What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

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

Post by Blues » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:10 am

"The Nearest Exit" by Olen Steinhauer.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by heartwood » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:23 am

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham.

Basically a good story so far but with one dimensional characters. Well, perhaps not 1-D, but complete stereotypes with no shading. The lawyer is wonderful. The DA has no scruples. All the witnesses are lying. The good guys have no faults; the bad guys have no redeeming traits. Oh, the lawyer has a side financial interest in an extreme fighter from El Salvador. And does "illegal' side bets.

Grisham seems to have gotten into a paint by numbers pattern with this book and his prior novel, Gray Mountain.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by TimDex » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:25 pm

Mr. Piper and His Cubs, by Devon Francis, 1973. A history of the founder of the Piper Cub company by a Fortune magazine writer. Very well done, very readable, one of the best business histories I have read in a long time. Never flew an airplane, but my first flight was in an old piper in the mid fifties. Probably not in print, I found it while scanning a library bookshelf.

The Lost World of the Old Ones, by David Roberts, published this year. About the Indians of the ancient southwest, very readable, a good survey of current thinking on what happened to the various Indian cultures. Reads also much like an adventure story.

Noticed a copy of Brian Aldiss Hellconia trilogy at a library book sale today. Read it about 15 years ago. A long involved read, but for science fiction fans, it will get you through a long winter. Very highly recommended.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:02 pm

Just finished Mr. Standfast, by John Buchan, best known as author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Pretty good, quite readable. But I'm getting too old for this kind of melodrama. There is a supervillain named Moxon Ivery, a master of acting and disguise and the root cause behind, oh, everything bad that happens to England in World War I. He is the same person that protagonist Richard Hannay has dealt with in earlier stories.
'I tell you, Dick, that man makes my spine cold. He hasn't a drop of good red blood in him. The dirtiest apache is a Christian gentleman compared to Moxon Ivery.'
And, sure enough... Hannay gets a perfect opportunity to shoot Ivery:
For a second I was about to shoot. I had a perfect mark and could have put a bullet through his brain with utter certitude. I think if I had been alone I might have fired. Perhaps not. Anyhow now I could not do it. It seemed like potting at a sitting rabbit. I was obliged, though he was my worst enemy, to give him a chance, while all the while my sober senses kept calling me a fool.
And, sure enough, thanks to British sportsmanship, Ivery escapes, and later on captures Hannay in some kind of infernal mechanical trap. Needless to say, Ivery proceeds to pass the time pleasantly by telling Hannay every detail of his secret plot:
'Why do I tell you these things? Your intelligence, for you are not altogether foolish, will have supplied the answer. It is because your life is over. As your Shakespeare says, the rest is silence ... No, I am not going to kill you. That would be crude, and I hate crudities. I am going now on a little journey, and when I return in twenty-four hours' time you will be my companion....'
Why does he leave Hannay unguarded for twenty hours in a mechanical contraption? Go give him time to discover that "The side-bar on my right seemed to be less rigid than the others," (as, you know, side-bars of steel man-traps so often are, darn them), to work a hand free, then use his pistol to shoot off a critical clamp in the device, free himself, escape, and thwart Ivery's evil plans.

There is one clever plot detail. Ivery has been working to ensure a German victory. Hannay arranges for him to be, somehow, inducted into the British forces and forced to fight on the British side, so that he can experiences the horror of war and understand what a terrible thing he has inflicted on the British.

The good guys win. At the end Ivery appears to be dead, but there are several more Richard Hannay novels, and I wonder whether he will experience reincarnation in the next one. But I don't plan to read that one for a while.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by black jack » Sat Nov 07, 2015 1:11 am

nisiprius wrote:Just finished Mr. Standfast, by John Buchan, best known as author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Pretty good, quite readable. But I'm getting too old for this kind of melodrama. There is a supervillain named Moxon Ivery, a master of acting and disguise and the root cause behind, oh, everything bad that happens to England in World War I.

Your comment about getting too old for that kind of melodrama made me smile. As a child I was a fan of that sort of melodrama: the James Bond/James West hero who always gets captured by the villain, is frequently given the choice of changing sides (as the supervillain observes "I could use a man with your talents") or being killed, and always nobly chooses death - at which point the villain conveniently leaves the hero alone long enough for the hero to figure out some way to escape. Such heroism was inspiring.

Actually, as an adult I'm still a fan of that sort of melodrama, but I view it a bit differently now: when the villain gives the hero the choice of changing sides or dying a painful death, I think "hmm, given such a choice in that circumstance, and without the security of knowing that clever scriptwriters would rescue me, I think I'd enlist with Mr. Supervillain and hope for the best."
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by steve roy » Sat Nov 07, 2015 1:47 am

"The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3"

Much like "The Autobiography of M.T., Volumes 1 & 2".

The summer of 1907 Clemens went to Britain for a month, where he was lionized. He spends a lot of time recounting banquets, speeches and toast. And the receiving of an honorary doctorate at Oxford, and making plain that he enjoyed being lionized.

His dislike of Theodore Roosevelt comes through strongly. (And "dislike" is really too skim milkish of a word. HATE is closer to the mark.)

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:38 pm

The Flatey Enigma, by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson. An intriguing novel about two deaths on an isolated island. The novel is set in 1960 on Flatey, an island in Breida fjord in the northwest of Iceland. The small island had a population of about 60, one of the few still inhabited islands in the fjord. The island is famous for the Flatey Book, a 14th century vellum manuscript recording old Norse and Icelandic sagas.

The mystery starts when seal hunters from Flatey find a Danish professor of antiquities, who had been visiting Flatey, dead on a neighboring uninhabited island. An interesting mystery story unfolds, entwined with a puzzle involving ancient sagas and the Flatey Book. I found this very interesting.

Both Flatey ("flat island") and the Flatey Book are real.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Netherworld » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:50 pm

"America, 1927" by Bill Bryson. A fun read.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Dave55 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:10 am

"A Killing Frost" by RD Wingfield

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by heartwood » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:59 am

Just about to start the new Robert Crais novel, The Promise. Supposedly an Elvis Cole story, but it brings in an ensemble cast of Crais's other characters: Joe Pike, Jon Stone, LAPD K-9 Officer Scott James and his dog Maggie.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by reggiesimpson » Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:21 pm

Just finished The China Study (thanks to this forum) and now reading The Campbell Plan by co author of China Study.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:57 pm

Read Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse (for the first time). More readable and interesting than I expected. I'd always assumed that it was about the Buddha, but, no, it is about a young man seeking truth who happens to have the same name as the Buddha. He in fact meets the Buddha, respects the Buddha as enlightened, but concludes that it is not possible to teach enlightenment so continues to seek it for himself rather than trying to learn it from the Buddha. The introduction to the book helpfully explains that nobody knows what Hesse had in mind by giving him the same name.

A Banquet of Consequences, by Elizabeth George.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by iskey » Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:21 pm

Currently reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Novel about a family living outside of London before, during, and after WWI. Very good read so far.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by snowshoes » Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:26 pm

Fisher Black and the Revolutionary Idea of Finance, by Aaron Brown and Perry Mehrling.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Casper » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:18 am

Bitter Brew, by William Knoedelseder. The story of the Anheuser-Busch company and the Busch family. I'm 75% finished, and it's excellent so far, though one drawback is that it reports a lot of rumors and stories about August Busch IV (and other family members) through anonymous sources and anecdotes.

Before this, I read Console Wars, about the battle between Sega and Nintendo in the 80s and 90s. As someone who was a prime target of the videogame marketing of that era (and a Nintendo stalwart, for full disclosure), it was fascinating to see behind the scenes.

Also recently read Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living. It's by Jason Gay, the WSJ columnist. His sports column can be hilarious, but the book didn't quite live up to my expectations.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by EzM » Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:34 am

The Big Short by Michael Lewis.

I'm getting excited for the movie now!

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by knpstr » Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:37 am

Economics in One Lesson - Henry Hazlitt
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by jdb » Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:35 pm

Just finished The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. Who knew that in 1869 on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the man who invented isotherms and discovered the magnetic equator that 25,000 people gathered in Central Park for the unveiling of a statue in his honor? Who knew that there are more places and things in the world named after Alexander von Humboldt than any other single person? Who knew that this Prussian nobleman who became the foremost mountaineer of his era and was called by Thomas Jefferson to be one of the ornaments of the age, and who regularly corresponded with Jefferson, loved the United States and considered himself half American, though he could not understand how a country founded on liberty and equality could harbor the abominable institution of slavery? Who knew that his friend Simon Bolivar said that he awoke the conscience of South Americans and that when Bolivar was leading troops in what is now Colombia he had a marked advantage over the Spanish forces since he had maps produced by Humboldt? Who knew that seven volumes of his work accompanied Charles Darwin on his voyage and that Darwin said that without Humboldt's work he would not have written The Origin of Species? Who knew that he is considered to be the first scientist who spoke and wrote about the human causes of climate change and influenced generations of environmentalists and nature writers including Henry Thoreau and John Muir ? If any of these were known then would know that a current biography would be fascinating, which it is, best that I have read for quite awhile. Highly recommend.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by seeshells » Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:16 am

MIAMI: Joan Didion

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:05 pm

seeshells wrote:MIAMI: Joan Didion


She is the classic American non fiction writer of the last half of the 20th century. Her style alone, that crafted prose.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by inittowinit » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:18 pm

Finally got around to reading Michael Lewis's The Big Short and it is a veritable masterpiece that I cannot set down.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:20 pm

Beau Geste, by P. C. Wren. A fun combination of adventure story and mystery, involving a missing blue sapphire and service in North Africa in the French Foreign Legion.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by reggiesimpson » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:19 pm

Finally got to "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain. A great read on the underbelly of the restaurant business. Its made far more entertaining because of Bourdains unique twist via his quintessentially blunt, sarcastic, honest, descriptive analogies combined with his brand of "New York" attitude.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Fallible » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:22 pm

EzM wrote:The Big Short by Michael Lewis.

I'm getting excited for the movie now!


I also loved this book, but am getting worried about the movie after seeing a trailer.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:08 pm

What makes Sammy run? by Budd Schulberg. I rarely read fiction and picked up this one on someone's recommendation. The book is good: Sammy's and Al's characters are strong; women's characters are less so. The most striking contrast is between the initial reception to the book--Schulberg was blacklisted in Hollywood despite his father's status--and the modern day acceptance of Sammy as a careerist's role model rather than film industry's embarrassment.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:18 pm

I have been reading X by Sue Grafton. (I guess Ms. Grafton couldn't decide what X is for.)

X takes place in March of 1989, just a few years removed from when Grafton wrote A is for Alibi, over twenty-five years ago. Kinsey and her next door neighbor, Henry Pitt, have aged little in the intervening years. Kinsey is in her late thirties, and Harry is eighty nine. Kinsey still uses a Smith Corona. No computer, no mobile telephone, no Internet. She rents a three room office in downtown Santa Teresa (Santa Barbara) for $350 a month.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:23 pm

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote, and Pedro and the Captain by Mario Benedetti. While continuing with A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George. Possibly too many to be reading at the same time.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Pugs135 » Sat Nov 21, 2015 3:01 pm

Agent storm which is a true story about somebody who was a double agent for al Qaeda and the via. Just started it yesterday. So far so good.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by heartwood » Sat Nov 21, 2015 4:23 pm

I just finished Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein. Its not Sandford's usual Lucas Davenport, Virgil, etc police procedural. Rather its a sci-fi story. Pretty good and a bit different. Still not sure who Ctein is. Googling says he's a photographer?

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Index Fan » Sat Nov 21, 2015 9:08 pm

The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen by Stephen R. Bown

Image

http://www.amazon.com/Last-Viking-Amund ... 8&qid=&sr=

Interesting biography of the famous explorer, who was a big 'entertainer' of the early 20th century (back before rock stars, when attending lectures was a big thing to do).

The Last Viking unravels the life of the man who stands head and shoulders above all those who raced to map the last corners of the world. In 1900, the four great geographical mysteries—the Northwest Passage, the Northeast Passage, the South Pole, and the North Pole—remained blank spots on the globe. Within twenty years Roald Amundsen would claim all four prizes. Renowned for his determination and technical skills, both feared and beloved by his men, Amundsen is a legend of the heroic age of exploration, which shortly thereafter would be tamed by technology, commerce, and publicity. Féted in his lifetime as an international celebrity, pursued by women and creditors, he died in the Arctic on a rescue mission for an inept rival explorer.

Stephen R. Bown has unearthed archival material to give Amundsen’s life the grim immediacy of Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World, the exciting detail of The Endurance, and the suspense of a Jon Krakauer tale. The Last Viking is both a thrilling literary biography and a cracking good story.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by market timer » Sat Nov 21, 2015 9:33 pm

Just finished Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris. It's a book about office life circa 1999-2001 with an unconventional first-person plural narrative. Very funny and surprisingly touching at times. I found the narrative technique fascinating. Highly recommended.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by pezblanco » Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:03 pm

Index Fan wrote:The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen by Stephen R. Bown

Image

http://www.amazon.com/Last-Viking-Amund ... 8&qid=&sr=

Interesting biography of the famous explorer, who was a big 'entertainer' of the early 20th century (back before rock stars, when attending lectures was a big thing to do).

The Last Viking unravels the life of the man who stands head and shoulders above all those who raced to map the last corners of the world. In 1900, the four great geographical mysteries—the Northwest Passage, the Northeast Passage, the South Pole, and the North Pole—remained blank spots on the globe. Within twenty years Roald Amundsen would claim all four prizes. Renowned for his determination and technical skills, both feared and beloved by his men, Amundsen is a legend of the heroic age of exploration, which shortly thereafter would be tamed by technology, commerce, and publicity. Féted in his lifetime as an international celebrity, pursued by women and creditors, he died in the Arctic on a rescue mission for an inept rival explorer.

Stephen R. Bown has unearthed archival material to give Amundsen’s life the grim immediacy of Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World, the exciting detail of The Endurance, and the suspense of a Jon Krakauer tale. The Last Viking is both a thrilling literary biography and a cracking good story.


Thank you for this review. I always think that most books/bios/histories or Antarctic exploration have to be judged in comparison with:

The Last Place on Earth (Modern Library Exploration) Paperback – September 7, 1999
by Roland Huntford (Author), Paul Theroux (Introduction)

One of the great "true adventure" books of all time ... made into a PBS series. Here is the blurb from Amazon:

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the South Pole was the most coveted prize in the fiercely nationalistic modern age of exploration. In the brilliant dual biography, the award-winning writer Roland Huntford re-examines every detail of the great race to the South Pole between Britain's Robert Scott and Norway's Roald Amundsen. Scott, who dies along with four of his men only eleven miles from his next cache of supplies, became Britain's beloved failure, while Amundsen, who not only beat Scott to the Pole but returned alive, was largely forgotten. This account of their race is a gripping, highly readable history that captures the driving ambitions of the era and the complex, often deeply flawed men who were charged with carrying them out. THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH is the first of Huntford's masterly trilogy of polar biographies. It is also the only work on the subject in the English language based on the original Norwegian sources, to which Huntford returned to revise and update this edition.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Sun Nov 22, 2015 11:11 am

Finished Breakfast at Tiffany's, by Truman Capote. OK, it made a lot more sense to me and I liked it a lot better than I did when I read it in high school, maybe about the time the movie came out. But I still don't understand Truman Capote's reputation. To me... nerd, engineer, literal-minded... it is so much not my world that I can hardly relate to it. (Holly reminds me a lot of some other characters I don't "get:" Sally Bowles, the character in Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories and later Cabaret... or, for that matter, the real-life Zelda Fitzgerald).

What the heck do I know about the Stork Club or 21? I don't even understand what's going on... is she an amateur prostitute or gold digger or something of that kind? What exactly does she mean by "a $50 trip to the powder room?" Cheerfully irresponsible messed-up young woman sleeps around and does dumb things, like passing messages for a drug dealer in prison--it's not clear whether she has any idea what she's doing or why she's being paid for it--and, guess what, it doesn't turn out well. Or maybe it does (flees the U.S. and successfully lives happily ever after? We can't tell. There's no real ending. She passes out of the narrator's life). Yes, it's a "slice of life." It's "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met" but not respectable enough for the Reader's Digest. A readable ninety pages, but... I profoundly don't get why it was ever considered a big deal or why it arouses strong emotion in anyone.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bertilak » Sun Nov 22, 2015 11:32 am

nisiprius wrote:Finished Breakfast at Tiffany's, by Truman Capote. OK, it made a lot more sense to me and I liked it a lot better than I did when I read it in high school, maybe about the time the movie came out. But I still don't understand Truman Capote's reputation. To me... nerd, engineer, literal-minded... it is so much not my world that I can hardly relate to it. (Holly reminds me a lot of some other characters I don't "get:" Sally Bowles, the character in Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories and later Cabaret... or, for that matter, the real-life Zelda Fitzgerald).

What the heck do I know about the Stork Club or 21? I don't even understand what's going on... is she an amateur prostitute or gold digger or something of that kind? What exactly does she mean by "a $50 trip to the powder room?" Cheerfully irresponsible messed-up young woman sleeps around and does dumb things, like passing messages for a drug dealer in prison--it's not clear whether she has any idea what she's doing or why she's being paid for it--and, guess what, it doesn't turn out well. Or maybe it does (flees the U.S. and successfully lives happily ever after? We can't tell. There's no real ending. She passes out of the narrator's life). Yes, it's a "slice of life." It's "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met" but not respectable enough for the Reader's Digest. A readable ninety pages, but... I profoundly don't get why it was ever considered a big deal or why it arouses strong emotion in anyone.

I think, in its time, it was "cool" to be irresponsible. It showed you "did it my [your] way" and you were exotic and sophisticated. Even if you had inner reservations it was "not cool" to let them show -- you didn't want to let on that you were too unsophisticated to appreciate these finer things (like everyone else does). Also, in the movie, you got to see your sex gods and goddesses play around.

Every generation has its own version but remember, at the time, seeing it all in widescreen color was a novel experience. Truman Capote was pretty good at capturing the latest pretensions. The very word "Tiffany" gives it all away!

OK, cynic mode now off!
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:07 am

nisiprius wrote:Finished Breakfast at Tiffany's, by Truman Capote. OK, it made a lot more sense to me and I liked it a lot better than I did when I read it in high school, maybe about the time the movie came out. But I still don't understand Truman Capote's reputation. To me... nerd, engineer, literal-minded... it is so much not my world that I can hardly relate to it. (Holly reminds me a lot of some other characters I don't "get:" Sally Bowles, the character in Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories and later Cabaret... or, for that matter, the real-life Zelda Fitzgerald).

What the heck do I know about the Stork Club or 21? I don't even understand what's going on... is she an amateur prostitute or gold digger or something of that kind? What exactly does she mean by "a $50 trip to the powder room?" Cheerfully irresponsible messed-up young woman sleeps around and does dumb things, like passing messages for a drug dealer in prison--it's not clear whether she has any idea what she's doing or why she's being paid for it--and, guess what, it doesn't turn out well. Or maybe it does (flees the U.S. and successfully lives happily ever after? We can't tell. There's no real ending. She passes out of the narrator's life). Yes, it's a "slice of life." It's "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met" but not respectable enough for the Reader's Digest. A readable ninety pages, but... I profoundly don't get why it was ever considered a big deal or why it arouses strong emotion in anyone.


I think it would not have been feasible at the time to call her a "prostitute" or "escort"? I am not sure what the censorship restrictions were but even from a commercial point of view writers had to be careful. She is, in effect, I think, a proper escort (ie not just a call girl but someone who gets paid to hang around men with money-- a touch of the Japanese geisha).

It is probably the vicarious thrill of a lifestyle that the reader would never lead, but is voyeuristically fun to hear about. Also I wonder: with The Third Man (Graham Greene) the novel is inferior, but the movie is exceptional. The same with "Breakfast at Tiffany's"?

Capote's reputation was built around "In Cold Blood" a true crime story. And his general louche New York lifestyle, I think.

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2010/ ... t-tiffanys

perhaps the word "courtesan" is a better one. Or "adventurer". A (female) sexual adventurer (11 men!) in her 20s in those days was indistinguishable from a whore in the minds of many, in those days.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:10 am

I read a lot, but there are a handful of books that I consistently recommend as critical sources for defining my life. The longer the list, the more difficult it becomes for a new book to make it on the list, because almost everything has already been covered. I have just added a new book to my list; it's Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir.

While "scarcity" is a central concept in economics, Scarcity is mostly a psychological economics book.
While "scarcity" is reflexively associated with food or money, Scarcity is about much more than food and money. The areas of scarcity addressed in the book include:
- money
- time, especially of academics and knowledge-work professionals
- food of dieters
- food of those who lack basic nutrition
- social contacts of people starved for relationships
- space.

It is remarkable how many features of scarcity the authors have identified and presented in a coherent way. Every few minutes I was getting insights such as "So that's why I think/act/don't act in these circumstances!" and "So that's why [people I know] act/don't act the way they do!"

Perhaps, the most useful concepts for me were the impact of little activities that tax one's cognitive bandwidth, the role of the lack of slack, and the hazard of abundance, specifically abundance of time. I was aware of these concepts, but the book has brought them up with the vividness of descriptions and examples that facilitate acting on this knowledge.

I highly recommend Scarcity.

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

Post by Dave55 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:21 am

"The Promise" by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole novel)
Excellent Mystery Thriller book.
Dave

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by market timer » Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:02 pm

Finished Zero to One, by Peter Thiel. A quick read with practical tips on doing a startup.

Just started The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. This is historical fiction set in 1860s New Zealand during the gold rush. It won the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:27 pm

VictoriaF wrote:I read a lot, but there are a handful of books that I consistently recommend as critical sources for defining my life. The longer the list, the more difficult it becomes for a new book to make it on the list, because almost everything has already been covered. I have just added a new book to my list; it's Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir.

While "scarcity" is a central concept in economics, Scarcity is mostly a psychological economics book.
While "scarcity" is reflexively associated with food or money, Scarcity is about much more than food and money. The areas of scarcity addressed in the book include:
- money
- time, especially of academics and knowledge-work professionals
- food of dieters
- food of those who lack basic nutrition
- social contacts of people starved for relationships
- space.

It is remarkable how many features of scarcity the authors have identified and presented in a coherent way. Every few minutes I was getting insights such as "So that's why I think/act/don't act in these circumstances!" and "So that's why [people I know] act/don't act the way they do!"

Perhaps, the most useful concepts for me were the impact of little activities that tax one's cognitive bandwidth, the role of the lack of slack, and the hazard of abundance, specifically abundance of time. I was aware of these concepts, but the book has brought them up with the vividness of descriptions and examples that facilitate acting on this knowledge.

I highly recommend Scarcity.

Victoria


Excellent review, thank you.

The interesting thing about scarcity is how it changes us. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, not enough of something (food etc.) must result in a strong survival signal (eat==> now!). Hence the problem in dieting.

Of course in abundance that kills us: hence the global rise in obesity (the availability of raw sugar which is unknown in nature in most foods, must also be a part of this).

(the explosion of obesity in the Indian subcontinent may also have genetic roots (although the cuisine and the food culture don't help). The climate guarantees a food supply failure every 7 years or so, due to the failure of the monsoon. The result, genetically, may be that over thousands of years a "hungry" gene evolved, that hoards calories when they are available. Contrast to northern Europeans (and, presumably, Mongolians) who evolved: 1). to be able to drink the milk of non-human animals 2). to eat a fat and meat heavy diet (transhumance) without being debilitated by it.)

Certainly studies of airmen who lived with Eskimos in WW2 suggested that *we* would die on an entirely animal diet (developing all the symptoms of coronary disease quite quickly) but they don't.)

One could even be closer to the traditional Freudian roots of psychology: how a baby learns to manipulate parents to get what it wants (food, warmth etc.).

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by FreeAtLast » Mon Nov 23, 2015 2:47 pm

Just finished The Blue Max, by Jack Hunter. Been thinking about reading it for years, and finally got around to it. If you are interested in the finer details of World War One aerial combat, then this novel is a must-read.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by black jack » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:45 pm

VictoriaF wrote:I read a lot, but there are a handful of books that I consistently recommend as critical sources for defining my life...
Victoria


Victoria, I'd be interested in seeing your entire list.

Valuethinker wrote:Certainly studies of airmen who lived with Eskimos in WW2 suggested that *we* would die on an entirely animal diet (developing all the symptoms of coronary disease quite quickly) but they don't.)


Valuethinker, that's interesting, because I thought the opposite. As a meat- and fish-lover from way back, I was taken with the anecdote in Gary Taubes' "Good Calories Bad Calories" about the polar explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who had observed that he and his fellow explorers seemed to fare fine living with the Inuit for months at a time and eating their diet. To demonstrate this, he and a fellow explorer spent a year under observation in a hospital, eating nothing but meat, and came out appearing healthier than when they went in.
We cannot absolutely prove [that they are wrong who say] that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason. | -T. B. Macaulay (1800-1859)

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:01 pm

black jack wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:I read a lot, but there are a handful of books that I consistently recommend as critical sources for defining my life...
Victoria


Victoria, I'd be interested in seeing your entire list.


My list includes (in the alphabetical order of authors):
    - Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
    - Willpower by Roy Baumeister
    - Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
    - Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert
    - Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    - The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    and now
    - Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir.

I've read each of these books several times, every time making a lot of notes on the margins and getting sporadic flashbacks.

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 black jack » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:41 pm

How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is dying too) - Robert Goldman

I picked up the audiobook of this up at random in my library for a long car trip (and coincidentally was half-way through it when I learned of the attack in Paris). Goldman is, according to the blurb on the case, an economist who has worked for a couple of international banks and has written for Forbes and First Things (which I later learned is a journal "aiming to advance a religiously informed public philosophy"). So this is a journalistic take, and as I realized partway through, is reflective of a certain portion of what, in America, we call the conservative political-cultural spectrum.

The central argument is that most Islamic countries, like most modern/Western countries, have birth rates below replacement level, and so will face a challenge in the coming decades as a large proportion of elderly people will need the support of a smaller proportion of working-age people. For the modern/Western nations, this will be manageable, with difficulty, because of their economic strength and productivity, but the Islamic nations generally are not economically strong or productive, and so will face a social crisis.

This does not, in my opinion, amount to a death of civilization, and in fact the author cites precious few civilizations that have died (I think 5th century Rome might have been his most recent example). But overinterpretation is part of his approach; I was surprised, for example, to learn that by having only one child, and thus failing to contribute to maintaining or enlarging the US population, my wife and I were exhibiting signs of nihilism and despair about the future of ourselves and our culture.

Also, there's virtually no mention of technology and its role in economic development. Given the pace of technological change, and the concerns of thoughtful people that our future challenge is not a shortage of workers but a shortage of jobs for people to do, it's hard to take seriously a book that looks ahead 50 to 100 years without considering how technology may impact political economy.

There's much more in the book about religion and its impact on politics and society; for example, that (in the author's view) religion is the wellspring of a nation/civilization's orientation toward the future, and that the birth dearth represents a crisis of various faiths; and that Islam is incompatible with modern democracy, and thus American attempts to export democracy to, or practice "nation-building" in, Islamic countries are doomed to failure. Perhaps...
We cannot absolutely prove [that they are wrong who say] that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason. | -T. B. Macaulay (1800-1859)

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by black jack » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:42 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
black jack wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:I read a lot, but there are a handful of books that I consistently recommend as critical sources for defining my life...
Victoria


Victoria, I'd be interested in seeing your entire list.


My list includes (in the alphabetical order of authors):
    - Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
    - Willpower by Roy Baumeister
    - Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
    - Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert
    - Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    - The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    and now
    - Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir.

I've read each of these books several times, every time making a lot of notes on the margins and getting sporadic flashbacks.

Victoria

Thanks!
We cannot absolutely prove [that they are wrong who say] that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason. | -T. B. Macaulay (1800-1859)

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by MP173 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:06 pm

"The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes" by Lawrence Block. Block reminds me of John McDonald, whom I read back in the 70s and 80s. McDonald had the Travis McGee series. This is a similar type of book about a PI in Florida who struggles with demons and meets his fantasy woman.

On a more serious note..."Where Everyone Looks Like Me, At the Crossroads of America's Black Colleges and Culture". With all the issues on today's colleges it is interesting to look at the HBCU and the challenges and accomplishments of these historic colleges.

Ed

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bertilak » Thu Nov 26, 2015 6:00 pm

Bungo wrote:Byzantium: The Early Centuries by John Julius Norwich. This is the first of a three-volume series spanning the 1100+ year history of the Byzantine Empire (300-1453). At only about 350-400 pages per volume, that means that on average, the author covers about one year per page! Even with the relatively narrow focus adopted by Norwich, which is very much emperor-centric, the pace is pretty brisk, and it's challenging to keep track of who is who: there were 88 emperors, many with similar or even identical names, and enough intermarriage to make the family trees quite complicated.
...
It's also an incredibly interesting read, due in no small part to Norwich's lively writing style. The subject itself is fascinating: many of the emperors were very colorful characters, and Norwich includes enough detail that there's something astonishing happening on nearly every page. His sharp sense of humor and deft turns of phrase make the prose itself very pleasant to read. He is not shy about stating his opinions and judgments. This is not dry history by any means. Highly recommended!


bertilak wrote:Thanks for the review. I have had that three volume set on my shelf for quite some time. It looks both interesting AND intimidating. I have every intention of reading it but have been putting it off until I feel I am ready to devote some serious time to it. (It's just too easy to work through my Agatha Christie Poirot collection instead.) The above description may help me get there sooner!


Finally got started on this. I'm about half way through "The Early Years."

Yes, the names can get confusing. Norwich has a footnote early on:
    The distressing lack of imagination shown by Constantine in the naming of his children has caused much confusion ... take comfort in the knowledge that it lasts for a single generation only -- which, in a history such as this, is soon over.
Unfortunately Bungo is right. There are other names that are quite similar to each other in the eyes and ears of this reader! Constantine was not the only one guilty of this practice, although he started it and raised it to an art form.

It is also true that Norwich has a lively writing style and a fascinating subject. A couple of examples...

    ... Bishop of Alexandria, the aptly named Timothy the Weasel ... At the insistence of this poisonous cleric ... etc. [Norwich goes on to justify that "aptly."]

    ... at the blessing of one Paul the Stammerer. a cleric whose utterances, when comprehensible at all, were violently Monophysite...
    [look it up!]
So, it is a challenging read but worthwhile. For example I don't need to look up Monophysite! Norwich mentions somewhere that this seemingly esoteric concept, which we might think is cared about only by academic clerics deep within the bowels of the church, was the source of widespread rivalry in the general public. Even sports teams (charioteers) took sides. There were deadly riots. High-level people were exiled, excommunicated, or even executed. (There may have been a battle or two, but I forget all the things battles were fought over.)

Two and a half volumes to go! It will be a while as I often get distracted by other reads. (Latest was Kim.)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Herekittykitty » Thu Nov 26, 2015 8:31 pm

"the life-changing magic of tidying up" by Marie Kondo. It is a quick read and worth it. I checked it out from the library.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Fri Nov 27, 2015 11:11 am

The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution 1783 - 1789, by Joseph J. Ellis. Covers the politics leading to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, focusing on the roles played by George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Sun Nov 29, 2015 9:04 pm

I just finished Time's Up by Janey Mack.

This is a debut crime novel that Library Journal gave a star review. It features Maisie McGrane as its protagonist. Expelled from the police academy and forced to work as a meter maid, Maisie follows the trail of conspiracy after she stumbles across the body of a City Hall staffer with two bullets in his chest. Four and a half stars. I'm looking forward to the sequel, Choked Up, which is coming out January 2016.


(Edited to add the information about the Library Journal star review.)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by avenger » Tue Dec 01, 2015 6:17 pm

Re-reading Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything." Great and fast read.
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