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Garett Hornwood

Second Quarter 2019 Reading

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All done with Sally Rooney's Normal People. Wow. This is one of those books that doesn't seem to be doing much on the surface. It's set in Galway and Dublin in the early 2010s and follows a fairly typical story of adolescent romance and relationships. But it really is something special. Rooney just has a way of getting the characters to sink beneath your own skin so that you get to know them almost better than your own loved ones. And her way of handling conversation and other interactions is so subtle, so realistic and so direct that you really get captivated by what is happening. The tone is sombre (and sometimes downright depressing) but with enough moments to not feel unnecessarily angsty. This was a 10/10 for me - best non-genre read of the year so far.

I'm still wading through The Dragonbone Chair. I'll pick up Austen's Northanger Abbey next (nearly done with her main works - just have Emma to go after this).

Edited by Paxter

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I'm reading Calgar's Siege by Paul Kearney. A bubblegum read for me, although, I have to admit it's weird these days to come across a book with absolutely* no women in it. Is that standard in the Black Library?

 

 

*Not 100% accurate, but almost.

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Finished the audiobook of Alex Kershaw's The First Wave: the D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II. Excellent account of the Allied Invasion by focusing on individual experiences, personalizing such an epic event. 

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Finished The Tiger And The Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky, my first experience of this author.  I enjoyed the writing and the world-building but the plot and characterization was very YA.  An emo adolescent feels like an outsider but don’t worry, she has a special power and significance to explore.  The main theme here is filial duty versus self determination.  The behavior of the other characters is deeply contrived/forced to support the plot — ta’averen? — but the quality of the writing redeems it overall.  I’m interested to try the next installment where the main character moves outside her initial family angst.

Next was Bricking It by Nick Spalding, another light, humorous novel from him, narrated by two first person POVs — this time a sister and brother instead of a married couple — as they renovate an old house.  Good laughs, mainly from slapstick and dry wit, are the reason to read this.  Do not expect realism, especially not in the love interests obtained by the two POVs; those were so far out of their leagues that NASA should have been involved. 

Most recent was Economics As Religion by Robert Nelson, a non-fiction that explores the theme of the title.  Although it sounds like an interesting premise, this should have been an article rather than a book.  The long repetition sounds like crank whining (especially the litany of specifc inconsequential quotes he loves to dissect), and the central contention is pretty weak: the modern secular world has turned it’s back on the moral definition of religion, but secularism, modernism, science/knowledge and especially economics are all just a new religion in sheep’s clothing.  Especially since the final conclusion is to suggest for economists three commandments that are already universally embraced in that field.  I would not recommend.

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Simon Reeve's autobiography "step by step" was excellent.

I'm now starting my reread of best served cold. I'd forgotten how brutal the first few chapters are. 

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Finished Priory of the Orange Tree, loved it. My only issue really is the conclusion felt a bit hurried, almost like when you hear “15 minutes left” in an exam and have to race to cram in what you still need to say. 

But overall enjoyed it a lot and would read more set in that world

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On 6/27/2019 at 10:16 AM, Iskaral Pust said:

Most recent was Economics As Religion by Robert Nelson, a non-fiction that explores the theme of the title.  Although it sounds like an interesting premise, this should have been an article rather than a book.  The long repetition sounds like crank whining (especially the litany of specific inconsequential quotes he loves to dissect), and the central contention is pretty weak: the modern secular world has turned it’s back on the moral definition of religion, but secularism, modernism, science/knowledge and especially economics are all just a new religion in sheep’s clothing.  Especially since the final conclusion is to suggest for economists three commandments that are already universally embraced in that field.  I would not recommend.

I started reading that recently! I may have even mentioned it somewhere on the forum. Were you reading it based on my recommendation, or was it just a case of us having similar interests? I picked it up as an eBook as I could not find a physical copy anywhere in Sydney. Am only about 30% of the way through, and having a bit of a different reaction than you (possibly due to my professional and educational background), but also: holy shit, how impressive are all the footnotes and citations? He name-drops some authors whose works I'm familiar with, which makes for a pleasant experience - makes me feel like that moment in a movie where I recognise a pop song, and like Captain America, say "Hey I understood that reference!" 

 

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Like @Iskaral Pust, am reading Economics As Religion by Robert Nelson and Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality by James Kwak. Some light reading after the beautiful, breathtaking, and emotional assault that is Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet

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I finished Firebrand, the sixth book in Kristen Britain's Green Rider series. It was a return to form after book 5 which was sort of a travesty. Not great but eminently readable. I expect book 7 approximately never. She writes at GRRM speed and I believe as of now the 7th book doesn't even have a title.

I think next I'll be heading back to the Napoleonic dragon wars with Empire of Ivory (Temeraire series book 4).

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I finished Children of Ruin. It was ok. If it was a stand alone book I probably would have liked it more but it didn't really feel like a it added a great deal as a sequel to Children of Time, a book I enjoyed more.

Next up I'm reading Children of Earth and Sky.

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Since my last post I've finished three books, the first was Rebellion and Redemption by David Tasker which is a short Bible study.  The next was ruthless.com by Jerome Preisler, the second book of Tom Clancy's Power Plays series, it was a nice mix of business espionage entangled with political corruption but nothing special.  The last book was Rick Atkinson's The British Are Coming, the first of a planned trilogy of a military history of the American Revolution that gave me a lot of information that I previously hadn't known.  The book covers the period from Lexington to Princeton not only including the major battles but lesser known ones as well in particular the battles leading up to Montreal and Quebec in the Invasion of Canada and numerous small engagements in the South years before the main theater of the war was transferred there.

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On 6/29/2019 at 9:46 PM, IlyaP said:

I started reading that recently! I may have even mentioned it somewhere on the forum. Were you reading it based on my recommendation, or was it just a case of us having similar interests? I picked it up as an eBook as I could not find a physical copy anywhere in Sydney. Am only about 30% of the way through, and having a bit of a different reaction than you (possibly due to my professional and educational background), but also: holy shit, how impressive are all the footnotes and citations? He name-drops some authors whose works I'm familiar with, which makes for a pleasant experience - makes me feel like that moment in a movie where I recognise a pop song, and like Captain America, say "Hey I understood that reference!" 

 

Yes, I picked this up after seeing it recc’d in one of these threads, which must have been you.  On paper, this sounded like a fascinating idea.  I just don’t think he executed it well.  He was definitely thorough with expansive footnotes and citations, but it felt like he was mostly protracting a fairly limited idea, using the quantity of quotations (the vast majority of which were not intended to address the topic, but the author uses them outside of their intended context/purpose) to hide the paucity of insight. 

It’s not new or unusual to say that post-modernism is a new type of religion, nor is it new or unusual to question the vacuum of values in economic theory — where economists explicitly say that they are seeking optimal levels of economic interaction while leaving redistribution/fairness to the political process.  It’s not even new to associate various schools of economic thought with political ideology/values.  I was hoping he had some new angle or insight on any of this, but he rambled a long time to say nothing new.  It could have been an excellent long-form article instead of a dull book.

I’m glad you’re enjoying it more than I did. The reading experience remains incredibly subjective.

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Sorry for taking so long to reply - have been recovering from a double-whammy of the flu *and* jet-lag. Spoon count has been low of late. 

Going to try and be curt - primarily because I'm still struggling to hold complex thoughts in my mind at the moment. 

On 7/2/2019 at 1:58 AM, Iskaral Pust said:

It’s not new or unusual to say that post-modernism is a new type of religion

Post-modernism? Did you mean to say 'Neo-classical economics'? As the book isn't really about post-modernism. 

On 7/2/2019 at 1:58 AM, Iskaral Pust said:

nor is it new or unusual to question the vacuum of values in economic theory — where economists explicitly say that they are seeking optimal levels of economic interaction while leaving redistribution/fairness to the political process.

It's not that it's unusual, or isn't done, it's that many economists don't think about distribution or fairness at all. In fact, the hypothesis of distribution itself is avoided in economics faculties. (I am happy to provide many direction citations, professor and student quotes, curriculums (curriculi? What's the plural form for 'curriculum'?), and direct citations from widely studied and read economics, including Marshall, Manikew, and Samuelson, to name a few 20th century heavyweights of the field.  

On 7/2/2019 at 1:58 AM, Iskaral Pust said:

It’s not even new to associate various schools of economic thought with political ideology/values.

Correct, it's not. That you know this indicates a level of knowledge of the field that extends beyond the statistical layman. Which is to say: this is not something that - I at least would argue - is commonly noticed or observed. De Tocqueville had interesting thoughts on this topic, incidentally. 

On 7/2/2019 at 1:58 AM, Iskaral Pust said:

I was hoping he had some new angle or insight on any of this, but he rambled a long time to say nothing new.

Even concepts like "Hermeneutics of suspicion" didn't intrigue you? I'm surprised I made it all the way through my philosophy and theology studies and *didn't* know that term! 

On 7/2/2019 at 1:58 AM, Iskaral Pust said:

I’m glad you’re enjoying it more than I did. The reading experience remains incredibly subjective.

Oh it's quite subjective. This is certainly not a book for everyone. I'm sorry you didn't like it more! Though he does reiterate the themes at length, that, in conjunction with the wildly interesting footnotes and immensely detailed and interesting bibliography (itself a springboard to other texts!) makes it massively interesting! 

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Two brand new books, one American history and the other period fiction, set in the days of slavery and the aftermath on the island of Barbados.

The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation (2019) by Brenda Wineapple;

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/18/books/review/brenda-wineapple-impeachers.html

The Summer Country (2019) by Lauren Willig.

I am hoping this isn't actually a "Romance" novel, though the publisher is kind of marketing it that way - - but so far the book is too sound in its history and well-written for that general level of category fiction.  It's more on the order of the period-romance-mystery of a Tasha Alexander, though without the formula of a multi-volume series that are her Lady Emily mysteries.  If hopes are dashed, one can close the book and look for something else.

https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-283902-2

Something else, like this!

Again period fiction, which contains mystery / crimes, but the crimes are not the point. This is the first title in a suite of books centered on the life of Ramases II, by a life-long French Egyptologist:

The Son of Light  (1995) by Christian Jacq.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Jacq

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Finally finished Tad Williams' Empire of Grass and it was another slog of slogs. The book basically suffers from the same shortcomings that sunk The Witchwood Crown and it was a major disappointment. :(

You can read my review here.

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On 6/28/2019 at 7:42 AM, HelenaExMachina said:

Finished Priory of the Orange Tree, loved it. My only issue really is the conclusion felt a bit hurried, almost like when you hear “15 minutes left” in an exam and have to race to cram in what you still need to say. 

But overall enjoyed it a lot and would read more set in that world

Been eyeing this one for a while...just need to decide to pull the trigger...if ever a title alone helped sell me on giving something a go...

On 6/29/2019 at 9:55 PM, Starkess said:

I finished Firebrand, the sixth book in Kristen Britain's Green Rider series. It was a return to form after book 5 which was sort of a travesty. Not great but eminently readable. I expect book 7 approximately never. She writes at GRRM speed and I believe as of now the 7th book doesn't even have a title.

I remember reading the first book a great long while ago...I thought I heard she's a disciple, or at least writes in the same vein, as Goodkind...is that true?  

 

 

I'm on a GGK kick.  Trying to read the stories I should have read years ago...

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5 minutes ago, Jaxom 1974 said:

Been eyeing this one for a while...just need to decide to pull the trigger...if ever a title alone helped sell me on giving something a go...

The ebook is $1.99 today on amazon.

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49 minutes ago, lady narcissa said:

The ebook is $1.99 today on amazon.

Saw that. Problem being I'm one of those philistines who do not like e readers...

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