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What Are You Reading: September 2017

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At the moment I'm reading and loving The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein.

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Robert Harris's An Officer and a Spy. A tightly paced historical fiction thriller covering the Dreyfus Affair in 1890s France from the 1st person viewpoint of Georges Picquart, an army officer serving in intelligence who discovered the truth of the real spy and the associated cover-up. Very compelling read that was hard to put down.

I'm now reading Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent.

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I finished Dave Hutchinson's Europe In Autumn. I'm not quite sure what to think about it, I did like the writing (it reminded me a bit of Claire North's work) and the way it managed to capture the feel of a Cold War espionage novel despite the near-future setting and I thought it had some good characterisation but structurally it felt a bit odd. For the vast majority of the novel we have very little idea what's really going on, and the real plot is only introduced very near the end (even if it does partially explain some of the things that happened earlier). It felt like it spent a lot of time on relatively small details like the early days of Rudi's career as a chef but felt a bit rushed which it came to the heart of the plot. I know there are a couple more books so I'm hoping they go into a bit more detail about some of the things I feel the first book needed to explain a bit more.

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Al Franken: Giant of the Senate by Al Franken. Really entertaining thus far. Most of it seems to center on his senate campaign in 2008 versus Norm Coleman. Really fascinating race. Very funny, informational and endearing so far.

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You guys know any good compendiums or online resources for someone interested in reading/studying American/World literature outside of an academic setting?

Little off topic, but I don't think the question deserves its own thread.

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16 minutes ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

You guys know any good compendiums or online resources for someone interested in reading/studying American/World literature outside of an academic setting?

Little off topic, but I don't think the question deserves its own thread.

Probably an anthology of American/World Lit like Norton's Anthology. If you're at all interested in lecture series, the Yale Courses Youtube page has a number of course lectures up for public viewing. There may be a literature course on that page. I've been watching some of the history lectures.

Finished Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent. Heavily internalized with most of the events occurring in the background and revealed through character dialogue. Conrad does an excellent job of portraying the psychology of the various characters, mostly anarchists and revolutionaries with the narrative structure echoing the loose, disorderly world in which these revolutionaries exist.

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just finished Butcher's "Summer knight". These are great "light" reads for me and Butcher is great at them. I really appreciate how (so far) each book has a self-contained story yet is littered with world-building and has continuinity between books.

Then, for something completely different, I started "To kill a mockingbird". So far it's completely different to what I was expecting - although I admit I'm still in the early stages. Anyway it's a charming read so far and offers a fascinating insight into how that culture operated eg how poverty worked. It might not be so charming once the first act ends.

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On 9/21/2017 at 0:05 AM, williamjm said:

I finished Dave Hutchinson's Europe In Autumn. I'm not quite sure what to think about it, I did like the writing (it reminded me a bit of Claire North's work) and the way it managed to capture the feel of a Cold War espionage novel despite the near-future setting and I thought it had some good characterisation but structurally it felt a bit odd. For the vast majority of the novel we have very little idea what's really going on, and the real plot is only introduced very near the end (even if it does partially explain some of the things that happened earlier)..

I thought Europe in Autumn was fun (though not remarkable) before the late book plot reveal, but I'm not really sure how I feel about it after that reveal.  To me, it took something away from the setting of the rest of the book.

I'm not sure how much of a hurry I'm in to read the next two books in the sequence, though I've heard people say nice things about them both.

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Currently finishing up The Golem and The Djinni by Helene Wecker. Initally I found things to like about it but it is seeming more and more that it is not as good as I had hoped it would be. Some of the flashback sections are really quite pedestrian in their prose and exposition. I did/so still like the protagonists and hope for some kind of satisfying conclusion for them both. But really I could have done with the book being a bit shorter and it having a bit of a lighter touch. It's for my book club so I didn't directly choose to read it but it had been on my radar for a while.

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Just started in on the The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman.

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So I finished reading Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism by Marina Warner. It was a very interesting read which gave me lots of ideas.

I am just over halfway through The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett and am loving it so far. 

I've read some more of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. I'm still not liking it and I have only read a little bit of it, now 36% through it.

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Reading Swanwick's The Dragons of Babel.  Very good.  I like the more consistent weird city atmosphere compared to Iron Dragon's Daughter, which focused more on the "mundane" coming of age material.

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