Author Topic: Books [split topic]  (Read 93584 times)

Serge

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Books [split topic]
« on: August 06, 2010, 11:50:55 PM »
Just finished David Aaronovitch's 'Voodoo Histories', his study of conspiracy theories and why they take root. I actually got a bit bored with the bits explaining why they seem to have a hold on people, but the bits debunking the theories were very entertaining, although, as with 'The God Delusion', I'd guess most of the people likely to read the book are already of a like mind with him anyway. That's certainly true in my case, the only theory I have any time for is the Kennedy assassination, and he makes a very good case for Oswald having acted alone, but he hasn't quite convinced me, to be honest.

Obviously, some are like shooting fish in a barrel - the Diana conspiracy being the most obvious one. I can see why people want to believe in 9/11 conspiracies, though knowing the human race as I do, I'm more inclined to put that down to total incompetence than murderous intent (on the US Government's part). And I have to admit that I had no idea that there were people in the US trying to prove that Obama wasn't born in the US - some people really do have far too much time on their hands.

But I think I'm going to give factual books a break for a while now - I need to read some fiction!

dr beat

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2010, 12:16:36 AM »
Ahead of a trip to Tokyo in a couple of weeks, I've been reading through Julian Cope's Japrocksampler which is enjoyable enough, but would probably benefit to having some of the tunes to listen to on hand.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2010, 12:32:29 AM »
Well this is annoying, I was reading this thread earlier, the first few pages, leaching of yours good tastes, and I thought I came across a post about Nabokov not rating Dostoevsky too much, which seemed like interesting reading. I thought it was Toad in the Hole and I was gonna PM him to provide with me some sweet journal articles what with him being a professor, but now I can't find the post and am worried it didn't exist at all. Google doesn't offer much and the journal Russian Literature seems to be more Cyrillic than English and quite intimidating. So, any help?

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2010, 02:02:54 AM »
I'm now a few chapters into "The Torment of Buddy Rich" by John Minahan. Very unputdownable.

Talulah, really!

  • O, belike it is the Bishop of Carlisle
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2010, 10:48:43 AM »
Well this is annoying, I was reading this thread earlier, the first few pages, leaching of yours good tastes, and I thought I came across a post about Nabokov not rating Dostoevsky too much, which seemed like interesting reading. I thought it was Toad in the Hole and I was gonna PM him to provide with me some sweet journal articles what with him being a professor, but now I can't find the post and am worried it didn't exist at all. Google doesn't offer much and the journal Russian Literature seems to be more Cyrillic than English and quite intimidating. So, any help?

Vladimir Nabakov: Lectures on Russian Literature

Quote
"Tolstoy is the greatest Russian writer of prose fiction. Leaving aside his percursors Pushkin and Lermentov, we might list the greatest artists in Russian prose thus: first, Tolstoy; second, Gogol; third, Checkov; fourth, Turgenev. This is rather like grading student's papers and no doubt Dostoevski and Saltykov are waiting at the door of my office to discuss their low marks."

And, no, he didn't think all that much of Dostoevski but then he didn't think much of a lot of people! The lectures on literature (Austen, Dickens, Proust, Joyce, etc) are superb reading and highly illuminating of his own methods and aims.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2010, 11:05:23 AM »
That is brilliant, thanks.

sirhenry

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2010, 12:13:28 PM »
Now you've got me curious...
Quote
Leaving aside his percursors Pushkin and Lermentov...
Why? That's like writing a history of pop and leaving aside Elvis and The Beatles. Admittedly they both did their best work in peotry rather than prose, but even their prose work showed a love of language far greater than Chekhov or Turgenev. And I've always seen Tolstoy as being on a level with Dickens - a top-rate soap opera writer, but not much more.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2010, 04:38:59 PM »
Just finished David Aaronovitch's 'Voodoo Histories', his study of conspiracy theories and why they take root. I actually got a bit bored with the bits explaining why they seem to have a hold on people, but the bits debunking the theories were very entertaining, although, as with 'The God Delusion', I'd guess most of the people likely to read the book are already of a like mind with him anyway. That's certainly true in my case, the only theory I have any time for is the Kennedy assassination, and he makes a very good case for Oswald having acted alone, but he hasn't quite convinced me, to be honest.
I was bought it for my last birthday and read through it fairly quickly - the only problem I had with it was I kept imagining his unbearably smug face reading out certain passages. He also goes out of his way to criticise "the left" a bit more than is absolutely necessary, but all in all it's a good book. I saw him hyping it on Colbert's show a while back, but it was one of those pointless bits where the interviewee barely got a word in.

I just finished all the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R R Martin. The middle of the last book is where I nearly gave up on it, but I powered through and enjoyed the last 200 or so pages. I was slightly annoyed that the next book in the series is the same stretch of time, but from the perspective of a bunch of characters that weren't mentioned in the last one - I think if you're going to wait 5 years, you should at least advance the plot a bit. I have a horrible feeling unless he's left some detailed-ass notes that we're never going to see the end of this particular story.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2010, 10:50:44 PM »
Danny Sugerman's Wonderland Avenue, what a life that man had.

vrailaine

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2010, 12:27:11 AM »
The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band
So far, so good.

Serge

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2010, 12:41:06 AM »
I was bought it for my last birthday and read through it fairly quickly - the only problem I had with it was I kept imagining his unbearably smug face reading out certain passages.

Ha! Yes, that's fair enough. Though it never really occurred to me when I was reading it, thankfully. I quite enjoyed his first book, 'Paddling To Jerusalem', too, though that fits more into the category of 'funny travel book', which I've got a weakness for.

Just started re-reading 'Moon Palace', possibly my favourite Paul Auster book. Still love it.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2010, 09:38:49 AM »
Just whizzed through Gatiss's novel, The Vesuvius Club.  Fine in so far as it goes, a derivative spy thriller which he was clearly writing with left-over plot strands from Sherlock (or vice versa?).  The plot is decent, if the predilections and vices of the hero are rather predictable.  A worthwhile holiday read.

hpmons

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2010, 11:32:17 AM »
I read the Vesuvius Club a while ago and thought the plot was quite dreadful.  Though it was written in an entertaining way, so I didn't mind too much.

I finished Never Let Me Go a couple of days ago, which I have mixed feelings about.  There were some bits I really liked [spoiler]Where Kathy is looking through porn mags for her 'possible', and the delightfully naive idea that 'The Gallery' was somehow related to being able to get deferrals if you are in love[/spoiler], but the ending had really clumsy exposition, and the obsession with Ruth was tiresome at times.

I've got Dubliners out of the library, along with Dark Water.  Which makes me think - why on earth does the library have fairly unnotable books like Dark Water or What Happens Now by Jeremy Dyson (along with hundreds of others I'm sure), but doesn't have Slaughterhouse-Five?!

sirhenry

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2010, 12:39:02 PM »
why on earth does the library have fairly unnotable books like Dark Water or What Happens Now by Jeremy Dyson (along with hundreds of others I'm sure), but doesn't have Slaughterhouse-Five?!
Because people tend to keep the good ones.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2010, 11:45:55 AM »
I just got the complete John Cheever.  What's the best ones in there?

CaledonianGonzo

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2010, 06:37:24 AM »
Due to a lot of nights out on the razz at the moment, I needed an undemanding book, so seemed the perfect opportunity to finally satisfy my curiosity about Steig Larsson's 'The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest'. 

Jaysus - it's actually turned into a bloody soap opera now.  The first book was far from special, but it at least had some of the usual hallmarks of a novel, like a point and a purpose.  By book 3, the entire series has just degenerated into a never-ending sequence of 'and then what happened is'.  Show, don't tell, Larsson.

Marty McFly

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2010, 09:26:52 PM »
Finished reading Loser's Town by Daniel Depp (Johnny's half-brother) a few days ago. A promising premise - grizzly LA stuntman turned private detective is hired by a snotty young movie star who gets in too deep with mobsters - with a terrible ending that involves killing off most of the characters you've just read about for 250-odd pages.

I got it as part of a 2 for £7 deal at Sainsbury's, which wasn't too bad because the other book I got was Under The Dome by Stephen King... a much better read (and a good doorstop at 900 pages). Has that been discussed elsewhere on CaB yet?

hpmons

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2010, 12:14:56 AM »
Got my way through Dubliners...I remember on the last thread people were praising it, but god I found it tedious. I always feel a little bad when an apparently good book does nothing for me, but I found most of them too mundane - in style and story. The only two I liked were A Little Cloud and A Painful Case. 

A third of the way through Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, which I'm finding super awesome.[nb]Obligatory footnote[/nb]

Can anyone recommend a longish book (600+ pages) to read on a long train journey (and back)? I was thinking of The Stand, though I've never read any Stephen King before.  I want to read Crime and Punishment at some point, but I might hate it (is it a "difficult read", whatever that means?) so I don't want to be stuck staring out of the window for hours.
EDIT: Or Under the Dome maybe...

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2010, 07:50:15 AM »
Under The Dome's certainly not a difficult read, and you'll race through it. It's also surprisingly good, but I guess you've already read that or you wouldn't be suggesting it. Another recent 600+ page excellent book I read was "The Terror" by Dan Simmons, a retelling of the Franklin expedition of 1846 with monsters and that in it.

I just started "Feed" by Mira Grant, after a glowing review on The AV Club. It's a zombie novel, and is quite good so far, even if I can't tell if I'm accidentally reading a Young Adult book, or if that's just the style the book is written in.

Talulah, really!

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2010, 09:19:43 AM »
Can anyone recommend a longish book (600+ pages) to read on a long train journey (and back)? I was thinking of The Stand, though I've never read any Stephen King before.  I want to read Crime and Punishment at some point, but I might hate it (is it a "difficult read", whatever that means?) so I don't want to be stuck staring out of the window for hours.

The Stand is the only Stephen King I have read and it is certainly gripping enough. Ideas for longish books, you might want to work towards Crime and Punishment via some of Iris Murdoch's novels, most of her books have a similar interest in Good and Evil, Religion, Philosophising, Love, Obsession with the same large cast of characters only in a contemporary middle class English setting, generally from the late sixties onward they tend to be a decent length, The Sea, the Sea is a good example being about a man's obsession for his childhood love. I liked Bruno's Dream but can't remember how long it is though both The Philosopher's Pupil and The Book and the Brotherhood should be long enough.[nb]Size Queen![/nb]

On a totally different tack, recently read Skippy dies by Paul Murray, which is suitably brick sized at 660 pages. It is set in a present day Irish boarding school for boys, it has touches of the Inbetweeners in the dialogue of some of the central characters, it is very funny in places, quite tense in others when one of the characters falls foul of the school psycho and touching in others, there's a lot about loss amidst the growing up.

PS or do what I'm doing now just read Dickens. The Old Curiosity Shop this time.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2010, 11:16:37 AM »
Another pretty easy, long read - The Godfather.  Or, if you're feeling a bit more traditionally cultured, how about some Middlemarch?  I like Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End tetralogy too (Tom Stoppard is currently adapting it for a TV version), but that's perhaps not to everyone's taste.

Serge

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2010, 12:56:08 PM »
None of these are 600+ pages as far as I know, but they're pretty dam' long:

'The Good Soldier Svejk' by Jaroslav Hasek - The greatest anti-war book ever written and my favourite book in the world. Hasek died before he managed to finish it, so it does just stop rather than end properly, but as it's essentially an episodic tale (literally - I believe it ran in a magazine initially), it won't ruin the book for you.

'Carter Beats The Devil' by Glen David Gold [tag]Serge mentions 'Carter Beats The Devil'[/tag]

'The Corrections' by Jonathan Franzen - An attempt at the Great American Novel that works! (I would also mention Jonathan Lethem's 'Fortress Of Solitude' but that's 'only' about 400 pages.)

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2010, 02:36:52 PM »
Roberto Bolano's 2666. Great read. His original The Savage Detectives is shorter, but I'd still recommend it on a general note.


Famous Mortimer

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2010, 06:07:12 PM »
I have 2666 on my shelf, and will one day read it.

I just finished Jane Eyre. I've tended to avoid the Brontes and Austen, for no particular reason, but then recently China Mieville namechecked it in some "books that have changed me" podcast for a newspaper - http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/audio/2010/aug/04/books-that-made-me-china-mieville after a quick search - I decided to give it a go. Oh, and I took an American fan of the Brontes to the Haworth Parsonage a few months ago, so it was on my mind.

I absolutely loved it, way more than I expected to. I've not got good or interesting enough words to do it justice, but suffice to say it's immediately right up there with my favourites. I already knew the end, from films and numerous TV adaptations, but it lost none of its power.

Sony Walkman Prophecies

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #24 on: September 05, 2010, 06:55:30 PM »
Got my way through Dubliners...I remember on the last thread people were praising it, but god I found it tedious. I always feel a little bad when an apparently good book does nothing for me, but I found most of them too mundane - in style and story. The only two I liked were A Little Cloud and A Painful Case. 


You did better me then; could barely get a 1/3 of the way through. I kept wondering if id missed something and whether he was purposefully toning it down to the level of the mundane and the common place for effect. In hindsight though i think the stories are just very ordinary and uninspiring.

If i do tackle some fiction again (it's been a while) i'll probably go for some Lovecraft. Anyone read him/willing to make any recommendations?

Cambrian Times

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #25 on: September 05, 2010, 07:46:54 PM »
I just finished Jane Eyre.

Read "Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys.

Mildly Diverting

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2010, 11:49:08 AM »
'Carter Beats The Devil' by Glen David Gold [tag]Serge mentions 'Carter Beats The Devil'[/tag]

'The Corrections' by Jonathan Franzen - An attempt at the Great American Novel that works! (I would also mention Jonathan Lethem's 'Fortress Of Solitude' but that's 'only' about 400 pages.)

Yeah, both are brilliant novels, Carter especially.

My modern American novel of choice would be the hugely under-appreciated 'A Man In Full' by Tom Wolfe. An absolute masterpiece in my humblest of opinion.

Pepotamo1985

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2010, 12:36:30 PM »
The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band
So far, so good.

That book's absolutely superb - an ex-girlfriend finally gave my copy back after about 3+ years in the wilderness of her bedroom, and I intend to skim through it again once I'm done with Will Self's The Butt, which is quite enthralling but so utterly verbose it requires a truly centred, quiet perseverance to truly enjoy and cut through. Usually I'm a pretty fast, prolific reader but it's been stop/start with The Butt since I bought it at the start of August.

I remember when I first got The Dirt, I was about 15, and I would read excerpts aloud to friends. A frequent reply would be "these guys are dead now, yeah?". Tommy's chronological blow by blow depiction of a typical day and night on tour is not only hilarious, but actually quite unsettling.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2010, 01:02:18 PM »
I read / occasionally take part in the AV Club's "Wrapped Up In Books" book-club monthly thing...that's about the fifth time I've mentioned them this week, apologies.

Anyway, this month's selection is "Martin Dressler: The Story of an American Dreamer" by Millhauser (can't remember the chap's first name) and although it feels a bit...slight, compared to the last novel I read, it's pretty interesting and worth a few days of your time. Next month is "The Intuitionist", about different schools of philosophical thought re: elevator maintenance, and sounds like a right corker.

Actually, a CaB book club might not be the worst idea in the world. Anyone else theoretically up for it?

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #29 on: September 16, 2010, 01:53:25 PM »
Everyone (The Guardian) keeps telling me I should read some Kurt Vonnegut. Can anyone reccommend a good place to start?