Lily Valley

November 2017: What was good this year?

106 posts in this topic

9 hours ago, polishgenius said:

but as a theologian (which is what he is when engaging on this subject, despite his claims to the contrary) he leaves a lot to be desired

Oh, I just so enjoy the Courtier's Reply...

Would you feel the need to immerse yourself in decades of astrological study to meaningfully engage in that subject?

In any event, Hitchens just does it better, with the appropriate mix of wit and scorn.

Edited by Infidel

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Just now, Infidel said:

Ah, yes, the Courtier's Reply...

Would you feel the need to immerse yourself in decades of astrological study to meaningfully engage in that subject?

No, but I'd at least read a book or two about it.

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2 hours ago, Zorral said:

November's books:

Ackerman, Kenneth D. (2003)  Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President  James A. Garfield

The 1880 Gilded Age Presidential election and nominating convention in exquisite, exhausting, granular detail.  Don't forget Grant!

Chesnut, Mary; edited by C. Vann Woodward. (1981) Mary Chesnut’s Civil War.
Won the History Pulitzer in 1982.  This is a fifth re-read, so maybe doesn't count.

Epstein, Daniel Mark (2017) Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin’s House. Not necessarily entirely flattering to either Benjamin or his illegitimate son, the Tory governor of New Jersey, William.  They did things differently back then.

Strausbaugh, John (2016) City of Sedition: The History of New York City in the Civil War.
 
Wharton, Edith (1920) In Morocco.
I thought about the book while watching the lovely vacuity that is Hertzog’s Queen of the Desert, though, despite what Queen of the Desert's film locations may suggest, Bell never mounted a camel on the dunes of Morocco.  For her, it was all the hard stone pans of the Middle East, not the soft sands of Mediterranean Africa. Yet Bell and Wharton have more in common than might seem immediately evident, starting with being critical of the class of people within which they are born, but reaping all the benefits of their birth privilege, as they take advantage of, and manipulate those benefits for themselves to accomplish things as women that women generally are prohibited by that social circle from doing.  Both retain their class presumptions and behaviors intact.

 Wharton surely was aware of Bell! This journey is taken after WWI ended, and Bell was indeed in all the newspapers and newsreels as Europe partitioned the old Ottoman Empire. Perhaps, vice versa ttoo, Bell aware of Wharton?

Wharton alternates between congratulating herself for traveling in this exotic place, with all the luxury a woman of her class travels with, where others do not  / have not gone, while bewailing that the others will come and ruin it.  Others just like her.  I expected better of Wharton, actually.

Wilson, Peter H. (2016) Heart of Europe: A History of the Holy Roman Empire. Harvard University Press
Good thing I’d brushed up Merovingian, Carolingian and Capetian eras back last fall and winter -- not to mention the Sicilian Vespers.  A major work.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/01/holy-roman-empire-peter-wilson-europe-charlemagne

Three of these I listen to during work-outs (and two of which had been started last month). One of them we read aloud before bed. The others I just, well, read, you know, by holding the physical book, running my eyes down the text and turning pages. :read: :cheers:

Peter Wilson's History of the Thirty Years War is a book I have been meaning to read for a long time, but I have never gotten around to it. Its a huge work. 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Andorion said:

Peter Wilson's History of the Thirty Years War is a book I have been meaning to read for a long time, but I have never gotten around to it. Its a huge work. 

 

 

This is a work I too must get to!  Thank you for reminding me.

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2 hours ago, Infidel said:

Oh, I just so enjoy the Courtier's Reply...

Would you feel the need to immerse yourself in decades of astrological study to meaningfully engage in that subject?


If I tried to engage on astrology, but completely got wrong the principles on which its proponents think it functions, they'd be quite as right in dismissing my argument as bad. Like Darth Richard says, if you're gonna properly engage with things, try to at least have a basic knowledge of them.


To give you a little actual something if you insist: he tries to refute Aquinas' five ways by pointing out that they don't prove the existence of a Christian God, completely failing to note or apparently even realise that they were never meant to: they were Aquinas' baseline argument, that some beginning and guiding principle to the universe must exist, that we call God; it was only later that he built on them to try to prove that it must be the Christian God. Dawkins doesn't even note that.
He also dismisses the fifth argument by using argument against design/watchmaker theories via evolution, but that's not what the fifth way is, and evolution in no way dismisses what Aquinas is arguing- that all things have a final end (an acorn is meant to grow to become an oak tree is his example) and while intelligent beings can set their own aims in their behaviour, the fact that non-intelligent things have ends too suggests something must be setting those ends. Dawkins could have gone 'evolution and the fact that it is continuing today suggests that there are no final ends on a long scale' but he doesn't, because he misunderstands the argument, and instead says 'evolution proves that we need no designer to get to the universe we have', which in failing to remove the endpoint just gives Aquinas' argument a longer scale on which to function.


I'm not saying that Aquinas is unarguable with. Heck, just going 'I don't see why we need an umoved mover' is at a basic level fine by me. Hume for example argued with Aquinas fine. Dawkins doesn't.

Edited by polishgenius

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I finally finished Crossroads of Twilight. I remembered this as my least favorite and it definitely was. The baths!! Ugh. Take out Elayne and the book isn't even that terrible, but her stuff really drags. There is also almost zero Rand and a lot of insufferable Aes Sedai. But I'm excited to go into Knife of Dreams and have things pick up again!

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On ‎11‎/‎17‎/‎2017 at 11:31 PM, Andorion said:

Peter Wilson's History of the Thirty Years War is a book I have been meaning to read for a long time, but I have never gotten around to it. Its a huge work. 

 

I've had this on my TBR list for a while but the sheer size of it causes me to choose other titles over it. I get most of my reads from the library, and often not having the time to invest in such a long read, I go with shorter, less time-consuming books.

Michael A McDonnell's Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America. A very interesting examination of the Upper Great Lakes and the role the Ashininaabeg played in the history of North America. The focus is primarily on the Odawa of Michilimackinac at the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lakes Michigan and Huron.

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Just finished the Ice Master and currently reading a brief conflicting account from the expedition leader who bailed on the Karluk's crew, abandoning them in the ice.  Interesting contrast.   I grabbed An American Weredeer in Michigan, 'cause I need something light after that heavy book.  I also finally succumbed to my Kindle demanding I read We have Lost the President.  It's supposed to be funny, hope it is.

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It took most of the month, but I finished Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 by Carlos M.N. Eire.  It was a very thorough look at the Reformation and it's associated reformations that affected Europe and the rest of the world, particularly those impacted by Catholic missionary work.  Given that about 760 out of it's 920 pages was text, the fact that all of that was very informative and not a drag was great.

I've started Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.

On 11/14/2017 at 4:44 AM, Paxter said:

I also read a couple of short classics: Catcher in the Rye and Fahrenheit 451. I really liked Catcher and can certainly see why it's been such an enduring classic. I didn't particularly like Fahrenheit 451 apart from a couple of great monologues from Captain Beatty and Faber.

I was the complete opposite opinion of these two books.  I really liked Fahrenheit 451 and utterly loathed Catcher in the Rye except whenever Holden gets beaten up.

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I finished The Subtle Knife and was wondering how everything could be handled in just one more book, so I'm encouraged to see that The Amber Spyglass is quite a bit longer.  Started that last night.  

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8 minutes ago, Triskele said:

I finished The Subtle Knife and was wondering how everything could be handled in just one more book, so I'm encouraged to see that The Amber Spyglass is quite a bit longer.  Started that last night.  

You're dead to me.

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Finished Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone, first in the Craft Cycle, following lots of recs hereabouts. 

The basic summary of this novel sounds a lot like Harry Potter Works In Corporate Law, and that's basically what it is.  Also, using a fantasy world to explore/play with a very direct analogy* is similar to Pratchett's discworld but without the humor  

*In this case a god dying is an analogy for a bank collapse, and we also get to see the power trip of police uniforms and the depression and substance abuse for police in their private lives, plus a side helping of senior rainmaker exploiting junior colleagues and especially women both in business and in academia.

The overall plot is basically a mystery that wasn't at all mysterious, while also introducing the magic system, characters and very limited world building for future installments.  I can't say I'm rushing to the next volume but since I bought all five (great deal from Amazon), I'm sure I'll try the next one at some point. 

Now reading The Crusades by Thomas Asbridge, a non-fiction history.  Very good so far. 

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3 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

You're dead to me.

Not a fan?

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7 minutes ago, Triskele said:

Not a fan?

Haha, nooo. Loved the first book, hated how the second book turned lyra into little brat that constantly needed a man to rescue her. And the third book, without spoiling anything, is just dumb.

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I finished Lois McMaster Bujold's The Prisoner of Limnos. Like the rest of the Penric novellas, it was very entertaining to read and I thought there were some good new characters introduced in the form of Tanar and Bosha - I think a story focusing them could be good in the future.

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On 11/2/2017 at 4:14 PM, Lily Valley said:

A pal just got me a copy of Autonomous by Annalee Newitz.  He loved it.  The Murderbot Diaries was such a letdown I'm hoping Autonomous fills my AI void.

I read Autonomous recently and liked it quite a lot.

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I’ve just downloaded Elizabeth Bears latest, The Stone in the Skull. Excited to return to the world of The Eternal Sky.

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On ‎11‎/‎22‎/‎2017 at 1:57 PM, Triskele said:

I finished The Subtle Knife and was wondering how everything could be handled in just one more book, so I'm encouraged to see that The Amber Spyglass is quite a bit longer.  Started that last night.  

I loved the three books and have read the series several times.  :read:

Just finished the Book of Dust and really enjoyed it.  Looking forward to more adventures of Malcom and Asta.

Edited by Nasty LongRider

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Just finished Michael Moreci's love letter to Star Wars, Black Star Renegades. In quality and originality, it's a world away from Erikson's own parody of Star Trek.

I'd rather undergo a prostate exam than read whatever comes next. No kidding, a rectal examination sounds much better.

Stay away from this book. :/

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