bookshelves for the familiar green bindings turns up The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll, James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan, A New Anthology of Modern Poetry, Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones. Decently bound, durable, and obviously intended for reading and not for show. Any U.S. book lover is likely to own a few books in that series. The "Modern Library List of Twentieth-Century Novels" was a promotional stunt, intentionally controversial, intended to pique interest, not a serious attempt at any completely objective evaluation. I've never tried to collate their list of best twentieth-century novels against the list of titles they publish but... there is overlap. :wink:
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Fri Jan 09, 2015 9:43 am

A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton Malkiel, which was (strangely) issued in 2014 yet copyrighted 2015. Skimming and looking for differences, of course, not really reading.

(Am I the only one who thinks it's rather tacky of him to keep including the dirty joke, p. 312, "Red Faces in Park," ("The confusion of priorities so often displayed by investors is not unlike that exhibited by a young woman whose saga was recently written up in a London newspaper?") Though occasional published as news, it has been convincingly been identified by Snopes as an urban legend)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:22 pm

44 Scotland Street, by Alexander McCall Smith. After I got into it I found it very readable, almost a page-turner. Not quite as good as the first books in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, better than some of the later ones, better than his Portuguese Irregular Verbs series. However... I find it hard to forgive him for a) some slightly-too-clumsy twists of plot and coincidence involving a painting that may or may not be by Samuel Peploe, and b) including an extra Peploe-painting-related plot detail that's not resolved in the book and presumably is there to hook us into reading the next.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Blues » Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:37 pm

"A Death In Vienna" by Daniel Silva.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by chaz » Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:03 pm

Blues wrote:"A Death In Vienna" by Daniel Silva.

Silva authors nice novels, though I haven't read this one.
Last edited by chaz on Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by chaz » Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:05 pm

"Standup Guy" by Stuart Woods.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by homesleym » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:17 am

The five mistakes every investor makes and how to avoid them : getting investing right / Peter Mallouk.
Robert B. Parker's The bridge / Robert Knott.
Strong darkness / Jon Land.
Full force and effect / Tom Clancy ; Mark Greaney.
The Kennedy wives : triumph and tragedy in America's most public family / Amber Hunt and David Batcher.
Navy Seals : their untold story / Dick Couch and William Doyle
The power of passive investing : more wealth with less work / Richard A. Ferri

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:37 am

ruralavalon wrote:Lone Star: a history of Texas and the Texans, by T. R. Fehrenbach. Very interesting detailed history, beginning with the Spanish attempts to explore and colonize.


Did we have a discussion re his book about Korea? This Kind of War is an absolutely fascinating history of that conflict which tends to get overlooked in the jump from WW2 to Vietnam. And you pointed me to his obituary?

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:41 am

gkaplan wrote:I'm reading Stand Before Your God: a Boarding School Memoir by Paul Watkins.

Watkins writes the Inspector Pekkala series of books under the Sam Eastland nom de plume, all of which I have read and all of which I have liked. He also has written, under his own name, numerous books of both nonfiction and fiction. Born in California of Welsh parents, he recounts in this memoir his experiences at the Dragon School and at Eton and how it felt to be an American, though of Welsh heritage, in a decidedly British culture and British environment. It's quite hilarious at times, something like Adrian Albert Mole.


I didn't know about his nom de plume, thank you.

His novel about a young soldier in the SS at the end of WW2 was quite good- a bit 'sarcastic Eton boy imagines what it would be like to be in the SS and fight at the Battle of the Bulge' but a reasonalbe antidote to the likes of Sven Hassel, say.

He also wrote one about the vikings 'Thunder God'. He's good on the first person.

I think of him in some ways like Benedict Cumberbatch (Harrow). Someone who you sense was a little on the outside in the private school (ie public school) experience. Molesworth 'How to be Top' by Ronald Searle is also a satire of that (Searle was an artist who spent much of WW2 in a Japanese POW camp) as well as Searle's St. Trinians books, cartoons and movies.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:46 am

nisiprius wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:...I don't know what "Modern Library" is, but their "board's list" puts Ulysses as #1...
Does "Everyman's Library" mean anything to you, because it is sorta-kinda the U.S. equivalent. I think it is fading. It is/was a rather good book-publishing project in the U.S., a set of books in more-or-less uniform format (which has changed from time to time over the years), of, I don't know, books the publisher thinks are of permanent worth and was able to get the rights to. A quick glance at my bookshelves for the familiar green bindings turns up The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll, James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan, A New Anthology of Modern Poetry, Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones. Decently bound, durable, and obviously intended for reading and not for show. Any U.S. book lover is likely to own a few books in that series. The "Modern Library List of Twentieth-Century Novels" was a promotional stunt, intentionally controversial, intended to pique interest, not a serious attempt at any completely objective evaluation. I've never tried to collate their list of best twentieth-century novels against the list of titles they publish but... there is overlap. :wink:


Everyman's I have a couple. The print is too small. That's a generic problem I have with books these days: drives me more and more towards Kindle. I can think of books I have stopped reading simply because of the print size. I did read somewhere Penguin was acknowledging this problem with an aging readership. (Edward Chancellor's Devil Take the Hindmost about financial crashes comes to mind). Also I wind up buying the hardcover used on Amazon to find a print size I can read.

There is also Library of the Americas. They have done Philip K Dick and Raymond Chandler, and that endears me to them.

it is in 'genre' fiction that I find the most penetrating observations about, and insights into, American life and issues like race, class, power. The world William Gibson ('only' a science fiction author) writes about seems far more real than a lot of conventional fiction, now.

But think Ross Thomas to try to understand America in the early 70s. Or James Elroy. Or the 58th Precinct Novels (Ed McBain).

on nonfiction (and that's my Everyman's edition) Joan Didion. Her writing is exquisite and she was at the height of her powers.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by matjen » Sat Jan 10, 2015 3:28 pm

I'm reading "The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels" by Alex Epstein. A good overview: http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=13701

Also, listening to the first Jack Reacher book in my car. "Killing Floor" by Lee Child.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by heartwood » Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:03 pm

"The Three-Body Problem" by Cixin Liu. Science fiction from China. Translated by Ken Liu (no relation).

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:34 pm

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, the last in the series of four Man Booker Prize winners discussed in my Smithsonian course. Initially, I was not excited about reading a 600-page novel about the reign of Henry VIII. I was not opposed to it, but I thought I had higher priority books on my list. However, the book proved to be excellent, just as other books covered in the course.

I knew about Oliver Cromwell from Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, but this book has introduced me to his great grandfather, a much more appealing character. Thomas Cromwell is a perfect man: courageous, intelligent, powerful, rich, generous, virile, and loyal. I have elevated him to the top of my list of the characters from the past I'd like to meet.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Blues » Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:18 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Victoria


If you enjoy the book, as I did, I strongly recommend that you try "Bring Up The Bodies" which I enjoyed just as much as (if not more than) "Wolf Hall".

I am eagerly awaiting "The Mirror And The Light", the final book of the trilogy.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:58 pm

Valuethinker wrote:...Everyman's I have a couple. The print is too small. That's a generic problem I have with books these days: drives me more and more towards Kindle. I can think of books I have stopped reading simply because of the print size. I did read somewhere Penguin was acknowledging this problem with an aging readership.
About ten years ago, quite a few publishers started changing the aspect ratio of paperbacks, making them considerably higher in relation to their width, in order to allow a somewhat larger typeface. Uh... they also seem to be intentionally de-emphasizing the "mass market paperback" format that costs $7.95, $8.95 in favor of the "trade paperback" format for which they think they can charge twice as much.
There is also Library of the Americas. They have done Philip K Dick and Raymond Chandler, and that endears me to them.
That's "Library of America." They are very nice indeed. Reasonably compact, well bound, reasonable type size, thin pages but not too thin, and some care with textual authenticity. They're nice books for reading, not like some of those phony gilt-edged leather-bound thingies...

They started with the most classic-y of the U.S. classics but have extended their range to "genre" fiction. They have a couple of very nice "American Noir" anthologies of the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s which combine works by various authors.
...it is in 'genre' fiction that I find the most penetrating observations about, and insights into, American life and issues like race, class, power...
For my money, Stephen King, too. Although I think he's churning out potboilers too fast and not writing as well as he did, and in many ways is lazy and self-indulgent. The very flawed "Man in Black" series, for example... I'm reading it and thinking "Beam of Shardik... you mean like Richard Adams? Beam of Maturin... you mean like Patrick O'Brian?" and in his introduction to the last novel he plainly acknowledges it--yep, that's where he stole the name. And here I'd been hoping he'd visited the city of Maturin on a trip to Venezuela or something.

But, nobody can describe a 1970's shopping mall like King.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Puakinekine » Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:01 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, the last in the series of four Man Booker Prize winners discussed in my Smithsonian course. Initially, I was not excited about reading a 600-page novel about the reign of Henry VIII. I was not opposed to it, but I thought I had higher priority books on my list. However, the book proved to be excellent, just as other books covered in the course.

I knew about Oliver Cromwell from Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, but this book has introduced me to his great grandfather, a much more appealing character. Thomas Cromwell is a perfect man: courageous, intelligent, powerful, rich, generous, virile, and loyal. I have elevated him to the top of my list of the characters from the past I'd like to meet.

Victoria


At least Mantel's version of him. :)

Another series that comes to mind from this era is the Matthew Shardlake series by CJ Sansom. Not as dense nor quite as serious as Mantel's historical fiction, but highly enjoyable. There should be another book out in the spring in the US. It may already be out in the UK.

The audio versions of Wolf Hall and Bring Out the Bodies are excellent and make it a bit easier to decipher point of view, something which is not easy at times in the first few chapters of Wolf Hall.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:06 pm

I am reading A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss. Someone in this thread mentioned the book, and I thought I would give it a try.

A Conspiracy of Paper is an historical crime novel, the setting of which is eighteenth century London. It's kind of slow going so far (about fifteen percent through), because the narrative and dialogue of the book reflects eighteenth century London.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by market timer » Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:47 am

Finished The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer, the 2013 National Book Award winner for nonfiction. Thought this was a fascinating tour of the period 1978-2012 through the lives of a diverse set of people mostly born in the 60s. The theme is how the institutions that supported middle class life in the 50s and 60s, things like local businesses, unions, churches, and extended families, have gradually eroded, leading to more vulnerable individuals in the working class. The narrative style borrows heavily from the USA Trilogy, written in the 1930s by John Dos Passos, which is now on my to-read list.

Now back to Infinite Jest for fiction and various research articles for nonfiction.
Last edited by market timer on Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:23 am

market timer wrote:Finished The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by John Packer, the 2013 National Book Award winner for nonfiction. Thought this was a fascinating tour of the period 1978-2012 through the lives of a diverse set of people mostly born in the 60s. The theme is how the institutions that supported middle class life in the 50s and 60s, things like local businesses, unions, churches, and extended families, have gradually eroded, leading to more vulnerable individuals in the working class. The narrative style borrows heavily from the USA Trilogy, written in the 1930s by John Dos Passos, which is now on my to-read list.

Now back to Infinite Jest for fiction and various research articles for nonfiction.


George Packer?

He wrote one of the better books about Iraq in the early days of the invasion 'Assassin's Gate'.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:29 am

heartwood wrote:"The Three-Body Problem" by Cixin Liu. Science fiction from China. Translated by Ken Liu (no relation).


In the days of the Soviet Union the best literature that was 'officially' published was Science Fiction: the Strugatsky Brothers in particular (Stanislas Lem in Poland).

The novels were at times satires on the modern communist state. I never figured out whether they were published because:

- the censors were too stupid to get the joke

- there were censors who were fans of the authors, who made sure they could get published and played dumb about the inner joke

I have never read any Chinese SF so I have no idea if the same sort of thing is going on. But writing 'silly rayguns stuff, like Star Wars' is often a very good way to disguise social commentary.

Sometimes that is obvious: Animal Farm is a fantasy novel about talking animals, 1984 is a science fiction novel (I used to have lectures in the real Room 101 at the University of London that Rm 101 was named after).

HG Wells (The Time Machine) it is perhaps not *quite* so obvious-- at least not to a reader now, as opposed to his contemporaries.. Or War of the Worlds. Or The Shape of Things to Come.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:31 am

Blues wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Victoria


If you enjoy the book, as I did, I strongly recommend that you try "Bring Up The Bodies" which I enjoyed just as much as (if not more than) "Wolf Hall".

I am eagerly awaiting "The Mirror And The Light", the final book of the trilogy.


I will definitely read Bring Up the Bodies and then join you in awaiting The Mirror and the Light.

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

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:35 am

Puakinekine wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, the last in the series of four Man Booker Prize winners discussed in my Smithsonian course. Initially, I was not excited about reading a 600-page novel about the reign of Henry VIII. I was not opposed to it, but I thought I had higher priority books on my list. However, the book proved to be excellent, just as other books covered in the course.

I knew about Oliver Cromwell from Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, but this book has introduced me to his great grandfather, a much more appealing character. Thomas Cromwell is a perfect man: courageous, intelligent, powerful, rich, generous, virile, and loyal. I have elevated him to the top of my list of the characters from the past I'd like to meet.

Victoria


At least Mantel's version of him. :)


It's my version of him, created with Mantel's help. {laughing}

Puakinekine wrote:Another series that comes to mind from this era is the Matthew Shardlake series by CJ Sansom. Not as dense nor quite as serious as Mantel's historical fiction, but highly enjoyable. There should be another book out in the spring in the US. It may already be out in the UK.


Thank you for the recommendation. I am acquiring taste in historical fiction.

Puakinekine wrote:The audio versions of Wolf Hall and Bring Out the Bodies are excellent and make it a bit easier to decipher point of view, something which is not easy at times in the first few chapters of Wolf Hall.


I read Wolf Hall on paper, but may give it a try to the audio version of Bring Up the Bodies.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:38 am

Puakinekine wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, the last in the series of four Man Booker Prize winners discussed in my Smithsonian course. Initially, I was not excited about reading a 600-page novel about the reign of Henry VIII. I was not opposed to it, but I thought I had higher priority books on my list. However, the book proved to be excellent, just as other books covered in the course.

I knew about Oliver Cromwell from Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, but this book has introduced me to his great grandfather, a much more appealing character. Thomas Cromwell is a perfect man: courageous, intelligent, powerful, rich, generous, virile, and loyal. I have elevated him to the top of my list of the characters from the past I'd like to meet.

Victoria


At least Mantel's version of him. :)

Another series that comes to mind from this era is the Matthew Shardlake series by CJ Sansom. Not as dense nor quite as serious as Mantel's historical fiction, but highly enjoyable. There should be another book out in the spring in the US. It may already be out in the UK.

The audio versions of Wolf Hall and Bring Out the Bodies are excellent and make it a bit easier to decipher point of view, something which is not easy at times in the first few chapters of Wolf Hall.


Actually, too, Oliver Cromwell is something of a hero. Not a very likeable man, but a man who was handed an impossible situation (a king hell bent on establishing an autocracy) and a bitterly divided nation, and tried to pull it back together. That he is so hated, even now, is a mark of his success in a way. English history has always been about the struggle between reforming Roundheads and traditionalist Cavaliers, and in many ways, it still is (Labour v. Tories). For all that Mrs. T. took on a Cromwellian approach and spectre, her policies were firmly in the Cavalier camp (although she's the one Prime Minister who took it upon herself to lecture the Queen, apparently).

Hanging over the head of every British monarch since Charles I is that you can be overthrown by the people. That you have no power, other than that which is granted to you by your Parliament. They serve you, but you serve the Nation. Her Majesty is the only person who has to knock and plead to be allowed into a Parliament in session, the only person in the whole country.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Open ... Parliament

Motioned by the Monarch, the Lord Great Chamberlain raises his wand of office to signal to the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod (known as Black Rod), who is charged with summoning the House of Commons and has been waiting in the Commons lobby. Black Rod turns and, under the escort of the Door-keeper of the House of Lords and an inspector of police (who orders "Hats off, Strangers!" to all persons along the way), approaches the doors to the Chamber of the Commons. In 1642, King Charles I stormed into the House of Commons in an unsuccessful attempt to arrest the Five Members for treason. Since that time, no British monarch has entered the House of Commons when it is sitting [meeting].

On Black Rod's approach, the doors are slammed shut against him, symbolising the refusal by the Commons to be entered by force by the monarch or one of the monarch's servants, and also its right to debate without the presence of the Queen's Representative. He then strikes with the end of his ceremonial staff (the Black Rod) three times on the closed doors of the Commons Chamber, and is then admitted. (There is a mark on the door of the Commons showing the repeated indentations made by Black Rods over the years.) At the bar, Black Rod bows to the speaker before proceeding to the dispatch box where he announces the command of the monarch for the attendance of the Commons, in the following words:



Ireland? Well in some ways what happened was within the rules of war as they were played out in the 17th century. The memory of it is overlaid with the heavy handed brutality of English rule in the 1700s and 1800s, however.

Mantel's play on same is going down a storm, and I presume a movie is a'borning.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by market timer » Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:55 am

Valuethinker wrote:George Packer?

He wrote one of the better books about Iraq in the early days of the invasion 'Assassin's Gate'.

Yes, George Packer, my mistake. I'll edit.

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