Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 519 times)

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Offline msj

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #45 on: August 17, 2017, 12:39:32 am »
With another birthday it is time for another Amazon gift card. One of the many books I got was Cork Dork which is an entertaining and light read but still learning a few things from it. It likely will help me appreciate wine a little bit more but I have every intention of drinking wine rather than tasting wine so whatevs.

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Offline msj

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #46 on: August 20, 2017, 11:10:05 pm »
Well, into some history again with this one:




A story about two separate shipwrecks on Auckland Island (450 kms south of New Zealand) with two very different outcomes.


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Offline msj

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #47 on: January 13, 2018, 08:27:03 am »
While travelling through India finally finished this book:




It was okay. Not the trading manual some people like to think it is and too contradictory (or perhaps inconsistent) in parts to be taken seriously (on the trading side) but an enjoyable read.

Also listend to the sequel to “You” while on the various bus/train rides as it was not possible to read while weaving in and around people, cows, traffic etc.



It was okay. Not as witty or clever as the first but entertaining.  A story about a psycho killer who finds love.
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Offline msj

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #48 on: January 31, 2018, 11:50:47 pm »
Finally finished “The Life and Operas of Verdi.”




Started listening to this on a bus in India as it was impossible to actually read anything.

It is one of those “Great Courses” and it is excellent.

Robert Greenberg as lecturer is not for everyone. He has personality and will sacrifice seriousness for lame jokes at times.

The best part was when he takes on the voice of the Duke of Mantua from Rigoletto. He makes him sound like the martian from that Bugs Bunny cartoon and it is delightfully hilarious.

Imagine singing “woman is fickle...” with this voice: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LkbWF-kDK8Y

Interesting blend of Verdi’s life, readings and synopses of opera librettos (for which I am very forgivng of his American pronunciations), and musical selections. 

Also interesting to learn that Verdi was not very well informed about Wagner’s operas so any influence from Wagner was little to none (and this was likeley the same vice versa).

Sort of like Newton and Liebniz “inventing” calculus simultaneously.   
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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #49 on: June 25, 2018, 12:26:22 pm »
I've recently read two similar-but-different biographies, both very interesting if odd human behavior is your thing.   One is set in Canada, the other in the States.

The similarities are: Fathers, daughters, mental illness, religion.  The religion is the least important part of these stories, but still influences how the stories play out.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/547427/run-hide-repeat-by-pauline-dakin/9780735233225/

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/550168/educated-by-tara-westover/9780399590504/






Offline Goddess

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #50 on: June 28, 2018, 11:12:12 am »
Just about finished reading "The Lucifer Effect".

A good read about the Stanford Prison Experiment, which was abandoned in a week because ordinary college students were transformed into either brutal, sadistic guards or emotionally broken prisoners.

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By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of harrowing phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide to how once upstanding American soldiers came to abuse and torture Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib. He replaces the long-held notion of the “bad apple” with that of the “bad barrel”—the idea that the social setting and the system contaminate the individual, rather than the other way around.

The "bad apple vs bad barrel" part is quite interesting.
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Offline Omni

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #51 on: June 28, 2018, 01:19:25 pm »
Currently I am reading a book a friend from Spain sent to me as a birthday gift called "Classic Tapas" edited by Rafael de Haro. If you're into that kind of food it's a great book and so far I haven't burned down the house. (well at least not literally).
But on a more serious note, a previous Christmas I let my family know I wouldn't be able to come by to help decorate the tree as I had to go to work over that time. An uncle of mine, who always gave me books, this time gave me a copy of "Where Men Win Glory" by Jon Krakauer. Of course the book focuses on Pat Tillman and his US military service and unfortunate death in Afghanistan. but it turned out also to be a pretty good history lesson, especially for me who didn't know much about the country. I hastily stuffed that book in my travel bag since I was also heading to Afghanistan. I was there a month and traveled most every day, and read some more of the book every night. A rather riveting event that occurred was when the day after having read the chapter which describes the one room mosque just south of Kandahar where Mohammed Omar essentially created the Taliban, I was on a Canadian military base just south of Kandahar, and I was able to arrange a lift over to that mosque. Now I hasten to add I'm no fan of the Taliban, but it was certainly an interesting experience.


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/c9/Where_Men_Win_Glory_-_bookcover.jpg/220px-Where_Men_Win_Glory_-_bookcover.jpg
« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 01:21:35 pm by Omni »

Offline wilber

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #52 on: June 28, 2018, 01:42:27 pm »
Fire Court by Andrew Taylor. A 17th Century whodunnit centred around the Great Fire of London. Just finished The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. A novel based on the exploits of Louise de Bettignies, a WWI spy called "The Queen of Spies" by British intelligence.
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Offline kimmy

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #53 on: December 19, 2018, 12:19:16 am »
So I'm trying to fight off "seasonal affective disorder" by spending at least an hour a day with a "Happy Light". And since I'm going to be sitting in a bright light anyway I figured I'd read some of the books I've picked up and never got around to. First on the list:

The Book of Cthulhu

This is a large collection of short stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's writings and the "Cthulhu Mythos".  From the editor's introduction:

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Lovecraft's impeccable storytelling-- often filtered through his collaborators and "disciples"-- has inspired many to pen their own Mythos tales, and the Cthulhu Mythos story cycle has taken on a convoluted, cyclopean life of its own, as posthumous collaborators continue to expand the scope, scale, and ultimate interpretation of what is perhaps the most diverse shared fictional universe ever created.

Today,  the Cthulhu Mythos cycle includes tales by some of the most prodigious writers of the twentieth century... and so far, some of the most astounding writers of the twenty-first century as well. Mythos fiction has become one of the major cultural memes of our era-- everybody knows what Cthulhu looks like, even if they haven't read Lovecraft. And it would seem that Cthulhu and his minions are everywhere, not just books and short fiction (especially online short fiction), but represented in music, toys, audio dramas, feature films, comics, and games (video and otherwise).

While I would quibble with some of that (Lovecraft was hardly an "impeccable" writer... his prose was often cumbersome, awkward, and to borrow his signature adjective, "cyclopean".)  But I think it's fair to say that his work has had an immense influence on the fields of science fiction and horror. Even though during his lifetime his work was recognized only in the pages of pulp magazines ("Amazing Stories!") and he died quite young, his ideas and creations have found a much larger audience since his death.  Other authors-- including Stephen King and Robert Bloch, to name a couple-- have penned their own contributions to his mythology, some of them better than his own work, others... not so good.

Two of the main themes found in Lovecraft's work are fear of the unknown, and humanity's tiny insignificance in the vast cosmos.  The universe is fully of mysteries, and if we knew the answers to them we'd go insane with terror. We're lucky to be ignorant, and those who delve too deeply into these mysteries usually meet terrifying fates in Lovecraft's tales.

These stories are often told through a "frame".  A "frame" is a storytelling technique that explains how you, the reader, have obtained the information you're about to read. A collection of letters from an increasingly nervous correspondent who suddenly stops writing, leaving the reader to extrapolate his fate. "Notebook Found in a Deserted House". "The Blair Witch Project" and other "found footage" movies are examples of how a frame can be used in storytelling.  As in Blair Witch, the frame in which the story is told is in itself giving you a message, which is often that the narrator of the story isn't around anymore, creating an ominous air right from the start.

I read the first of the stories in this book last night, "Black Man with a Horn" by T.E.D. Klein. The author addresses the frame right from the start:

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There is something inherently comforting about the first person past tense. It conjures up visions of some deskbound narrator puffing contemplatively upon a pipe amid the safety of his study, lost on tranquil recollection, seasoned but essentially unscathed by whatever experience he's about to relate. It's a tense that says, "I am here to tell the tale. I lived through it."

 ... "It's over now," he says. "I lived through it."  A comforting premise, perhaps. Only in this case, it doesn't happen to be true. Whether the experience is really "over now" no one can say; and if, as I suspect, the final chapter has yet to be enacted, then the notion of my "living through it" will seem a pathetic conceit.

We learn that he's an elderly man typing away at an electric typewriter, and that he's very sure that he's going to die soon.


Like most stories in the Lovecraft genre, the curtain pulls back a little at a time... revealing to the reader ever-so-slowly what's really going on, letting the reader fill in the blanks using their knowledge of the mythos which the narrator, not having this knowledge, isn't able to piece together as quickly as the reader.  But eventually, both reader and narrator arrive at the same place.  This story works on two levels... on the more literal one, it's a horror story about an old man who believes that he's become the target of strange Asian cultists and that a supernatural creature will soon arrive to end him.  But less directly, it's about grappling with his mortality, accepting that his life is coming to its end, his casual racism and xenophobia are the realization that the world is changing around him... the supernatural creature that's coming for him is really just old age and mortality. It's very satisfying to get to the end of the story, put down the book, and realize that the author was really telling you two stories at the same time, and then go back and reflect on the details that contribute to both aspects of the story.


  -k
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Offline bcsapper

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #54 on: December 19, 2018, 09:42:10 am »
I'm reading all the books on which "The Expanse" is based, before I binge watch the show.

I'm very excited about it.
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Offline Bubbermiley

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #55 on: January 03, 2019, 06:43:37 am »
My son convinced me I needed to watch Game of Thrones. I'm not partial to fantasy and decapitation so I held off, but then I saw the first book in his room and decided to see how far into it I could get. I found it surprisingly readable. I'm up to the end of the fourth book now, but it's gotten significantly less readable. The pacing of events became excruciatingly slow.
I decided to watch the show, just to help me keep track of characters, so I subscribed to Crave and watched the first 6 seasons. Now I have the seventh season Blu-ray out of the library. The TV show is much better at ensuring things happen regularly to keep you interested and it has fewer characters to keep track of, and I've become desensitized to the ultra-violence. I don't expect I'll finish the fifth book, or the sixth or the seventh when they finally come out.
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Offline Bubbermiley

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #56 on: January 03, 2019, 07:00:35 am »
Also reading the Beastie Boys Book. Fascinating boys, those Beasties.
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Offline kimmy

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #57 on: January 05, 2019, 12:02:29 pm »
I'm reading all the books on which "The Expanse" is based, before I binge watch the show.

I'm very excited about it.

I watched the first two seasons of The Expanse, and will probably watch the third season sooner or later. I was quite interested in the premise, and I like that they put some real thought into building their near-future setting.  Their space-travel reflects realistic physics... space ships take days or weeks to get where they're going, changing directions in the middle of a flight is a major event, and so on. They've put some thought into the economy.  The political elements are interesting as well. Much of it seems like a somewhat plausible imagination of what our not-too-distant future could look like.  Then there's the other element-- the supernatural/superscience aspect that's not at all part of the speculative near-future.  On the one hand it's the magical McGuffin that drives events forward, but on the other hand I wasn't as interested in that part of the show as I was in the speculative part of the show. I didn't feel it worked as well, at least in the TV adaptation.

I have not read the Expanse books, but I have read a book series that he wrote under another pen name. "The Black Sun's Daughter" was an urban fantasy series he wrote under the name M.L.N Hanover.  I really liked his writing style.

 -k
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Offline Gorgeous Graham

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #58 on: January 05, 2019, 10:52:56 pm »
A while ago I watched the "Manhunt: Unibomber" mini-series on Netflix.  I give that a very high recommendation.  He's a fascinating guy, extremely intelligent.

So I just recently read most of his lengthy manifesto, published in the Washington Post many years ago before he was caught, as part one of his "demands".  His thesis was essentially that technology post-industrial revolution, despite what its achieved, is decaying society, destroying humanity & the planet etc, so we must revolt against technology and destroy it, using violence to achieve this revolution if necessary.  Though his manifesto didn't seem violent whatsoever, despite his own behaviour.  He was clearly a bit touched.

The problem with this thesis is that this would have to be done worldwide at the same time, and even if 1 country decided not to follow suit, that 1 country would conquer every other country & dominate the planet with its technology.  Odd but interesting read.
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Offline the_squid

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #59 on: January 06, 2019, 12:25:09 am »
Did you two who posted last have the subtitles on while you watched?  If so, I guess this is the correct topic.  If not, well....   maybe not.