Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 24176 times)

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #390 on: July 03, 2018, 03:09:21 AM »
Only the Gaskell chapter tbh. Aka "The Manchester Marriage"

BritishHobo

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #391 on: July 03, 2018, 10:22:19 PM »
There's another one called A Haunted House, with the same authors plus Hesba Stretton and George Augustus Sala. I wrote an essay on it in uni, the conclusion of which was essentially that it was a noble attempt from Dickens to create a cohesive little collection, but that it was one that didn't really work because the writers had all turned in such tonally and thematically random stories.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #392 on: July 11, 2018, 05:04:49 PM »
Reading Command and Control by Eric Schlosser. Really good so far. It's a riveting voyage into nuclear weapons systems in the US. The main part of the book is Schlosser's fascinating account of the 1980 Damascus Titan missile explosion, but he stops off at various other topics on the history of American strategic thinking, the development of war-fighting systems, and other accidents involving nuclear weapons and missiles around the world. He's a gifted storyteller, and he pieces everything together in exhaustive detail.

I'm thinking of watching the film and then buying Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb after I've finished. I might read General Sir John Hackett's The Third World War: August 1985 for a laugh.

JesusAndYourBush

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #393 on: July 12, 2018, 12:43:14 PM »
Lately I've been reading The Bible because I realised that although I've read little bits of it over the years and picked up little bits by osmosis there's vast parts of it of which I have know knowledge, and that I really should read this book that so many people give huge importance to.

It's a very strange book.

It's all wars and people killing each other for no good reason and kings killing people for no good reason etc...  I was wondering where all the nice stuff was.

Then I realised that if we didn't have modern technology now and therefore if the only history we had of the previous few centuries was one passed down by word of mouth that's exactly what we'd have.  A word of mouth version of the first world war would be baffling to people a few hundred years after the event.

The weirdest part for me though is the sacrifices.  People will happily sacrifice members of their own family, and those family members seem happy to let that happen.  In the ten commandments there's no subclause to 'Thou shalt not kill' saying '* unless it's a sacrifice to the Lord'.  (The animal sacrifices though is probably a scam so that the holy men and/or those in power can get some free food.)

I noticed that "forty nights" is used quite often and I've come to the conclusion that in those days it was just used as a measurement to mean "a long time".

I'm still on the Old Testament,  I've got all the Jesus stuff yet to come.

Hobo With A Shit Pun

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #394 on: July 12, 2018, 01:24:28 PM »

Currently midway through "H is for Homicide" by Sue Grafton. I first had my attention directed towards her Alphabet Mysteries by Lawrence Block's Burglar series, where Bernie, the titular thief/sleuth/second hand bookshop owner keeps dropping references to non-existent titles in the series {"A is for Train", etc.}. I am, however, a cheap bastard, and you can't rely on charity shops to offer up thrillers in order. And it seemed a waste, when a series proclaims itself so...serially, to read them haphazardly. So I kept buying them whenever I saw them (with the odd call home to my flatmate ("I'm in Barnardo's....Could you look in my room at the books by the door...in the Sue Graftons, do I have one that starts with a  J?", ETC.) and putting them aside until I had 'em all.

Course, Grafton went and died without having given us "Z", so I reckoned Sod It, filled the gaps with kindle purchases, and started on the never-to-be-completed series last month.

Eminently readable crime thrillers, with a suitably cynic-getting-by central protagonist. I'm glad Grafton's family have made clear they'll never let anyone have access to her notes for the last one. What she wrote, she wrote. Herbert estate take note.

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #395 on: July 12, 2018, 04:42:22 PM »
I finished Paul Tremblay's Head Full Of Ghosts which I positively whizzed through. I loved it. Creepy, atmospheric, and overall pretty damned sad. The Exorcist for the internet generation, I guess. Kinda? Told mostly from an 8 year old girl's perspective. Well done, Paul !

Next up is Backseat Bedroom by Nick Andrew, which was kindly donated to me. Thanks, Ray ! It's starting off nicely.

non capisco

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #396 on: July 13, 2018, 11:21:50 PM »
I'm still on the Old Testament,  I've got all the Jesus stuff yet to come.

It gets a lot less interesting when that wet end turns up. That brilliant arsehole God villain they had in the first one basically fades in the background and it becomes this boo hoo story about some David Copperfield twat. 

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #397 on: July 14, 2018, 02:20:47 AM »
The question is how to get message across to the youngsters of today.

Jonah does a bumdozy in a big fish?
Jesus but he loves yer mum jokes?
God concedes seizing your infants and dashing them against rocks was "a bit much in hindsight"?
Peter comedy raps the Lord's Prayer without peer pressure?
Moses puzzled as to the meaning of a burning bush with an erection?
Judas sticks on Limp Bizkit?

Kids really are an unknown quantity.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #398 on: July 15, 2018, 11:15:37 PM »
The question is how to get message across to the youngsters of today.

Jonah does a bumdozy in a big fish?
Jesus but he loves yer mum jokes?
God concedes seizing your infants and dashing them against rocks was "a bit much in hindsight"?
Peter comedy raps the Lord's Prayer without peer pressure?
Moses puzzled as to the meaning of a burning bush with an erection?
Judas sticks on Limp Bizkit?

Kids really are an unknown quantity.

Limp Bizkit? Fucking hell mate.

Ray Travez

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #399 on: July 17, 2018, 04:31:40 PM »
I'm still on the Old Testament,  I've got all the Jesus stuff yet to come.

and your bush?

That's the best review of the Bible I've ever read :D

Osho calls it 'pornography'- all the slaughter and mayhem. I've given it a go once or twice, mainly cos Nick Cave said he liked reading it, but, let's just say it's not for me. 

Howj Begg

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #400 on: July 18, 2018, 08:20:44 PM »
I've just finished The World Turned Upside Down by Christopher Hill which yeah, is as good as you'd expect. Any other recommendations for similar studies of the period, or the groups within, gratefully received.

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #401 on: July 18, 2018, 09:36:03 PM »
Just read New Dark Age by James Bridle, a fascinating - if very pessimistic - book about modern technology and the fact that our attempts to provide solutions through technology are only worsening the problems they are aiming to solve. The sheer naivety of the belief that technology and data can provide a a sort of salvation comes across here, particularly in the last chapter, which features some ridiculous hubris from one of the Google blokes that is then comprehensively debunked by Bridle.

On similar lines, I'd also recommend To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell, which is a really interesting (and often hilarious) investigation into transhumanism. The author meets some absolute batshit people along the way, and has a witty Louis Theroux-like way of dealing with them.

BritishHobo

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #402 on: July 24, 2018, 10:29:34 PM »
First book of the Man Booker longlist down, From a Low and Quiet Sea. Absolute magic.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #403 on: July 26, 2018, 08:57:36 AM »
First book of the Man Booker longlist down, From a Low and Quiet Sea. Absolute magic.

Ooh, when was this announced? Are you goi g to blog again? Start a new thread for it at least. 

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #404 on: July 26, 2018, 09:30:38 AM »
Evil Little Things by Matt Shaw.
Hmmmmm.

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #405 on: July 26, 2018, 09:33:19 AM »
I finished Backseat Bedroom by Nick Andrew, which was donated to me (thanks again, Ray).
It was fun.
Does anyone on here want it? I'll post it on.

BritishHobo

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #406 on: July 27, 2018, 07:20:59 PM »
Ooh, when was this announced? Are you goi g to blog again? Start a new thread for it at least.

Aye aye. First one's here: https://obaattheblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/man-booker-2018-introduction/

I probably should start a thread as I do like plopping me stray thoughts down. For example I'm struggling with Snap currently as it feels like such a generic airport crime novel, complete with a renegade police officer who fumes that the penpushers in HQ don't understand you have to break some rules to get results. There has to be some kind of subversion, right, for something like that to make the Booker list? But it doesn't feel like it's coming. I feel much more comfortable saying that here.

I'm still in the mindset of books being limited to one thread in Picture Box, I forget there's a whole subforum to play on.

Mark Steels Stockbroker

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #407 on: July 27, 2018, 10:37:57 PM »
Mary Butts - The Taverner Novels

zomgmouse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #408 on: July 30, 2018, 11:35:58 AM »
I've borrowed War with the Newts so that will be happening soon.

Finished reading this, it was curious and at times deliberately dry (most of it being written in a sort of factual historical manner) but I quite liked it overall, very haunting and terrifying in the end.

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #409 on: July 30, 2018, 11:44:33 AM »
Finished reading this, it was curious and at times deliberately dry (most of it being written in a sort of factual historical manner) but I quite liked it overall, very haunting and terrifying in the end.

I've had this to read for ages, but I heard it was very dry like you say, and was slightly put off by that.
Will endeavour to 'give it a go' once I finish me current book - Daemon by Daniel Suarez. Started off ok.
That last book I read - Evil Little Things by Matt Shaw - was shit.

zomgmouse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #410 on: July 30, 2018, 02:37:12 PM »
I've had this to read for ages, but I heard it was very dry like you say, and was slightly put off by that.

Bits of it especially the central section were certainly tough going, but if you persevere I think you're rewarded, especially as some of the dryness can mask some very gruff satirical writing.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #411 on: July 30, 2018, 08:03:55 PM »
I just finished Hernan Diaz's Pulitzer finalist, In the Distance. One of the best new books that I've read in years.

Carys Davies' Guardian review got me to pick it up and I'm so glad I did. Here's the review...

Quote
Hernan Diaz’s captivating debut novel opens with an unforgettable scene: a huge, unnamed man – naked, grizzled and old – hauling himself through a star-shaped hole in the Alaskan ice from the freezing waters beneath, up on to the solid surface of the floe. It’s an extraordinary image, and one which, by the novel’s end, will have become even more powerful.

This “lame colossus” turns out to be Håkan Söderström, and Diaz, having introduced his hero, plunges us swiftly into his tumultuous past. It all begins when Håkan and his elder brother, Linus, are dispatched by their father, a struggling Swedish farmer, to the US in search of a better life.

It seems like a good plan: the year is 1850 or thereabouts, and the United States is booming. But in the first of a series of calamities, the boys lose each other en route, and Håkan, instead of going to New York with Linus, ends up on the other side of the country, in San Francisco. Penniless and without a word of English, he embarks on what seems to him the only possible course of action: to walk across America and find his brother.

So begins a page-turning adventure story that’s also a profound meditation on solitude and companionship, foreignness and home; a bildungsroman in the grand 19th-century tradition that is also a fierce critique of the romanticised myths of the settlement of the American west. Diaz himself fled his native Argentina as a boy in the 70s, arriving as a refugee in Sweden with his family, then later moving to the US, and it’s hard not to see something of his experience in Håkan’s lonely odyssey: his acute sense of his own apartness, and his search for a place in the world.

Heading east against the unstoppable tide of immigrants rolling west in their wagon trains, Håkan falls in with a succession of colourful characters, including a demented Irish gold prospector and a woman with no teeth who dresses him up in a velvet coat and buckled shoes. He meets a visionary naturalist and a horse called Pingo, a sadistic sheriff and a pair of predatory civil war soldiers. He traps animals and forages for food in the wilderness, and eventually becomes a wanted man.

It’s a thrilling narrative, full of twists and turns, that sees Håkan make the journey from young boy to “stupendously tall man”; and from innocence to experience – David Copperfield with a twist of Tarantino and Deadwood perhaps, or Great Expectations shot through with a dose of True Grit and Blood Meridian.

And yet that’s not quite a fair description. What Diaz pulls off here is that rare feat of drawing on literary and filmic traditions, only to conjure something completely fresh and strange. In the Distance is a brutal, sad, tender coming-of-age story, set in a historical past that feels both familiar and at the same time like nothing we’ve ever encountered before.

This is in large part because of Håkan himself, and Diaz’s great achievement is the rigour with which he sticks to his hero’s point of view. We see everything through Håkan’s eyes, often from a distance as he plods on, observing the landscape, people and animals around him with only partial understanding. A mirrored wardrobe, abandoned beside the migrants’ trail, first appears as a blinding light, “a detonation suspended in a flashing climax”. The far-off sound of a harmonium arrives on the wind “in rags and tatters, like a torn flag” before he, or we, know what it is. A wagon train in the distance begins as nothing more than “a long, low creeping line” which finally emerges from the “odourless desert” in a profusion of smells. Later on, Håkan fails to identify an arrangement of wood as a railroad, or lengths of overhead wire as the transcontinental telegraph. The two civil war soldiers he meets appear to him merely as a blue soldier and a grey one.

It’s a revelation to Håkan when he at last finds companionship. The vast, empty plains around him, writes Diaz, “were no longer the oppressive immensity whose existence, for such a long time, had somehow been entrusted to Håkan’s lonely gaze”. Some of the most poignant passages deal with his tentative intimacy with others. When he does experience a physical awakening, he is slow to understand what’s happening, even while he discovers the pleasure of being cared for, and what it means “to be seen by someone, to be in someone’s brain”.

It’s a moment of heart-breaking clarity, and a tribute to Diaz’s artistry that he expresses it so simply. One of the many delights of In the Distance, which was a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer prize in the US, is the way the writing oscillates between the austere and the lyrical, the realistic and the dream-like. The result is a singular and deeply affecting portrait of one man’s life in a rapidly changing world, unlike any old-school or revisionist western I’ve experienced.

Twit 2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #412 on: August 01, 2018, 11:08:49 AM »
Sounds shit.

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #413 on: August 01, 2018, 09:55:14 PM »
The Troop by Nick Cutter - A Stephen King-esque horror about a bunch of scouts on a small island having to avoid being infected by a horrible disease, occasionally the writing is a bit on the nose but as a throwaway fun read I'm enjoying it a fair bit.

Black Ship

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #414 on: August 02, 2018, 12:38:48 AM »
Just finished reading Dicken's "American Notes" . One of the last chapters is about slavery and contains newspaper notices about runaway slaves and how they are identified by missing teeth, whip scars and notches cut into the ears. It's really horrific reading.

chveik

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #415 on: August 02, 2018, 01:17:33 AM »
Alan Moore - Voice of the Fire
Kurt Vonnegut - Cat's Cradle
Good summer books

Clownbaby

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #416 on: August 02, 2018, 03:06:37 PM »
Let The right One In is a fuckin good book.

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #417 on: August 02, 2018, 03:20:52 PM »
Let The right One In is a fuckin good book.
This was one of the very rare occasions I actually preferred the film to the book. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood.

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #418 on: August 02, 2018, 03:21:25 PM »
Alan Moore - Voice of the Fire

Good?

Clownbaby

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #419 on: August 02, 2018, 03:30:01 PM »
This was one of the very rare occasions I actually preferred the film to the book. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood.

They're equal for me.